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Title:      The Robe (1942)
Author:     Lloyd C. Douglas
eBook No.:  0400561.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Title:      The Robe (1942)
Author:     Lloyd C. Douglas



Dedicated with appreciation to Hazel McCann
who wondered what became of The Robe




Chapter I


Because she was only fifteen and busy with her growing up, Lucia's
periods of reflection were brief and infrequent; but this morning
she felt weighted with responsibility.

Last night her mother, who rarely talked to her about anything more
perplexing than the advantages of clean hands and a pure heart, had
privately discussed the possible outcome of Father's reckless
remarks yesterday in the Senate; and Lucia, flattered by this
confidence, had declared maturely that Prince Gaius wasn't in a
position to do anything about it.

But after she had gone to bed, Lucia began to fret.  Gaius might
indeed overlook her father's heated comments about the extravagances
and mismanagement of his government, if he had had no previous
occasion for grievance against the Gallio family.  There was,
however, another grievance that no one knew about except herself--
and Diana.  They would all have to be careful now or they might get
into serious trouble.

The birds had awakened her early.  She was not yet used to their
flutterings and twitterings, for they had returned much sooner than
usual, Spring having arrived and unpacked before February's lease
was up.  Lucia roused to a consciousness of the fret that she had
taken to bed with her.  It was still there, like a toothache.

Dressing quietly so as not to disturb Tertia, who was soundly
sleeping in the alcove--and would be alarmed when she roused to
find her mistress's couch vacant--Lucia slipped her sandals softly
over the exquisitely wrought mosaics that led from her bedchamber
and through her parlor into the long corridor and down the wide
stairway to the spacious hall and out into the vast peristyle where
she paused, shielding her eyes against the sun.

For the past year or more, Lucia had been acutely conscious of her
increasing height and rapid development into womanhood; but here
on this expanse of tessellated tiling she always felt very
insignificant.  Everything in this immense peristyle dwarfed her;
the tall marble columns that supported the vaulted roofs, the
stately statues standing in their silent dignity on the close-
clipped lawn, the high silver spray of the fountain.  No matter how
old she became, she would be ever a child here.

Nor did it make her feel any more mature when, proceeding along the
patterned pavement, she passed Servius whose face had been as
bronzed and deep-lined when Lucia was a mere toddler.  Acknowledging
with twinkling fingers and a smile the old slave's grave salute, as
he brought the shaft of his spear to his wrinkled forehead, she
moved on to the vine-covered pergola at the far end of the
rectangle.

There, with her folded arms resting on the marble balustrade that
overlooked the terraced gardens, the arbors, the tiled pool, and
commanded a breath-taking view of the city and the river, Lucia
tried to decide whether to tell Marcellus.  He would be
terrifically angry, of course, and if he did anything about it at
all he might make matters worse; but--somebody in the family must
be informed where we stood in the opinion of Gaius before any more
risks were taken.  It was unlikely, thought Lucia, that she would
have an opportunity to talk alone with her brother until later in
the day; for Marcellus had been out--probably all night--at the
Military Tribunes' Banquet, and wouldn't be up before noon; but she
must resolve at once upon a course of action.  She wished now that
she had told Marcellus last summer, when it had happened.

The soft whisper of sandal-straps made her turn about.  Decimus the
butler was approaching, followed by the Macedonian twins bearing
silver trays aloft on their outspread palms.  Would his mistress,
inquired Decimus with a deep bow, desire her breakfast served here?

'Why not?' said Lucia, absently.

Decimus barked at the twins and they made haste to prepare the
table while Lucia watched their graceful movements with amused
curiosity, as if observing the antics of a pair of playful
terriers.  Pretty things, they were; a little older than she,
though not so tall; agile and shapely, and as nearly alike as two
peas.  It was the first time that Lucia had seen them in action,
for they had been purchased only a week ago.  Apparently Decimus,
who had been training them, thought they were ready now for active
duty.  It would be interesting to see how they performed, for
Father said they had been brought up in a home of refinement and
were probably having their first experience of serving a table.
Without risking an inquiring glance at the young woman who stood
watching them, they proceeded swiftly but quietly with their task.
They were both very white, observed Lucia, doubtless from
confinement in some prisonship.

One of Father's hobbies, and his chief extravagance, was the
possession of valuable slaves.  The Gallio family did not own very
many, for Father considered it a vulgar, dangerous, and ruinously
expensive vanity to have swarms of them about with little to do but
eat, sulk, and conspire.  He selected his slaves with the same
discriminating care that he exercised when purchasing beautiful
statuary and other art objects.  He had no interest in public
sales.  Upon the return of a military expedition from some
civilized country, the commanding officers would notify a few of
their well-to-do acquaintances that a limited number of high-grade
captives were available; and Father would go down, the day before
the sale, and look them over, learn their history, sound them out,
and if he found anything he wanted to add to his household staff he
would bid.  He never told anyone in the family how much he had paid
for their slaves, but it was generally felt that he had never
practiced economy in acquiring such merchandise.

Most of the people they knew were in a constant dither about their
slaves; buying and selling and exchanging.  It wasn't often that
Father disposed of one; and when, rarely, he had done so, it was
because the slave had mistreated another over whom he had some
small authority.  They had lost an excellent cook that way, about a
year ago.  Minna had grown crusty and cruel toward the kitchen
crew, scolding them loudly and knocking them about.  She had been
warned a few times.  Then, one day, Minna had slapped Tertia.
Lucia wondered, briefly, where Minna was now.  She certainly did
know how to bake honey cakes.

You had to say this for Father: he was a good judge of people.  Of
course, slaves weren't people, exactly; but some of them were
almost people.  There was Demetrius, for example, who was at this
moment marching through the colonnade with long, measured strides.
Father had bought Demetrius six years ago and presented him to
Marcellus on his seventeenth birthday.  What a wonderful day that
was, with all their good friends assembled in the Forum to see
Marcellus--clean-shaven for the first time in his life--step
forward to receive his white toga.  Cornelius Capito and Father had
made speeches, and then they had put the white toga on Marcellus.
Lucia had been so proud and happy that her heart had pounded and
her throat had hurt, though she was only nine then, and couldn't
know much about the ceremony except that Marcellus was expected to
act like a man now--though sometimes he forgot to, when Demetrius
wasn't about.

Lucia pursed her full lips and grinned as she thought of their
relationship; Demetrius, two years older than Marcellus, always so
seriously respectful, never relaxing for an instant from his
position as a slave; Marcellus, stern and dignified, but
occasionally forgetting to be the master and slipping absurdly into
the role of intimate friend.  Very funny, it was sometimes.  Lucia
loved to watch them together at such moments.  Of course she had
about the same relation to Tertia; but that seemed different.

Demetrius had come from Corinth, where his father--a wealthy
shipowner--had taken a too conspicuous part in defensive politics.
Everything had happened at once in Demetrius' family.  His father
had been executed, his two elder brothers had been given to the new
Legate of Achaea, his patrician mother had committed suicide; and
Demetrius--tall, handsome, athletic--had been brought to Rome under
heavy guard, for he was not only valuable but violent.

Lucia remembered when, a week before Marcellus' coming of age, she
had heard Father telling Mother about his purchase of the
Corinthian slave, only an hour earlier.  She had been much
impressed--and a little frightened, too.

'He will require careful handling for a while,' Father was saying.
'He has seen some rough treatment.  His keeper told me I had better
sleep with a dagger under my pillow until the Corinthian cooled
down.  It seems he had badly beaten up one of his guards.
Ordinarily, of course, they would have dealt with him briefly and
decisively; but they were under orders to deliver him uninjured.
They were quite relieved to get him off their hands.'

'But is this not dangerous?' Mother had inquired anxiously.  'What
might he not do to our son?'

'That,' Father had replied, 'will be up to Marcellus.  He will have
to win the fellow's loyalty.  And he can do it, I think.  All that
Demetrius needs is an assurance of fair play.  He will not expect
to be petted.  He is a slave, and he knows it--and hates it; but he
will respond to decent discipline.'  And then Father had gone on to
say that after he had paid the money and signed the documents, he
had himself led Demetrius out of the narrow cell; and, when they
were in the open plaza, had unlocked his chains; very carefully,
too, for his wrists were raw and bleeding.  'Then I walked on ahead
of him,' Father had continued, 'without turning to see whether he
was following me.  Aulus had driven me down and was waiting in the
chariot at the Appian Gate, a few yards away.  I had planned to
bring the Corinthian back with me.  But, as we neared the chariot,
I decided to give him instructions about how to reach our villa on
foot.'

'Alone?' Mother had exclaimed.  'Was that not very risky?'

'Yes,' Father had agreed, 'but not quite so risky as to have
brought him here as a shackled prisoner.  He was free to run away.
I wanted him to be in a position to decide whether he would rather
take a chance with us than gamble on some other fate.  I could see
that my gestures of confidence had surprised and mellowed him a
little.  He said--in beautiful Greek, for he had been well
educated, "What shall I do, sir, when I arrive at your villa?"  I
told him to inquire for Marcipor, who would advise him.  He nodded,
and stood fumbling with the rusty chains that I had loosed from his
hands.  "Throw them away," I said.  Then I mounted the chariot, and
drove home.'

'I wonder if you will ever see him again,' Mother had said; and, in
answer to her question, Marcipor appeared in the doorway.

'A young Corinthian has arrived, Master,' said Marcipor, a
Corinthian himself.  'He says he belongs to us.'

'That is true,' Father said, pleased with the news.  'I bought him
this morning.  He will attend my son, though Marcellus is to know
nothing of this for the present.  Feed him well.  And provide him
with a bath and clean clothing.  He has been imprisoned for a long
time.'

'The Greek has already bathed, Master,' replied Marcipor.

'Quite right,' approved Father.  'That was thoughtful of you.'

'I had not yet thought of it,' admitted Marcipor.  'I was in the
sunken garden, supervising the building of the new rose arbor, when
this Greek appeared.  Having told me his name, and that he belonged
here, he caught sight of the pool--'

'You mean'--expostulated Mother--'that he dared to use our pool?'

'I am sorry,' Marcipor replied.  'It happened so quickly I was
unable to thwart it.  The Greek ran swiftly, tossing aside his
garments, and dived in.  I regret the incident.  The pool will be
drained immediately, and thoroughly cleansed.'

'Very good, Marcipor,' said Father.  'And do not rebuke him; though
he should be advised not to do that again.'  And Father had
laughed, after Marcipor had left the room.  Mother said, 'The
fellow should have known better than that.'  'Doubtless he did,'
Father had replied.  'But I cannot blame him.  He must have been
immensely dirty.  The sight of that much water probably drove him
temporarily insane.'

One could be sure, reflected Lucia, that Marcipor hadn't been too
hard on poor Demetrius; for, from that day, he had treated him as
if he were his own son.  Indeed, the attachment was so close that
slaves more recently acquired often asked if Marcipor and Demetrius
were not somehow related.

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius had reappeared from the house now, and was advancing over
the tiled pavement on his way to the pergola.  Lucia wondered what
errand was bringing him.  Presently he was standing before her,
waiting for a signal to speak.

'Yes, Demetrius?' she drawled.

'The Tribune,' he announced, with dignity, 'presents his good
wishes for his sister's health and happiness, and requests that he
be permitted to join her at breakfast.'

Lucia brightened momentarily; then sobered, and replied, 'Inform
your master that his sister will be much pleased--and tell him,'
she added, in a tone somewhat less formal, 'that breakfast will be
served here in the pergola.'

After Demetrius had bowed deeply and was turning to go, Lucia
sauntered past him and proceeded along the pavement for several
yards.  He followed her at a discreet distance.  When they were out
of earshot, she paused and confronted him.

'How does he happen to be up so early?' she asked, in a tone that
was neither perpendicular nor oblique, but frankly horizontal.
'Didn't he go to the banquet?'

'The Tribune attended the banquet,' replied Demetrius, respectfully.
'It is of that, perhaps, that he is impatient to speak.'

'Now don't tell me that he got into some sort of mess, Demetrius.'
She tried to invade his eyes, but the bridge was up.

'If so,' he replied, prudently, 'the Tribune may wish to report it
without the assistance of his slave.  Shall I go now?'

'You were there, of course, attending my brother,' pursued Lucia.
And when Demetrius bowed an affirmative, she asked, 'Was Prince
Gaius there?'  Demetrius bowed again, and she went on, uncertainly,
'Did you--was he--had you an opportunity to notice whether the
Prince was in good humor?'

'Very,' replied Demetrius--'until he went to sleep.'

'Drunk?'  Lucia wrinkled her nose.

'It is possible,' deliberated Demetrius, 'but it is not for me to
say.'

'Did the Prince seem friendly--toward my brother?' persisted Lucia.

'No more than usual.'  Demetrius shifted his weight and glanced
toward the house.

Lucia sighed significantly, shook her black curls, and pouted.

'You can be very trying sometimes, Demetrius.'

'I know,' he admitted ruefully.  'May I go now?  My master--'

'By all means!' snapped Lucia.  'And swiftly!'  She turned and
marched back with clipped steps to the pergola.  Something had gone
wrong last night, or Demetrius wouldn't have taken that frozen
attitude.

Decimus, whose instinct advised him that his young mistress was
displeased, retreated to a safe distance.  The twins, who had now
finished laying the table, were standing side by side awaiting
orders.  Lucia advanced on them.

'What are you called?' she demanded, her tone still laced with
annoyance.

'I am Helen,' squeaked one of them, nervously.  'My sister is
Nesta.'

'Can't she talk?'

'Please--she is frightened.'

Their long-lashed eyes widened with apprehension as Lucia drew
closer, but they did not flinch.  Cupping her hands softly under
their round chins, she drew up their faces, smiled a little, and
said, 'Don't be afraid.  I won't bite you.'  Then--as if caressing
a doll--she toyed with the tight little curls that had escaped from
Helen's cap.  Turning to Nesta, she untied and painstakingly retied
her broad sash.  Both girls' eyes were swimming.  Nesta stopped a
big tear with the back of her hand.

'Now, now,' soothed Lucia, 'don't cry.  No one is going to hurt you
here.'  She impulsively abandoned the lullaby, drew herself erect,
and declared proudly:  'You belong to Senator Marcus Lucan Gallio!
He paid a great price for you--because you are valuable; and--
because you are valuable--you will not be mistreated. . . .
Decimus'--she called, over her shoulder--'see that these pretty
children have new tunics; white ones--with coral trimmings.'  She
picked up their hands, one by one, and examined them critically.
'Clean,' she remarked, half aloud--'and beautiful, too.  That is
good.'  Facing Decimus, she said:  'You may go now.  Take the
twins.  Have them bring the food.  My brother will have breakfast
with me here.  You need not come back.'

Lucia had never liked Decimus very well; not that there was any
particular ground for complaint, for he was a perfect servant;
almost too deferential, a chilling deference that lacked only a
little of being sulkiness.  It had been Lucia's observation that
imported slaves were more comfortable to live with than the
natives.  Decimus had been born in Rome and had been in their
family for almost as long as Lucia could remember.  He had a
responsible position: attended to all the purchasing of supplies
for their tables, personally interviewed the merchants, visited the
markets, met the foreign caravans that brought spices and other
exotics from afar; a very competent person indeed, who minded his
own business, kept his own counsel, and carried himself with
dignity.  But he was a stranger.

One never could feel toward Decimus as one did toward good old
Marcipor who was always so gentle--and trustworthy too.  Marcipor
had managed the business affairs of the family for so long that he
probably knew more about their estate than Father did.

Decimus bowed gravely now, as Lucia dismissed him, and started
toward the house, his stiff back registering disapproval of this
episode that had flouted the discipline he believed in and firmly
exercised.  The Macedonians, their small even teeth flashing an
ecstatic smile, scampered away, hand in hand, without waiting for
formal permission.  Lucia stopped them in their tracks with a stern
command.

'Come back here!' she called severely.  They obeyed with spiritless
feet and stood dejectedly before her.  'Take it easy,' drawled
Lucia.  'You shouldn't romp when you're on duty.  Decimus does not
like it.'

They looked up shyly from under their long lashes, and Lucia's lips
curled into a sympathetic grin that relighted their eyes.

'You may go now,' she said, abruptly resuming a tone of command.
Lounging onto the long marble seat beside the table, she watched
the twins as they marched a few paces behind Decimus, their spines
straight and stiff as arrows, accenting each determined step with
jerks of their heads from side to side, in quite too faithful
imitation of the crusty butler.  Lucia chuckled.  'The little
rascals,' she muttered.  'They deserve to be spanked for that.'
Then she suddenly sobered and sat studiously frowning at the
rhythmic flexion of her sandaled toes.  Marcellus would be here in
a moment.  How much--if anything--should she tell her adored
brother about her unpleasant experience with Gaius?  But first, of
course, she must discover what dreadful thing had happened last
night at the Tribunes' Banquet.

                         * * * * * *

'Good morning, sweet child!'  Marcellus tipped back his sister's
head, noisily kissed her between the eyes, and tousled her hair,
while Bambo, his big black sheep-dog, snuggled his grinning muzzle
under her arm and wagged amiably.

'Down!  Both of you!' commanded Lucia.  'You're uncommonly bright
this morning, Tribune Marcellus Lucan Gallio.  I thought you were
going to a party at the Club.'

'Ah--my infant sister--but what a party!'  Marcellus gingerly
touched his finely moulded, close-cropped, curly head in several
ailing areas, and winced.  'You may well be glad that you are not--
and can never be--a Tribune.  It was indeed a long, stormy night.'

'A wet one, at any rate, to judge from your puffy eyes.  Tell me
about it--or as much as you can remember.'  Lucia scooped Bambo off
the marble lectus with her foot, and her brother eased himself onto
the seat beside her.  He laughed, reminiscently, painfully.

'I fear I disgraced the family.  Only the dear gods know what may
come of it.  His Highness was too far gone to understand, but
someone will be sure to tell him before the day is over.'

Lucia leaned forward anxiously, laid a hand on his knee, and
searched his cloudy eyes.

'Gaius?' she asked, in a frightened whisper.  'What happened,
Marcellus?'

'A poem,' he muttered, 'an ode; a long, tiresome, incredibly stupid
ode, wrought for the occasion by old Senator Tuscus, who, having
reached that ripeness of senescence where Time and Eternity are
mistaken for each other--'

'Sounds as if you'd arrived there, too,' broke in Lucia.  'Can't
you speed it up a little?'

'Don't hurry me, impatient youth,' sighed Marcellus.  'I am very
frail.  As I was saying, this interminable ode, conceived by the
ancient Tuscus to improve his rating, was read by his son Antonius,
also in need of royal favor; a grandiloquent eulogy to our glorious
Prince.'

'He must have loved the flattery,' observed Lucia, 'and of course
you all applauded it.  You and Tullus, especially.'

'I was just coming to that,' said Marcellus, thickly.  'For hours
there had been a succession of rich foods and many beverages; also
a plentitude of metal music interspersed with Greek choruses--
pretty good--and an exhibition of magic--pretty bad; and some
perfunctory speeches, of great length and thickness.  A wrestling-
match, too, I believe.  The night was far advanced.  Long before
Antonius rose, my sister, if any man among us had been free to
consult his own desire, we would all have stretched out on our
comfortable couches and slept.  The gallant Tullus, of whose good
health you are ever unaccountably solicitous, sat across from me,
frankly asleep like a little child.'

'And then you had the ode,' encouraged Lucia, crisply.

'Yes--we then had the ode.  And as Antonius droned on--and on--he
seemed to recede farther and farther; his features became dimmer
and dimmer; and the measured noise he was making sounded fainter
and fainter, as my tortured eyes grew hotter and heavier--'

'Marcellus!' shouted Lucia.  'In the name of every immortal god!
Get on with it!'

'Be calm, impetuous child.  I do not think rapidly today.  Never
again shall I be anything but tiresome.  That ode did something to
me, I fear.  Well--after it had been inching along for leagues and
decades, I suddenly roused, pulled myself together, and gazed about
upon the distinguished company.  Almost everyone had peacefully
passed away, except a few at the high table whose frozen smiles
were held with clenched teeth; and Antonius' insufferable young
brother, Quintus, who was purple with anger.  I can't stomach that
arrogant pup and he knows I despise him.'

'Gaius!' barked Lucia, in her brother's face, so savagely that
Bambo growled.  'I want to know what you did to offend Gaius!'

Marcellus laughed whimperingly, for it hurt; then burst into
hysterical guffaws.

'If the Glorious One had been merely asleep, quietly, decently,
with his fat chins on his bosom--as were his devoted subjects--your
unfortunate brother might have borne it.  But our Prince had
allowed his head to tip far back.  His mouth--by no means a thing
of beauty, at best--was open.  The tongue protruded unprettily and
the bulbous nose twitched at each resounding inhalation.  Our
banquet-hall was deathly quiet, but for Antonius and Gaius, who
shared the floor.'

'Revolting!' muttered Lucia.

'A feeble word, my sister.  You should give more heed to your
diction.  Well--at that fateful moment Antonius had reached the
climax of his father's ode with an apostrophe to our Prince that
must have caused a storm on Mount Parnassus.  Gaius was a Fountain
of Knowledge!  The eyes of Gaius glowed with Divine Light!  When
the lips of Gaius moved, Wisdom flowed and Justice smiled! . . .
Precious child,' went on Marcellus, taking her hand, 'I felt my
tragic mishap coming on, not unlike an unbeatable sneeze.  I
suddenly burst out laughing!  No--I do not mean that I chuckled
furtively into my hands: I threw back my head and roared!  Howled!
Long, lusty yells of insane laughter!'  Reliving the experience,
Marcellus went off again into an abandon of undisciplined mirth.
'Believe me--I woke everybody up--but Gaius.'

'Marcellus!'

Suddenly sobered by the tone of alarm in his sister's voice, he
looked into her pale, unsmiling face.

'What is it, Lucia?' he demanded.  'Are you ill?'

'I'm--afraid!' she whispered, weakly.

He put his arm about her and she pressed her forehead against his
shoulder.

'There, there!' he murmured.  'We've nothing to fear, Lucia.  I was
foolish to have upset you.  I thought you would be amused.  Gaius
will be angry, of course, when he learns of it; but he will not
venture to punish the son of Marcus Lucan Gallio.'

'But--you see--' stammered Lucia, 'it was only yesterday that
Father openly criticized him in the Senate.  Had you not heard?'

'Of course; but the Pater's strong enough to take care of himself,'
declared Marcellus, almost too confidently to be convincing.  There
was a considerable pause before his sister spoke.  He felt her body
trembling.

'If it were just that one thing,' she said, slowly, 'perhaps it
might be overlooked.  But--now you have offended him.  And he was
already angry at me.'

'You!'  Marcellus took her by the shoulders and stared into her
worried eyes.  'And why should Gaius be angry at you?'

'Do you remember, last summer, when Diana and her mother and I were
guests at the Palace on Capri--and Gaius came to visit the
Emperor?'

'Well?  Go on!' demanded Marcellus.  'What of it?  What did he say?
What did he do?'

'He tried to make love to me.'

'That loathsome beast!' roared Marcellus, leaping to his feet.
'I'll tear his dirty tongue out!  I'll gouge his eyes out with my
thumbs!  Why haven't you told me this before?'

'You have given the reason,' said Lucia, dejectedly.  'I was afraid
of the tongue-tearing--and eye-gouging.  Had my brother been a
puny, timid man, I might have told him at once.  But my brother is
strong and brave--and reckless.  Now that I have told him, he will
kill Gaius; and my brother, whom I so dearly love, will be put to
death, and my father, too, I suppose.  And my mother will be
banished or imprisoned, and--'

'What did Mother think about this?' broke in Marcellus.

'I did not tell her.'

'Why not?  You should have done so--instantly!'

'Then she would have told Father.  That would have been as
dangerous as telling my brother.'

'You should have told the Emperor!' spluttered Marcellus.
'Tiberius is no monument to virtue, but he would have done
something about that!  He's not so very fond of Gaius.'

'Don't be foolish!  That half-crazy old man?  He would probably
have gone into one of his towering tantrums, and scolded Gaius in
the presence of everybody; and then he would have cooled off and
forgotten all about it.  But Gaius wouldn't have forgotten!  No--I
decided to ignore it.  Nobody knows--but Diana.'

'Diana!  If you thought you had such a dangerous secret, why should
you tell that romping infant Diana?'

'Because she was afraid of him, too, and understood my reasons for
not wanting to be left alone with him.  But Diana is not a baby,
Marcellus.  She is nearly sixteen.  And--if you pardon my saying so--
I think you should stop mussing her hair, and tickling her under
the chin, when she comes here to visit me--as if she were five, and
you a hundred.'

'Sorry!  It hadn't occurred to me that she would resent my playful
caresses.  I never thought of her except as a child--like
yourself.'

'Well--it's time you realized that Diana is a young woman.  If she
resents your playful caresses, it is not because they are caresses
but because they are playful.'  Lucia hesitated; then continued
softly, her eyes intent on her brother's gloomy face.  'She might
even like your caresses--if they meant anything.  I think it hurts
her, Marcellus, when you call her "Sweetheart."'

'I had not realized that Diana was so sensitive,' mumbled
Marcellus.  'She is certainly stormy enough when anything
displeases her.  She was audacious enough to demand that her name
be changed.'

'She hated to be called Asinia, Marcellus,' said Lucia, loyally.
'Diana is prettier, don't you think?'

'Perhaps,' shrugged Marcellus.  'Name of a silly goddess.  The name
of the Asinius stock is noble; means something!'

'Don't be tiresome, Marcellus!' snapped Lucia.  'What I am saying
is: Diana would probably enjoy having you call her "Sweetheart"--
if--'

Marcellus, who had been restlessly panthering about, drew up to
inspect his sister with sudden interest.

'Are you trying to imply that this youngster thinks she is fond of
me?'

'Of course!  And I think you're pretty dumb, not to have noticed
it!  Come and sit down--and compose yourself.  Our breakfast is on
the way.'

Marcellus glanced casually in the direction of the house; then
stared frowningly; then rubbed his eyes with his fists, and stared
again.  Lucia's lips puckered into a reluctant grin.

'In truth, my sister,' he groaned, 'I am in much worse condition
than I had supposed.'

'You're all right, Tribune,' she drawled.  'There really are two of
them.'

'Thanks!  I am relieved.  Are they as bright as they are
beautiful?' he asked, as the twins neared.

'It is too early to tell.  This is their first day on duty.  Don't
frighten them, Marcellus.  They're already scared half out of their
wits.  They have never worked before . . .  No, no, Bambo!  Come
here!'

Rosy with embarrassment, the Macedonians began unburdening their
silver trays, fussily pretending they were not under observation.

'Cute little things; aren't they?' chirped Marcellus.  'Where did
Father pick them up?'

'Don't!' whispered Lucia.  She rose and walked to the balustrade,
her brother sauntering after her.  They turned their faces toward
the city.  'What did Tullus think of what you did?' she asked,
irrelevantly.

'Tell me'--Marcellus ignored her query--'is there anything peculiar
about these slaves that makes you so extraordinarily considerate?'

Lucia shook her head, without looking up--and sighed.

'I was just thinking,' she said, at length, 'how I might feel if I
were in their place.'  Her troubled eyes lifted to meet his look of
inquiry.  'It is not impossible, Marcellus, that I may soon find
myself in some such predicament. . . .  You wouldn't like that.
Would you?'

'Nonsense!' he growled, out of the corner of his mouth.  'You're
making too great a disaster of this!  Nothing's going to happen.
I'll see to that.'

'How?' demanded Lucia.  'How are you going to see to it?'

'Well'--temporized Marcellus--'what do you think I should do--short
of going to that ugly reptile with an apology?'

Lucia brightened a little and laid her hand on his arm.

'Do that!' she pleaded.  'Today!  Make peace with him, Marcellus!
Tell him you were drunk.  You were; weren't you?'

'I'd rather be flogged--in the market-place!'

'Yes--I know.  And perhaps you will be.  Gaius is dangerous!'

'Ah--what could he do?  Tiberius would not permit his half-witted
stepson to punish a member of the Gallio family.  It's common
knowledge that the old man despises him.'

'Yes--but Tiberius consented to his regency because Julia demanded
it.  And Julia still has to be reckoned with.  If it came to a
decision whether that worn-out old man should stand up for the
Gallio family--against Gaius--with his shrewish wife screaming in
his ears, I doubt that he would trouble himself.  Julia would stop
at nothing!'

'The vindictive old--'  Marcellus paused on the edge of a kennel
word.

'Think it over.'  Lucia's tone was brighter, as if she felt herself
gaining ground.  'Come--let us eat our breakfast.  Then you will go
to Gaius, and take your medicine.  Praise him!  Flatter him!  He
can stand any amount of it.  Tell him he is beautiful!  Tell him
there's nobody in the whole Empire as wise as he is.  Tell him he
is divine!  But--be sure you keep your face straight.  Gaius
already knows you have a keen sense of humor.'

                         * * * * * *

Having decided to accept his sister's counsel, Marcellus was
anxious to perform his unpleasant duty and be done with it.
Prudence suggested that he seek an interview through the formal
channels and await the convenience of the Prince; but, increasingly
impressed by the gravity of his position, he resolved to ignore the
customary court procedure and take a chance of seeing Gaius without
an appointment.  By appearing at the Palace shortly before noon, he
might even be lucky enough to have a few minutes alone with the
Prince before anyone had informed him about last night's mishap.

At ten, rejuvenated by a hot bath, a vigorous massage by Demetrius,
and a plunge in the pool, the Tribune returned to his rooms,
dressed with care, and sauntered downstairs.  Observing that the
library door was ajar, he paused to greet his father, whom he had
not seen since yesterday.  The handsome, white-haired Senator was
seated at his desk, writing.  He glanced up, nodded, smiled
briefly, and invited Marcellus to come in.

'If you are at liberty today, my son, I should be pleased to have
you go with me to inspect a span of matched Hispanian mares.'

'I should like to, sir; but might tomorrow serve as well?  I have
an important errand to do; something that cannot be put off.'
There was a note of anxiety in the Tribune's voice that narrowed
the wise old eyes.

'Nothing serious, I trust.'  Gallio pointed to a vacant seat.

'I hope not, sir.'  Marcellus sat tentatively on the broad arm of
the chair as a fair compromise between candid reticence and
complete explanation.

'Your manner,' observed his father, pointedly, 'suggests that you
are worried.  I have no wish to intrude upon your private
perplexities, but is there anything I might do for you?'

'I'm afraid not, sir; thank you.'  After a moment of indecision,
Marcellus slowly slid into the chair and regarded his distinguished
parent with a sober face.  'If you have the time, I will tell you.'

Gallio nodded, put down his stylus, and leaned forward on his
folded arms encouragingly.  It was quite a long narrative.
Marcellus did not spare himself.  He told it all.  At one juncture,
he was half-disposed to introduce Lucia's dilemma as relevant to
his own; but decided against it, feeling that their pater was
getting about all he could take for one session.  He concluded, at
length, with the declaration that he was going at once to
apologize.  Gallio, who had listened attentively but without
comment, now shook his leonine head and shouted 'No!'  He
straightened and shook his head again.  'No!--No, no!'

Amazed by his father's outburst, for he had anticipated his full
approval, Marcellus asked, 'Why not, sir?'

'The most dangerous implement a man can use for the repair of a
damaged relationship is an abject apology.'  Gallio pushed back his
huge chair and rose to his full height as if preparing to deliver
an address.  'Even in the most favorable circumstances, as when
placating an injured friend, a self-abasing apology may do much
harm.  If the friend is contented with nothing less, he should not
be served with it at all; for his friendship is not worth its
upkeep.  In the case of Gaius, an apology would be a fatality; for
you are not dealing here with a gentleman, but with a congenital
scoundrel.  Your apology will imply that you expect Gaius to be
generous.  Generosity, in his opinion, is a sign of weakness.  By
imputing it to him, you will have given him further offense.  Gaius
has reasons to be sensitive about his power.  Never put yourself on
the defensive with a man who is fretting about his own insecurity.
Here, he says, is at least one opportunity to demonstrate my
strength.'

'Perhaps you are right, sir,' conceded Marcellus.

'Perhaps?  Of course, I am right!'  The Senator walked to the door,
closed it softly, and resumed his seat.  'And that is not all,' he
went on.  'Let me refresh your mind about the peculiar relations in
the imperial family which explain why Gaius is a man to be watched
and feared.  There is old Tiberius, alternately raging and rotting
in his fifty-room villa on Capri; a pathetic and disgusting figure,
mooning over his necromancies and chattering to his gods--My son,'
Gallio interrupted himself, 'there is always something fundamentally
wrong with a rich man or a king who pretends to be religious.  Let
the poor and helpless invoke the gods.  That is what the gods are
for--to distract the attention of the weak from their otherwise
intolerable miseries.  When an emperor makes much ado about
religion, he is either cracked or crooked.  Tiberius is not crooked.
If he is cracked, the cause is not far to seek.  For a score of
years he has nursed a bitter grudge against his mother for demanding
that he divorce Vipsania--the only creature he ever loved--'

'I think he is fond of Diana,' interjected Marcellus.

'Right!  And why?  He is fond of the child because she is
Vipsania's granddaughter.  Let us remember that he was not a bad
ruler in his earlier days.  Rome had never known such prosperity;
not even under Julius.  As you know, when Vipsania passed out of
his life, Tiberius went to pieces; lost all interest in the Empire;
surrounded himself with soothsayers, mountebanks, priests, and
astrologers.  Presently his mind was so deranged by all this
nonsense that he consented to marry Julia, whom he had despised
from childhood.'  The Senator chuckled, not very pleasantly, and
remarked:  'Perhaps that was why he wished to be relieved of all
his administrative duties.  He found that to hate Julia as
adequately as she deserved to be hated, he had to make it a full-
time occupation.  So--there was the vixenish Julia, together with
the obnoxious offspring she had whelped before he married her.  And
he has not only hated Julia: he has been deathly afraid of her--and
with good reason--for she has the morbid mind of an assassin--and
the courage, too.'

'Lucia says the old gentleman never touches his wine, at table,
until the Empress has tasted it,' put in Marcellus, 'but she
thought that was just a little family joke.'

'We will not disturb your young sister with any other interpretation,'
advised the Senator, 'but it is no joke; nor is Tiberius merely
trying to be playful when he stations a dozen Numidian gladiators
at the doors and windows of his bedchamber. . . .  Now, these facts
are, I suspect, never absent very long from Gaius' mind.  He knows
that the Emperor is half-insane; that his mother lives precariously;
and that if anything should happen to her his regency would last no
longer than it takes a galley to clear for Crete with a deposed
prince on board.'

'Were that to happen,' broke in Marcellus, 'who would succeed
Gaius?'

'Well--'  Gallio slighted the query with a shrug.  'It will not
happen.  If anyone dies, down there, it won't be Julia.  You can
depend on that.'

'But--just supposing--' persisted Marcellus.  'If, for any reason--
accident, illness, or forthright murder--Julia should be eliminated--
and Gaius, too, in consequence--do you think Tiberius might put
Asinius Gallus on the throne?'

'It is possible,' said Gallio.  'The Emperor might feel that he was
making tardy amends to Vipsania by honoring her son.  And Gallus
would be no mean choice.  No Roman has ever commanded more respect
than Pollio, his learned sire.  Gallus would have the full support
of our legions--both at home and abroad.  However'--he added, half
to himself--'a brave soldier does not inevitably make a wise
monarch.  Your military commander has only a foreign foe to fight.
All that he requires is tactics and bravery.  An emperor is forever
at war with a jealous court, an obstreperous Senate, and a swarm of
avaricious landholders.  What he needs is a keen scent for
conspiracy, a mind crafty enough to outmaneuver treachery, a
natural talent for duplicity--and the hide of an alligator.'

'Thick enough to turn the point of a stiletto,' assisted Marcellus.

'It is a hazardous occupation,' nodded Gallio, 'but I do not think
our excellent friend Gallus will ever be exposed to its dangers.'

'I wonder how Diana would like being a princess,' remarked
Marcellus, absently.  He glanced up to find his father's eyes
alight with curiosity.

'We are quite far afield, aren't we; discussing Diana?' observed
Gallio, slyly.  'Are you interested in her?'

'Not any more than Lucia is,' replied Marcellus, elaborately
casual.  'They are, as you know, inseparable.  Naturally, I see
Diana almost every day.'

'A beautiful and amazingly vivacious child,' commented the Senator.

'Beautiful and vivacious,' agreed Marcellus--'but not a child.
Diana is nearly sixteen, you know.'

'Old enough to be married: is that what you are trying to say?  You
could hardly do better--if she can be tamed.  Diana has fine blood.
Sixteen, eh?  It is a wonder Gaius has not noticed.  He might do
himself much good in the esteem of the Emperor--and he certainly is
in need of it--if he should win Diana's favor.'

'She loathes him!'

'Indeed?  Then she has talked with you about it?'

'No, sir.  Lucia told me.'

There was a considerable interval of silence before Gallio spoke
again, slowly measuring his words.

'In your present strained relation to Gaius, my son, you would show
discretion, I think, if you made your attentions to Diana as
inconspicuous as possible.'

'I never see her anywhere else than here, sir.'

'Even so: treat her casually.  Gaius has spies everywhere.'

'Here--in our house?'  Marcellus frowned incredulously.

'Why not?  Do you think that Gaius, the son of Agrippa, who never
had an honest thought in his life, and of Julia, who was born with
both ears shaped like keyholes, would be too honorable for that?'
Gallio deftly rolled up the scroll that lay at his elbow,
indicating that he was ready to put aside his work for the day.
'We have discussed this fully enough, I think.  As for what
occurred last night, the Prince's friends may advise him to let the
matter drop.  Your best course is to do nothing, say nothing--and
wait developments.'  He rose and straightened the lines of his
toga.  'Come!  Let us ride to Ismael's camp and look at the
Hispanians.  You will like them; milk-white, high-spirited,
intelligent--and undoubtedly expensive.  Ismael, the old rascal,
knows I am interested in them, unfortunately for my purse.'

Marcellus responded eagerly to his father's elevated mood.  It was
almost as if the shrewd Marcus Lucan Gallio had firmly settled the
unhappy affair with Gaius.  He opened the door for the Senator to
precede him.  In the atrium, leaning against a column, lounged
Demetrius.  Coming smartly to attention he saluted with his spear
and followed a few paces behind the two men as they strolled
through the vasty rooms and out to the spacious western portico.

'Rather unusual for Demetrius to be loitering in the atrium,'
remarked Marcellus in a guarded undertone.

'Perhaps he was standing there,' surmised Gallio, 'to discourage
anyone else from loitering by the door.'

'Do you think he may have had a special reason for taking that
precaution?'

'Possibly.  He was with you at the banquet; knows that you gave
offense to Gaius; concludes that you are in disfavor; and, by
adding it all up, thinks it is time to be vigilant.'

'Shall I ask him if he suspects that there are spies in the house?'
suggested Marcellus.

Gallio shook his head.

'If he observes anything irregular, he will tell you, my son.'

'I wonder who this is coming.'  Marcellus nodded toward a uniformed
Equestrian Knight who had just turned in from the Via Aurelia.
'We're to be honored,' he growled.  'It is Quintus, the younger
Tuscus.  The Prince has been seeing much of him lately, I hear.'

The youthful Tribune, followed by a well-mounted aide, rode briskly
toward them; and, neglecting to salute, drew a gilded scroll from
the belt of his tunic.

'I am ordered by His Highness, Prince Gaius, to deliver this
message into the hands of Tribune Marcellus Lucan Gallio,' he
barked, haughtily.  The aide, who had dismounted, carried the
scroll up the steps and handed it over.

'His Highness might do well to employ messengers with better
manners,' drawled Marcellus.  'Are you to await an answer?'

'Imperial commands require obedience; not replies!' shouted
Quintus.  He pulled his horse about savagely, dug in his spurs, and
made off, pursued by his obsequious aide.

'Gaius is prompt,' commented the Senator.  There was satisfaction
on his face as he watched his son's steady hands, and the cool
deliberateness with which he drew his dagger and thrust the point
of it through the wax.  Unrolling the ostentatious document,
Marcellus held it at an angle where his father might share its
contents.  Gallio read it aloud, in a rasping undertone.


Prince Gaius Drusus Agrippa to Trib. Marcellus Lucan Gallio:

Greeting:

The courage of a Military Tribune should not be squandered in
banquet-halls.  It should be serving the Empire in positions where
reckless audacity is honorable and valorous.  Tribune Marcellus
Lucan Gallio is commanded to report, before sunset, at the
Praetorium of Chief Legate M. Cornelius Capito, and receive his
commission.


Marcellus rolled up the scroll, tossed it negligently to Demetrius,
who thrust it into the breast of his tunic; and, turning to his
father, remarked, 'We have plenty of time to go out and see
Ismael's horses.'

The Senator proudly drew himself erect, gave his son a respectful
bow, strutted down the marble steps; and, taking the bridle reins,
mounted his mettlesome black gelding.  Marcellus beckoned to
Demetrius.

'You heard that message?' he queried, abruptly.

'Not if it was private, sir,' countered Demetrius.

'Sounds a bit malicious,' observed Marcellus.  'The Prince
evidently wishes to dispose of me.'

'Yes, sir,' agreed Demetrius.

'Well--I brought this upon myself,' said Marcellus.  'I shall not
order you to risk your life.  You are at liberty to decide whether--'

'I shall go with you, sir.'

'Very good.  Inspect my equipment--and look over your own tackle,
too.'  Marcellus started down the steps, and turned to say,
soberly, 'You're going to your death, you know.'

'Yes, sir,' said Demetrius.  'You will need some heavier sandals,
sir.  Shall I get them?'

'Yes--and several pairs for yourself.  Ask Marcipor for the money.'

After a lively tussle with the bay, who was impatient to overtake
her stable-mate, Marcellus drew up beside the Senator, and they
slowed their horses to a trot.

'I tarried for a word with Demetrius.  I shall take him with me.'

'Of course.'

'I told him he might decide.'

'That was quite proper.'

'I told him he might never come back alive.'

'Probably not,' said the Senator, grimly, 'but you can be assured
that he will never come back alone.'

'Demetrius is a very sound fellow--for a slave,' observed
Marcellus.

The Senator made no immediate rejoinder, but his stern face and
flexed jaw indicated that his reflections were weighty.

'My son,' he said at length, staring moodily down the road, 'we
could use a few men in the Roman Senate with the brains and bravery
of your slave, Demetrius.'  He pulled his horse down to a walk.
'"Demetrius is a sound fellow--for a slave"; eh?  Well--his being a
slave does not mean that what he thinks, what he says, and what he
does are unimportant.  One of these days the slaves are going to
take over this rotted Government!  They could do it tomorrow if
they were organized.  You might say that their common desire for
liberty should unite them, but that is not enough.  All men want
more liberty than they have.  What the Roman slaves lack is
leadership.  In time, that will come.  You shall see!'  The Senator
paused so long, after this amazing declaration, that Marcellus felt
some response was in order.

'I never heard you express that opinion before, sir.  Do you think
there will be an uprising--among the slaves?'

'It lacks form,' replied Gallio.  'It lacks cohesion.  But some day
it will take shape; it will be integrated; it will develop a
leader, a cause, a slogan, a banner.  Three-fourths of this city's
inhabitants either have been or are slaves.  Daily our expeditionary
forces arrive with new shiploads of them.  It would require a very
shrewd and powerful Government to keep in subjugation a force three
times its size and strength.  But--look at our Government!  A mere
hollow shell!  It has no moral fiber!  Content with its luxury,
indolence, and profligacy, its extravagant pageants in honor of its
silly gods; ruled by an insane dotard and a drunken nonentity!  So,
my son, Rome is doomed!  I do not venture to predict when or how
Nemesis will arrive--but it is on its way.  The Roman Empire is too
weak and wicked to survive!'



Chapter II


Cornelius Capito was not in when Marcellus called at three to learn
what Gaius had planned for him.  This was surprising and a bit
ominous too.  The conspicuous absence of the Chief Legate, and his
deputizing of a young understrapper to handle the case, clearly
meant that Capito had no relish for an unpleasant interview with
the son of his lifelong friend.

The Gallios had walked their horses for the last two miles of the
journey in from Ismael's camp where the Senator had declined to
purchase the Hispanian mares at the exorbitant price demanded by
the avaricious old Syrian, though it was plain to see that the
day's events had dulled his interest in the negotiation.

The Senator's mind was fully occupied now with speculations about
Cornelius.  If anybody in Rome could temper the punitive assignment
which Gaius intended for his son, it would be the Commander of the
Praetorian Guard and Chief of the Legates who wielded an enormous
power in the making of appointments.

Slipping into a reminiscent--and candidly pessimistic--mood, the
elder Gallio had recited the deplorable story they both knew by
heart, the dismal epic of the Praetorian Guard.  Marcellus had been
brought up on it.  As if his son had never heard the tale before,
the Senator began away back in the time when Julius Caesar had
created this organization for his own security.  Picked men they
were, with notable records for daring deeds.  As the years rolled
on, the traditions of the Praetorian Guard became richer.  A
magnificent armory was built to house its battle trophies, and in
its spacious atrium were erected bronze and marble tablets
certifying to the memorable careers of its heroes.  To be a member
of the Praetorian Guard in those great--long since outmoded--days
when courage and integrity were valuable property, was the highest
honor the Empire could bestow.

Then, Gallio had continued gloomily, Augustus--whose vanity had
swollen into a monstrous, stinking, cancerous growth--had begun to
confer honorary memberships upon his favorites; upon Senators who
slavishly approved his mistakes and weren't above softening the
royal sandal-straps with their saliva; upon certain rich men who
had fattened on manipulations in foreign loot; upon wealthy slave-
brokers, dealers in stolen sculpture; upon provincial revenue-
collectors; upon almost anybody indeed who could minister to the
diseased Augustan ego, or pour ointment on his itching avarice.
And thus had passed away the glory and distinction of the
Praetorian Guard.  Its memberships were for sale.

For a little while, Tiberius had tried to arrest its accelerating
descent into hell.  Cornelius Capito, who had so often led his
legion into suicidal forays that a legend had taken shape about him--
for were not the gods directing a man whose life was so cheaply
held and so miraculously preserved?--was summoned home to be
Commander of the Praetorian Guard.  Capito had not wanted the
office, but had obeyed the command.  With the same kind of
recklessness that had won him honors on many a battlefield, he had
begun to clean up the discredited institution.  But it hadn't been
long until hard pressure on Tiberius made it necessary for the
Emperor to caution the uncompromising warrior about his honest
zeal.  He mustn't go too far in this business of cleansing the
Praetorian Guard.

'It was then,' declaimed Gallio, 'that brave old Capito discovered,
to his dismay, why Tiberius had called him to be the Commander;
simply to use his name as a deodorant!'

Marcellus had realized, at this juncture of his father's painful
reflections, that the remainder of the story would be somewhat
embarrassing; for it concerned the Military Tribunes.

'If Augustus had only been content'--the Senator was proceeding
according to schedule--'with his destruction of the Praetorian
Guard!  Perhaps, had he foreseen the result of his policy there,
not even his rapacious greed could have induced him to work the
same havoc with the Order of Tribunes.  But you know what happened,
my son.'

Yes--Marcellus knew.  The Order of Tribunes had been honorable too.
You had to be a Tribune, in deed and in truth, if you wanted to
wear its insignia.  Like the Praetorian Guard, it too was
handsomely quartered.  Tribunes, home on furlough or recovering
from injuries or awaiting orders, took advantage of the library,
the baths, the commissary that the Empire had provided for them.
Then Augustus had decided to expand the Order of Tribunes to
include all sons of Senators and influential taxpayers.  You
needn't ever have shouted an order or spent a night in a tent.  If
your father had enough money and political weight, you could wear
the uniform and receive the salute.

Marcellus liked to think that his own case was not quite so
indefensible as most of them.  He had not been a mere playboy.  At
the Academy he had given his full devotion to the history of
military campaigns, strategy, and tactics.  He was an accomplished
athlete, expert with the javelin, a winner of many prizes for
marksmanship with the bow.  He handled a dueling sword with the
skill of a professional gladiator.

Nor had his recreations been profitless.  Aristocratic youths,
eligible to the hierarchy of public offices, disdained any actual
practice of the fine arts.  They affected to be critics and
connoisseurs of painting and sculpture, but would have experienced
much embarrassment had they been caught with a brush or chisel in
hand.  Independent of this taboo, Marcellus had taken a serious
interest in sculpture, much to the delight of his father, who--upon
observing that he had a natural genius for it--had provided him
with competent tutors.

But--sometimes he had been appropriately sensitive about his status
as a Military Tribune when, as happened infrequently, some REAL
Tribune showed up at the ornate clubhouse, bronzed and battered and
bandaged, after grueling months on active duty.

However--Marcellus said to himself--it wasn't as if he had no
qualifications for military service.  He was abundantly prepared to
accept a commission if required to do so.  Occasionally he had
wished that an opportunity for such service might arise.  He had
never been asked to take a command.  And a man would be a fool,
indeed, to seek a commission.  War was a swinish business, intended
for bullies who liked to strut their medals and yell obscenities at
their inferiors and go for weeks without a bath.  He could do all
this if he had to.  He didn't have to; but he had never been
honestly proud of his title.  Sometimes when Decimus addressed him
as Tribune'--which was the surly fellow's custom on such occasions
as serving him his late breakfast in bed--Marcellus was tempted to
slap him, and he would have done so had he a better case.

They had ridden in silence for a little time, after the Senator had
aired his favorite grievances.

'Once in a while,' continued Gallio, meditatively, 'crusty Capito--
like blind Samson of the Hebrew myth--rouses to have his way.  I am
hopeful that he may intervene in your behalf, my son.  If it is an
honorable post, we will not lament even though it involves peril.
I am prepared to hand you over to danger--but not to disgrace.  I
cannot believe that my trusted friend will fail to do his utmost
for you, today.  I bid you to approach him with that expectation!'

His father had seemed so confident of this outcome that the
remainder of their ride had been almost enjoyable.  Assured that
the gruff but loyal old warrior, who had helped him into his first
white toga, would see to it that no indignities were practiced on
him by a petulant and vengeful Prince, Marcellus set off light-
heartedly to the impressive headquarters of the Chief Legate.

Accompanied by Demetrius, who was himself a striking figure in the
saddle, he rode through the increasingly crowded streets on the way
to the huge circular plaza, around half of which were grouped the
impressive marble buildings serving the Praetorian Guard and
ranking officials of the army.  To the left stretched a vast parade-
ground, now literally filled with loaded camel caravans and
hundreds of pack-asses.

An expedition was mobilizing, ready for departure on the long trip
to Gaul.  The plaza was a stirring scene!  Banners fluttered.  The
young officers were smart in their field uniforms.  The legionaries
were alert, spirited, apparently eager to be on their way.  Maybe
an experience of this sort would be stimulating, thought Marcellus.

Unable to ride into the plaza, because of the congestion, they
dismounted in the street, Marcellus handing his reins to Demetrius,
and proceeding through the narrow lane toward the Praetorium.  The
broad corridors were filled with Centurions awaiting orders.  Many
of them he knew.  They smiled recognition and saluted.  Perhaps
they surmised that he was here on some such business as their own,
and it gave him a little thrill of pride.  You could think what you
liked about the brutishness and griminess of war, it was no small
honor to be a Roman soldier--whatever your rank!  He shouldered his
way to the open door leading into Capito's offices.

'The Commander is not in,' rasped the busy deputy.  'He ordered me
to deliver this commission to you.'

Marcellus took the heavily sealed scroll from the fellow's hand,
hesitated a moment, half-inclined to inquire whether Capito
expected to return presently, decided against it; turned, and went
out, down the broad steps and across the densely packed plaza.
Demetrius, seeing him coming, led the horses forward and handed his
master the bay mare's bridle-reins.  Their eyes met.  After all,
thought Marcellus, Demetrius had a right to know where we stood in
this business.

'I have not opened it yet,' he said, tapping the scroll.  'Let us
go home.'

                         * * * * * *

The Senator was waiting for him in the library.

'Well--what did our friend Capito have for you?' he asked, making
no attempt to disguise his uneasiness.

'He was not there.  A deputy served me.'  Marcellus laid the scroll
on the desk and sat down to wait while his father impatiently
thrust his knife through the heavy seals.  For what seemed a very
long time the narrowed eyes raced the length of the pompous
manifesto.  Then Gallio cleared his throat, and faced his son with
troubled eyes.

'You are ordered to take command of the garrison at Minoa,' he
muttered.

'Where's Minoa?'

'Minoa is a villainously dirty little port city in southern
Palestine.'

'I never heard of it,' said Marcellus.  'I know about our forts at
Caesarea and Joppa; but--what have we at this Minoa?'

'It is the point of departure for the old trail that leads to the
Dead Sea.  Most of our salt comes from there, as you probably know.
The duty of our garrison at Minoa is to make that road safe for our
caravans.'

'Doesn't sound like a very interesting job,' commented Marcellus.
'I was anticipating something dangerous.'

'Well--you will not be disappointed.  It is dangerous enough.  The
Bedouins who menace that salt trail are notoriously brutal savages.
But because they are independent gangs of bandits, with hideouts in
that rocky desert region, we have never undertaken a campaign to
crush them.  It would have required five legions.'  The Senator was
speaking as if he were very well informed about Minoa, and
Marcellus was listening with full attention.

'You mean these desert brigands steal the salt from our caravans?'

'No--not the salt.  They plunder the caravans on the way in, for
they have to carry supplies and money to hire laborers at the salt
deposits.  Many of the caravans that set out over that trail are
never heard from again.  But that isn't quite all,' the Senator
continued.  'We have not been wasting very good men in the fort at
Minoa.  The garrison is composed of a tough lot of rascals.  More
than half of them were once commissioned officers who, for rank
insubordination or other irregularities, are in disfavor with the
Government.  The lesser half is made up of an assortment of
brawlers whose politics bred discontent.'

'I thought the Empire had a more prompt and less expensive method
of dealing with objectionable people.'

'There are some cases,' explained the Senator, 'in which a public
trial or a private assassination might stir up a protest.  In these
instances, it is as effective--and more practical--to send the
offender to Minoa.'

'Why, sir--this is equivalent to exile!'  Marcellus rose, bent
forward over his father's desk, and leaned his weight on his white-
knuckled fists.  'Do you know anything more about this dreadful
place?'

Gallio slowly nodded his head.

'I know all about it, my son.  For many years, one of my special
duties in the Senate--together with four of my colleagues--has been
the supervision of that fort.'  He paused, and began slowly rising
to his feet, his deep-lined face livid with anger.  'I believe that
was why Gaius Drusus Agrippa--'  The Senator savagely ground the
hated name to bits with his teeth.  'He planned this for my son--
because he knew--that I would know--what you were going into.'
Raising his arms high, and shaking his fists in rage, Gallio
shouted, 'Now I would that I were religious!  I would beseech some
god to damn his soul!'

                         * * * * * *

Cornelia Vipsania Gallio, who always slightly accented her middle
name--though she was only a stepdaughter to the divorced spouse of
Emperor Tiberius--might have been socially important had she made
the necessary effort.

If mere wishing on Cornelia's part could have induced her husband
to ingratiate himself with the Crown, Marcus Lucan Gallio could
have belonged to the inner circle, and any favor he desired for
himself or his family might have been granted; or if Cornelia
herself had gone to the bother of fawning upon the insufferable old
Julia, the Gallio household might have reached that happy elevation
by this shorter route.  But Cornelia lacked the necessary energy.

She was an exquisite creature, even in her middle forties; a person
of considerable culture, a gracious hostess, an affectionate wife,
an indulgent mother, and probably the laziest woman in the whole
Roman Empire.  It was said that sometimes slaves would serve the
Gallio establishment for months before discovering that their
mistress was not an invalid.

Cornelia had her breakfast in bed at noon, lounged in her rooms or
in the sunny garden all afternoon, drowsed over the classics,
apathetically swept her slim fingers across the strings of her
pandura; and was waited on, hand and foot, by everybody in the
house.  And everybody loved her, too, for she was kind and easy to
please.  Moreover, she never gave orders--except for her personal
comfort.  The slaves--under the competent and loyal supervision of
Marcipor; and the diligent, if somewhat surly, dictatorship of
Decimus in the culinary department--managed the institution unaided
by her counsel and untroubled by her criticism.  She was by nature
an optimist, possibly because fretting was laborious.  On rare
occasions, she was briefly baffled by unhappy events, and at such
times she wept quietly--and recovered.

Yesterday, however, something had seriously disturbed her habitual
tranquillity.  The Senator had made a speech.  Paula Gallus,
calling in the late afternoon, had told her.  Paula had been
considerably upset.

Cornelia was not surprised by the report that her famous husband
was pessimistic in regard to the current administration of Roman
government, for he was accustomed to walking the floor of her
bedchamber while delivering opinions of this nature; but she was
shocked to learn that Marcus had given the Senate the full benefit
of his accumulated dissatisfactions.  Cornelia had no need to ask
Paula why she was so concerned.  Paula didn't want Senator Gallio
to get himself into trouble with the Crown.  In the first place, it
would be awkward for Diana to continue her close friendship with
Lucia if the latter's eminent parent persisted in baiting Prince
Gaius.  And, too, was there not a long-standing conspiracy between
Paula and Cornelia to encourage an alliance of their houses
whenever Diana and Marcellus should become romantically aware of
each other?

Paula had not hinted at these considerations when informing
Cornelia that the Senator was cutting an impressive figure on some
pretty thin ice, but she had gone so far as to remind her long-time
friend that Prince Gaius--while notably unskillful at everything
else--was amazingly resourceful and ingenious when it came to
devising reprisals for his critics.

'But what can I do about it?' Cornelia had moaned languidly.
'Surely you're not hoping that I will rebuke him.  My husband would
not like to have people telling him what he may say in the Senate.'

'Not even his wife?'  Paula arched her patrician brows.

'Especially his wife,' rejoined Cornelia.  'We have a tacit
understanding that Marcus is to attend to his profession without my
assistance.  My responsibility is to manage his home.'

Paula had grinned dryly; and, shortly after, had taken her
departure, leaving behind her a distressing dilemma.  Cornelia
wished that the Senator could be a little less candid.  He was such
an amiable man when he wanted to be.  Of course, Gaius was a waster
and a fool; but--after all--he was the Prince Regent, and you
didn't have to call him names in public assemblies.  First thing
you knew, they'd all be blacklisted.  Paula Gallus was far too
prudent to let Diana become involved in their scrapes.  If the
situation became serious, they wouldn't be seeing much more of
Diana.  That would be a great grief to Lucia.  And it might affect
the future of Marcellus, too.  It was precious little attention he
had paid to the high-spirited young Diana, but Cornelia was still
hopeful.

Sometimes she worried, for a moment or two, about Marcellus.  One
of her most enjoyable dreams posed her son on a beautiful white
horse, leading a victorious army through the streets, dignifiedly
acknowledging the plaudits of a multitude no man could number.  To
be sure, you didn't head that sort of parade unless you had risked
some perils; but Marcellus had never been a coward.  All he needed
was a chance to show what kind of stuff he was made of.  He would
probably never get that chance now.  Cornelia cried bitterly; and
because there was no one else to talk to about it, she bared her
heart to Lucia.  And Lucia, shocked by her mother's unprecedented
display of emotion, had tried to console her.

But today, Cornelia had quite disposed of her anxiety; not because
the reason for it had been in any way relieved, but because she was
temperamentally incapable of concentrating diligently upon anything--
not even upon a threatened catastrophe.

                         * * * * * *

About four o'clock (Cornelia was in her luxurious sitting-room,
gently combing her shaggy terrier) the Senator entered and without
speaking dropped wearily into a chair, frowning darkly.

'Tired?' asked Cornelia, tenderly.  'Of course you are.  That long
ride.  And you were disappointed with the Hispanian horses, I
think.  What was the matter with them?'

'Marcellus has been ordered into service,' growled Gallio,
abruptly.

Cornelia pushed the dog off her lap and leaned forward
interestedly.

'But that is as it should be, don't you think?  We had expected
that it might happen some day.  Perhaps we should be glad.  Will it
take him far away?'

'Yes.'  The Senator nodded impressively.  'Far away.  He has been
ordered to command the fort at Minoa.'

'Command!  How very nice for him!  Minoa!  Our son is to be the
commander--of the Roman fort--at Minoa!  We shall be proud!'

'No!'  Gallio shook his white head.  'No!'  We shall not be proud!
Minoa, my dear, is where we send men to be well rid of them.  They
have little to do there but quarrel.  They are a mob of mutinous
cut-throats.  We frequently have to appoint a new commander.'  He
paused for a long, moody moment.  'This time the Senate Committee
on affairs at Minoa was not consulted about the appointment.  Our
son had his orders directly from Gaius.'

This was too much even for the well-balanced Cornelia.  She broke
into a storm of weeping; noisily hysterical weeping; her fingers
digging frantically into the glossy black hair that had tumbled
about her shapely shoulders; moaning painful and incoherent
reproaches that gradually became intelligible.  Racked with sobs,
Cornelia amazed them both by crying out, 'Why did you do it,
Marcus?  Oh--why did you have to bring this tragedy upon our son?
Was it so important that you should denounce Gaius--at such a cost
to Marcellus--and all of us?  Oh--I wish I could have died before
this day!'

Gallio bowed his head in his hands and made no effort to share the
blame with Marcellus.  His son was in plenty of trouble without the
added burden of a rebuke from his overwrought mother.

'Where is he?' she asked, thickly, trying to compose herself.  'I
must see him.'

'Packing his kit, I think,' muttered Gallio.  'He is ordered to
leave at once.  A galley will take him to Ostia where a ship sails
tomorrow.'

'A ship?  What ship?  If he must go, why cannot he travel in a
manner consistent with his rank?  Surely he can charter or buy a
vessel, and sail in comfort as becomes a Tribune.'

'There is no time for that, my dear.  They are leaving tonight.'

'They?  Marcellus--and who else?'

'Demetrius.'

'Well--the gods be thanked for that much!'  Cornelia broke out
again into tempestuous weeping.  'Why doesn't Marcellus come to see
me?' she sobbed.

'He will, in a little while,' said Gallio.  'He wanted me to tell
you about it first.  And I hope you will meet him in the spirit of
a courageous Roman matron.'  The Senator's tone was almost severe
now.  'Our son has received some very unhappy tidings.  He is
bearing them manfully, calmly, according to our best traditions.
But I do not think he could bear to see his mother destroy herself
in his presence.'

'Destroy myself!'  Cornelia, stunned by the words, faced him with
anguished eyes.  'You know I could never do a thing like that--no
matter what happened to us!'

'One does not have to swallow poison or hug a dagger, my dear, to
commit suicide.  One can kill oneself and remain alive physically.'
Gallio rose, took her hand, and drew Cornelia to her feet.  'Dry
your tears now, my love,' he said gently.  'When Marcellus comes,
let him continue to be proud of you.  There may be some trying days
ahead for our son.  Perhaps the memory of an intrepid mother will
rearm him when he is low in spirit.'

'I shall try, Marcus.'  Cornelia clung to him hungrily.  It had
been a long time since they had needed each other so urgently.

                         * * * * * *

After Marcellus had spent a half-hour alone with his mother--an
ordeal he had dreaded--his next engagement was with his sister.
Father had informed Lucia, and she had sent word by Tertia that she
would be waiting for him in the pergola whenever it was convenient
for him to come.

But first he must return to his rooms with the silk pillow his
mother had insisted on giving him.  It would be one more thing for
Demetrius to add to their already cumbersome impedimenta, but it
seemed heartless to refuse the present, particularly in view of the
fine fortitude with which she had accepted their mutual misfortune.
She had been tearful, but there had been no painful break-up of her
emotional discipline.

Marcellus found the luggage packed and strapped for the journey,
but Demetrius was nowhere to be found.  Marcipor, who had appeared
in the doorway to see if he might be of service, was queried; and
replied, with some reluctance and obvious perplexity, that he had
seen Demetrius on his horse, galloping furiously down the driveway,
fully an hour ago.  Marcellus accepted this information without
betraying his amazement.  It was quite possible that the Greek had
belatedly discovered the lack of some equipment necessary to their
trip, and had set off for it minus the permission to do so.  It was
inconceivable that Demetrius would take advantage of this
opportunity to make a dash for freedom.  No, decided Marcellus, it
wouldn't be that.  But the incident needed explanation, for if
Demetrius had gone for additional supplies he would not have
strapped the luggage until his return.

Lucia was leaning against the balustrade, gazing toward the Tiber
where little sails reflected final flashes of almost horizontal
sunshine, and galleys moved so sluggishly they would have seemed
not to be in motion at all but for the rhythmic dip of the long
oars.  One galley, a little larger than the others, was headed
toward a wharf.  Lucia cupped her hands about her eyes and was so
intent upon the sinister black hulk that she did not hear Marcellus
coming.

He joined her without words, and circled her girlish waist
tenderly.  She slipped her arm about him, but did not turn her
head.

'Might that be your galley?' she asked, pointing.  'It has three
banks, I think, and a very high prow.  Isn't that the kind that
meets ships at Ostia?'

'That's the kind,' agreed Marcellus, pleased that the conversation
promised to be dispassionate.  'Perhaps that is the boat.'

Lucia slowly turned about in his arms and affectionately patted his
cheeks with her soft palms.  She looked up, smiling resolutely, her
lips quivering a little; but she was doing very well, her brother
thought.  He hoped his eyes were assuring her of his approval.

'I am so glad you are taking Demetrius,' she said, steadily.  'He
wanted to go?'

'Yes,' replied Marcellus, adding after a pause, 'Yes--he quite
wanted to go.'  They stood in silence for a little while, her
fingers gently toying with the knotted silk cord at the throat of
his tunic.

'All packed up?'  Lucia was certainly doing a good job, they both
felt.  Her voice was well under control.

'Yes.'  Marcellus nodded with a smile that meant everything was
proceeding normally, just as if they were leaving on a hunting
excursion.  'Yes, dear--all ready to go.'  There was another longer
interval of silence.

'Of course, you don't know--yet'--said Lucia--'when you will be
coming home.'

'No,' said Marcellus.  After a momentary hesitation he added, 'Not
yet.'

Suddenly Lucia drew a long, agonized 'Oh!'--wrapped her arms
tightly around her brother's neck, buried her face against his
breast, and shook with stifled sobs.  Marcellus held her trembling
body close.

'No, no,' he whispered.  'Let's see it through, precious child.
It's not easy; but--well--we must behave like Romans, you know.'

Lucia stiffened, flung back her head, and faced him with streaming
eyes aflame with anger.

'Like Romans!' she mocked.  'Behave like Romans!  And what does a
Roman ever get for being brave--and pretending it is fine--and
noble--to give up everything--and make-believe it is glorious--
glorious to suffer--and die--for Rome!  For Rome!  I hate Rome!
Look what Rome has done to you--and all of us!  Why can't we live
in peace?  The Roman Empire--Bah!  What is the Roman Empire?  A
great swarm of slaves!  I don't mean slaves like Tertia and
Demetrius; I mean slaves like you and me--all our lives bowing and
scraping and flattering; our legions looting and murdering--and for
what?  To make Rome the capital of the world, they say!  But why
should the whole world be ruled by a lunatic like old Tiberius and
a drunken bully like Gaius?  I hate Rome!  I hate it all!'

Marcellus made no effort to arrest the torrent, thinking it more
practical to let his sister wear her passion out--and have done
with it.  She hung limp in his arms now, her heart pounding hard.

'Feel better?' he asked, sympathetically.  She slowly nodded
against his breast.  Instinctively glancing about, Marcellus saw
Demetrius standing a few yards away with his face averted from
them.  'I must see what he wants,' he murmured, relaxing his
embrace.  Lucia slipped from his arms and stared again at the
river, unwilling to let the imperturbable Greek see her so nearly
broken.

'The daughter of Legate Gallus is here, sir,' announced Demetrius.

'I can't see Diana now, Marcellus,' put in Lucia, thickly.  'I'll
go down through the gardens, and you talk to her.'  She raised her
voice a little.

'Bring Diana to the pergola, Demetrius.'  Without waiting for her
brother's approval, she walked rapidly toward the circular marble
stairway that led to the arbors and the pool.  Assuming that his
master's silence confirmed the order, Demetrius was setting off on
his errand.  Marcellus recalled him with a quiet word and he
retraced his steps.

'Do you suppose she knows?' asked Marcellus, frowning.

'Yes, sir.'

'What makes you think so?'

'The daughter of Legate Gallus appears to have been weeping, sir.'

Marcellus winced and shook his head.

'I hardly know what to say to her,' he confided, mostly to himself,
a dilemma that Demetrius made no attempt to solve.  'But'--
Marcellus sighed--'I suppose I must see her.'

'Yes, sir,' said Demetrius, departing on his errand.

Turning toward the balustrade, Marcellus watched his sister's
dejected figure moving slowly through the arbors, and his heart was
suffused with pity.  He had never seen Lucia so forlorn and undone.
It was not much wonder if she had a reluctance to meet Diana in her
present state of collapse.  Something told him that this impending
interview with Diana was likely to be difficult.  He had not often
been alone with her, even for a moment.  This time they would not
only be alone, but in circumstances extremely trying.  He was
uncertain what attitude he should take toward her.

She was coming now, out through the peristyle, walking with her
usual effortless grace, but lacking animation.  It was unlike
Demetrius to send a guest to the pergola unattended, even though
well aware that Diana knew the way.  Damn Demetrius!--he was
behaving very strangely this afternoon.  Greeting Diana might be
much more natural and unconstrained if he were present.  Marcellus
sauntered along the pavement to meet her.  It was true, as Lucia
had said; Diana was growing up--and she was lovelier in this
pensiveness than he had ever seen her.  Perhaps the bad news had
taken all the adolescent bounce out of her.  But, whatever might
account for it, Diana had magically matured.  His heart speeded a
little.  The elder-brotherly smile with which he was preparing to
welcome her seemed inappropriate if not insincere, and as Diana
neared him, his eyes were no less sober than hers.

She gave him both hands, at his unspoken invitation, and looked up
from under her long lashes, winking back the tears and trying to
smile.  Marcellus had never faced her like this before, and the
intimate contact stirred him.  As he looked deeply into her dark
eyes, it was almost as if he were discovering her; aware, for the
first time, of her womanly contours, her finely sculptured brows,
the firm but piquant chin, and the full lips--now parted with
painful anxiety--disclosing even white teeth, tensely locked.

'I am glad you came, Diana.'  Marcellus had wanted this to sound
fraternal, but it didn't.  He was intending to add, 'Lucia will
want to see you presently'--but he didn't; nor did he release her
hands.  It mystified him that she could stand still that long.

'Are you really going--tonight?' she asked, in a husky whisper.

Marcellus stared into her uplifted eyes, marveling that the
tempestuous, teasing, unpredictable Diana had suddenly become so
winsome.

'How did you know?' he queried.  'Who could have told you so soon?
I learned about it myself not more than three hours ago.'

'Does it matter--how I found out?'  She hesitated, as if debating
what next to say.  'I had to come, Marcellus,' she went on,
bravely.  'I knew you would have no time--to come to me--and say
good-bye.'

'It was very--'  He stopped on the verge of 'kind,' which, he felt,
would be too coolly casual, and saw Diana's eyes swimming with
tears.  'It was very dear of you,' he said, tenderly.  Marcellus
clasped her hands more firmly and drew her closer.  She responded,
after a momentary reluctance.

'I wouldn't have done it, of course,' she said, rather breathlessly--
'if the time hadn't been so short.  We're all going to miss you.'
Then, a little unsteadily, she asked, 'Will I hear from you,
Marcellus?'  And when he did not immediately find words to express
his happy surprise, she shook her head and murmured, 'I shouldn't
have said that, I think.  You will have more than enough to do.  We
can learn about each other through Lucia.'

'But I shall want to write to you, dear,' declared Marcellus, 'and
you will write to me--often--I hope.  Promise!'

Diana smiled mistily, and Marcellus watched her dimples deepen--and
disappear.  His heart skipped a beat when she whispered, 'You will
write to me tonight?  And send it back from Ostia--on the galley?'

'Yes--Diana!'

'Where is Lucia?' she asked, impetuously reclaiming her hands.

'Down in the arbors,' said Marcellus.

Before he realized her intention, Diana had run away.  At the top
of the stairs she paused to wave to him.  He was on the point of
calling to her--to wait a moment--that he had something more to
say; but the utter hopelessness of his predicament kept him silent.
What more, he asked himself, did he want to say to Diana?  What
promise could he make to her--or exact of her?  No--it was better
to let this be their leave-taking.  He waved her a kiss--and she
vanished down the stairway.  It was quite possible--quite probable
indeed--that he would never see Diana again.

Moodily, he started toward the house; then abruptly turned back to
the pergola.  The girls had met and were strolling, arm in arm,
through the rose arbor.  Perhaps he was having a final glimpse of
his lovable young sister, too.  There was no good reason why he
should put Lucia to the additional pain of another farewell.

It surprised him to see Demetrius ascending the stairway.  What
errand could have taken him down to the gardens, wondered
Marcellus.  Perhaps he would explain without being queried.  His
loyal Corinthian was not acting normally today.  Presently he
appeared at the top of the stairs and approached with the long,
military stride that Marcellus had often found difficult to match
when they were out on hunting trips.  Demetrius seemed very well
pleased about something; better than merely pleased.  He was
exultant!  Marcellus had never seen such an expression on his
slave's face.

'Shall I have the dunnage taken down to the galley now, sir?' asked
Demetrius, in a voice that betrayed recent excitement.

'Yes--if it is ready.'  Marcellus was organizing a question, but
found it difficult, and decided not to pry.  'You may wait for me
at the wharf,' he added.

'You will have had dinner, sir?'

Marcellus nodded; then suddenly changed his mind.  He had taken
leave of his family, one by one.  They had all borne up
magnificently.  It was too much to ask of them--and him--that they
should undergo a repetition of this distress in one another's
presence.

'No,' he said, shortly.  'I shall have my dinner on the galley.
You may arrange for it.'

'Yes, sir.'  Demetrius' tone indicated that he quite approved of
this decision.

Marcellus followed slowly toward the house.  There were plenty of
things he would have liked to do, if he had been given one more
day.  There was Tullus, for one.  He must leave a note for Tullus.

                         * * * * * *

Upon meeting in the arbor, Lucia and Diana had both wept,
wordlessly.  Then they had talked in broken sentences about the
possibilities of Marcellus' return, his sister fearing the worst,
Diana wondering whether some pressure might be brought to bear on
Gaius.

'You mean'--Lucia queried--'that perhaps my father might--'

'No.'  Diana shook her head decisively.  'Not your father.  It
would have to be done some other way.'  Her eyes narrowed
thoughtfully.

'Maybe your father could do something about it,' suggested Lucia.

'I don't know.  Perhaps he might, if he were here.  But his
business in Marseilles may keep him stationed there until next
winter.'

'You said good-bye to Marcellus?' asked Lucia, after they had
walked on a little way in silence.  She questioned Diana's eyes and
smiled pensively as she watched the color creeping up her cheeks.
Diana nodded and pressed Lucia's arm affectionately, but made no
other response.

'How did Demetrius get down here so fast?' she asked, impulsively.
'He came for me, you know, telling me Marcellus was leaving and
wanted to see me.  Just now I passed him.  Don't tell me that slave
was saying good-bye--like an equal?'

'It was rather strange,' admitted Lucia.  'Demetrius had never
spoken to me in his life, except to acknowledge an order.  I hardly
knew what to make of it, Diana.  He came out here, saluted with his
usual formality, and delivered a little speech that sounded as if
he had carefully rehearsed it.  He said, "I am going away with the
Tribune.  I may never return.  I wish to bid farewell to the sister
of my master and thank her for being kind to her brother's slave.
I shall remember her goodness."  Then he took this ring out of his
wallet--'

'Ring?' echoed Diana, incredulously.  'Hold still.  Let me look at
it,' she breathed.  Lucia held up her hand, with fingers outspread,
for a closer inspection in the waning light.  'Pretty; isn't it?'
commented Diana.  'What is that device--a ship?'

'Demetrius said,' continued Lucia, '"I should like to leave this
with my master's sister.  If I come back, she may return it to me.
If I do not come back, it shall be hers.  My father gave it to my
mother.  It is the only possession I was able to save."'

'But--how queer!' murmured Diana.  'What did you say to him?'

'Well--what could I say?'  Lucia's tone was self-defensive.  'After
all--he is going away with my brother--at the risk of his own life.
He's human; isn't he?'

'Yes--he's human,' agreed Diana, impatiently.  'Go on!  What did
you say?'

'I thanked him,' said Lucia, exasperatingly deliberate, 'and told
him I thought it was wonderful of him--and I do think it was, Diana--
to let me keep his precious ring; and--and--I said I hoped they
would both come home safely--and I promised to take good care of
his keepsake.'

'That was all right, I suppose,' nodded Diana, judicially.  'And--
then what?'  They had stopped on the tiled path, and Lucia seemed a
little confused.

'Well,' she stammered, 'he was still standing there--and I gave him
my hand.'

'You didn't!' exclaimed Diana.  'To a slave?'

'To shake, you know,' defended Lucia.  'Why shouldn't I have been
willing to shake hands with Demetrius?  He's as clean as we are;
certainly a lot cleaner than Bambo, who is always pawing me.'

'That's not the point, Lucia, whether Demetrius' hands are cleaner
than Bambo's feet--and you know it.  He is a slave, and we can't be
too careful.'  Diana's tone was distinctly stern, until her
curiosity overwhelmed her indignation.  'So--then'--she went on, a
little more gently--'he shook hands with you.'

'No--it was ever so much worse than that.'  Lucia grinned at the
sight of Diana's shocked eyes.  'Demetrius took my hand, and put
the ring on my finger--and then he kissed my hand--and--well--after
all, Diana--he's going away with Marcellus--maybe to die for him!
What should I have done?  Slap him?'

Diana laid her hands on Lucia's shoulders and looked her squarely
in the eyes.

'So--then--after that--what happened?'

'Wasn't that enough?' parried Lucia, flinching a little from
Diana's insistent search.

'Quite!'  After a pause, she said, 'You're not expecting to wear
that ring; are you, Lucia?'

'No.  There's no reason why I should.  It might get lost.  And I
don't want to hurt Tertia.'

'Is Tertia in love with Demetrius?'

'Mad about him!  She has been crying her eyes out, this afternoon,
the poor dear.'

'Does Demetrius know?'

'I don't see how he could help it.'

'And he doesn't care for her?'

'Not that way.  I made him promise he would say good-bye to her.'

'Lucia--had it ever occurred to you that Demetrius has been
secretly in love with you--maybe for a long time?'

'He has never given me any reason to think so,' replied Lucia,
rather vaguely.

'Until today, you mean,' persisted Diana.

Lucia meditated an answer for a long moment.

'Diana,' she said soberly, 'Demetrius is a slave.  That is true.
That is his misfortune.  He was gently bred, in a home of
refinement, and brought here in chains by ruffians who weren't fit
to tie his sandals!'  Her voice trembled with suppressed anger.
'Of course'--she went on, bitterly ironical--'their being Romans
made all the difference!  Just so you're a Roman, you don't have to
know anything--but pillage and bloodshed!  Don't you realize,
Diana, that everything in the Roman Empire today that's worth a
second thought on the part of any decent person was stolen from
Greece?  Tell me!--how does it happen that we speak Greek, in
preference to Latin?  It's because the Greeks are leagues ahead of
us, mentally.  There's only one thing we do better: we're better
butchers!'

Diana frowned darkly.

With her lips close to Lucia's ear, she said guardedly, 'You are a
fool to say such things--even to me!  It's too dangerous!  Isn't
your family in enough trouble?  Do you want to see all of us
banished--or in prison?'

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus stood alone at the rail of the afterdeck.  He had not
arrived at the wharf until a few minutes before the galley's
departure; and, going up to the cramped and stuffy cabin to make
sure his heavy luggage had been safely stowed, was hardly aware
that they were out in the river until he came down and looked
about.  Already the long warehouse and the docks had retreated into
the gloom, and the voices sounded far away.

High up on an exclusive residential hillside, two small points of
light flickered.  He identified them as the brasiers at the eastern
corners of the pergola.  Perhaps his father was standing there at
the balustrade.

Now they had passed the bend and the lights had disappeared.  It
was as if the first scroll of his life had now been written, read,
and sealed.  The pink glow that was Rome had faded and the stars
were brightening.  Marcellus viewed them with a strange interest.
They seemed like so many unresponsive spectators; not so dull-eyed
and apathetic as the Sphinx, but calmly observant, winking
occasionally to relieve the strain and clear their vision.  He
wondered whether they were ever moved to sympathy or admiration; or
if they cared, at all.

After a while he became conscious of the inexorable rasp of sixty
oars methodically swinging with one obedience to the metallic blows
of the boatswain's hammers as he measured their slavery on his huge
anvil. . . .  Click!  Clack!  Click!  Clack!

Home--and Life--and Love made a final, urgent tug at his spirit.
He wished he might have had an hour with Tullus, his closest
friend.  Tullus hadn't even heard what had happened to him.  He
wished he had gone back once more to see his mother.  He wished he
had kissed Diana.  He wished he had not witnessed the devastating
grief of his sister. . . .  Click!  Clack!  Click!  Clack!

He turned about and noticed Demetrius standing in the shadows near
the ladder leading to the cabins.  It was a comfort to sense the
presence of his loyal slave.  Marcellus decided to engage him in
conversation; for the steady hammer-blows, down deep in the
galley's hull, were beginning to pound hard in his temples.  He
beckoned.  Demetrius approached and stood at attention.  Marcellus
made the impatient little gesture with both hands and a shake of
the head which, by long custom, had come to mean, 'Be at ease!  Be
a friend!'  Demetrius relaxed his stiff posture and drifted over to
the rail beside Marcellus where he silently and without obvious
curiosity waited his master's pleasure.

'Demetrius'--Marcellus swept the sky with an all-inclusive arm--'do
you ever believe in the gods?'

'If it is my master's wish, I do,' replied Demetrius, perfunctorily.

'No, no,' said Marcellus, testily, 'be honest.  Never mind what I
believe.  Tell me what you think about the gods.  Do you ever pray
to them?'

'When I was a small boy, sir,' complied Demetrius, 'my mother
taught us to invoke the gods.  She was quite religious.  There was
a pretty statue of Priapus in our flower garden.  I can still
remember my mother kneeling there, on a fine spring day, with a
little trowel in one hand and a basket of plants in the other.  She
believed that Priapus made things grow. . . .  And my mother prayed
to Athene every morning when my brothers and I followed the teacher
into our schoolroom.'  He was silent for a while; and then, prodded
by an encouraging nod from Marcellus, he continued:  'My father
offered libations to the gods on their feast-days, but I think that
was to please my mother.'

'This is most interesting--and touching, too,' observed Marcellus.
'But you haven't quite answered my question, Demetrius.  Do you
believe in the gods--now?'

'No, sir.'

'Do you mean that you don't believe they render any service to men?
Or do you doubt that the gods exist, at all?'

'I think it better for the mind, sir, to disbelieve in their
existence.  The last time I prayed--it was on the day that our home
was broken up.  As my father was led away in chains, I knelt by my
mother and we prayed to Zeus--the Father of gods and men--to
protect his life.  But Zeus either did not hear us; or, hearing us,
had no power to aid us; or, having power to aid us, refused to do
so.  It is better, I think, to believe that he did not hear us than
to believe that he was unable or unwilling to give aid. . . .  That
afternoon my mother went away--upon her own invitation--because she
could bear no more sorrow. . . .  I have not prayed to the gods
since that day, sir.  I have cursed and reviled them, on occasions;
but with very little hope that they might resent my blasphemies.
Cursing the gods is foolish and futile, I think.'

Marcellus chuckled grimly.  This fine quality of contempt for the
gods surpassed any profanity he had ever heard.  Demetrius had
spoken without heat.  He had so little interest in the gods that he
even felt it was silly to curse them.

'You don't believe there is any sort of supernatural intelligence
in charge of the universe?' queried Marcellus, gazing up into the
sky.

'I have no clear thought about that, sir,' replied Demetrius,
deliberately.  'It is difficult to account for the world without
believing in a Creator, but I do not want to think that the acts of
men are inspired by superhuman beings.  It is better, I feel, to
believe that men have devised their brutish deeds without divine
assistance.'

'I am inclined to agree with you, Demetrius.  It would be a great
comfort, though, if--especially in an hour of bewilderment--one
could nourish a reasonable hope that a benevolent Power existed--
somewhere--and might be invoked.'

'Yes, sir,' conceded Demetrius, looking upward.  'The stars pursue
an orderly plan.  I believe they are honest and sensible.  I
believe in the Tiber, and in the mountains, and in the sheep and
cattle and horses.  If there are gods in charge of them, such gods
are honest and sound of mind.  But if there are gods on Mount
Olympus, directing human affairs, they are vicious and insane.'
Apparently feeling that he had been talking too much, Demetrius
stiffened, drew himself erect, and gave the usual evidences that he
was preparing to get back on his leash.  But Marcellus wasn't quite
ready to let him do so.

'Perhaps you think,' he persisted, 'that all humanity is crazy.'

'I would not know, sir,' replied Demetrius, very formally,
pretending not to have observed his master's sardonic grin.

'Well'--hectored Marcellus--'let's narrow it down to the Roman
Empire.  Do you think the Roman Empire is an insane thing?'

'Your slave, sir,' answered Demetrius, stiffly, 'believes whatever
his master thinks about that.'

It was clear to Marcellus that the philosophical discussion was
ended.  By experience he had learned that once Demetrius resolved
to crawl back into his slave status, no amount of coaxing would
hale him forth.  They both stood silently now, looking at the dark
water swirling about the stern.

The Greek is right, thought Marcellus.  That's what ails the Roman
Empire: it is mad!  That's what ails the whole world of men.  MAD!
If there is any Supreme Power in charge, He is MAD!  The stars are
honest and sensible.  But humanity is INSANE! . . .  Click!  Clack!
Click!  Clack!



Chapter III


After the tipsy little ship had staggered down past the Lapari
Islands in the foulest weather of the year, and had tacked gingerly
through the perilous Strait of Messina, a smooth sea and a
favourable breeze so eased Captain Manius's vigilance that he was
available for a leisurely chat.

'Tell me something about Minoa,' urged Marcellus, after Manius had
talked at considerable length about his many voyages: Ostia to
Palermo and back, Ostia to Crete, to Alexandria, to Joppa.

Manius laughed, down deep in his whiskers.

'You'll find, sir, that there is no such place as Minoa.'  And when
Marcellus's stare invited an explanation, the swarthy navigator
gave his passenger a lesson in history, some little of which he
already knew.

Fifty years ago, the legions of Augustus had laid siege to the
ancient city of Gaza, and had subdued it after a long and bitter
campaign that had cost more than the conquest was worth.

'It would have been cheaper,' observed Manius, 'to have paid the
high toll they demanded for travel on the salt trail.'

'But how about the Bedouins?' Marcellus wondered.

'Yes--and the Emperor could have bought off the Bedouins, too, for
less than that war cost.  We lost twenty-three thousand men, taking
Gaza.'

Manius went on with the story.  Old Augustus had been beside
himself with rage over the stubborn resistance of the defence--
composed of a conglomeration of Egyptians, Syrians, and Jews, none
of whom were a bit squeamish at the sight of blood, who never took
prisoners and were notoriously ingenious in the arts of torture.
Their attitude, he felt, in wilfully defying the might of the
Empire demanded that the old pest-hole Gaza should be cleaned up.
Henceforth, declared Augustus, it was to be known as the Roman city
of Minoa; and it was to be hoped that the inhabitants thereof,
rejoicing in the benefits conferred upon them by a civilized state,
would forget that there had ever been a municipality so dirty,
unhealthy, quarrelsome, and altogether nasty as Gaza.

'But Gaza,' continued Manius, 'had been Gaza for seventeen
centuries, and it would have taken more than an edict by Augustus
to change its name.'

'Or its manners, either, I daresay,' commented Marcellus.

'Or its smell,' added Manius, dryly.  'You know, sir,' he went on,
'the crusty white shore of that old Dead Sea is like a salt lick
beside a water-hole in the jungle where animals of all breeds and
sizes gather and fight.  This has been going on longer than any
nation's history can remember.  Occasionally some animal bigger
than the others has appeared, driving all the rest of them away.
Sometimes they have turned on the big fellow and chased him off,
after which the little ones have gone to fighting again among
themselves.  Well--that's Gaza for you!'

'But the salt lick,' put in Marcellus, 'is not at Gaza, but at the
Dead Sea.'

'Quite true,' agreed Manius, 'but you don't get to the Dead Sea for
a lick at the salt unless Gaza lets you.  For a long time the lion
of Judah kept all the other animals away, after he had scared off
the Philistine hyenas.  Then the big elephant Egypt frightened away
the lion.  Then Alexander the tiger jumped on to the elephant.
Always after a battle the little fellows would come sneaking back,
and claw the hides off one another while the big ones were licking
their wounds.'

'And what animal came after the tiger?' prodded Marcellus, though
he knew the answer.

'The Roman eagle,' replied Manius.  'Flocks and swarms of Roman
eagles, thinking to pick the bones; but there were plenty of
survivors not ready to have their bones picked.  That,' he
interrupted himself to remark, 'was how we lost three-and-twenty
thousand Romans--to get possession of the old salt lick.'

'A most interesting story,' mused Marcellus, who had never heard it
told just that way.

'Yes,' nodded Manius, 'an interesting story; but the most curious
part of it is the effect that these long battles had upon the old
city of Gaza.  After every invasion, a remnant of these foreign
armies would remain; deserters and men too badly crippled to travel
home.  They stayed in Gaza--a score of different breeds--to
continue their feuds.'  The Captain shook his head and made a wry
face.  'Many will tell you of the constant quarrelling and fighting
in port cities such as Rhodes and Alexandria where there is a mixed
population composed of every known tint and tongue.  Some say the
worst inferno on any coast of our sea is Joppa.  But I'll vote for
Gaza as the last place in the world where a sane man would want to
live.'

'Perhaps Rome should clean up Gaza again,' remarked Marcellus.

'Quite impossible!  And what is true of old Gaza is equally true of
all that country, up as far as Damascus.  The Emperor could send in
all the legions that Rome has under arms, and put on such a
campaign of slaughter as the world has never seen; but it wouldn't
be a permanent victory.  You can't defeat a Syrian.  And as for the
Jews!--you can kill a Jew, and bury him, but he'll climb out
alive!'  Noting Marcellus's amusement, Manius grinningly
elaborated, 'Yes, sir--he will climb right up the spade-handle and
sell you the rug he'd died in!'

'But,' queried Marcellus, anxious to know more about his own job,
'doesn't our fort at Minoa--or Gaza, rather--keep order in the
city?'

'Not at all!  Hasn't anything to do with the city.  Isn't located
in the city, but away to the east in a most desolate strip of
desert sand, rocks, and scratchy vegetation.  You will find only
about five hundred officers and men--though the garrison is called
a legion.  They are there to make the marauding Bedouins a bit
cautious.  Armed detachments from the fort go along with the
caravans, so that the brigands will not molest them.  Oh,
occasionally'--Manius yawned widely--'not very often, a caravan
starts across and never comes back.'

'How often?' asked Marcellus, hoping the question would sound as if
he were just making conversation.

'Well, let's see,' mumbled Manius, squinting one eye shut and
counting on his battered fingers.  'I've heard of only four, this
past year.'

'Only four,' repeated Marcellus, thoughtfully.  'I suppose that on
these occasions the detachment from the fort is captured too.'

'Of course.'

'And put into slavery, maybe?'

'No, not likely.  The Bedouins don't need slaves; wouldn't be
bothered with them.  Your Bedouin, sir, is a wild man; wild as a
fox and sneaking as a jackal.  When he strikes, he slips up on you
from the rear and lets you have it between your shoulder blades.'

'But--doesn't the garrison avenge these murders?' exclaimed
Marcellus.

Manius shook his head and smiled crookedly.

'That garrison, sir, does not amount to much, if you'll excuse my
saying so.  None of them care.  They're poorly disciplined, poorly
commanded, and haven't the slightest interest in the fort.  Every
now and then they have a mutiny and somebody gets killed.  You
can't expect much of a fort that sheds most of its blood on the
drill-ground.'

                         * * * * * *

That night Marcellus felt he should confide his recent information
to Demetrius.  In a quiet voice, as they lay in their adjacent
bunks, he gave his Corinthian a sketch of the conditions in which
they were presently to find themselves, speaking his thoughts as
freely as if his slave were jointly responsible for whatever policy
might be pursued.

Demetrius had listened in silence throughout the dismaying recital,
and when Marcellus had concluded he ventured to remark laconically,
'My master must command the fort.'

'Obviously!' responded Marcellus.  'That's what I am commissioned
to do!  What else, indeed?'  And as there was no immediate reply
from the other bunk, he added, testily, 'What do you mean?'

'I mean, sir, if the garrison is unruly and disorderly, my master
will exact obedience.  It is not for his slave to suggest how this
may be accomplished; but it will be safer for my master if he takes
full command of the fort instantly--and firmly!'

Marcellus raised himself on one elbow and searched the Greek's eyes
in the gloom of the stuffy cabin.

'I see what you have in mind, Demetrius.  Now that we know the
temper of this place, you think the new Legate should not bother
about making himself agreeable, but should swagger in and crack a
few heads without waiting for formal introductions.'

'Something like that,' approved Demetrius.

'Give them some strong medicine, eh?  Is that your idea?'

'When one picks up a nettle, sir, one should not grasp it gently.
Perhaps these idle men would be pleased to obey a commander as well-
favoured and fearless as my master.'

'Your words are gracious, Demetrius.'

'Almost any man, sir, values justice and courage.  My master is
just--and my master is also bold.'

'That's how your master got into this predicament, Demetrius,'
chuckled Marcellus ironically, 'by being bold.'

Apparently unwilling to discuss that unhappy circumstance, but
wanting to support his end of the conversation, Demetrius said,
'Yes, sir,' so soberly that Marcellus laughed.  Afterwards there
was such a long hiatus that it was probable the Corinthian had
dropped off to sleep, for the lazy roll of the little ship was an
urgent sedative.  Marcellus lay awake for an hour, consolidating
the plan suggested by his shrewd and loyal Greek.  Demetrius, he
reflected, is right.  If I am to command this fort at all, I must
command it from the moment of my arrival.  If they strike me down
my exit will be at least honourable.

                         * * * * * *

It was well past mid-afternoon on the eighth day of March when
Captain Manius manoeuvred his unwieldly little tub through the busy
roadstead of Gaza, and warped her flank against a vacant wharf.
His duties at the moment were pressing, but he found time to say
good-bye to the young Tribune with something of the sombre
solicitude of the next of kin bidding farewell to the dying.

Demetrius had been among the early ones over the rail.  After a
while he returned with five husky Syrians, to whom he pointed out
the burdens to be carried.  There were no uniforms on the dirty
wharf, but Marcellus was not disappointed.  He had not expected to
be met.  The garrison had not been advised of his arrival.  He
would be obliged to appear at the fort unheralded.

Gaza was in no hurry, probably because of her great age and many
infirmities.  It was a full hour before enough pack-asses were
found to carry the baggage.  Some more time was consumed in loading
them.  Another hour was spent moving at tortoise speed through the
narrow, rough-cobbled, filthy streets, occasionally blocked by
shrieking contestants for the right of way.

The Syrians had divined the Tribune's destination when they saw his
uniform, and gave him a surly obedience.  At length they were out
on a busy, dusty highway, Marcellus heading the procession on a
venerable, half-shed camel, led by the reeking Syrian with whom
Demetrius--by pantomime--had haggled over the price of the
expedition.  This bargaining had amused Marcellus; for Demetrius,
habitually quiet and reserved, had shouted and gesticulated with
the best of them.  Knowing nothing about the money of Gaza, or the
rates for the service he sought, the Corinthian had fiercely
objected to the Syrian's first three proposals, and had finally
come to terms with savage mutters and scowls.  It was difficult to
recognize Demetrius in this new rle.

Far ahead, viewed through the billowing clouds of yellow dust,
appeared an immensely ugly twelve-acre square bounded by a high
wall built of sun-baked brick, its corners dignified by tall
towers.  As they drew nearer, a limp Roman banner was identified,
pendent from an oblique pole at the corner.

An indolent, untidy sentry detached himself from a villainous group
of unkempt legionaries squatting on the ground, slouched to the big
gate, and swung it open without challenging the party.  Perhaps,
thought Marcellus, the lazy lout had mistaken their little parade
for a caravan that wanted to be convoyed.  After they had filed
through into the barren, sun-blistered courtyard, another sentry
ambled down the steps of the praetorium and stood waiting until the
Tribune's grunting camel had folded up her creaking joints.
Demetrius, who had brought up the rear of the procession,
dismounted from his donkey and marched forward to stand at his
master's elbow.  The sentry, whose curiosity had been stirred by
the sight of the Tribune's insignia, saluted clumsily with a
tarnished sword in a dirty hand.

'I am Tribune Marcellus Gallio!'  The words were clipped and harsh.
'I am commissioned to take command of this fort.  Conduct me to the
officer in charge.'

'Centurion Paulus is not here, sir.'

'Where is he?'

'In the city, sir.'

'And when Centurion Paulus goes to the city, is there no one in
command?'

'Centurion Sextus, sir; but he is resting, and has given orders not
to be disturbed.'

Marcellus advanced a step and stared into the sulky eyes.

'I am not accustomed to waiting for men to finish their naps,' he
growled.  'Obey me--instantly!  And wash your dirty face before you
let me see it again!  What is this--a Roman fort, or a pigsty?'

Blinking a little, the sentry backed away for a few steps; and,
turning, disappeared through the heavy doors.  Marcellus strode
heavily to and fro before the entrance, his impatience mounting.
After waiting for a few moments, he marched up the steps, closely
followed by Demetrius, and stalked through the gloomy hall.
Another sentry appeared.

'Conduct me to Centurion Sextus!' shouted Marcellus.

'By whose orders?' demanded the sentry, gruffly.

'By the orders of Tribune Marcellus Gallio, who has taken command
of this fort.  Lead on--and be quick about it!'

At that moment a near-by door opened and a burly, bearded figure
emerged wearing an ill-conditioned uniform with a black eagle woven
into the right sleeve of his red tunic.  Marcellus brushed the
sentry aside and confronted him.

'You are Centurion Sextus?' asked Marcellus; and when Sextus had
nodded dully, he went on, 'I am ordered by Prince Gaius to command
this fort.  Have your men bring in my equipment.'

'Well--not so fast, not so fast,' drawled Sextus.  'Let's have a
look at that commission.'

'Certainly.'  Marcellus handed him the scroll; and Sextus, lazily
unrolling it, held it close to his face in the waning light.

'I suggest, Centurion Sextus,' rasped Marcellus, 'that we repair to
the Legate's quarters for this examination.  In the country of
which I am a citizen, there are certain courtesies--'.

Sextus grinned unpleasantly and shrugged.

'You're in Gaza now,' he remarked, half-contemptuously.  'In Gaza,
you will find, we do things the easy way, and are more patient than
our better-dressed equals in Rome.  Incidentally,' added Sextus,
dryly, as he led the way down the hall, 'I too am a Roman citizen.'

'How long has Centurion Paulus been in command here?' asked
Marcellus, glancing about the large room into which Sextus had
shown him.

'Since December.  He took over temporarily, after the death of
Legate Vitelius.'

'What did Vitelius die of?'

'I don't know, sir.'

'Not of wounds, then,' guessed Marcellus.

'No, sir.  He had been ailing.  It was a fever.'

'It's a wonder you're not all sick,' observed Marcellus, dusting
his hands, distastefully.  Turning to Demetrius he advised him to
go out and stand guard over their equipment until it was called
for.

Sextus mumbled some instructions to the sentry, who drifted away.

'I'll show you the quarters you may occupy until Commander Paulus
returns,' he said, moving toward the door.  Marcellus followed.
The room into which he was shown contained a bunk, a table, and two
chairs.  Otherwise it was bare and grim as a prison cell.  A door
led into a smaller unfurnished cubicle.

'Order another bunk for this kennel,' growled Marcellus.  'My slave
will sleep here.'

'Slaves do not sleep in the officers' row, sir,' replied Sextus,
firmly.

'My slave does!'

'But it's against orders, sir!'

'There are no orders at this fort--but mine!' barked Marcellus.

Sextus nodded his head, and a knowing grin twisted his shaggy lips
as he left the room.

                         * * * * * *

It was a memorable evening at the fort.  For years afterwards the
story was retold until it had the flavour of a legend.

Marcellus, accompanied by his orderly, had entered the big mess-
hall to find the junior officers seated.  They did not rise, but
there were no evidences of hostility in the inquisitive glances
they turned in his direction as he made his way to the round table
in the centre of the room.  A superficial survey of the surrounding
tables informed Marcellus that he was the youngest man present.
Demetrius went directly to the kitchen to oversee his master's
service.

After a while, Centurion Paulus arrived, followed by Sextus who had
apparently waited to advise his chief of recent events.  There was
something of a stir when they came striding across the room to the
centre table.  Sextus mumbled an ungracious introduction.
Marcellus rose and was ready to offer his hand, but Paulus did not
see it; merely bowed, drew out his chair, and sat.  He was not
drunk, but it was evident that he had been drinking.  His lean
face, stubbly with a three-days' beard, was unhealthily ruddy; and
his hands, when he began to gobble his food, were shaky.  They were
also dirty.  And yet, in spite of his general appearance, Paulus
bore marks of a discarded refinement.  This man, thought Marcellus,
may have been somebody, once upon a time.

'The new Legate, eh?' mumbled Paulus, with his mouth full.  'We
have had no word of his appointment.  However'--he waved a
negligent hand, and helped himself to another large portion from
the messy bowl of stewed meat--'we can go into that later; to-
morrow, perhaps.'  For some minutes he wolfed his rations, washing
down the greasy meat with noisy gulps of a sharp native wine.

Having finished, Paulus folded his hairy arms on the table and
stared insolently into the face of the young interloper.  Marcellus
met his cloudy eyes steadily.  Each knew that the other was taking
his measure, not only as to height and weight--in which dimensions
they were approximately matched, with Paulus a few pounds heavier,
perhaps, and a few years older--but, more particularly, appraising
each other's timbre and temper.  Paulus grimaced unpleasantly.

'Important name--Gallio,' he remarked, with mock deference.  'Any
relation to the rich Senator?'

'My father,' replied Marcellus, coolly.

'Oh-oh!' chuckled Paulus.  'Then you must be one of these club-
house Tribunes'.  He glanced about, as conversation at the
adjoining tables was suppressed.  'One would think Prince Gaius
could have found a more attractive post for the son of Senator
Gallio,' he went on, raising his voice for the benefit of the
staff.  'By Jove, I have it!' he shouted hilariously, slapping
Sextus on the shoulder.  'The son of Marcus Lucan Gallio has been a
bad boy!'  He turned again to Marcellus.  'I'll wager this is your
first command, Tribune.'

'It is,' replied Marcellus.  The room was deathly still now.

'Never gave an order in your life, eh?' sneered Paulus.

Marcellus pushed back his chair and rose, conscious that three
score of interested eyes were studying his serious face.

'I am about to give an order now!' he said, steadily.  'Centurion
Paulus, you will stand and apologize for conduct unbecoming an
officer!'

Paulus hooked an arm over the back of his chair, and grinned.

'You gave the wrong order, my boy,' he snarled.  Then, as he
watched Marcellus deliberately unsheathing his broadsword, Paulus
overturned his chair as he sprang to his feet.  Drawing his sword,
he muttered, 'You'd better put that down, youngster!'

'Clear the room!' commanded Marcellus.

There was no doubt in anyone's mind now as to the young Tribune's
intention.  He and Paulus had gone into this business too far to
retreat.  The tables were quickly pushed back against the wall.
Chairs were dragged out of the way.  And the battle was on.

At the beginning of the engagement, it appeared to the audience
that Paulus had decided to make it a brief and decisive affair.
His command of the fort was insecurely held, for he was of erratic
temper and dissolute habits.  Obviously he had resolved upon a
quick conquest as an object-lesson to his staff.  As for the
consequences, Paulus had little to lose.  Communication with Rome
was slow.  The tenure of a commander's office was unstable and
brief.  Nobody in Rome cared much what happened in the fort at
Minoa.  True--it was risky to kill the son of a Senator, but the
staff would bear witness that the Tribune had drawn first.

Paulus immediately forced the fight with flailing blows, any one of
which would have split his young adversary in twain had it landed
elsewhere than on Marcellus's parrying sword.  Quite willing to be
on the defensive for a while, Marcellus allowed himself to be
rushed backwards until they had almost reached the end of the long
mess-hall.  The faces of the junior officers, ranged around the
wall, were tense.  Demetrius stood with clenched fists and anxious
eyes as he saw his master being crowded back toward a corner.

Step by step, Paulus marched into his retreating antagonist,
raining blow after blow upon the defensive sword until, encouraged
by his success, he saw his quarry backing into a hopeless position.
He laughed--as he decreased the tempo of his strokes, assured now
of his victory.  But Marcellus believed there was a note of anxiety
in the tone of that guttural laugh; believed also that the
decreased fury of the blows was not due to the heavier man's
assurance, but because of a much more serious matter.  Paulus was
getting tired.  There was a strained look on his face as he raised
his sword-arm.  It was probably beginning to ache.  Paulus was out
of training.  Life at Minoa had told on him.  We take things easy
in Gaza.

As they neared the critical corner, Paulus raised his arm woodenly
to strike a mighty blow; and, this time, Marcellus did not wait for
it to descend, but slashed his sword laterally so close to Paulus's
throat that he instinctively threw back his head, and the blow went
wide.  In that instant Marcellus wheeled about quickly.  It was
Paulus now who was defending the corner.

Marcellus did not violently press his advantage.  Wearied by his
unaccustomed exercise, Paulus was breathing heavily and his
contorted mouth showed a mounting alarm.  He had left off flailing
now; and, changing his tactics for a better strategy, seemed to be
remembering his training.  And he was no mean swordsman, Marcellus
discovered: at least, there had been a time, no doubt, when Paulus
might have given a good account of himself in the arena.

Marcellus caught sight of Demetrius again, and noted that his
slave's face was eased of its strain.  We were on familiar ground
now, doing battle with skill rather than brute strength.  This was
ever so much better.  Up till this moment, Marcellus had never been
engaged in a duelling-match where his adversary had tried to hew
him down with a weapon handled as an axe is swung.  But Paulus was
fighting like a Roman Centurion now, not like a common butcher
cleaving a beef.

For a brief period, while their swords rang with short, sharp,
angry clashes, Marcellus gradually advanced.  Once, Paulus cast his
eyes about to see how much room was left to him; and Marcellus
obligingly retreated a few steps.  It was quite clear to every
watcher that he had voluntarily given Paulus a better chance to
take care of himself.  There was a half-audible ejaculation.  This
manoeuvre of the new Legate might not be in keeping with the dulled
spirit of Minoa, but it stirred a memory of the manner in which
brave men dealt with one another in Rome.  The eyes of Demetrius
shone with pride.  His master was indeed a thoroughbred.
'Eugenos!' he exclaimed.

But Paulus was in no mood to accept favours.  He came along
swiftly, with as much audacity as if he had earned this more stable
footing, and endeavoured to force Marcellus into further retreat.
But on that spot the battle was permanently settled.  Paulus tried
everything he could recall, dodging, crouching, feinting--and all
the time growing more and more fatigued.  Now his guard was
becoming sluggish and increasingly vulnerable.  Twice, the
spectators noted, it would have been simple enough for the Tribune
to have ended the affair.

And now, with a deft manoeuvre, Marcellus brought the engagement to
a dramatic close.  Studying his opportunity, he thrust the tip of
his broadsword into the hilt-housing of Paulus's wearied weapon,
and tore it out of his hand.  It fell with a clatter to the stone
floor.  Then there was a moment of absolute silence.  Paulus stood
waiting.  His posture did him credit, all thought; for, though his
face showed the shock of this stunning surprise, it was not the
face of a coward.  Paulus was decisively defeated, but he had
better stuff in him than any of them had supposed.

Marcellus stooped and picked up the fallen broadsword by its tip,
drew back his arm with the slow precision of a careful aim, and
sent it swiftly, turning end over end through the mess-hall, to the
massive wooden door, where it drove its weight deep into the timber
with a resounding thud.  Nobody broke the stillness that followed.
Marcellus then reversed his own sword in his hand, again took a
deliberate aim, and sent the heavy weapon hurtling through the air
towards the same target.  It thudded deep into the door close
beside the sword of Paulus.

The two men faced each other silently.  Then Marcellus spoke;
firmly but not arrogantly.

'Centurion Paulus,' he said, 'you will now apologize for conduct
unbecoming an officer.'

Paulus shifted his weight and drew a long breath; half-turned to
face the tightening ring of spectators; then straightened
defiantly, folded his arms, and sneered.

Marcellus deliberately drew his dagger from his belt, and stepped
forward.  Paulus did not move.

'You had better defend yourself, Centurion,' warned Marcellus.
'You have a dagger, have you not?  I advise you to draw it!'  He
advanced another step.  'Because--if you do not obey my order--I
intend to kill you!'

It was not easy for Paulus, but he managed to do it adequately.
Demetrius remarked afterwards that it was plain to be seen that
Centurion Paulus was not an accomplished orator, which Marcellus
thought was a very droll comment.

After Paulus had stammered through his glum impromptu speech,
Marcellus responded, 'Your apology is accepted, Centurion.  Now
perhaps there is something else that you might think it timely to
say to your fellow officers.  I have not yet been officially
presented to them.  As the retiring Commander, it is, I feel, your
right to extend this courtesy.'

Paulus fully found his voice this time, and his announcement was
made in a firm tone.

'I am introducing Tribune Marcellus Gallio, the Legate of this
legion, and Commander of this fort.'

There was a concerted clatter of swords drawn in salute--all but
the sword of paunchy old Sextus, who pretended to be adjusting his
harness.

'Centurion Sextus!' called Marcellus, sharply.  'Bring me my
sword!'

All eyes watched Sextus plod awkwardly over to the big door and tug
the sword out of the thick planking.

'Bring the sword of Centurion Paulus, also!' commanded Marcellus.

Sextus worked the second broadsword out of the timber, and came
with heavy feet and a dogged air.  Marcellus took the heavy
weapons, handed Paulus his, and waited to receive Sextus's salute.
The hint was taken without further delay.  Paulus also saluted
before sheathing his sword.

'We will now finish our dinner,' said Marcellus, coolly.  'You will
restore the tables to their places.  Breakfast will be served to
the staff to-morrow morning at five.  All officers will be smooth-
shaven.  There will be an inspection on the parade-ground at six,
conducted by Lieutenant-Commander Paulus.  That will do.'

Paulus had asked, respectfully enough, to be excused as they
returned to their table, and Marcellus had given him permission to
go.  Sextus was trailing along after him, without asking leave; and
upon being sharply asked if he had not forgotten something, mumbled
that he had finished his dinner.

'Then you will have time,' said Marcellus, 'to clear the
Commander's quarters, so that I may occupy those rooms to-night.'

Sextus acknowledged the order and tramped heavily to the door.
Appetites were not keen, but the staff made a show of finishing
dinner.  Marcellus lingered at his table.  At length, when he rose,
they all stood in their places.  He bowed and left the room,
followed by Demetrius.  As they passed the open door of the
Commander's rooms, on their way to the quarters which had been
assigned them earlier, it was observed that a dozen slaves were
busily engaged in making the place ready for occupation.

After a few minutes, the men came and transferred their various
gear to the Commander's quarters.  When they were alone, Marcellus
sat down behind the big desk.  Demetrius stood at attention before
him.

'Well, Demetrius?'  Marcellus raised his brows inquiringly.  'What
is on your mind?'

Demetrius brought the shaft of his spear to his forehead in salute.

'I wish to say, sir, that I am much honoured to be the slave of the
Commander of Minoa.'

'Thanks, Demetrius,' smiled Marcellus, wearily.  'We will have to
wait--and see--who commands Minoa.  This is a tough undertaking.
The preliminary skirmish was satisfactory, but--making peace is
always more difficult than making war.'

For the next few days the nerves of the legion were tense.  The new
Legate had demonstrated his determination to be in full authority,
but it was by no means clear whether that authority would be
maintained on any other terms than a relentless coercion.

Paulus had suffered a severe loss of prestige, but his influence
was still to be reckoned with.  He was obeying orders respectfully,
but with such grim taciturnity that no one was able to guess what
was going on in his mind.  Whether he was not yet fully
convalescent from the wounds dealt to his pride, or was sullenly
deliberating some overt act of revenge, remained to be seen.
Marcellus had formed no clear opinion about this.  Demetrius
planted his bunk directly inside the door, every night, and slept
with his dagger in his hand.

After a week, the tension began to relax a little as the garrison
became accustomed to the new discipline.  Marcellus issued crisp
orders and insisted upon absolute obedience; not the sluggish
compliance that had been good enough for Gaza, but a prompt and
vigorous response that marched with clipped steps and made no
tarrying to ask foolish questions or offer lame excuses.

It had seemed wise to the new Commander to let his more personal
relations with the staff develop naturally without too much
cultivation.  He showed no favouritism, preserved his official
dignity, and in his dealings with his fellow officers wasted no
words.  He was just, considerate, and approachable, but very firm.
Presently the whole organization was feeling the effect of the
tighter regulations, but without apparent resentment.  The men
marched with a fresh vigour and seemed to take pride in keeping
their equipment in order.  The appearance and morale of the
officers had vastly improved.

Every morning, Paulus, now second in command, came to the office of
Marcellus for instructions.  Not a word had passed between them
relative to their dramatic introduction.  Their conversations were
conducted with icy formality and the stiffest kind of official
courtesy.  Paulus, faultlessly dressed, would appear at the door
and ask to see the Commander.  The sentry would convey the request.
The Commander would instruct the sentry to admit the Centurion.
Paulus would enter and stand straight as an arrow before the
official desk.  Salutes would be exchanged.

'It is necessary to replace six camels, sir.'

'Why?' Marcellus would snap.

'One is lame.  Two are sick.  Three are too old for service.'

'Replace them!'

'Yes, sir.'

Then Paulus would salute and stalk out.  Sometimes Marcellus
wondered whether this frosty relationship was to continue for ever.
He hoped not.  He was feeling lonely in the remote altitude to
which he had climbed in order to maintain discipline.  Paulus was,
he felt, an excellent fellow; embittered by this exile, and morally
disintegrated by the boredom and futility of his desert life.
Marcellus had resolved that if Paulus showed the slightest
inclination to be friendly, he would meet the overture halfway; but
not a step farther.  Nor would he take the initiative.

As for Sextus, Marcellus had very little direct contact with him,
for Sextus received his orders through Paulus.  The big, gruff
fellow had been punctilious in his obedience, but very glum.  At
the mess-table he had nothing to say; ate his rations with a scowl,
and asked to be excused.

One evening, after ten days had passed, Marcellus noticed that
Sextus's chair was vacant.

'Where is he?' demanded the Commander, nodding toward the
unoccupied place.

'Broke his leg, sir,' answered Paulus.

'When?'

'This afternoon, sir.'

'How?'

'Stockade gate fell on him, sir.'

Marcellus immediately rose and left the table.  After a moment,
Paulus followed and overtook him on the way to Sextus's quarters.
They fell into step, and marched side by side with long strides.

'Bad break?'

'Clean break.  Upper leg.  Not much mangled.'

Sextus was stretched out on his back, beads of sweat on his
forehead.  He glanced up and made an awkward gesture of greeting.

'Much pain?' inquired Marcellus.

'No, sir.'  Sextus gritted his teeth.

'Gallant liar!' snapped Marcellus.  'Typical Roman lie!  You
wouldn't admit you were in pain if you'd been chopped to mincemeat!
That bunk is bad; sags like a hammock.  We will find a better one.
Have you had your dinner?'

Sextus shook his head; said he didn't want anything to eat.

'Well--we'll see about that!' said Marcellus, gruffly.

By inspection hour next morning, the story had spread through the
acres of brown tents that the new Commander--who had had them all
on the jump and had strutted about through the camp with long legs
and a dark frown--had gone to the kitchen of the officers' mess and
had concocted a nourishing broth for old Sextus; had moved him to
airier quarters; had supervised the making of a special bed for
him.

That day Marcellus became the Commander of the fort at Minoa.  That
night Demetrius did not take his dagger to bed with him; he didn't
even bother to lock the door.

                         * * * * * *

The next morning, Paulus pushed the sentry aside at the Commander's
quarters and entered without more ceremony than a casual salute.
Marcellus pointed to a vacant chair and Paulus accepted it.

'Hot day, Centurion Paulus,' remarked Marcellus.

'Gaza does not believe in pleasant weather, sir.  The climate suits
the temper of the people.  It's either hot or cold.'  Paulus tipped
back his chair and thrust his thumbs under his belt.  'The Jews
have an important festival, sir.  They observe it for a week when
the moon is full in the month they call Nisan.  Perhaps you know
about it.'

'No, never heard of it,' admitted Marcellus.  'Is it any of our
business?'

'It's their annual Passover Week,' explained Paulus, 'celebrating
their flight from Egypt.'

'What have they been doing down in Egypt?' asked Marcellus
indifferently.

'Nothing--lately,' grinned Paulus.  'This happened fifteen
centuries ago.'

'Oh--that!  Do they still remember?'

'The Jews never forget anything, sir.  Every year at this season,
all the Jews who can possibly get there go to Jerusalem to "eat the
Passover," as their saying is; but most of them are quite as much
interested in family reunions, games, sports, auctions, and all
manner of shows.  Caravans of merchandise come from afar to market
their wares.  Thousands crowd the city and camp in the surrounding
hills.  It is a lively spectacle, sir.'

'You have been there, it seems.'

'On each of the eleven years since I was sent to this fort, sir,'
nodded Paulus.  'The Procurator in Jerusalem--I think you know that
his office outranks all of the other Palestinian establishments--
expects detachments from the forts at Capernaum, Csarea, Joppa,
and Minoa to come and help keep order.'

'An unruly crowd, then?' surmised Marcellus.

'Not very, sir.  But always, when so many Jews assemble, there is
the usual talk of revolution.  They wail sad chants and prattle
about their lost heritage.  So far as I know, this unrest has never
amounted to anything more alarming than a few street brawls.  But
the Procurator thinks it is a good thing, on these occasions, to
have a conspicuous display of Roman uniforms--and a bit of drill-
work in the vicinity of the Temple.'  Paulus chuckled, reminiscently.

'Do we get a formal notice?'

'No, sir.  The Procurator does not trouble himself to send a
courier.  He takes it for granted that a detachment from Minoa will
attend.'

'Very well, Paulus.  How many men do we send, and when do they go?'

'A company, sir; a full hundred.  It is a three-day journey.  We
should start the day after to-morrow.'

'You may arrange for it then, Paulus.  Would you like to command
the detachment, or have you had enough of it!'

'Enough of it!  By no means, sir!  This expedition is the only
bright event of the year!  And if I may venture to suggest,
Tribune, you yourself might find this a most refreshing diversion.'

'On your recommendation, I shall go.  What is the nature of the
equipment?'

'It is not very burdensome, sir.  Because it is a gala occasion, we
carry our best uniforms.  You will be proud of your command, I
think; for it is a reward of merit here to be chosen for this duty,
and the men are diligent in polishing their weapons.  Otherwise we
pack nothing but provisions for tenting and meals on the way.  We
are housed in commodious barracks in Jerusalem, and the food is of
an uncommonly fine quality, furnished by certain rich men of the
city.'

'What?'  Marcellus screwed up his face in surprise.  'Do they not
resent Roman rule in Jerusalem?'

Paulus laughed ironically.

'It is the common people who feel the weight of the Roman yoke,
sir.  As for the rich, many of whom collect the tribute for
Tiberius--and keep a quarter of it for themselves--they are quite
content.  Oh, publicly, of course, the nabobs have to make a show
of lamenting the loss of their kingdom; but these fat old merchants
and money-lenders would be quite upset if a real revolution got
started.  You will find that the city fathers and the Procurator
are thick as thieves, though they pretend to be at odds.'

'But this is amazing, Paulus!  I had always supposed that the Jews
were passionately patriotic, and uncompromising in their bitter
hatred of the Empire.'

'That is quite true, sir, of the common people.  Very zealous,
indeed!  They keep hoping for their old independence.  Doubtless
you have heard of their ancient myth about a Messiah.'

'No.  What's a Messiah?'

'The Messiah is their deliverer, sir.  According to their prophets,
he will appear, one day, and organize the people to achieve their
freedom.'

'I never heard of it,' admitted Marcellus, indifferently.  'But
small wonder.  I haven't had much interest in religious
superstitions.'

'Nor I!' protested Paulus.  'But one hears a good deal about this
Messiah business during Passover Week.'  He laughed at the
recollection.  'Why, sir, you should see them!  Sleek, paunchy old
fellows, swathed from their whiskers to their sandals in voluminous
black robes, stalking through the streets, with their heads thrown
back and their eyes closed, beating their breasts and bleating
about their lost kingdom and bellowing for their Messiah!  Pouf!
They don't want any other kingdom than the one that stuffs their
wallets and their bellies.  They don't want a Messiah--and if they
thought there was the slightest likelihood of a revolution against
Roman domination they would be the first to stamp it out.'

'They must be a precious lot of hypocrites!' growled Marcellus.

'Yes, sir,' agreed Paulus, 'but they set a fine table!'

For a little while, the Tribune sat silently shaking his head in
glum disgust.

'I know the world is full of rascality, Paulus, but this beats
anything I ever heard of!'

'It is rather sickening, sir,' conceded Paulus.  'The sight that
always makes me want to slip a knife under one of those pious arms,
upraised in prayer, is the long procession of the poor and sick and
blind and crippled trailing along after one of these villainous old
frauds, under the impression that their holy cause is in good
hands.'  He interrupted himself to lean over the arm of his chair
for a better view of the doorway, and caught sight of Demetrius
standing in the hall within sound of their voices.  Marcellus's
eyes followed.

'My Greek slave keeps his own counsel, Centurion,' he said, in a
confidential tone.  'You need not fear that he will betray any
private conversation.'

'What I was going to say, sir,' continued Paulus, lowering his
voice, 'this political situation in Jerusalem, revolting as it
sounds, is not unusual.'  He leaned halfway across the desk, and
went on in a guarded whisper, 'Commander, that's what holds the
Empire together!  If it were not for the rich men in all our
subjugated provinces--men whose avarice is greater than their local
patriotism--the Roman Empire would collapse!'

'Steady, Paulus!' warned Marcellus.  'That's a dangerous theory to
expound!  You might get into trouble--saying such things.'

Paulus stiffened with sudden wrath.

'Trouble!' he snarled, bitterly.  'I did get into trouble, sir,
that way!  I was fool enough to be honest in the presence of
Germanicus!  That,' he added, only half audibly, 'was how I--a
Legate--earned my passage to Minoa to become a Centurion!  But, by
the gods, what I said was true!  The Roman Empire was consolidated,
and is now supported, by the treachery of rich provincials, willing
to betray their own people!  This strategy is not original with us,
of course!  Rome learned the trick from Alexander.  He learned it
from the Persians, who had learned it in Egypt.  Buy up the big men
of a little country and--pouf!--you can have the rest of them for
nothing!'  Paulus's face was flushed with anger, and after his
seditious speech he sat with clenched hands, flexing the muscles of
his jaw.  Then he faced Marcellus squarely, and muttered, 'Valour
of Rome!  Bah!  I spit on the valour of Rome!  Valour of treachery!
Valour of gold!  Valour of hurling the poor at one another on the
battlefield, while the big ones are off in a corner selling them
out!  The great and proud Roman Empire!'  Paulus brought his fist
down with a bang on the desk.  'I spit on the Roman Empire!'

'You are very indiscreet, Paulus,' said Marcellus, seriously.  'For
remarks of that sort, you could have your pelt pulled off.  I hope
you do not often let yourself go like that.'

Paulus rose and hitched up his broad belt.

'I had no fear of speaking my mind to you, sir,' he said.

'Why are you so sure that I wouldn't give you away?' asked
Marcellus.

'Because,' replied Paulus, confidently, 'you believe in real valour--
the kind that demands courage!'

Marcellus answered with an appreciative smile.

'It is a wonder, Paulus,' he said, thoughtfully, 'that the ordinary
rank and file do not take things into their own hands.'

'Pouf!  What can they do?' scoffed Paulus, with a shrug.  'They're
nothing but sheep, with no shepherd!  Take these Jews, for example:
now and then, some fiery fellow goes howling mad over the raw
injustice, and gets up on a cart, and lets out a few shrieks--but
they dispose of him in a hurry!'

'Who shuts him up?  The rich men?'

'Well, not directly.  It is we who are always called in to do the
dirty work.  It's obvious that Rome can't permit such uprisings,
but it is the rich and greedy provincials who nip revolutions in
the bud.'

'Damned scoundrels!' exclaimed Marcellus.

'Yes, sir,' assented Paulus, his gusty storm having blown out, 'but
you will find that these damned scoundrels in Jerusalem know good
wine when they see it, and aren't mean about sharing it with the
Roman legions.  That,' he added, with cool mockery, 'is to
encourage us to be on the look-out for any foolhardy patriot who
squeaks about the lost kingdom!'



Chapter IV


The first day's journey, from Gaza to Ascalon, was intolerably
tedious, for the deep-rutted highway was crowded with creeping
caravans and filthy with dust.

'It will be better to-morrow promised Melas, amused by the
grotesque appearance of Demetrius who had rewound his turban about
his face until only his eyes were visible.

'Let us hope so!' grumbled the Corinthian, tugging at the lead-
donkey that was setting off toward a clump of thistles.  'But how
will it be better?  These snails are all crawling to Jerusalem, are
they not?'

'Yes, but we leave the highway at Ascalon,' explained Melas, 'and
lake a shorter road through the hills.  The caravans do not travel
it.  They're afraid of the Bedouins.'

'And we aren't?'

'We're too many for them.  They wouldn't risk it.'

Centurion Paulus's stocky, bow-legged, red-headed Thracian was
enjoying himself.  Not often was Melas in a position to inform his
betters; and, observing that the status of Demetrius was enviable
compared to his own, it had made him quite expansive to be on such
friendly terms with the new Legate's well-spoken slave.

'It isn't the camels that stir up the dust,' advised Melas, out of
his long experience.  'Your camel lifts his big padded paws and
lays them down on top of the soft dirt.  It's the asses that drag
their feet.  But I hate camels!'

'I am not very well acquainted with camels,' admitted Demetrius,
willing to show some interest in his education.

'Nobody is,' declared Melas.  'You can live with a camel for years
and treat him as your brother, but you can never trust him.  See
that?  He tapped a badly disfigured nose.  'I got that up in Gaul,
a dozen years ago.  The fleas and flies were driving my master's
old Menepthah crazy.  I spent the better part of two days rubbing
olive oil into his mangy hide.  And he stood like a rock, and
purred like a cat; because he liked it.  When I was tired out, he
turned around and kicked me in the face.'

Demetrius laughed, as was expected, and inquired what sort of
revenge Melas had considered appropriate, a query that delighted
him, for there was more of the story.

'I was so blind mad,' continued Melas, 'that I did the same thing
to him--only Menepthah saw it coming and grabbed my foot.  Ever
have a camel bite you?  Now, an ass,' he expounded, 'or a dog, will
snap and nip and nibble at you; but if he is going to bite, he
tells you.  Your camel never lets you into the secret.  When he
bites, nobody knows what is in his mind--but himself.  I was laid
up for two weeks, the time Menepthah bit my foot.  I don't like
camels,' he added, reasonably enough, his new friend thought.

'They can't be blamed much for wanting to get even,' observed
Demetrius.  'It's a pretty rough life, I suppose.'

Melas seemed to be weighing this bland comment on his not very
sensitive scales as they trudged along, and presently gave
Demetrius a long, appraising look out of the tail of his eye.  His
lip curled in a sour grin.  At length he ventured to give his
thoughts an airing; having a care, however, to keep them on a
leash.

'It doesn't do much good--trying to get even.  Take your slave,
now; he can't get anywhere that way.  Camels and asses and slaves
are better off minding their masters.'  And when Demetrius did not
comment, Melas added, encouragingly, 'Or--don't you think so?'

Demetrius nodded, without interest.  He had no desire to discuss
this matter.

'If you're going to serve another man, at all,' he remarked
casually, 'it's only good sense to serve him well.'

'That's what I always say,' approved Melas, with such exaggerated
innocence that Demetrius wondered whether the fellow was making a
smug pretence of lily-white loyalty--or recklessly toying with a
piece of crude irony.  He thought it might be interesting to find
out.

'Of course, slavery is a bit different from the employment of
freedmen,' experimented Demetrius.  'If a freedman finds his work
distasteful he can leave it, which is ever so much better than
keeping on at it, and shirking it.  The slave does not have this
choice.'

Melas chuckled a little.

'Some slaves,' he remarked, 'are like asses.  They snap at their
masters, and get slapped for it.  They sit down and balk, and get
themselves whipped and kicked.  There's no sense in that.  And then
there are some slaves that behave like camels; just keep going on,
and taking it, no matter how they're used'--Melas's tone was
getting noticeably metallic, to match his heavy scowl--'and one day--
when the master is drunk, maybe--the poor beast pays him out.'

'And then what?' demanded Demetrius.

Melas shrugged, sullenly.

'Then he'd better run away,' he concluded.  Presently he muttered
an afterthought.  'Not much chance for a camel.  Once in a while a
slave gets away.  Three years ago--'  Melas lowered his voice,
though there was no need of this precaution as they were far at the
rear of the procession, and the furtive quality of the Thracian's
tone hinted at a conspiratorial confidence.  'It was on this same
trip--three years ago.  Commander Vitelius's slave, as cheerful and
obedient as anybody you ever met--Sevenus, by name--managed to lose
himself the next to the last day in Jerusalem.  Nobody knows what
became of him.'  Melas stepped nearer and muttered out of the
corner of his mouth.  'Nobody but me.  Sevenus left for Damascus.
Wanted me to go with him.  Sometimes I've wished I had taken the
chance.  It's easy enough.  We're more or less on our own in
Jerusalem.  The officers give themselves a good time.  Don't want
the slaves hanging about.  Bad for discipline.'  Melas winked
significantly.  'The Centurions like to play a little.'

Demetrius listened without comment to this lengthy speech; and
Melas, a bit anxious, searched his eyes for advice as to the safety
of proceeding farther.

'Of course, it's no secret,' he proclaimed, doffing his air of
mystery.  'Everybody at Minoa knows about it--all but what I just
told you.'

Demetrius knew he was making a mistake when he asked the question
that implied a personal interest in this matter, but the story had
stirred his curiosity.

'What made this fellow Sevenus think he had a chance of freedom in
Damascus?'

Melas's eyes relighted.

'Why, Damascus is Syrian.  Those people up there hate Rome like
poison!  The old city's full of Roman slaves, they say; living
right out in the open, too; making no attempt to hide.  Once you
get there, you're safe as a bug in a donkey's ear.'

                         * * * * * *

Early next morning, their caravan broke camp and moved off through
the bare hills over a winding road which narrowed frequently, in
long ravines and deep waddies, to a mere bridle-path that ravelled
out yesterday's compact pilgrimage into a single thread.

It was a desolate country, practically uninhabited.  Small herds of
wild goats, almost indistinguishable from the jagged brown rocks on
the treeless hillsides, grouped to stare an absurd defiance of any
attempted trespass upon their domain.  In the valleys, the spring
rains had fraudulently invited an occasional tuft of vegetation to
believe it had a chance of survival.  Beside a blistered water-hole
a brave little clump of violets drooped with thirst.

Demetrius was finding pleasure in this stage of the journey.  The
landscape was uninspiring, but it refreshed his spirit to be out in
the open and at a comfortable distance from the uncouth Melas,
whose favourite topic had become disquieting.  There was little
doubt but the Thracian was building up toward a proposal of escape;
either that, or was harbouring an even more sinister design to
engage him in a conspiracy and then expose him.  Of course, this
suspicion might be quite unfair to the fellow; but it would be
dangerous to take any risks.  No matter what he himself might say
to Melas, on this touchy matter, it could easily become a weapon in
the garrulous Thracian's hand, if he happened to be upset about
something or made envious of the unusual privileges accorded to the
Commander's more fortunate slave.  Demetrius had resolved to be
painstakingly prudent in any conversation with Melas, and as much
as possible avoid being alone with him.  Besides, there was much to
think about, left over from a discussion between Marcellus and
Paulus, last night; a most provocative--and highly amusing--survey
of the gods, conducted by two men who had no piety at all.  A good
deal of it had been shockingly irreverent, but undeniably
entertaining.

Late yesterday afternoon, when the company had halted near a spring
(on city property, a mile north-east of Ascalon) Demetrius had been
happy to receive a summons to attend his master, for he had begun
to feel lonely and degraded.  He was amazed at the smart appearance
of the camp.  Almost by magic the brown tents had risen in four
precise rows, the commissary had unpacked and set up its field
equipment, chairs and tables and bunks had been unfolded and put in
order.  Banners were flying.  Sentries were posted.  The local
Roman representative--a seedy, unprepossessing old fellow, with the
bright pink nose of a seasoned winebibber--accompanied by three
obsequious Jewish merchants, came out to read and present an
illuminated scroll which eloquently (and untruthfully) certified to
Ascalon's delight that the famed Legion of Minoa had deigned to
accept the city's poor but cheerful hospitality.  They had brought
with them four huge wineskins bulging with the best of the native
product, and were invited to remain for supper, after the Commander
had formally replied (with his staff ranged stiffly to the rear of
him) that Minoa was fully as glad to be in Ascalon as Ascalon was
to entertain Minoa, which his slave considered deliciously droll.

After the evening meal had been disposed of, and his immediate
duties performed, Demetrius had stretched out on the ground in the
shadow of the Commander's tent--a quite imposing tent, larger than
the others, trimmed with red flouncing, red silk curtains at the
entrance and a canopy over the doorway supported by slanting spear-
shafts.  With his fingers interlaced behind his head, Demetrius lay
gazing up at the stars, marvelling at their uncommon brightness,
and effortlessly listening to the subdued voices of his master and
Paulus, lounging in camp-chairs under the gaudy canopy.  Apparently
the visitation of the local dignitaries, who had now left for home,
accounted for the conversation.  Paulus was holding forth with the
leisurely drawl of an amateur philosopher--benign, tolerant, and a
little bit tight.  Demetrius cocked an ear.  Occasionally, in such
circumstances, a man imprudently spoke his honest convictions about
something; and, if Paulus had any convictions, it might be
interesting to learn what they were.

'The Jews,' Paulus was saying, 'are a queer people.  They admit it
themselves; brag about it, in fact; there are no other people like
them in the world.  For one thing, they're under a special divine
protection.  Their god, Jehovah--they have only one, you know--
isn't interested in anybody else but the Jews.  Of course, there
would be nothing positively immoral about that belief, if it
weren't for the fact that their Jehovah created the world and all
its inhabitants, but has no use for any of the other people; says
the Jews are his children.  Presumably the rest of the world can
look out for itself.  If they'd just admit that Jehovah was a sort
of local deity--'

'Oh, but we do the same thing, Paulus, don't we?' rejoined
Marcellus.  'Isn't Jupiter a sort of general superintendent of the
universe, with unlimited jurisdiction?'

'Not at all; not at all, sir,' protested Paulus, lazily.  'Jupiter
hasn't any interest in the Egyptians, but he doesn't claim he made
them what they are, and then despise them for being no better.  And
he never said that the Syrians are a lousy lot, for not lighting
bonfires on his feast-day.  And Jupiter never said he was going to
see that the Romans had the best of it--all the time.'

'Did Jehovah say that to the Jews?'

Demetrius laughed silently.  He had suspected that Marcellus wasn't
very well informed about the various religions, but his master's
almost complete ignorance on the subject was ludicrous.

'Why, certainly!'  Paulus was orating.  'Started them off in a
garden where he had grown a fruit they were forbidden to eat.  Of
course they ate it, not to satisfy their hunger but their
curiosity.'

'One would think Jehovah might have been delighted over their
curiosity,' put in Marcellus, 'seeing that every good thing we have
was discovered through someone's inquisitiveness.'

'Yes, but this made Jehovah angry,' explained Paulus, 'so he
pitched them out into the desert, and let them get tricked into
slavery.  Then he told them how to escape, and turned them loose in
a wilderness.  Then he promised them a land of their own--'

'And this is it!' laughed Marcellus.  'What a promised land!'

'There isn't a more worthless strip of country in the world!'
declared Paulus.  'And now the Jews have lost control of it.  You'd
think that after about fifteen hundred years of hard knocks,
poverty, and slavery, these specially favoured children of Jehovah
would begin to wonder whether they might not be better off without
so much divine attention.'

'Perhaps that accounts for this Messiah business that you spoke
about the other day.  Maybe they've given up hope that Jehovah will
take care of them, and think the Messiah might improve their
fortunes when he comes.  Do you suppose that's what they have in
mind?  It's not unreasonable.  I daresay that's the way we and the
Greeks accumulated so many gods, Paulus.  When one god gets weary
and impotent, another fresher god takes over.  Didn't old Zeus
retire once in favour of his son Apollo?'

'Not for long,' remembered Paulus.  'Apparently the weather hadn't
been very good, so young Apollo decided he would manage the sun;
and ran amuck with it.  Old Zeus had to straighten out the tangle
for the boy.  Now, there's sense in a religion like that, Tribune.
Our gods behave the way we do, naturally, because we made them the
way we are.  Everybody gets tired of the dictatorial old man, and
eventually he gets tired too; decides to let his son run the
business--whether it's growing gourds or managing the planets; but
he never thinks the young fellow is competent, so he keeps on
interfering until presently there is a row.  That's why our
religion is such a comfort to us,' Paulus continued, elaborately
ironical.

'I'm afraid you're not very pious,' commented Marcellus.  'If the
gods hear what you are saying, they may not like it.  They might
think you doubted their reality.'

'Not at all, sir!  It's men like me who really believe in their
reality.  They're authentic--the gods!  Some of them want war, some
want peace, some of them don't know what they want--except an
annual feast-day and a big parade.  Some give you rest and sleep,
some drive you insane.  Some you are expected to admire, and some
you are expected to hate, and all of them are never quite happy
unless they are frightening you and assured that you are afraid.
This is sensible.  This is the way life is! . . .  But these Jews!
There they are, with only one god; and he is perpetually right,
perpetually good, wise, loving.  Of course he is stubborn, because
they are stubborn; doesn't approve of pleasure, because they never
learned how to play; never makes any mistakes, because the Jew
never makes any mistakes.  Tribune, Jehovah can't help being a
pessimist.  The Jews are a pessimistic people.'

'Maybe Jehovah thinks it is a good thing for his children to endure
hardship,' speculated Marcellus; 'toughens their fibre, knocks off
their surplus fat, keeps them in fighting trim.  I believe he has a
good idea there, Paulus.  Sometimes I've thought that Rome would be
better off if we patricians had to scratch for a living, and stole
less from the neighbours.'

There was a considerable pause at this point in the sacrilegious
discussion and Demetrius had wondered whether they hadn't about
exhausted themselves and their subject.  But not quite.

'Rome will have that problem solved for her, one of these days,'
Paulus was muttering, ominously.  'The sceptre is passed around,
Commander.  Egypt has her day in the sunshine.  Darius tramps
about, scaring everybody for an hour or two.  Alexander sobs
because there's no one left to be subdued.  The Csars drive their
chariots over Alexander's world; so drunk with power that they
can't even bear to let these poor Hebrews own a few acres of weeds
and snakes. . . .  Ho-hum!'

Demetrius had yawned, too, and wished they would go to bed.

'But it will be somebody else's turn, soon,' said Paulus.

'When?' asked Marcellus, exactly as Demetrius thought he might.

'Well, if justice were served to crazy old Tiberius and his addled
stepchild,' deliberated Paulus, 'I should think it might be someone
else's turn to-morrow--or by the end of next week, at the least. . . .
How about a little more wine, Tribune?'

Demetrius had sat up, ready for the summons.  It came instantly,
and he presented himself.

'Fill Centurion Paulus's cup,' ordered Marcellus.  'No, none for
me.'

And then Demetrius had gone back into the shadow of the tent to
resume his waiting.  The conversation had taken a queer turn now.

'Paulus,' his master was saying, 'you believe that the gods are
manufactured by men.  If it isn't an impertinent question, did you
ever try to make one?'

Demetrius, sauntering to-day along through a narrow ravine, almost
oblivious of the long procession single-filing on ahead, laughed as
he recalled that extraordinary question and its absurd answer.

'No,' Paulus had replied, 'but it isn't too late.  Shall I make one
for you now?'

'By all means!' chuckled Marcellus.  'I assume that when you have
him completed he will closely resemble yourself.'

'Well--not too closely; for this god I'm going to invent is good.
He doesn't just pretend to be good.  He really is good!  He takes a
few bright men into his confidence--not necessarily Romans or
Greeks or Gauls; so long as they're honest and intelligent--and
entrusts them with some important tasks.  He tells one man how to
cure leprosy, and others how to restore sight to the blind and
hearing to the deaf.  He confides the secrets of light and fire;
how to store up summer heat for use in winter; how to capture the
light of day and save it to illumine the night; how to pour idle
lakes on to arid land.'  Paulus had paused, probably to take
another drink.

'Very good, Centurion,' Marcellus had commented, thoughtfully.  'If
you'll set up your god somewhere, and get him to producing these
effects, he can have all my trade.'

'Perhaps you might like to assist in his creation, sir,' suggested
Paulus, companionably.

Demetrius had not expected the quite serious speech that followed.
As it proceeded, he raised himself on one elbow and listened
intently.

'It occurs to me, Paulus,' Marcellus was saying, soberly, 'that
this god of yours, who seems a very fine fellow indeed, might well
consider a revision of the present plan for removing men from this
world.  What happens to us is something like this: a man spends his
active life striving to accomplish a few useful deeds, and
eventually arrives at the top of his powers; honoured--we will say--
and a good example to his community.  Then he begins to go into a
decline; loses his teeth and his hair; his step slows, his eyes
grow dim, his hearing is dulled.  This disintegration frets him,
and he becomes gusty and irascible, like an old dog.  Now he
retires to a sunny corner of the garden with a woollen cap and a
rug around his legs, and sits there in everybody's way until it is
time for him to take to his bed, with grievous aches and pains
which twist him into revolting postures.  When no dignity is left
to him, nor any longer deserved, he opens his sunken mouth and
snores for a few days, unaware of his inglorious end.  Now, I think
your new god should do something about this, Paulus.'

'We will discuss it with him, sir,' promised Paulus, agreeably.
'How would you like to have the matter handled?'

Apparently this required some concentration, for the reply was
delayed a little while.  When it came, Marcellus's tone had
abandoned all trace of persiflage and was deeply sincere.

'When a Roman of our sort comes of age, Paulus, there is an
impressive ceremony by which we are inducted into manhood.
Doubtless you felt, as I did, that this was one of the high moments
of life.  Well do I remember--the thrill of it abides with me still--
how all our relatives and friends assembled, that day, in the
stately Forum Julium.  My father made an address, welcoming me into
Roman citizenship.  It was as if I had never lived until that hour.
I was so deeply stirred, Paulus, that my eyes swam with tears.  And
then good old Cornelius Capito made a speech, a very serious one,
about Rome's right to my loyalty, my courage, and my strength.  I
knew that tough old Capito had a right to talk of such matters, and
I was proud that he was there!  They beckoned to me, and I stepped
forward.  Capito and my father put the white toga on me--and life
had begun!'

There was an interval of silence here.  Demetrius, much moved by
this recital, had strained to hear above his own accented heart-
beats, for the reminiscence had been spoken in a tone so low that
it was almost as if Marcellus were talking to himself.

'Now, I think your god should ordain that at the crowning moment of
a mature man's career; at the apex; when his strength has reached
its zenith; when his best contribution has been made; let your god
ordain that another assembly be held, with all present who know and
revere this worthy man.  And who among us would not strive to be
worthy, with such a consummation in prospect?  Let there be a great
assembly of the people.  Let there be an accounting of this man's
deeds; and, if he has earned a lofty eulogy, let it be spoken with
eloquence.'

'And then?' demanded Paulus.  'A valedictory, perhaps?'

'No,' Marcellus had decided, after a pause.  'Let the man keep
silent.  He will have no need to explain his deeds, if they were
worth emulation.  He will arise, and his peers will remove his
toga; and it will be treasured, perhaps conferred upon another,
some day, for courageous action.  It would be a great responsibility
to wear such a garment, Paulus.'  There was another long pause.

'I think the god should prescribe that this event occur in the
waning of a golden afternoon in springtime.  There should be a
great chorus, singing an elegiac ode.  And while the triumphant
music fills the air--with the vast assembly standing reverently--
let the honoured man march erectly and with firm step from the
rostrum, and out, to face the sunset!  Then--let him vanish!  And
be seen no more!'

After he had gone to bed, last night, and the camp was quiet,
except for the footfalls and jangling side-arms of the sentries,
Demetrius had pondered long and deeply over this strange conceit--
the making of a better god!

This morning, as he marched through the barren hills, towing a file
of stupid donkeys who had as much control over their destiny as had
he over his own, Demetrius wondered what he might have said if they
had invited him to add a desirable attribute to their imaginary
deity.  Doubtless the world would be a more comfortable place to
live in if, as Paulus had suggested, some plan were arrived at for
a better distribution of light and heat.  And perhaps it would
bring a man's days to a more dramatic conclusion if, as his master
had so beautifully visioned, the human career might close with
music and pageantry instead of a tedious glissade into helpless
senility; though, as things stood, a man's lack of honour at the
end of his life seemed quite compatible with his absurd plight at
life's beginning.  If Marcellus proposed to add dignity to a man's
departure from the world, he should also pray for a more dignified
arrival.

No, such idle speculations were a mere waste of opportunity if one
had a chance to mend the world.  There were other needs of far
greater import.  Surely, this amazingly honest deity whom Marcellus
and Paulus had invoked would want to do something about the cruel
injustice of men in their dealings one with another.  With hot
indignation, Demetrius reconstructed the painful scene of that day
when Roman ruffians forced the doors, and threw his beautiful
mother aside as they stalked into his honoured father's library to
bind him and carry him away to his death.

This nobler god--if he had any interest in justice, at all--would
appear, at such a tragic moment, and sternly declare, 'You can't DO
that!'

Demetrius repeated the words aloud--over and over--louder and
louder--until the high-walled ravine believed in them, and said so.

'YOU CAN'T DO THAT!' he shouted, so loudly that Melas--far on ahead--
turned to look back inquiringly.

                         * * * * * *

They had all but reached the end of their journey now.  For the
past hour their caravan had been plodding up a long hill.  At its
crest, a very impressive spectacle had confronted them.  They were
gazing down upon Jerusalem, whose turrets and domes were aglow with
the smouldering fire of sunset.

'Gorgeous!' Marcellus had murmured.

All day, Demetrius had marched beside his master's tall camel,
happy to be relieved of his unpleasant duties at the rear.  Early
in the forenoon, they had come to the junction of the lonely valley
road and a highway running up from Hebron.  All along the
thoroughfare were encampments of caravans, making no sign of
preparation for travel.

'Is this not strange, Paulus?' Marcellus had inquired.  'Why aren't
they on the road?'

'It's the Sabbath day, sir,' answered Paulus.  'Jews must not
travel on the last day of the week.  It's against their law.'

'Mustn't move at all, eh?'

'Oh, practically not.  They may proceed a little way--what they
call a Sabbath day's journey--two thousand cubits.  Look, sir.'
Paulus pointed down the road.  'Two thousand of their cubits would
take them to that group of olive trees.  That's as far as a Jew can
go from his residence on the Sabbath.'

'Very inconvenient,' observed Marcellus, idly.

'For the poor people--yes.'  Paulus laughed.  'The rich, as usual,
have their own way of circumventing the law.'

'How's that?'

'Well, sir; in their interpretation of this statute, any place
where a man has a possession is considered his residence.  If a
rich man wants to visit somebody ten miles away, on the Sabbath, he
sends his servants on ahead, a day earlier, and they deposit along
the road--at two-thousand-cubit intervals--such trifling articles
as an old sandal, a cracked pot, a worn-out rug, a scroll-spool;
and thus prepare the way for their law-abiding lord.'

'Do you mean that--seriously?' inquired Marcellus.

'Yes--and so do they.  I tell you, sir, these rich Jews will go to
more bother about the external appearance of their religion than
any people on earth.  And they do it with straight faces, too.  It
is a great mistake to be playful with them about it.  They've
deceived themselves so long that they really think they're honest.
Of course,' he added, dryly, 'the opulent Jew has no monopoly in
self-deception.  All our rich and influential men, whatever their
race or country, are subject to this unhappy malady.  It must be a
tragic condition to possess great wealth and a sensitive
conscience.  I never thought much about this before,' he rambled
on, 'but I doubt not the sophists could prove self-deception to
rate high among the cardinal virtues.  None but the noble would
heap upon himself so much sham and shame in the cause of
righteousness.'

'Paulus, you're a cynic--and an uncommonly bitter one,' drawled
Marcellus.  'By the way--what must these people along the roadside
think of our disregard of their holy Sabbath?'

'Pouf!  They expect nothing better of us.  And I'm not sure they'd
like it if we rested all day in honour of their beliefs.  In their
opinion, we could defile their religion worse by recognizing it
than by ignoring it.  They don't want anything from us--not even
our respect.  They can't be blamed, of course,' Paulus added.  'No
man should be asked to think highly of a master who has robbed him
of his liberty.'

Demetrius had turned his face away at that speech, pretending an
interest in a tented caravan resting on a neighbouring slope.  He
wondered whether his master thought this remark of the Centurion's
was injudicious; wondered whether he wished his slave had not
overheard it.

                         * * * * * *

Early the next morning, the militia from Minoa broke camp and
prepared to complete the journey into the city.  Demetrius had been
glad to see the sunrise.  It was the first night, since he had been
the slave of Marcellus, that he had slept beyond the sound of his
master's call.  After the encampment had been made, late yesterday
afternoon, the Legate and four of the senior staff officers had
decided to ride on into Jerusalem.  None of the slaves, except the
Syrian camel-boys, had gone with them.  Demetrius, left to guard
Marcellus's effects, had slept in the ornate tent alone.

Rousing at dawn, he had drawn the curtains aside, and was amazed at
the tide of traffic already on the highway; processions of heavily
laden camels, rhythmically lifting their haughty noses at every
step; long trains of pack-asses, weighted with clumsy burdens; men,
women, children, slaves--all carrying bundles and baskets and boxes
of every shape and size.  The pestilential dust rolled high.

With the speed and skill of long experience, the contingent from
Minoa levelled their camp, rolled up the tents, packed the stores,
and took to the road.  Proudly the uniformed company marched down
the highway, the pilgrims scurrying to the stone fences at the
trumpet's strident command.  But the pack-train did not fare so
well.  The laden asses from Minoa, not carrying banners or blowing
trumpets or wearing the Roman uniform, were considered by the
travellers as of no more importance than a similar number of pack-
asses from anywhere else.

Melas, ever anxious to display large knowledge to the newcomer,
seemed highly amused by Demetrius's efforts to keep his string of
donkeys in hand.  It was quite apparent that the unkempt Thracian
was enjoying the Corinthian's dilemma.  At a disadvantage in
Demetrius's company, the odds were all in his favour now.  He
wasn't as cultured as the Legate's slave, but when it came to
managing pack-asses in a dense crowd of uncivil travellers, Melas
was in a position to offer counsel.  He looked back and grinned
patronizingly.

It was a peculiar crowd!  In Rome, on a feast-day, there was plenty
of rough jostling and all manner of rudeness.  Arrogant charioteers
thought nothing of driving their broad iron wheels over the bare
feet of little children.  People on foot treated one another with
almost incredible discourtesy.  One favourite method of making
one's way through a crowd was to dive in with both hands full of
mud and filth scooped up from the street.  Few cared to debate the
right of way with persons thus armed.  No, Rome had won no prizes
for the politeness of her gala-day multitudes.  But, in spite of
her forthright brutality, Rome, on such occasions, was hilarious.
Her crowds sang, cheered, laughed!  They were mischievous,
merciless, vulgar--but they were merry!

There was no laughter in this pilgrim throng that crowded the
widening avenue to-day.  This was a tense, impassioned, fanatical
multitude; its voice a guttural murmur as if each man hid his own
distresses, indifferent to the mumbled yearnings of his neighbours.
On these strained faces was an expression of an almost terrifying
earnestness and a quality of pietistic zeal that seemed to burst
forth into wild hysteria; faces that fascinated Demetrius by the
very ugliness of their unabashed contortions.  Not for all the
wealth of the world would he have so bared his private griefs and
longings to the cool stare of the public.  But apparently the Jews
didn't care who read their minds.  All this, thought the
Corinthian, was what the sight of their holy city had done to their
emotions.

Suddenly, for no reason at all that Demetrius could observe, there
was a wave of excitement.  It swept down over the sluggish swollen
stream of zealots like a sharp breeze.  Men all about him were
breaking loose from their families, tossing their packs into the
arms of their overburdened children, and racing forward toward some
urgent attraction.  Far up ahead the shouts were increasing in
volume, spontaneously organizing into a concerted reiterated cry; a
single, magic word that drove the multitude into a frenzy.

Unable to keep his footing in this onrushing tide, Demetrius
dragged and pushed his stubborn charges to the roadside where Melas
stood savagely battering his tangled donkeys over their heads with
his heavy cudgel.

'Crack them on the nose!' yelled Melas.

'I have no club,' shouted Demetrius.  'You take them!'

Melas, pleased to have his competence appealed to, grasped the lead-
strap to the other string of donkeys and began laying on the
discipline with a practised hand.  While he was thus engaged,
Demetrius set off after the hurrying crowd, forcing his way with
the others until the congestion was too dense for further progress.
Wedged tight against his arm, and grinning up into his face, was
another Greek, older but smaller than himself; a slave, easily
recognizable as such by the slit in his ear-lobe.  Impudently the
ill-scented little fellow bent about for a glimpse of Demetrius's
ear; and, having assured himself of their social equality, laughed
fraternally.

'Athens,' he announced, by way of introduction.

'Corinth,' returned Demetrius, crisply.  'Do you know what is going
on?'

'They're yelling something about a king.  That's all I can make of
it.'

'Understand their language?'

'A little.  Just what I've picked up on these trips.  We come up
every year with a load of spices.'

'You think they've got somebody up in front who wants to be their
king?  Is that it?'

'Looks like it.  They keep howling another word that I don't know--
Messiah.  The man's name, maybe.'

Demetrius impulsively turned about, thrust a shoulder into the
streaming mass, and began pushing through to the side of the road,
followed closely--to his distaste--by his diminutive countryman.
All along the way, men were recklessly tearing branches from the
palms that bordered the residential thoroughfare, indifferent to
the violent protests of property-owners.  Running swiftly among the
half-crazed vandals, the two Greeks arrived at the front of the
procession and jammed their way into it.

Standing on tiptoe for an instant in the swaying crowd, Demetrius
caught a fleeting glimpse of the obvious centre of interest, a
brown-haired, bareheaded, well-favoured Jew.  A tight little circle
had been left open for the slow advance of the shaggy white donkey
on which he rode.  It instantly occurred to Demetrius that this
coronation project was an impromptu affair for which no preparation
had been made.  Certainly there had been no effort to bedeck the
pretender with any royal regalia.  He was clad in a simple brown
mantle with no decorations of any kind, and the handful of men--his
intimate friends, no doubt--who tried to shield him from the
pressure of the throng wore the commonest sort of country garb.

The huzzas of the crowd were deafening.  It was evident that these
passionate zealots had all gone stark, raving mad!  Paulus had
drawn a very clear picture of the Jew's mood on these occasions of
the holy festival commemorative of an ancient flight from bondage.

Again Demetrius, regaining his lost balance, stretched to full
height for another look at the man who had somehow evoked all this
wild adulation.  It was difficult to believe that this was the sort
of person who could be expected to inflame a mob into some
audacious action.  Instead of receiving the applause with an air of
triumph--or even of satisfaction--the unresponsive man on the white
donkey seemed sad about the whole affair.  He looked as if he would
gladly have had none of it.

'Can you see him?' called the little Athenian, who had stuck fast
in the sticky-hot pack an arm's length away.

Demetrius nodded without turning his head.

'Old man?'

'No, not very,' answered Demetrius, candidly remote.

'What does he look like?' shouted the Athenian, impatiently.

Demetrius shook his head--and his hand, too--signalling that he
couldn't be bothered now, especially with questions as hard to
answer as this one.

'Look like a king?' yelled the little Greek, guffawing
boisterously.

Demetrius did not reply.  Tugging at his impounded garments, he
crushed his way forward.  The surging mass, pushing hard from the
rear, now carried him on until he was borne almost into the very
hub of the procession that edged along, step by step, keeping pace
with the plodding donkey.

Conspicuous in the inner circle, as if they constituted the
mysterious man's retinue, were the dozen or more who seemed stunned
by the event that obviously had taken them by surprise.  They too
were shouting, erratically, but they were puzzled faces, and
appeared anxious that their honoured friend would play up a little
more heroically to the demands of this great occasion.

It was clear now to Demetrius that the incident was accidental.  It
was quite understandable, in the light of Paulus's irreverent
comments on the Passover celebration.  All these proud, poverty-
cursed, subjugated pilgrims, pressing toward their ancient shrine,
would be on the alert for any movement that savoured of revolt
against their rapacious foe.  It needed only the shout, 'Messiah!',
and they would spring into action without pausing to ask questions.
That explained it all, believed Demetrius.  In any case, whoever
had started this wild pandemonium, it was apparent that it lacked
the hero's approbation.

The face of the enigmatic Jew seemed weighted with an almost
insupportable burden of anxiety.  The eyes, narrowed as if in
resigned acceptance of some inevitable catastrophe, stared straight
ahead toward Jerusalem.  Perhaps the man, intent upon larger
responsibilities far removed from this pitiable little coronation
farce, wasn't really hearing the racket at all.

So deeply absorbed had Demetrius become, in his wide-eyed study of
the young Jew's face, that he too was beginning to be unmindful of
the general clamour and confusion.  He moved along with creeping
steps, slanting his body against the weight of the pressing crowd,
so close now to the preoccupied rider that with one stride he could
have touched him.

Now there was a temporary blocking of the way, and the noisy
procession came to a complete stop.  The man on the white donkey
straightened, as if roused from a reverie, sighed deeply, and
slowly turned his head.  Demetrius watched, with parted lips and a
pounding heart.

The meditative eyes, drifting about over the excited multitude,
seemed to carry a sort of wistful compassion for these helpless
victims of an aggression for which they thought he had a remedy.
Everyone was shouting, shouting--all but the Corinthian slave,
whose throat was so dry he couldn't have shouted, who had no
inclination to shout, who wished they would all be quiet, quiet!
It wasn't the time or place for shouting.  Quiet!  This man wasn't
the sort of person one shouted at, or shouted for.  Quiet!  That
was what this moment called for--Quiet!

Gradually the brooding eyes moved over the crowd until they came to
rest on the strained, bewildered face of Demetrius.  Perhaps, he
wondered, the man's gaze halted there because he alone--in all this
welter of hysteria--refrained from shouting.  His silence singled
him out.  The eyes calmly appraised Demetrius.  They neither
widened nor smiled; but, in some indefinable manner, they held
Demetrius in a grip so firm it was almost a physical compulsion.
The message they communicated was something other than sympathy,
something more vital than friendly concern; a sort of stabilizing
power that swept away all such negations as slavery, poverty, or
any other afflicting circumstance.  Demetrius was suffused with the
glow of this curious kinship.  Blind with sudden tears, he elbowed
through the throng and reached the roadside.  The uncouth Athenian,
bursting with curiosity, inopportunely accosted him.

'See him--close up?' he asked.

Demetrius nodded; and, turning away, began to retrace his steps
toward his abandoned duty.

'Crazy?' persisted the Athenian, trudging alongside.

'No.'

'King?'

'No,' muttered Demetrius, soberly, 'not a king.'

'What is he, then?' demanded the Athenian, piqued by the
Corinthian's aloofness.

'I don't know,' mumbled Demetrius, in a puzzled voice, 'but--he is
something more important than a king.'



Chapter V


After the camp had been set up near the suburban village of
Bethany, Marcellus and his staff continued down the long hill into
the city.  There was very little traffic on the streets, for the
people were keeping the Sabbath.

Though Paulus had not exaggerated Jerusalem's provision for the
representatives of her Roman Emperor, the young Legate of Minoa was
not prepared for his first sight of the majestic Insula of the
Procurator.

As they halted their weary camels at twilight before the imposing
faade of Rome's provincial seat, Marcellus sat in speechless
admiration.  No one needed to inform a stranger that this massive
structure was of foreign origin, for it fairly shouted that it had
no relation whatever to its mean environment.

Apparently the architects, sculptors, and landscape artists had
been advised that expense was the least of their problems.  Seeing
the Jews had to pay for it, explained Paulus, the Emperor had not
been parsimonious, and when Herod, the first Procurator, had
professed a grandiose ambition 'to rebuild this brick city in
marble,' Augustus had told him to go as far as he liked.

'And you can see that he did,' added Paulus, with an inclusive
gesture made as proudly as if he had done it himself.

True, Jerusalem wasn't all marble.  The greater part of it was
decidedly shabby, dirty, and in need of repair.  But Herod the
Great had rebuilt the Temple on a magnificent scale and then had
erected this Insula on a commanding elevation far enough away from
the holy precincts to avoid any unhappy competition.

It was a huge quadrangle stronghold, dominating the very heart of
Jerusalem.  Three spacious levels of finely wrought mosaic
pavement, united by marble steps and balustrades with pedestals
bearing the exquisitely sculptured busts of eminent Romans,
terraced up from the avenue to the colonnaded portal of the
Praetorium.  On either side of the paved area sloped an exotic
garden of flowers and ornamental shrubbery, watered from marble
basins in which lavish fountains played.

'These fountains,' said Paulus, in a discreet undertone, 'were an
afterthought.  They were installed only seven years ago, when
Pilate came.  And they caused an uprising that brought all the
available troops to the new Procurator's rescue.'

'Were you in it, too, Paulus?' asked Marcellus.

'Indeed, yes!  We were all here, and a merry time it was.  The Jew
has his little imperfections, but he is no coward.  He whines when
he trades, but he is no whimperer in battle.  He hates war and will
go to any length to preserve the peace; but--and this was something
Pontius Pilate didn't know--there is a point where you'd better
stop imposing on a Jew.'

'Well, go on then about the fountains,' urged Marcellus, for the
sight of the water had made him impatient for a bath.

'Pilate's wife was responsible for it.  They had been down in Crete
for many years where Pontius had been the Prefect.  You can grow
anything in Crete, and the lady was dismayed to find herself in
such an arid country as Judea.  She begged for gardens.  Gardens
must have water.  To have so much water there must be an aqueduct.
Aqueducts are expensive.  There was no allowance to cover this
item.  So--the new Procurator helped himself to some funds from the
Temple treasury, and--'

'And the battle was on,' surmised Marcellus.

'You have said it, sir,' declared Paulus, fervently.  'And it
stayed on for seven exciting months.  Pilate nearly lost his post.
Two thousand Jews were killed, and nearly half that many Romans.
It would have been better, I suppose, if Tiberius had transferred
Pilate to another position.  The Jews will never respect him, not
if he stays here for a thousand years.  He makes every effort to
humour them, remembering what they can do to him if they wish.  He
is here to keep the peace.  And he knows that the next time there
is a riot, his term of office will expire.'

'It's a wonder the Jews do not raise a general clamour for his
removal,' speculated Marcellus.

'Ah, but they don't want him removed,' laughed Paulus.  'These rich
and wily old merchants and money-lenders, who pay the bulk of the
taxes and exercise a great deal of influence, know that Pilate is
not in a position to dictate harsh terms to them.  They hate him,
of course, but they wouldn't like to see him go.  I'll wager that
if the Emperor appointed another man to the office of Procurator,
the Sanhedrin would protest.'

'What's the Sanhedrin?' inquired Marcellus.

'The Jewish legislative body.  It isn't supposed to deal with any
matters except religious observances; but--well--when the Sanhedrin
growls, Pontius Pilate listens!'  Paulus shouted to the squatting
camel-boys, and the apathetic beasts plodded on.  'But I do not
wish to convey the idea, sir,' continued the Centurion, 'that
Pilate is a nobody.  He is in a very unfortunate predicament here.
You will like him, I think.  He is a genial fellow, and deserves a
more comfortable Prefecture.'

They had moved on then, around the corner, to the section of the
vast barracks assigned to the garrison from Minoa.  Three sides of
the great quadrangle had been equipped for the accommodation of
troops, the local constabulary occupying less than a third of it.
Now the entire structure was filled almost to capacity.  The whole
institution was alive.  The immense parade-ground, bounded by the
two-storey stone buildings, was gay with the uniforms of the
legions arriving from the subordinate Palestinian forts.  The
banners of Csarea, Joppa, and Capernaum, topped by the imperial
ensign, added bright colour to the teeming courtyard.

Marcellus was delighted with the appointments of the suite into
which he was shown.  They compared favourably with the comforts to
be had at the Tribunes' Club in Rome.  It was the first time he had
been entirely at ease since the night he had left home.

After a while Paulus came in to see if his young Commander had
everything he wanted.

'I am writing some letters,' he said.  'The Vestris should arrive
at Joppa by to-morrow or next day, and will probably sail for home
before the end of the week.  You remember, sir, she was just coming
into the harbour at Gaza as we passed through.'

'Thanks, Paulus, for reminding me,' said Marcellus.  'It is a good
suggestion.'

                         * * * * * *

He had not written to Diana since the night of his departure on the
galley to Ostia.  That had been a difficult letter to compose.  He
was very deeply depressed.  After several unsatisfactory attempts
to tell her how sorry he was to leave her and with what impatience
he would await their next meeting--in the face of his serious doubt
that he should ever see her again--his letter had turned out to be
a fond little note of farewell, containing neither fatuous promises
nor grim forebodings.  The lovely Diana would be cherished in his
thoughts, he wrote, and she was not to worry about him.

Many times on the long voyage to Gaza, he had begun letters that
were never finished.  There was so little to say.  He would wait
until there was something of interest to report.  On the last day
before making port, he had written a letter to his family, dry as
the little ship's log, promising to do better next time.

The early days at Minoa had been eventful enough to furnish
material for a letter, but his new duties had kept him occupied.
To-night he would write to Diana.  He could tell her honestly that
things were ever so much better than he had expected.  He would
explain how he happened to be in Jerusalem.  He would tell her that
he was handsomely quartered, and describe the appointments of the
Insula.  It would need no gilding.  Marcellus's dignity, sadly
battered by the punitive assignment to discredited Minoa, had been
immeasurably restored.  He was almost proud of his Roman
citizenship.  He could write Diana now with some self-confidence.

For two hours, under the light of the three large stone lamps
bracketed on the wall beside his desk, he reviewed the important
events of his life at Minoa.  He didn't say how arid, how desolate,
how altogether unlovely was the old fort and its environs; nor did
he exhaust the details of his first day's experience there.

'The acting Commander,' he wrote, 'was a bit inclined to be surly,
and did not overdo his hospitality when I arrived; but a little
later he decided to co-operate, and we are now the best of friends.
I quite like this Centurion Paulus.  Indeed I hardly know what I
should do without him, for he knows all the traditions of the fort;
what things must be done, and the right time and way to do them.'

Marcellus was enjoying his work on the letter.  It gave him a glow
of pleasure to inform Diana of these things which now made up his
life.  It was almost as if they belonged to each other; almost as
an absent husband might write to his wife.

The scroll, when he should paste the sheets of papyrus end to end,
would be a bulky one.  Before it quite outgrew its spindle-rims, he
must bring it to a close with something from his heart.  This was
not quite so easy to do.

For a long time he sat deliberating what should be his proper
attitude.  Should he obey his feelings and tell Diana, without
reserve, how much she had been in his thoughts, how dear she was to
him, and how ardently he wished their separation was over?  Would
that be fair?  Diana was young, so full of life.  Was it right to
encourage her in the hope that he might be coming home some day to
claim her?  Was it right to let Diana believe that he entertained
that hope himself?  Might it not be more honest to tell her frankly
that there was no likelihood of his return for a long time, years,
perhaps?  Of course, Diana already knew the circumstances.  And he
had casually mentioned of Paulus that he had been sent to Minoa
eleven years ago; and had not been home since his appointment.  She
could draw her own dismaying conclusions.  At length, Marcellus
finished his letter almost to his satisfaction.

'You know, Diana, what things I would be saying to you if we were
together.  At the far distance which separates us--in miles, and
who can tell how much of time?--it is enough to say that your
happiness will always be mine.  Whatever things make you sad, dear
girl, sadden me also.  A ship, the Vestris, is reported to be
arriving at Joppa.  She called at Gaza.  I am impatient to return
to the fort, for I may find a letter from you there.  I fondly hope
so.  Demetrius will come in tomorrow morning and deliver this
scroll to the Insula's courier who meets the Vestris.  She sails
soon.  Would I were a passenger!'

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius had never been so restless.  Of course, whenever he had
paused to contemplate his hopeless position in the scheme of
things, his life held out no promise.  But gradually he had become
inured to his fate.  He was a slave, and nothing could be done
about it.  Comparing himself to a free man, his lot was wretched
indeed; but when he contrasted the terms of his slavery with the
cruel conditions imposed upon most of the people in bondage, he was
fortunate.

In the house of Gallio, he had been treated with every consideration
due to a servant.  And his life had become so inextricably related
to the life of Marcellus that his freedom--even if it were offered
him--might cost him more in companionship than it was worth in
liberty of action.  As for his deep affection for Lucia, it was,
he knew, wholly unrequited.  He couldn't have had Lucia, if he had
been as free as a sea-gull.  Such common-sense reflections as these
had saved his mind and reconciled him to his destiny.

Now his bland little philosophy had ceased to comfort him.  Not
only was his small world in disarray, but the whole institution of
human existence had become utterly futile, meaningless, empty, a
mere mockery of something that had had sublime possibilities,
perhaps, but had been thrown away; lost beyond recovery!

He had tried to analyse his topsy-turvy mind and find reasons for
his heavy depression.  For one thing, he was lonely.  Marcellus had
not wilfully ignored him since their arrival in Jerusalem, but it
was apparent that slaves were not welcome in the officers' quarters
except when actually on duty.  When their service was performed,
they were to clear out.  Demetrius had not been accustomed to such
treatment.  He had been his master's shadow for so long that this
new attitude of indifference was as painful as a physical wound.

Again and again he said to himself that Marcellus probably felt
unhappy too, and maybe deplored the necessity to exclude him from
his friendship.  Demetrius had been made to feel his slavery as he
had never felt it before, not since the day that he had been sold
to Senator Gallio.

But there was another cause for Demetrius's mental distress.  It
was the haunting memory of the beseeching eyes into which he had
gazed momentarily on the road into the city.  Afterwards, he had
sat for hours, in a brown study, trying to define those eyes, and
had arrived at the conclusion that they were chiefly distinguished
by their loneliness.  It was so apparent that the little group of
men, who had tried to keep the crowd from pressing too hard, were
disappointed.  Whatever it was that the noisy fanatics wanted him
to do, it was the wrong thing.  You could see that, at a glance.
It was a wonder they couldn't see it themselves.  Everybody there
had urged him to lead a cause in which--it was so obvious!--he had
no interest.  He was a lonely man.  The eyes hungered for an
understanding friend.  And the loneliness of this mysterious man
had somehow communicated with the loneliness of Demetrius.  It was
a loneliness that plainly said, 'You could all do something about
this unhappy world, if you would; but you won't.'

Three days had passed now, singularly alike in plan.  Melas had
been almost too attentive in his capacity of uninvited guide to the
sights of the city.  It was inevitable that they should be thrown
into each other's company.  Their duties were light and briefly
accomplished.  As Melas had foreseen, you looked after your master
at mealtime, polished his equipment, helped him into his
complicated military harness in the morning and out of it at night.
The rest of the time was yours.

Breakfast was served at dawn, after which the troops turned out on
the parade-ground for routine inspection.  Then a small detachment
of each contingent returned to their respective barracks to be on
call while the main bodies--commanded by junior officers and led by
the larger, but no more splendidly accoutred, Legion of the
Procurator--marched smartly into the street.

It was a stirring sight and Demetrius, his tasks completed for the
morning, liked to watch the impressive parade as, four abreast, the
gaily uniformed soldiers strutted around the corner, stood like
statues while the colours were dipped before the proud portals of
the Praetorium, and proceeded down the avenue to the Temple,
passing in their march the pretentious marble residence of
Caiaphas, the High Priest.  Caiaphas was not honoured with a
salute; neither was the Temple.

On two occasions Demetrius, attended by Melas as voluntary
commentator, trailed along at the rear of the procession.  On an
equivalent occasion in Rome, hundreds would have followed such a
parade; but not here.  Perhaps the people were too sullen, perhaps
they hated Rome too much.  Perhaps, again, they lacked the vitality
to pick up their heels and keep pace with the long steps of the
soldiers.  Demetrius had seen plenty of rags and tatters and blind
beggars and hopeless cripples, but never in such numbers or in such
dire distress.  His own native Corinth had its share of misery, but
its wretchedness was on display mostly in the port area.  Athens--
he had been there once with his father and brothers when he was
twelve--had plenty of poverty, but it also had beautiful parks and
exquisite works of art.  This Jerusalem--that called itself a holy
city--was horrible; its streets crowded with disease and
deformities, and verminous mendicants.  Other cities had their
faults; hateful ones, too.  But Jerusalem?  Not much wonder the
strange man on the white donkey had been lonely!

The return of the troops to the Insula was made by a circuitous
route which bisected the centre of the market district where
hucksters and customers scrambled to give the legionaries plenty of
room as they went striding arrogantly down the narrow street, their
manner saying that Emperor Tiberius mustn't be detained even at the
cost of a few trampled toes.  If a recumbent camel, indifferent to
the dignity of the Empire, remained seated in the middle of the
road, Rome did not debate the right of way, but opened the
formation and pretended that the sullen beast was an island.
Occasionally a balky pack-ass was similarly deferred to by the
armed forces of Tiberius.  Everybody else sought the protection of
doorways and alleys.

This rambling route included the Roman Consulates, a not very
imposing group of official residences, where brief pauses were made
to salute the imperial arms rather than the imperial representatives
of Samaria, Decapolis, and Galilee.

'You watch them,' advised Melas, 'when they stop to salute Herod's
house.  It's funny.'

And it was funny.  Herod, who handled Rome's diplomatic dealings
with Galilee, which were reputed to be trivial and infrequent, had
made himself very well-to-do, but the homage paid to his
establishment was perfunctory enough to constitute a downright
insult.

'I've heard them say,' Melas had explained, 'that this Herod fellow
would like to be the Procurator.  That's why Pilate's Legion begins
the salute with the thumb to the nose.  Maybe that's orders: I
don't know.'

Back at the parade-ground, the companies were dismissed for the
day.  By twos and threes the men swaggered down into the congested
business zone, capitalizing the privileges of their resplendent
garb and glittering weapons, rejoicing alike in the shy admiration
of the olive-tinted girls and the candid hatred of the merchants
whose wares they impudently pawed and pilfered.

In the afternoon, the majority of the troops strolled out to the
small arena, south of the city, and watched the games--footraces,
discus-hurling, javelin-throwing, wrestling--tame sports, but
better than none.  No gladiatorial combats were permitted, nor any
other amusing bloodshed.  Immediately outside the arena, but within
its compound, every conceivable type of imposture flourished.  Many
of the mountebanks were from far distances.  There were magicians
from India, pygmies from Africa, Syrian fortune-tellers.  Patently
crooked gambling wheels and other games of chance beguiled many a
hard-earned shekel.  Innumerable booths dispensed lukewarm,
sickeningly sweet beverages of doubtful origin, flyblown figs, and
dirty confections.

To the Romans, accustomed at home to more exciting events on their
festal days, the arena and its accessories had but little charm.
To the country people, it was a stupendous show, especially for the
younger ones.  Most of their elders, mightily concerned with the
sale of pottery, rugs, shawls, assorted homespun, sandals, saddles,
bracelets, bangles, and ornamental trifles in leather, wood, and
silver, remained downtown in the thick of serious trade.

As for Marcellus and his staff, and the ranking officers of the
other garrisons, their chief diversion--apart from lounging in the
baths--was gambling.  After the first day, spent in making
ceremonious calls upon the Procurator and the Consuls, and a little
sight-seeing, the staff members idled in their sumptuous quarters.

There seemed to be an unlimited supply of wine, and it was apparent
that the officers were making abundant use of it.  On two
occasions, Centurion Paulus had not appeared at the evening dinner,
and many another place was vacant at the well-provided tables in
the ornate mess-hall.  Demetrius had been pleased to note that his
master was exercising a little more discretion than some of the
others, but it was evident that he too was relieving his boredom by
the only available method.  It was to be hoped that the week could
be brought to an end without a row.  The materials for quarrels
were all at hand; the wine, the dice, the idleness.  It had never
taken very much liquor to make Marcellus reckless.  Paulus, when
drunk, was surly and sensitive.  Demetrius had begun to count the
hours until it would be time to take to the road.  Minoa had its
disadvantages, but it was a safer and more attractive place than
Jerusalem.

He wished he could find out what had become of the man who didn't
want to be king of this country.  One day he had broached the
subject to the Thracian; but Melas, who knew everything, knew
nothing about this; had quite forgotten the little furor on the
hill.

'The patrol probably scared him back to the country,' surmised
Melas.

'Perhaps they put him in prison,' wondered Demetrius.

'He'd be lucky,' laughed Melas.  'Men who gather up big crowds
around them are better off in jail, this week, than on the street.'

'Do you know where the prison is?' Demetrius had inquired, suddenly
inspired with an idea.

Melas gave him a quizzical glance.  No, he didn't know where the
prison was and didn't want to know.  Prisons were fine places to
stay away from.  Any man was a fool to visit a friend in prison.
First thing you knew, they'd gobble you up, too.  No, sir!  Melas
had had enough of prisons to last him the rest of his life.

One afternoon (it was their fourth day in Jerusalem) Demetrius went
out alone over the road on which they had come into the city, and
on up the long hill until he reached the place where he had seen
the lonely man with the beseeching eyes.  He easily recognized the
spot: there were dusty and broken palm branches scattered along the
roadside, poor shreds of a brief and doubtful glory.

Retracing his steps slowly to the brow of the hill, he turned aside
into a public park, where well-worn paths wound through a grove of
ancient olive trees, gnarled and twisted as if they had shared with
the hapless Jews a long, stubborn withstanding of persecution.  He
sat there in the shade for an hour looking down over Jerusalem.
You'd think a city thirty-five centuries old would have a little
more to show for its experience.  For that matter, the whole world
seemed incapable of learning anything useful.  Jerusalem wanted her
freedom.  What would she do with freedom if she had it?  Everybody
in the world wanted more freedom; freedom to do, and be, what?

Suppose (it was inconceivable), but suppose the Jews contrived to
drive the Romans out?  Then what?  Would they leave off quarrelling
among themselves, and forget their old party differences, and work
together for the good of their country?  Would the rich landlords
and money-lenders treat the poor more leniently?  If they disposed
of the Romans, would they feed the hungry and care for the sick and
clean the streets?  Why, they could do all that now, if they
wished.  The Romans wouldn't stop them.  The Romans would be glad
enough to see such improvements, for some of them had to live there
too.

What was the nature of this bondage that Jerusalem so bitterly
resented?  That noisy pack of fanatics on the road, the other day,
thought their trouble was with the Roman Government.  If they could
find a leader strong enough to free them from Rome, they would set
up a kingdom of their own.  That, they seemed to think, would make
everything right.  But would it?  How would a revolution help the
mass of the people?  Once a new Government was in the saddle, a
small group of greedy men would promptly impose upon the public.
Maybe this lonely man from the country knew that.  This
tatterdemalion throng wanted him to be their king, wanted him to
live at the Insula, instead of Pilate.  Then the few, who had
helped him into power, would begin to make themselves great.  But
Jerusalem would continue to be what she was now.  A change of
masters wouldn't help the people.

Demetrius rose and sauntered back to the main thoroughfare,
surprised to see that so few travellers were on the road.  It still
lacked two hours of sunset.  Something important must be going on,
to have drawn the traffic off the highway; yet the city seemed
unusually quiet.

He walked slowly down the hill, his thoughtful mood persisting.
What kind of government would solve the world's problems?  As
matters stood, all governments were rapacious.  People everywhere
endured their rulers until they had gained strength enough to throw
them off and take on another load of tyranny.  The real trouble
wasn't located at the capital, but in the immediate neighbourhood,
in the tribe, in the family, in themselves.  Demetrius wished he
could talk with the lonely man from the country, and learn what he
thought of government; how, in his opinion, a better freedom might
be found.

It suddenly occurred to him that the impudent little Athenian might
know what had become of the man who didn't want to be a king.  He
quickened his steps, resolved to make inquiries for a caravan with
spices to sell.

Down in the city, nearly all the usual activity had ceased.  What
had become of everybody?  Even in the market area, there were very
few traders about.  Accosting a bearded old Greek, who was
laboriously folding a bundle of rags, Demetrius inquired what was
happening; where were the people?  The tired old man shrugged and
grinned, without making a reply.  It was evident that he thought
the young fellow was trying to be playful.

'Has anything happened?' persisted Demetrius, soberly.

The old man tied his bundle and sat on it, puffing from his
exertion.  Presently he regarded his fellow countryman with fresh
interest.

'You trying to say,' he exclaimed, 'that you honestly don't know
what's happening?  My boy, this is the night of the Jewish
Passover.  All the Jews are in their houses.  And those who haven't
houses have crawled in somewhere under shelter.'

'For how long?'

'Until morning.  To-morrow they will be out early, for it is the
last day of Passover Week, and there will be much business.  But
where have you been, that you didn't know?'

Demetrius was amused at the old man's comments on his ignorance.

'I've never been here before,' he said.  'I know nothing about the
Jews' customs.  For the past two hours I've been out on the hill.
There's an olive grove.'

'I know.'  The old man nodded.  'They call it the Garden of
Gethsemane.  Not much there to see.  Ever on Mars' Hill--in
Athens?'

'Yes; beautiful!'

'These people can't make any statues.  It's against their religion.
Can't carve anything.'

'There's a lot of carving on the Temple,' said Demetrius.

'Yes, but they didn't do it.'  The old man rose and shouldered his
burden.

'I wonder if you know where I might find a caravan from Athens that
deals in spices,' asked Demetrius.

'Oh, yes.  You mean Popygos.  He's down by the old tower.  You
passed his place when you came in from the hill.  Popygos.  Better
keep your hand on your wallet.'

'Would he rob a fellow Greek?'

'Popygos would rob his grandmother.'

Demetrius grinned and bade the grizzled old merchant good-bye.  He
started toward the Insula.  It was too late to go back looking for
the spice caravan.  He would find it to-morrow.  People were very
much alike, wherever you found them.  The Jews hated their
government.  So did the Greeks.  But a change of government
wouldn't help.  That wasn't the trouble.  The trouble was that the
people couldn't change each other or themselves.  The rug merchant
discredited the spice merchant.  Popygos would rob his grandmother.
But that wasn't Tiberius Csar's fault.  Tiberius was a bad
Emperor, no doubt; but under any other government the grandmother
of Popygos would be no more safe than she was now.  The lonely man
from the country probably knew that.  He didn't want to be a king.
No matter who was king, you'd better keep your hand on your wallet.
The world was in serious need of something--but it wasn't something
that a new king could furnish.

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius did not wait to watch the early morning inspection.  As
soon as he had finished serving his master's breakfast, he made off
alone.  Already the streets were crowded.  You had to pick your way
carefully through the market district or you might tramp on some
reckless huckster sitting cross-legged on the narrow sidewalk
surrounded by his pitiful little stock of merchandise--a few crude
earthenware jugs, perhaps.  Here sat a shapeless bundle of rags
that turned out to be an old woman with three eggs and a melon for
sale.  The roadway was choked with pack-animals unloading into the
little bazaars.  Everywhere emaciated arms stretched out for a
penny.  Loathsome sores were unwrapped and put on display
accompanied progressively by a wheedle, a whine, a hiss, and a
curse.  A hollow-chested old man with empty fly-infested eye-
sockets apathetically blew a plaintive squawk from a decrepit
flageolet.  Now the street narrowed into a dark pestilential cavern
that declined over a series of broad stone steps, slippery with
refuse, swarming with beggars and mangy half-starved dogs.
According to Centurion Paulus, the Jews believed that they were
created in the image of their god.  Demetrius held his nose and
hurried through this assortment of divine reproductions, taking
care not to brush against them.

The caravan was not hard to find.  Near the old tower, overlooking
the little Kedron River, there was an open plaza where the road to
the west began.  A pungent aroma--distinctly refreshing after a
trip through the market--guided Demetrius to his destination.  A
welcoming voice hailed him.

'Ho, adelphos!' shouted the garrulous little Athenian.  Demetrius
was honestly glad to see him, though at any other time or place he
wouldn't have liked to be hailed as brother by this intrusive
fellow.  They shook hands.  'I was hoping to see you again.  My
name is Zenos.  I don't think I told you.'

'I am Demetrius.  You have a pleasant location here.'

'You're right!  Plenty of room, and we see everything.  You should
have been here last night.  Much excitement!  They arrested this
Nazarene, you know.  Found him up there in the old park.'

'Nazarene!  I hadn't heard.  What had he done?' asked Demetrius,
without much interest.

'Why, you know!  The man we saw on the white donkey, the other
day.'

Demetrius quickened, and asked a lot of questions.  Zenos was
delighted to have so much information to dispense.  Troops from the
Insula had been on the look-out for this Jesus ever since Sunday
noon.  Last night they had captured him; brought him, and his
little band of friends, back into the city.

'But what had he done?' demanded Demetrius, impatiently.

'Well, they arrested him for stirring up the people, and for
wanting to be a king.  Popygos says if they convict him of treason,
it will go hard with him.'

'Treason!  But that's nonsense!' exclaimed Demetrius, hotly.  'That
man doesn't want to upset the Government; doesn't want to have
anything to do with the Government; neither this Government nor any
other.  Treason?  They're all crazy!'

'No, they're not crazy,' objected Zenos.  'The people who run the
Temple have got to dispose of him somehow or he'll ruin their
business.  Haven't you heard what he did over there--same day we
saw him?'

'Not a word.  What happened?'

'What happened!  Plenty!  You see, the Temple is where the people
make sacrifices; buy animals and burn them; nasty mess, bad smell;
but their god likes the idea.  So the loggia--or whatever they may
call it--is crowded full of animals for sale.  The people bring
their money, and the money-changers--just inside the door--convert
it into Temple money.'  Zenos laughed heartily.  'And everybody
says that these bankers make a fat thing of it, too.'

'Do you mean to say that they sell animals inside that beautiful
Temple?' asked Demetrius, incredulously.

'In an arcaded court done in marble!' declared Zenos, solemnly
nodding his head.  'In a court with gorgeous tiled paving; walls
and ceiling in the finest mosaic you ever saw; nothing nicer in
Athens.  And they have it full of calves and sheep and pigeons.
You can imagine how it looks--but you can't imagine how it stinks!
You've got to go there and smell it!  Well, this Jesus came in from
the country--away up in Galilee somewhere--and went into the
Temple, and didn't like what he saw; said it was not the place to
sell animals.  And he must have caught on to the thievery, too, for
he made short work of the money-changers.'

'What!' doubted Demetrius.

Zenos laughed delightedly over his friend's bewilderment.

'Yes, sir!  If you'll believe it--he didn't look like a man who
would risk it--this Jesus picked up a whip and began slashing
about--'

Zenos elaborately cracked an imaginary whip a dozen times in swift
succession.  'Just as if he owned the whole establishment!  Crack!
Zip!  Lash!  Crash!  Slash!--and out they came.  It was wonderful!
Out galloped the calves and the priests and the sheep and the
bankers and the air was full of pigeons and feathers.  Then Jesus
upset the money-tables.  It poured out over the floor--shekels and
drachmas and denarii--big money, little money, good money, bad
money; swarms of pilgrims down on their hands and knees fighting
for it.  Thrilling sight!  I wouldn't have missed it!'  Zenos
glanced over his shoulder and muttered, 'Here comes the old man.
He's sore to-day.  His best customers are all busy attending to
this Jesus.'

The door of the largest tent had been drawn aside and a paunchy old
fellow with greying hair and beard had stepped out and was waddling
toward them.  It was a long time since Demetrius had seen anyone so
barbarously festooned with jewellery; heavy silver chains around
his neck and depending to his middle, rings on his fingers, rings
in his ears, bracelets, anklets.  He paused to regard Demetrius
with an appraising scowl.

'He's from Corinth.'  Zenos pointed with his thumb.  'We got
acquainted on the road.'

'I see you wear a Roman tunic,' observed Popygos, crossly.

'My master,' explained Demetrius, respectfully, 'commands the fort
at Minoa.'

'It would have been well,' said Popygos, 'if the Roman guard had
let the Jews settle their own quarrels to-day.  Everybody in
Jerusalem who has so much as two shekels to rub together is mixed
up with the case of this man from Nazareth.  Now that the
Government is in it, the affair will go on all day.  And to-morrow
is the Jews' Sabbath.'

'And they can't do business on the Sabbath,' remarked Demetrius,
for something to say.

Old Popygos stroked his whiskers reflectively.

'I have been making this trip for three-and-twenty years,' he said,
'and we have sold fewer goods this time than ever before.  It gets
worse and worse.  Always some big squabble, Passover Week, to keep
my best customers from coming for their cloves and cinnamon.'
Popygos upended a reed basket and sat down, jingling.  'I can
remember a time,' he went on, deliberately, 'when they didn't have
so many rackets.  Now you take this thing that happened down here
at the Temple, last Sunday.  A few years ago they were quite
peaceful.  The country people came in to do the Passover business
and a little trading.  Always brought a dove in a cage, if they
were very poor, or a lamb or a calf, if they could afford it.  That
was for the Temple.  The priests burned the offering--or said they
did.  They must have, from the way it reeked all around here.  Then
these Temple people got a little smarter.  A man from the country
would bring a lamb and the priests would examine it and find a wart
on its belly, or some small blemish.  So that lamb wouldn't do.
But they could take his damaged lamb and give him a good one for
it, if he would pay a cash difference.  Then the blemished lamb was
ready to sell to the next customer.'

'Rather dirty trading,' commented Demetrius.  'Not much wonder this
Nazarene objected.'

'Well, it won't do any good,' drawled Popygos.  'At least, it
hasn't done him any good.'

'What will they do to him?' wondered Demetrius.  'Put him in
prison?'

'Hardly!  I understand they took him last night to the High
Priest's house and tried him for making a disturbance in the
Temple.  Defiling the Temple--that was what they charged him with.'
Popygos broke into bitter laughter.  'As if anybody could defile a
Temple that had been turned into a stable.  Of course they had
enough witnesses on their side to convict him, so they all rushed
over to the Insula and got Pilate out of bed to hear the case.  He
told them that they had better settle it among themselves, if it
was just another Temple brawl.  But the rich old fellows wouldn't
let the Procurator off so easily as that.  They said this Jesus was
trying to make himself a king.  Pilate didn't take any stock in
that, of course.  So he suggested that they whip him and let him
go.'

'And did they whip him?' asked Demetrius, anxiously.

'That they did!  And quite heavily, too.  Then somebody in the
crowd yelled, "Kill the Galilean!"  Pilate pricked up his ears, at
that.  "If this man is a Galilean," he said, "try him before Herod.
He handles all Galilean matters."'

'Did they take him there?' asked Demetrius.

'Took him there,' nodded Popygos, 'and Herod had a good time
tormenting him, thinking that would please the Temple crowd and the
fat money-lenders.  He ordered the soldiers to whip Jesus again;
then dressed him in some old scarlet regalia, and pretended to do
homage to him.  Some drunken lout rolled up a thornbush and put it
on his head for a crown.  But the money-bags were not satisfied
with the show.  They wanted this Jesus put to death--'

'To death!' shouted Demetrius.

'Yes.  And they knew that nobody could give that order but Pilate.
So they all went back to the Insula.'

'And then what happened?' demanded Demetrius.

Popygos shook his head and twitched a shoulder.

'That's all I know,' he said.  'Diophanos the goldsmith, who was
there and told me this, had to come back to his bazaar.'

'Perhaps the trial is still going on at the Insula,' said
Demetrius, restlessly.

'You'd better keep away from there,' warned Popygos.  'No good
comes from mixing in business like that.'

'But my master may need me,' said Demetrius.  'I must go.  I hope
you have a safe journey home, sir.  Good-bye, Zenos.'

                         * * * * * *

While still some distance away, Demetrius, who had quickened his
pace until he was almost running, saw a compact crowd gathered
about the main entrance to the Praetorium.  He hurried up the steps
and stood at the edge of the tensely occupied audience, receiving
dark glances from his well-dressed Jewish neighbours as he appeared
beside them.  There were no poor people present.

The Procurator was standing within the colonnade, surrounded by a
detachment of palace guards.  On the highest level of the terraced
flagging, a company of troops, four ranks deep, stood stiffly at
attention.  In front of them, standing alone, was the captive.
Questions were being asked and answered in a language Demetrius
could not understand.  He concluded it was Aramaic, for that was
the tongue spoken by the tempestuous crowd on the road.  He left
his place and edged around until he was at the extreme right.  Now
he could see the profile of the lonely man.  Yes, he was wearing
the crown of thorns that Popygos had reported.  The blood had run
down from his forehead until his face was streaked with it.  His
hands were tied.  His coat had been pulled back off his bare
shoulders, showing livid whip-welts.  Some of them were bleeding.
But he seemed not to be conscious of his injuries.  The
Procurator's interrogations, whatever they were, proceeded quietly,
the prisoner, with uplifted face, as quietly answering them in a
respectful but self-confident tone.  Occasionally a low dissenting
mutter ran through the sullen crowd that stood with eyes squinted
and mouths open to hear the testimony.

So intently had Demetrius been watching the victim's face that he
had barely glanced about.  It now occurred to him to look for
Marcellus.  The front rank was composed of officers representing
the various forts.  Paulus was among them, resolutely erect, but
swaying rhythmically.  Immediately behind him stood a single line
of troops from Minoa.  Marcellus was not to be seen.

Now the Procurator was speaking in a louder voice.  It brought an
instant, concerted, angry roar from the civilian audience.
Demetrius manoeuvred to a position where he could get a better view
of the judge.  Now he saw Marcellus, standing with the other
Legates at the immediate left of the Procurator.  He wondered
whether his master really knew what was going on.  Unless someone
was at hand to act as interpreter, Marcellus probably had no notion
what all this was about.  Demetrius knew the exact meaning of the
slightest expression on his master's face.  At the moment, it
conveyed a good deal of bewilderment, and about the same amount of
boredom.  It was evident that Marcellus wished he were somewhere
else.

Procurator Pilate seemed confused.  The hostile attitude of his
influential audience had rattled him.  He turned aside and gave an
order to one of the guards, who retired within the wide doorway.
Presently he was back with a huge silver basin.  Pilate dipped his
hands in it, and flicked water from his fingers.  The crowd roared
again, but this time it was a cry of vengeful triumph.  It was
clear that a decision had been made: equally apparent that the
decision had satisfied the prosecution.  Now Demetrius understood
what was meant by the pantomime with the basin.  Pilate was washing
his hands of the case.  The people were to have their way, but they
were to consider themselves responsible for the judgment.  As for
the Procurator, he didn't care to have the prisoner's blood on his
hands.  Demetrius felt that his master would undoubtedly
understand.  Even if he knew nothing about the case, he would know
that Pilate had made a decision against his own inclinations.

Now Pilate had turned to Marcellus, who had stepped forward
saluting.  There was a brief, inaudible colloquy.  Marcellus bowed
in acknowledgment of an order, saluted again; and, descending the
steps, approached Paulus and gave him some instructions.  Paulus
barked a command, and the Minoa contingent advanced, formed a line
by twos, and executed a smart right-about.  Led by Marcellus, with
Paulus to the immediate rear of him, the troops marched through the
crowd that opened a passage for them.  One soldier of the final
pair paused to grasp the dangling rope that bound the condemned
man's hands.  It was a rough and apparently unanticipated jerk, for
it nearly lifted the prisoner off his feet.  The legionaries were
marching with long strides.

Not many of the crowd fell in behind the procession.  Most of them
gathered in muttering little groups, wagging their beards in sour
satisfaction.  Demetrius wondered what was to be the fate of this
Jesus.  He had received the death penalty; no question about that.
Nothing less would have appeased the people.  He would probably be
taken to the courtyard of some prison to face a detachment of
archers.  On the other side of the street, a small company of pale-
faced, poorly dressed, badly frightened men from the country seemed
trying to decide whether to follow.  After a moment, a few of them
did; but they were in no hurry to catch up.  These people were
undoubtedly Jesus' friends.  It was a pity, Demetrius thought, that
they had acted so meanly.  The man surely deserved a more loyal
support.

Undecided whether to trail along after the procession or wait at
the barracks for his master's return, Demetrius stood for some time
irresolute.  Presently Melas joined him, grinning feebly.

'What are they going to do with him?' inquired Demetrius,
unsteadily.

'Crucify him,' said Melas.

'Crucify him!'  Demetrius's voice was husky.  'Why--he hasn't done
anything to deserve a death like that!'

'Maybe not,' agreed Melas, 'but that's the order.  My guess is that
the Procurator didn't want to have it done, and thinks it may stir
up some trouble for him.  That's why he gave Minoa the job; didn't
want his own legion mixed up in it.  Minoa is pretty far away, and
a tough lot.'  Melas chuckled.  He was glad to belong to a tough
lot.  Minoa didn't mind a little brutality.

'Are you going along with them?' asked Demetrius.

Melas scowled and shook his head.

'No--nothing for me to do there.  Had you thought of going?  It's
not a very pretty business: I can tell you that!  I saw it done--
once--over in Gaul.  Soldier stabbed his Centurion.  They nailed
him up for that.  It took all day.  You could hear him cry for half
a league.  The big black birds came before he died and--'

Demetrius shook his head, made a gesture of protest, and swallowed
convulsively.  Melas grinned and spat awkwardly.  Then he turned
and started ambling slowly back toward the barracks, leaving
Demetrius standing there debating with himself what to do.

After a while he moved along woodenly after Melas.  Reaching his
master's silent and empty quarters, he sat down and tried to
compose himself.  His heart was beating so hard it made his head
ache.

Then he rose and found a drink of water.  It occurred to him that
Marcellus too might want a drink before this dreadful business was
over.  He filled a small jug, and started; walking slowly, for he
didn't want to go.

Ever since he had looked into this Jesus' eyes, Demetrius had
thought of him as the lonely man whom nobody understood; not even
his close friends.  To-day he would be a lonely man indeed.



Chapter VI


One of the Insula's ten companies was absent from inspection.
Marcellus noticed the diminished strength of the Procurator's
Legion, but thought little of it.  Whatever might be the nature of
the business that had called out these troops so early in the day,
it was of no concern to Minoa.

But when Julian, the Capernaum Commander who was taking his turn as
officer of the day, glumly announced that the customary parade was
cancelled and that all the legionaries would return to their
barracks to await further orders, Marcellus's curiosity was
stirred.  Returning to his quarters, he sent for Paulus, confident
that this ever-active fountain of gossip could explain the mystery.

After a considerable delay, the Centurion drifted in unsteadily
with flushed cheeks and bloodshot eyes.  His Commander regarded him
with unconcealed distaste and pointed to a chair into which the
dazed and untidy Paulus lowered himself gently.

'Do you know what's going on?' inquired Marcellus.

'The Procurator,' mumbled Paulus, 'has had a bad night.'

'So have you, from all appearances,' observed Marcellus, frostily.
'What has been happening--if it isn't a secret?'

'Pilate is in trouble.'  Paulus's tongue was clumsy, and he chewed
over his words slowly.  'He is in trouble with everybody.  He is
even in trouble with good old Julian, who says that if the man is a
Galilean, Capernaum should have been detailed to police the trial
at Herod's court.'

'Would you be good enough to tell me what you are talking about?'
rasped Marcellus.  'What man?  What trial?  Begin at the beginning,
and pretend I don't know anything about it.'

Paulus yawned prodigiously, scrubbed his watery eyes with shaky
fingers, and began to spin a long, involved yarn about last night's
experiences.  An imprudent carpenter from somewhere up in Galilee
had been tried for disturbing the peace and exciting the people to
revolt.  A few days ago, he had become violent in the Temple,
chasing the sacrificial animals out into the street, upsetting the
money-tills, and loudly condemning the holy place as a den of
robbers.  'A true statement, no doubt,' commented Paulus, 'but not
very polite.'

'The fellow must be crazy,' remarked Marcellus.

Paulus pursed his swollen lips judicially and shook his head.

'Something peculiar about this man,' he muttered.  'They arrested
him last night.  They've had him up before old Annas, who used to
be the High Priest; and Caiaphas, the present High Priest; and
Pilate, and Herod, and--'

'You seem to know a lot about it,' broke in Marcellus.

Paulus grinned sheepishly.

'A few of us were seeing the holy city by moonlight,' he confessed.
'Shortly after midnight we ran into this mob and went along with
them.  It was the only entertainment to be had.  We were a bit
tight, sir, if you'll believe it.'

'I believe it,' said Marcellus.  'Go on, please, with whatever you
can remember.'

'Well, we went to the trials.  As I have said, we were not in prime
condition to understand what was going on, and most of the
testimony was shouted in Aramaic.  But it was clear enough that the
Temple crowd and the merchants were trying to have the man put to
death.'

'For what had happened at the Temple?'

'Yes, for that, and for going about the country gathering up big
crowds to hear him talk.'

'About what?'

'A new religion.  I was talking with one of Pilate's legionaries
who understands the language.  He said this Jesus was urging the
country people to adopt a religion that doesn't have much to do
with the Temple.  Some of the testimony was rubbish.  One fellow
swore the Galilean had said that if the Temple were torn down he
could put it up again in three days.  Stuff like that!  Of course,
all they want is a conviction.  Any sort of testimony is good
enough.'

'Where does the matter stand now?' asked Marcellus.

'I got more than enough of it at Herod's court, and came back
before daybreak; dead on my feet.  They had just decided to have
another trial before Pilate, directly after breakfast.  They are
probably at the Insula now.  Pilate will have to give them what
they want, and'--Paulus hesitated, and then continued grimly--'what
they want is a crucifixion.  I heard them talking about it.'

'Shall we go over there?' queried Marcellus.

'I've had enough, sir, if you'll excuse me.'  Paulus rose with an
effort and ambled uncertainly across the room.  In the doorway he
confronted a sentinel, garbed in the Insula uniform, who saluted
stiffly.

'The Procurator's compliments,' he barked, in a metallic tone.
'The ranking officers and a detachment of twenty men from the Minoa
Legion will attend immediately in the Procurator's court.'  With
another ceremonious salute, he backed out and strutted down the
corridor, without waiting for a reply.

'I wonder what Pilate wants of us,' reflected Marcellus, uneasily,
searching the Centurion's apprehensive eyes.

'I think I can guess,' growled Paulus.  'Pilate doesn't confer
honours on Minoa.  He's going to detail us to do something too
dirty and dangerous for the local troops; doesn't want his precious
legion mixed up in it.  The Minoa contingent will be leaving to-
morrow.  If any trouble results, we will be out of reach.'  He
hitched up his belt and left the room.  Marcellus stood irresolute
for a moment and followed, intending to ask Paulus to order out the
detachment.  Through the half-open door to the Centurion's
quarters, he saw him greedily gulping from an enormous cup.  He
strode angrily into the room.

'If I were you, Paulus,' he said, sternly, 'I shouldn't drink any
more at present.  You've already had much too much.'

'If I were you,' retorted Paulus, recklessly, 'I would take as much
of this as I could hold!'  He took a couple of uncertain steps
toward Marcellus, and faced him with brazen audacity.  'You're
going to crucify a man to-day!' he muttered.  'Ever see that done?'

'No.'  Marcellus shook his head.  'I don't even know how it is
done.  You'll have to tell me.'

Paulus carefully picked his way back to the table where the
grotesquely-shaped wineskin sat.  Refilling the big cup, he handed
it, dripping, to his Commander.

'I'll show you--when we get there,' he said huskily.  'Drink that!
All of it!  If you don't, you'll wish you had.  What we're going to
do is not a job for a sober man.'

Marcellus, unprotesting, took the cup and drank.

'It isn't only that the thing is sickeningly cruel,' continued
Paulus.  'There's something strange about this man.  I'd rather not
have anything to do with him.'

'Afraid he'll haunt you?'  Marcellus paused at the middle of the
cup and grinned half-heartedly.

'Well, you wait, and see what you think!' murmured Paulus, wagging
his head mysteriously.  'The witnesses said he acted at the Temple
as if it were his own personal property.  And that didn't sound as
silly as you might think, sir.  At old man Annas's house, I'll be
bound if he didn't act as if he owned the place.  At Caiaphas's
palace, everybody was on trial--but this Jesus!  He was the only
cool man in the crowd at the Insula.  He owns that, too.  Pilate
felt it, I think.  One of the witnesses testified that Jesus had
professed to be a king.  Pilate leaned forward, looked him squarely
in the face, and said, "Are you?"  Mind, sir, Pilate didn't ask
him, "Did you say you were a king?"  He said, "Are you?"  And he
wasn't trying to be sarcastic, either.'

'But that's nonsense, Paulus!  Your wine-soaked imagination was
playing tricks on you!'  Marcellus walked across to the table and
poured himself another cupful.  'You get out the troops,' he
ordered, resolutely.  'I hope you'll be able to stand straight,
over at the Insula.  You're very drunk, you know.'  He took another
long drink, and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.  'So, what
did the Galilean say to that--when Pilate asked him if he was a
king?'

'Said he had a kingdom--but not in this world,' muttered Paulus,
with a vague, upward spiralling gesture.

'You're worse than drunk,' accused Marcellus, disgustedly.  'You're
losing your mind.  I think you'd better go to bed.  I'll report you
sick.'

'No, I'm not going to leave you in the lurch, Marcellus.'  It was
the first time Paulus had ever addressed the Commander by his given
name.

'You're goo' fellow, Paulus,' declared Marcellus, giving him his
hand.  He retraced his steps to the wineskin.  Paulus followed and
took the cup from his hand.

'You have had just the right amount, sir,' he advised.  'I suggest
that you go now.  Pilate will not like it if we are tardy.  He has
endured about all he can take, for one morning's dose.  I shall
order out the detachment, and meet you over there.'

                         * * * * * *

With a purposely belated start, and after experiencing much
difficulty in learning the way to the place of execution--an
outlying field where the city's refuse was burned--Demetrius did
not expect to arrive in time to witness the initial phase of the
crucifixion.

Tardy as he was, he proceeded with reluctant steps; very low in
spirit, weighted with a dejection he had not known since the day of
his enslavement.  The years had healed the chain-scars on his
wrists: fair treatment at the hands of the Gallio family had done
much to mend his heart: but to-day it seemed that the world was
totally unfit for a civilized man to live in.  Every human
institution was loaded with lies.  The courts were corrupt.
Justice was not to be had.  All rulers, big and little, were
purchaseable.  Even the temples were full of deceit.  You could
call the roll of all the supposed allegiances that laid claim to
the people's respect and reverence, and there wasn't one of them
that hadn't earned the bitter contempt of decent men!

Though accustomed to walk with long strides and clipped steps,
Demetrius slogged along through the dirty streets with the
shambling gait of a hopeless, faithless, worthless vagabond.  At
times his scornful thoughts almost became articulate as he
passionately reviled every tribunal and judiciary, every crown and
consistory in the whole wide, wicked world.  Patriotism!  How the
poets and minstrels loved to babble about the high honour of
shedding one's blood!  Maybe they, too, had been bought up.  Old
Horace: maybe Augustus had just sent him a new coat and a cask of
wine when he was inspired to write, 'How sweet and glorious to die
for one's country!'  Nonsense!  Why should any sane man think it
pleasant or noble to give up his life to save the world?  It wasn't
fit to live in; much less to die for!  And it was never going to be
any better.  Here was this foolhardy Galilean, so thoroughly
enraged over the pollution of a holy place that he had impulsively
made an ineffective little gesture of protest.  Doubtless nineteen
out of every twenty men in this barren, beaten, beggared land would
inwardly applaud this poor man's reckless courage; but, when it
came to the test, these downtrodden, poverty-cursed nobodies would
let this Jesus stand alone, without one friend, before the official
representatives of a crooked Temple and a crooked Empire.

Loyalty?  Why should any man bother himself to be loyal?  Let him
go out on his own, and protect himself as well as he was able.  Why
should you spend your life following at the heels of a Roman
master, who alternately confided in you and humiliated you?  What
had you to lose, in self-respect, by abandoning this aristocrat?
It wasn't hard to make one's way to Damascus.

It was a dark day for Demetrius.  Even the sky was overcast with
leaden, sullen clouds.  The sun had shone brightly at dawn.  For
the past half-hour an almost sinister gloom had been thickening.

As he neared the disreputable field, identifiable for some
distance, by the noisome smoke that drifted from its smouldering
corruptions, he met many men walking rapidly back to the city.
Most of them were well-fed, well-dressed, pompous, preoccupied; men
of middle age or older, strutting along in single file, as if each
had come alone.  These people, surmised Demetrius, were responsible
for the day's crime.  It relieved him to feel that the worst of it
was over.  They had seen the public assassination to a successful
conclusion, and were now free to return to their banks and bazaars.
Some, doubtless, would go to the Temple and say their prayers.

After the last straggling group of mud hovels had been passed, the
loathsome, garbage-littered field lay before him.  He was amazed to
see how much pollution had been conveyed to this place, for the
city's streets had not shown any lack of filth.  A fairly clean,
narrow path led toward a little knoll that seemed to have been
protected.  Demetrius stopped, and looked.  On the green knoll
three tall crosses stood in a row.  Perhaps it had been decided, as
an afterthought, to execute a couple of the Galilean's friends.
Could it be possible that two among them, crazed by their leader's
impending torture, had attempted to defend him?  Hardly: they
hadn't had it in them: not the ones he had seen that day on the
road: not the ones he had seen, this morning.

Forcing his unwilling feet, he advanced slowly to within less than
a stadium of the gruesome scene.  There he came to a stop.  The two
unidentified men were writhing on their crosses.  The lonely man on
the central cross was still as a statue.  His head hung forward.
Perhaps he was dead, or at least unconscious.  Demetrius hoped so.

For a long time he stood there, contemplating this tragic sight.
The hot anger that had almost suffocated him was measurably cooled
now.  The lonely man had thrown his life away.  There was nothing
to show for his audacious courage.  The Temple would continue to
cheat the country people who came in to offer a lamb.  Herod would
continue to bully and whip the poor if they inconvenienced the
rich.  Caiaphas would continue to condemn the blasphemies of men
who didn't want the gods fetched to market.  Pilate would deal out
injustice--and wash his dirty hands in a silver bowl.  This lonely
man had paid a high price for his brief and fruitless war on
wickedness.  But--he had spoken: he had acted.  By to-morrow,
nobody would remember that he had risked everything--and lost his
life--in the cause of honesty.  But perhaps a man was better off
dead than in a world where such an event as this could happen.
Demetrius felt very lonely too.

There was not so large a crowd as he had expected to see.  There
was no disorder, probably because the legionaries were scattered
about among the people.  It was apparent, from the negligence of
the soldiers' posture, as they stood leaning on their lances, that
no rioting had occurred or was anticipated.

Demetrius moved closer in and joined the outer rim of spectators.
Not many of the well-to-do, who had been conspicuous at the Insula,
were present.  Most of the civilians were poorly dressed.  Many of
them were weeping.  There were several women, heavily veiled and
huddled in little groups, in attitudes of silent, hopeless grief.
A large circle had been left unoccupied below the crosses.

Edging his way slowly forward, occasionally rising on tiptoe to
search for his master, Demetrius paused beside one of the
legionaries who, recognizing him with a brief nod, replied to his
low-voiced inquiry.  The Commander and several other officers were
on the other side of the knoll, at the rear of the crosses, he
said.

'I brought him some water,' explained Demetrius, holding up the
jug.  The soldier showed how many of his teeth were missing.

'That's good,' he said.  'He can wash his hands.  They're not
drinking water to-day.  The Procurator sent out a wineskin.'

'Is the man dead?' asked Demetrius.

'No--he said something a while ago.'

'What did he say?  Could you hear?'

'Said he was thirsty.'

'Did they give him water?'

'No, they filled a sponge with vinegar that had some sort of balm
in it, and raised it to his mouth; but he wouldn't have it.  I
don't rightly understand what he is up there for, but he's no
coward.'  The legionary shifted his position, pointed to the
darkening sky, remarked that there was going to be a storm, and
moved on through the crowd.

Demetrius did not look at the lonely man again.  He edged out into
the open and made a wide detour around to the other side of the
knoll.  Marcellus, Paulus, and four or five others were lounging in
a small circle on the ground.  A leather dice-cup was being shaken
negligently, and passed from hand to hand.  At first sight of it,
Demetrius was hotly indignant.  It wasn't like Marcellus to be so
brutally unfeeling.  A decent man would have to be very drunk
indeed to exhibit such callous unconcern in these circumstances.

Now that he was here, Demetrius thought he should inquire whether
there was anything he could do for his master.  He slowly
approached the group of preoccupied officers.  After a while,
Marcellus glanced up dully and beckoned to him.  The others gave
him a brief glance and resumed their play.

'Anything you want to tell me?' asked Marcellus, thickly.

'I brought you some water, sir.'

'Very good.  Put it down there.  I'll have a drink presently.'  It
was his turn to play.  He shook the cup languidly and tossed out
the dice.

'Your lucky day!' growled Paulus.  That finishes me.'  He stretched
his long arms and laced his fingers behind his head.  'Demetrius,'
he said, nodding toward a rumpled brown garment that lay near the
foot of the central cross, 'hand me that mantle.  I want to look at
it.'

Demetrius picked up the garment and gave it to him.  Paulus
examined it with idle interest.

'Not a bad robe,' he remarked, holding it up at arm's length.
'Woven in the country; dyed with walnut juice.  He'll not be
needing it any more.  I think I'll say it's mine.  How about it,
Tribune?'

'Why should it be yours?' asked Marcellus, indifferently.  'If it's
worth anything, let's toss for it.'  He handed Paulus the dice-cup.
'High number wins.  It's your turn.'

There was a low mutter of thunder in the north and a savage tongue
of flame leaped through the black cloud.  Paulus tossed a pair of
threes, and stared apprehensively at the sky.

'Not hard to beat,' said Vinitius, who sat next him.  He took the
cup and poured out a five and a four.  The cup made the circle
without bettering this cast until it arrived at Marcellus.

'Double six!' he called.  'Demetrius, you take care of the robe.'
Paulus handed up the garment.

'Shall I wait here for you, sir?' asked Demetrius.

'No--nothing you can do.  Go back to the Insula.  Begin packing up.
We want to be off early in the morning.'  Marcellus looked up at
the sky.  'Paulus, go around and see how they are doing.  There's
going to be a storm.'  He rose heavily to his feet, and stood
swaying.  Demetrius wanted to take his arm and steady him, but felt
that any solicitude would be resented.  His indignation had cooled
now.  It was evident that Marcellus had been drinking because he
couldn't bear to do this shameful work in his right mind.

There was a deafening, stunning thunderclap that fairly shook the
ground on which they stood.  Marcellus put out a hand and steadied
himself against the central cross.  There was blood on his hand
when he regained his balance.  He wiped it off on his toga.

A fat man, expensively dressed in a black robe, waddled out of the
crowd and confronted Marcellus with surly arrogance.

'Rebuke these people!' he shouted, angrily.  'They are saying that
the storm is a judgment on us!'

There was another gigantic crash of thunder.

'Maybe it is!' yelled Marcellus, recklessly.

The fat man waved a menacing fist.

'It is your duty to keep order here!' he shrieked.

'Do you want me to stop the storm?' demanded Marcellus.

'Stop the blasphemy!  These people are crying out that this
Galilean is the Son of God!'

'Maybe he IS!' shouted Marcellus.  'YOU wouldn't know!'  He was
fumbling with the hilt of his sword.  The fat man backed away,
howling that the Procurator should hear of this.

Circling the knoll, Demetrius paused for a final look at the lonely
man on the central cross.  He had raised his face and was gazing up
into the black sky.  Suddenly he burst forth with a resonant call,
as if crying to a distant friend for aid.

A poorly dressed, bearded man of middle age, apparently one of the
Galilean's friends from the country, rushed out of the crowd and
ran down the slope weeping aloud in an abandon of grief.  Demetrius
grasped him by the sleeve as he stumbled past.

'What did he say?'

The man made no reply, tore himself loose, and ran on shouting his
unintelligible lamentations.

Now the dying Galilean was looking down upon the crowd below him.
His lips moved.  His eyes surveyed the people with the same sorrow
they had expressed on the road when the multitude had hailed him as
their king.  There was another savage burst of thunder.  The
darkness deepened.

Demetrius rolled up the robe and thrust it inside his tunic,
pressing it tightly under his arm.  The intimate touch of the
garment relieved his feeling of desolation.  He wondered if
Marcellus might not let him keep the robe.  It would be a comfort
to own something that this courageous man had worn.  He would
cherish it as a priceless inheritance.  It would have been a great
experience, he felt, to have known this man; to have learned the
nature of his mind.  Now that there would be no opportunity to
share his friendship, it would be an enduring consolation to
possess his robe.

Turning about, with swimming eyes, he started down the hill.  It
was growing so dark now that the narrow path was indistinct.  He
flung a backward look over his shoulder, but the descending gloom
had swallowed up the knoll.

By the time he reached the city streets, night had fallen on
Jerusalem, though it was only mid-afternoon.  Lights flickered in
the windows.  Pedestrians moved slowly, carrying torches.
Frightened voices called to one another.  Demetrius could not
understand what they were saying, but their tone was apprehensive,
as if they were wondering about the cause of this strange darkness.
He wondered, too, but felt no sense of depression or alarm.  The
sensation of being alone and unwanted in an unfriendly world had
left him.  He was not lonely now.  He hugged the robe close to his
side as if it contained some inexplicable remedy for heartache.

Melas was standing in the corridor, in front of Paulus's door, when
he arrived at the barracks.  Demetrius was in no mood to talk, and
proceeded to his master's quarters, Melas following with his torch.

'So you went out there, eh?' said the Thracian, grimly.  'How did
you like it?'  They entered the room and Melas applied his torch to
the big stone lamps.  Receiving no answer to his rough query, he
asked, 'What do you think this darkness is; an eclipse?'

'I don't know,' replied Demetrius.  'Never heard of an eclipse
lasting so long.'

'Maybe it's the end of the world,' said Melas, forcing an uncouth
laugh.

'That will suit me all right,' said Demetrius.

'Think this Jesus has had anything to do with it?' asked Melas,
half in earnest.

'No,' said Demetrius, 'I shouldn't think so.'

Melas moved closer and took Demetrius by the arm.

'Thought any more about Damascus?' he whispered.

Demetrius shook his head indifferently.

'Have you?' he asked.

'I'm going to-night,' said Melas.  'The Procurator always gives a
dinner to the officers on the last night.  When it is over, and I
have put the Centurion to bed--he'll be tight as a tambourine--I'm
leaving.  Better come with me.  You'll wait a long time for another
chance as good as this one.'

'No, I'm not going,' said Demetrius firmly.

'You'll not tell on me, will you?'

'Certainly not.'

'If you change your mind, give me a wink at the banquet.'  Melas
sauntered toward the door.  Demetrius, thinking he had gone, drew
out the robe and unfolded it under the light.

'What have you got there?' Melas asked from the doorway.

'His robe,' said Demetrius, without turning.

Melas came back and regarded the blood-stained garment with silent
interest.

'How do you happen to have it?' he asked, in an awed tone.

'It belongs to the Legate.  The officers tossed for it.  He won
it.'

'I shouldn't think he'd want it,' remarked Melas.  'I'm sure I
wouldn't.  It will probably bring him bad luck.'

'Why BAD luck?' demanded Demetrius.  'It belonged to a brave man.'

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus came in, dazed, drunk, and thoroughly exhausted.
Unbuckling his sword-belt, he handed it to Demetrius, and sank
wearily into a chair.

'Get me some wine,' he ordered, huskily.

Demetrius obeyed; and, on one knee, unlaced his master's dusty
sandals while he drank.

'You will feel better after a cold bath, sir,' he said,
encouragingly.

Marcellus widened his heavy eyes with an effort and surveyed his
slave with curiosity.

'You out there?' he asked, thickly.  'Oh, yes; I remember now.  You
brought j-jug water.'

'And brought back his robe,' prompted Demetrius.

Marcellus passed his hand awkwardly across his brow and tried to
dismiss the recollection with a shuddering shrug.

'You will be going to the dinner, sir?' asked Demetrius.

'Have to!' grumbled Marcellus.  'Can't have off'cers laughing at
us.  We're tough--at Minoa.  Can't have ossifers--orfficers--
chortling because sight of blood makes Minoa Legate sick.'

'Quite true, sir,' approved Demetrius.  'A shower and a rub-down
will put you in order.  I have laid out fresh clothing for you.'

'Very good,' Marcellus laboured on.  'Commander Minoa never dirty
like this.  Wha's that?'  He raked his fingers across a dark wet
smudge on the skirt of his toga.  'Blood!' he muttered.  'Great
Roman Empire does big brave deed!  Wins bloody battle!'  The
drunken monologue trailed off into foggy incoherences.  Marcellus's
head sank lower and lower on his chest.  Demetrius unfastened the
toga, soaked a towel in cold water and vigorously applied it to his
master's swollen face and throat.

'Up you come, sir!' he ordered, tugging Marcellus to his feet.
'One more hard battle to fight, sir.  Then you can sleep it off.'

Marcellus slowly pulled himself together and rested both hands
heavily on his slave's shoulders while being stripped of his soiled
clothing.

'I'm dirty,' he mumbled to himself.  'I'm dirty--outside and
inside.  I'm dirty--and ashamed.  Unnerstand--Demetrius?  I'm dirty
and ashamed.'

'You were only obeying orders, sir,' consoled Demetrius.

'Were you out there?'  Marcellus tried to focus his eyes.

'Yes, sir.  A very sorry affair.'

'What did you think of him?'

'Very courageous.  It was too bad you had to do it, sir.'

'I wouldn't do it again,' declared Marcellus, truculently--'no
matter who ordered it!  Were you there when he called on his god to
forgive us?'

'No, but I wouldn't have understood his language.'

'Nor I--but they told me.  He looked directly at me after he had
said it.  I'm going to have a hard time forgetting that look.'

Demetrius put his arm around Marcellus to steady him.  It was the
first time he had ever seen tears in his master's eyes.

                         * * * * * *

The Insula's beautiful banquet-hall had been gaily decorated for
the occasion with many ensigns, banners, and huge vases of flowers.
An orchestra, sequestered in an alcove, played stirring military
marches.  Great stone lamps on marble pillars brightly lighted the
spacious room.  At the head table, a little higher than the others,
sat the Procurator with Marcellus and Julian on either side and the
Commanders from Caesarea and Joppa flanking them.  Everyone knew
why Marcellus and Julian were given seats of honour.  Minoa had
been assigned a difficult task and Capernaum had a grievance.
Pilate was glum, moody and distraught.

The household slaves served the elaborate dinner.  The officers'
orderlies stood ranged against the walls, in readiness to be of aid
to their masters, for the Procurator's guests, according to a long-
established custom, had come here to get drunk, and not many of
them had very far to go.

The representatives of Minoa were more noisy and reckless than any
of the others, but it was generally conceded that much latitude
should be extended in their case, for they had had a hard day.
Paulus had arrived late.  Melas had done what he could to
straighten him up, but the Centurion was dull and dizzy--and surly.
The gaiety of his table companions annoyed him.  For some time he
sat glumly regarding them with distaste, occasionally jerked out of
his lethargy by a painful hiccough.  After a while his fellow
officers took him in hand, plying him with a particularly heady
wine which had the effect of whipping his jaded spirits into fresh
activity.  He tried to be merry; sang and shouted; but no one could
understand anything he said.  Presently he upset his tall wine-cup,
and laughed uproariously.  Paulus was drunk.

It pleased Demetrius to observe that Marcellus was maintaining his
own with dignity.  He was having little to say, but Pilate's
taciturnity easily accounted for that.  Old Julian, quite sober,
was eating his dinner with relish, making no effort to engage the
Procurator in conversation.  The other tables were growing louder
and more disorderly as the evening advanced.  There was much
boisterous laughter; many rude practical jokes; an occasional
unexplained quarrel.

The huge silver salvers, piled high with roasted meats and exotic
fruits, came and went; exquisitely carved silver flagons poured
rare wines into enormous silver goblets.  Now and then a flushed
Centurion rose from the couch on which he lounged beside his table,
his servant skipping swiftly across the marble floor to assist him.
After a while they would return.  The officer, apparently much
improved in health, would strut back to his couch and resume where
he had left off.  Many of the guests slept, to the chagrin of their
slaves.  So long as your master was able to stagger out of the room
and unburden his stomach, you had no cause for humiliation; but if
he went to sleep, your fellow slaves winked at you and grinned.

Demetrius stood at attention, against the wall, immediately behind
his master's couch.  He noted with satisfaction that Marcellus was
merely toying with his food, which showed that he still had some
sense left.  He wished, however, that the Commander would exhibit a
little more interest in the party.  It would be unfortunate if
anyone surmised that he was brooding over the day's events.

Presently the Procurator sat up and leaned toward Marcellus, who
turned his face inquiringly.  Demetrius moved a step forward and
listened.

'You are not eating your dinner, Legate,' observed Pilate.
'Perhaps there is something else you would prefer.'

'Thank you; no, sir,' replied Marcellus.  'I am not hungry.'

'Perhaps your task, this afternoon, dulled your appetite,'
suggested Pilate, idly.

Marcellus scowled.

'That would be a good enough reason, sir, for one's not being
hungry,' he retorted.

'A painful business, I'm sure,' commented Pilate.  'I did not enjoy
my necessity to order it.'

'Necessity?'  Marcellus sat up and faced his host with cool
impudence.  'This man was not guilty of a crime, as the Procurator
himself admitted.'

Pilate frowned darkly at this impertinence.

'Am I to understand that the Legate of Minoa disputes the justice
of the court's decision?'

'Of course!' snapped Marcellus.  'Justice?  No one knows better
than the Procurator that this Galilean was unjustly treated!'

'You are forgetting yourself, Legate!' said Pilate, sternly.

'I did not initiate this conversation, sir,' rejoined Marcellus,
'but if my candour annoys you, we can talk about something else.

Pilate's face cleared a little.

'You have a right to your opinions, Legate Marcellus Gallio, he
conceded, 'though you certainly know it is unusual for a man to
criticize his superior quite so freely as you have done.'

'I know that, sir,' nodded Marcellus, respectfully.  'It is unusual
to criticize one's superior.  But this is an unusual case.'  He
paused, and looked Pilate squarely in the eyes.  'It was an unusual
trial, an unusual decision, an unusual punishment--and the convict
was an unusual man!'

'A strange person, indeed,' agreed Pilate.  'What did you make of
him?' he asked, lowering his voice confidentially.

Marcellus shook his head.

'I don't know, sir,' he replied, after an interval.

'He was a fanatic!' said Pilate.

'Doubtless.  So was Socrates.  So was Plato.'

Pilate shrugged.

'You're not implying that this Galilean was of the same order as
Socrates and Plato!'

The conversation was interrupted before Marcellus had an
opportunity to reply.  Paulus had risen and was shouting at him
drunkenly, incoherently.  Pilate scowled, as if this were a bit too
much, even for a party that had lost all respect for the dignity of
the Insula.  Marcellus shook his head and signed to Paulus with his
hand that he was quite out of order.  Undeterred, Paulus staggered
to the head table, leaned far across it on one unstable elbow, and
muttered something that Demetrius could not hear.  Marcellus tried
to dissuade him, but he was obdurate and growing quarrelsome.
Obviously much perplexed, the Commander turned and beckoned to
Demetrius.

'Centurion Paulus wants to see that robe,' he muttered.  'Bring it
here.'

Demetrius hesitated so long that Pilate regarded him with sour
amazement.

'Go--instantly--and get it!' barked Marcellus, angrily.

Regretting that he had put his master to shame, in the presence of
the Procurator, Demetrius tried to atone for his reluctant
obedience by moving swiftly.  His heart pounded hard as he ran down
the corridor to the Legate's suite.  There was no accounting for
the caprice of a man as drunk as Paulus.  Almost anything could
happen, but Paulus would have to be humoured.

Folding the blood-stained, thorn-rent garment over his arm,
Demetrius returned to the banquet-hall.  He felt like a traitor,
assisting in the mockery of a cherished friend.  Surely this Jesus
deserved a better fate than to be abandoned--even in death--to the
whims of a drunken soldier.  Once, on the way, Demetrius came to a
full stop and debated seriously whether to obey--or take the advice
of Melas, and run.

Marcellus glanced at the robe, but did not touch it.

'Take it to Centurion Paulus,' he said.

Paulus, who had returned to his seat, rose unsteadily; and, holding
up the robe by its shoulders, picked his way carefully to the head
table.  The room grew suddenly quiet, as he stood directly before
Pilate.

'Trophy!' shouted Paulus.

Pilate, with a reproachful smile, glanced toward Marcellus, as if
to hint that the Legate of Minoa might well advise his Centurion to
mend his manners.

'Trophy!' repeated Paulus.  'Minoa presents trophy to the Insula.'
He waved an expansive arm towards the banners that hung above the
Procurator's table.

Pilate shook his head crossly and disclaimed all interest in the
drunken farce with a gesture of annoyance.  Undaunted by his
rebuff, Paulus edged over a few steps and addressed Marcellus.

'Insula doesn't want trophy!' he prattled idiotically.  'Very well!
Minoa keep trophy!  Legate Marcellus wear trophy back to Minoa!
Put it on, Legate!'

'Please, Paulus!' begged Marcellus.  'That's enough.'

'Put it on!' shouted Paulus.  'Here, Demetrius; hold the robe for
the Legate!'

He thrust it into Demetrius's hands.  Someone yelled, 'Put it on!'
And the rest of them took up the shout, pounding the tables with
their goblets.  'Put it on!'

Feeling that the short way out of the dilemma was to humour the
drunken crowd, Marcellus rose and reached for the robe.  Demetrius
stood clutching it in his arms, seemingly unable to release it.
Marcellus was pale with anger.

'Give it to me!' he commanded, severely.  All eyes were attentive,
and the place grew quiet.  Demetrius drew himself erect, with the
robe held tightly in his folded arms.  Marcellus waited a long
moment, breathing heavily.  Then suddenly drawing back his arm he
slapped Demetrius in the face with his open hand.  It was the first
time he had ever ventured to punish him.

Demetrius slowly bowed his head and handed Marcellus the robe; then
stood with stooping shoulders while his master tugged it on over
the sleeves of his toga.  A gale of appreciative laughter went up,
and there was tumultuous applause.  Marcellus did not smile.  His
face was drawn and haggard.  The room grew still again.  As a man
in a dream, he fumbled woodenly with the neck of the garment,
trying to pull it off his shoulders.  His hands were shaking.

'Shall I help you, sir?' asked Demetrius, anxiously.

Marcellus nodded; and when Demetrius had relieved him of the robe,
he sank into his seat as if his knees had suddenly buckled under
him.

'Take that out into the courtyard,' he muttered, hoarsely, 'and
burn it!'

Demetrius saluted and walked rapidly across the hall.  Melas was
standing near the doorway.  He moved in closer as Demetrius passed.

'Meet me, at midnight, at the Sheep Gate,' he whispered.

'I'll be there,' flung back Demetrius, as he hurried on.

                         * * * * * *

'You seem much shaken.'  Pilate's tone was coolly derisive.
'Perhaps you are superstitious.'

Marcellus made no reply.  It was as if he had not heard the
sardonic comment.  He took up his wine-cup in a trembling hand and
drank.  The other tables, now that the unexpected little drama had
been played out, resumed their banter and laughter.

'I suspect that you have had about enough for one day,' added the
Procurator, more considerately.  'If you wish to go, you may be
excused.'

'Thank you, sir,' replied Marcellus, remotely.  He half-rose from
his couch, but finding that his knees were still weak, sank down
again.  Too much attention had already been focused on him: he
would not take the risk of an unfortunate exit.  Doubtless his
sudden enfeeblement would soon pass.  He tried to analyse this
curious enervation.  He had been drinking far too much to-day.  He
had been under a terrific emotional strain.  But even in his
present state of mental confusion, he could still think straight
enough to know that it wasn't the wine or the day's tragic task.
This seizure of unaccountable inertia had come upon him when he
thrust his arms into the sleeves of that robe!  Pilate had taunted
him about his superstition.  Nothing could be farther from the
truth: he was not superstitious.  Nobody had less interest in or
respect for a belief in supernatural persons or powers.  That being
true, he had not himself invested this robe with some imagined
magic.

He realized that Pilate was looking him over with contemptuous
curiosity.  His situation was becoming embarrassing.  Sooner or
later he would be obliged to stand up.  He wondered if he could.

A palace guard was crossing the room, on his way to the head table.
He came to a halt as he faced the Procurator, saluted stiffly, and
announced that the Captain of the Vestris had arrived and wished to
deliver a letter to Legate Marcellus Lucan Gallio.

'Bring it here,' said Pilate.

'Captain Fulvius wishes to deliver it with his own hands, sir,'
said the guard.

'Nonsense!' retorted Pilate.  'Tell him to give you the letter.
See that the Captain has his dinner and plenty of wine.  I shall
have a word with him in the morning.'

'The letter, sir,' said the guard, impressively, 'is from the
Emperor!'

Marcellus, who had listened with scant interest, now leaned forward
and looked at the Procurator inquisitively.

'Very well,' nodded Pilate.  'Tell him to come in.'

The few moments of waiting seemed very long.  A letter from the
Emperor!  What manner of message would be coming from crazy old
Tiberius?  Presently the bronzed, bearded, bow-legged sailor ambled
through the room, in tow of the guard.  Pilate greeted him coolly
and signed for him to hand the scroll to Marcellus.  The Captain
waited, and the Procurator watched out of the tail of his eye,
while the seals were broken.  Marcellus thrust a shaky dagger
through the heavy wax, slowly unrolled the papyrus, and ran his eye
over the brief message.  Then he rolled up the scroll and
impassively addressed the Captain.

'When are you sailing?'  There was nothing in Marcellus's tone to
indicate whether the letter from Emperor Tiberius bore good tidings
or bad.  Whatever the message was, it had not stirred him out of
his strange apathy.

'To-morrow night, sir.  Soon as we get back to Joppa.'

'Very good,' said Marcellus, casually.  'I shall be ready.'

'We should leave here an hour before dawn, sir,' said the Captain.
'I have made all arrangements for your journey to the port.  The
ship will call at Gaza to pick up whatever you may wish to take
with you to Rome.'

'How did you come to deliver this letter to Legate Marcellus Gallio
here in Jerusalem?' inquired Pilate, idly.

'I went to the Minoa fort, sir, and they told me he was here.'  The
Captain bobbed an awkward leave-taking and followed the guard from
the hall.  Pilate, unable to restrain his curiosity any longer,
turned to Marcellus with inquiring eyes.

'If congratulations are in order,' he said, almost deferentially,
'may I be the first to offer them?'

'Thank you,' said Marcellus, evasively.  'If it is agreeable to
you, sir, I shall go now.'

'By all means,' approved Pilate, stiffening.  'Perhaps you need
some assistance,' he added, as he observed Marcellus's struggle to
rise.  'Shall I send for your servant?'

Clutching the table for support, Marcellus contrived to get to his
feet.  For a moment, as he steadied himself, he was unsure whether
his legs would bear his weight until he had crossed the banquet-
hall.  Clenching his hands, he made a determined effort to walk.
With short infirm steps, he began the long journey to the door, so
intent upon it that he had failed to give his distinguished host as
much as a farewell glance.

He was immeasurably relieved when, having passed through the door
and into the broad corridor, he could brace a hand against the
wall.  After he had proceeded for some distance down the hall, he
came to an arched doorway that opened upon the spacious courtyard.
Feeling himself quite unable to go farther, he picked his way, with
the caution of an old man, down the steps.  On the lower step, he
sat down heavily, in the darkness that enveloped the deserted
parade-ground, wondering whether he would ever regain his strength.

Occasionally, during the next hour, he made tentative efforts to
rise; but they were ineffectual.  It struck him oddly that he was
not more alarmed about his condition.  Indeed, this lethargy that
had attacked him physically had similarly disqualified his mind.

The fact that his exile, which had threatened to ruin his life, was
now ended, did not exult his spirit.  He said, over and over to
himself, 'Marcellus, wake up!  You are free!  You are going home!
You are going back to your family!  You are going back to Diana!
The ship is waiting!  You are to sail to-morrow!  What ails you,
Marcellus?'

Once he roused to consciousness as the figure of a man with a pack
on his shoulder neared his darkened doorway.  The fellow was
keeping close to the wall, proceeding with stealthy steps.  It was
Paulus's slave.  He had the furtive air of a fugitive.  As he
passed, he gave a sudden start at the sight of Marcellus sitting
there; and, taking to his heels, vanished like a frightened
antelope.  Marcellus thought this faintly amusing, but did not
smile.  So, Melas was running away.  Well, what of it?  The
question arrived and departed with no more significance than the
fitful flicker in the masses of exotic shrubbery where the
fireflies played.

After what seemed a very long time, there came the sound of sandals
scraping along the marble corridor, and thick, tired voices.  The
banquet was over.  Marcellus wondered dully whether he should make
his presence known to them as they passed, but felt powerless to
come to a decision.  Presently the footsteps and voices grew
fainter and fainter, down the corridor.  After that, the night
seemed more dark.  But Marcellus had no sense of desolation.  His
mind was inert.  He laboriously edged his way over to the marble
pillar at the right of the arch; and, leaning against it,
dreamlessly slept.

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius had spent a busy hour in the Legate's suite, packing his
master's clothing and other equipment for the journey he would be
making in the morning, back to Minoa.  He had very few misgivings
about escaping from his slavery, but the habit of waiting on
Marcellus was not easy to throw off.  He would perform this final
service, and then be on his way to liberty.  He might be captured,
or he might experience much hardship; but he would be free!
Marcellus, when he sobered, would probably regret the incident in
the banquet-hall; might even feel that his slave had a just cause
for running away.

He hadn't accomplished his freedom yet, but he was beginning to
experience the sense of it.  After he had strapped the bulky
baggage, Demetrius quietly left the room and returned to his own
small cubicle at the far end of the barracks occupied by the
contingent from Minoa where he gathered up his few belongings and
stowed them into his bag.  Carefully folding the Galilean's robe,
he tucked it in last after packing everything else.

It was, he admitted, a very irrational idea, but the softness of
the finely woven, homespun robe had a curious quality.  The touch
of it had for him a strangely calming effect, as if giving him a
new reliance.  He remembered a legend from his childhood, about a
ring that bore the insignia of a prince.  And the prince had given
the ring to some poor legionary who had pushed him out of an
arrow's path.  And, years afterwards, when in great need, the
soldier had turned the ring to good account in seeking an audience
with the prince.  Demetrius could not remember all the details of
the story, but this robe seemed to have much the same properties as
the prince's ring.  It was in the nature of a surety, a defence.

It was a long way to the Sheep Gate, but he had visited it before
on one of his solitary excursions, lured there by Melas's
information that it was now rarely used except by persons coming
into the city from the villages to the north.  If a man were
heading for the Damascus road, and wished to avoid a challenge, the
Sheep Gate offered the best promise.  Demetrius had been full of
curiosity to see it.  He had no intention of running away, but
thought it might be interesting to have a glimpse of a road to
freedom.  Melas had said it was easy.

The gate was unguarded, deserted indeed.  Melas had not yet
arrived, but his tardiness gave Demetrius no concern.  Perhaps he
himself was early.  He lounged on the parched grass by the
roadside, in the shadow of the crumbling limestone bastion, and
waited.

At length he heard the rhythmic lisps of sandal-straps, and stepped
out into the road.

'Anyone see you go?' asked Melas, puffing a little as he put down
his pack for a momentary rest.

'No.  Everything was quiet.  How about you?'

'The Legate saw me leave.'  Melas chuckled.  'He gave me a fright.
I was sneaking along the barracks wall, in the courtyard, and came
upon him.'

'What was he doing there?' demanded Demetrius sharply.

'Just sitting there, by himself, in a doorway.'

'He recognized you?'

'Yes, I feel sure he did; but he didn't speak.  Come!  Let's not
stand here any longer.  We must see how far we can travel before
sunrise.'  Melas led the way through the dilapidated gate.

'Did the Legate appear to be drunk?' asked Demetrius.

'N-no, not very drunk,' said Melas, uncertainly.  'He left the hall
before any of the others; seemed dizzy and half out of his mind.  I
was going to wait and put my mean old drunkard to bed, but they
kept at it so long that I decided to leave.  He probably won't miss
me.  I never saw the Centurion so drunk before.'

They plodded on through the dark, keeping to the road with
difficulty.  Melas stumbled over a rock and cursed eloquently.

'You say he seemed crazy?' said Demetrius, anxiously.

'Yes, dazed, as if something had hit him.  And out there in that
archway, he had a sort of empty look in his face.  Maybe he didn't
even know where he was.'

Demetrius's steps slowed to a stop.

'Melas,' he said, hoarsely, 'I'm sorry--but I've got to go back to
him.'

'Why, you--'  The Thracian was at a loss for a strong enough
epithet.  'I always thought you were soft!  Afraid to run away from
a fellow who strikes you in the face before a crowd of officers,
just to show them how brave he was!  Very well!  You go back to him
and be his slave forever!'

Demetrius had turned and was walking away.

'Good luck to you, Melas!' he called, soberly.

'Better get rid of that robe!' shouted Melas, his voice shrill with
anger.  'That's what drove your smart young Marcellus out of his
mind!  He began to go crazy the minute he put it on!  He is
accursed!  The Galilean has had his revenge!'

Demetrius stumbled on through the darkness, Melas's raging
imprecations following him as far as the old gate.

'Accursed!' he yelled.  'Accursed!'



Chapter VII


Although winter was usually brief on the Island of Capri, there was
plenty of it while it lasted--according to Tiberius Csar, who
detested it.  The murky sky depressed his spirit.  The raw dampness
made his creaking joints ache.  The most forlorn spot, he declared,
in the Roman Empire.

The old man's favourite recreation, since committing most of his
administrative responsibilities to Prince Gaius, was residential
architecture.  He was forever building huge, ornate villas on the
lofty skyline of Capri, for what purpose not even the gods knew.

All day long, through spring, summer, and autumn, he would sit in
the sun--or under an awning if it grew too hot--and watch his
stonemasons at work on yet another villa.  And his builders had
respect for these constructions too, for the Emperor was an
architect of no mean ability.  Nor did he allow his sthetic taste
to run away with his common sense.  The great cisterns required for
water conservation on a mountain-top were planned with the
practical skill of an experienced plumber and concealed with the
artistry of an idealistic sculptor.

There were nine of these exquisite villas now, ranged in an
impressive row on the highest terrain, isolated from one another by
spacious gardens, their architectural style admitting that they had
been derived from the mind and purse of the jaded, restless,
irascible old Csar who lived in the Villa Jovis which dominated
them all--a fact further illuminated by the towering pharos rising
majestically from the centre of its vast, echoing atrium.

Tiberius hated winter because he could not sit in the sun and watch
his elaborate fancies take on form and substance.  He hadn't very
long to live, and it enraged him to see the few remaining days
slipping through his bony fingers like fine sand through an
hourglass.

When the first wind and rain scurried across the bay to rattle the
doors and pelt the windows of his fifty-room palace, the Emperor
went into complete and embittered seclusion.  No guests were
welcome.  Relatives were barred from his sumptuous suite.  No
deputations were received from Rome; no state business was
transacted.

Prince Gaius, whom he despised, quite enjoyed this bad weather, for
while the Emperor was in hibernation he felt free to exercise all
the powers entrusted to him--and sometimes a little more.
Tiberius, aware of this, fumed and snuffled, but he had arrived at
the stage of senescence where he hadn't the energy to sustain his
varied indignations.  They burned white-hot for an hour--and
expired.

Through the short winter, no one was allowed to see the decaying
monarch but his personal attendants and a corps of bored physicians
who packed his old bones in hot fomentations of spiced vinegar and
listened obsequiously to his profane abuse.

But the first ray of earnest sunshine always made another man of
him.  When its brightness spread across his bed and dazzled his
rheumy eyes, Tiberius kicked off his compresses and his doctors,
yelled for his tunic, his toga, his sandals, his cap, his stick,
his piper, his chief gardener, and staggered out into the
peristyle.  He shouted orders, thick and fast; and things began to
hum.  The Emperor had never been gifted with much patience, and
nobody expected that he would miraculously develop this talent at
eighty-two.  Now that spring had been officially opened, with
terrifying shrieks and reckless cane-waving, the Villa Jovis came
to life with a suddenness that must have shocked the conservative
old god after whom the place had been named.  The Macedonian
musicians and Indian magicians and Ionian minstrels and Rhodesian
astrologers and Egyptian dancing girls were violently shaken out of
their comfortable winter sloth to line up before his fuming majesty
and explain why (at the expense of a tax-harried, poverty-cursed
Empire) they had been living in such disgusting indolence.

For the sake of appearances, a servant would then be dispatched to
the Villa Dionysus (the name of his aged wife's palace had been
chosen with an ironical chuckle) to inquire about the health of the
Empress, which was the least of the old man's anxieties.  It would
not have upset him very much to learn that Julia wasn't so well.
Indeed, he had once arranged for the old lady's assassination, an
event which had failed to happen only because the Empress, privily
advised of the engagement planned for her, had disapproved of it.

This season, spring had arrived much earlier than usual, forcing
everything into bloom in a day.  The sky was full of birds, the
gardens were full of flowers, the flowers were full of bees, and
Tiberius was full of joy.  He wanted somebody to share it with him;
somebody young enough to respond with exultation to all this
beauty: who but Diana!

So that afternoon a courier, ferrying across to Neapolis, set forth
on a fast horse, followed an hour later by the most commodious of
the royal carriages--stuffed with eider-down pillows as a hint that
the return journey from Rome to Capri, albeit hard to take, should
be made with dispatch; for the distinguished host was not good at
waiting.  His letter, addressed to Paula Gallus, was brief and
urgent.  Tiberius did not ask whether it would be convenient for
her to bring Diana to Capri, and, if so, he would send for them: he
simply advised her that the carriage was on the way at full gallop,
and that they were to be prepared to take it immediately upon its
arrival.

                         * * * * * *

At dusk on the third day of their hard travel, Paula and Diana had
stepped out of the imperial barge on to the Capri wharf, and,
climbing wearily into the luxurious litters awaiting them, had been
borne swiftly up the precipitous path to the Villa Jovis.  There
the old Emperor had met them with a pathetic eagerness, and
mercifully suggested that they retire at once to their baths and
beds, adding that they were to rest undisturbed until to-morrow
noon.  This inspired announcement Paula Gallus received with an
almost tearful gratitude, and made haste to avail herself of its
benefits.

Diana, whose physical resources had not been so thoroughly
depleted, lingered, much to the old man's delight; slipped her hand
through his arm and allowed herself to be led to his private
parlour, where, when he had sunk into a comfortable chair, she drew
up a stool; sat, with her shapely arms folded on his emaciated
knee, and looked up into his deep-lined face with a tender
affection that made the Emperor clear his throat and wipe his hawk-
like nose.

It was so good of him, and so like him, she said, to want her to
come.  And how well he was looking!  How glad he must be to see
spring come again.  Now he would be out in the sunshine, every day,
probably supervising some new building.  What was it going to be,
this season: another villa, maybe?  Diana smiled into his eyes.

'Yes,' he replied, gently, 'another villa.  A truly beautiful
villa.'  He paused, narrowing his averted eyes thoughtfully.  'The
most beautiful of them all, I hope.  This one'--Tiberius gave her
an enigmatic smile--'this one is for the sweet and lovely Diana.'
He did not add that this idea had just now occurred to him.  He
made it sound as if he were confiding a plan that had been long
nurtured in secret.

Diana's eyes swam and sparkled.  She patted the brown old hand
tenderly.  With a husky voice she murmured that he was the very
dearest grandfather anyone ever had.

'And you are to help me plan the villa, child,' said Tiberius
warmly.

'Was that why you sent for me?' asked Diana.

The old man pursed his wrinkled lips into a sly smile and lied
benevolently with slow nods of his shaggy white head.

'We will talk about it to-morrow,' he promised.

'Then I should get to bed at once,' she decided, springing to her
feet.  'May I have breakfast with you, Grandfather?'

Tiberius chuckled amiably.

'That's too much to ask of you, my sweet,' he protested.  'You must
be very tired.  And I have my breakfast at dawn.'

'I'll be with you!' announced Diana.  She softly patted him on the
head.  'Good-night, Your Majesty.'  Dropping to one knee, she bowed
ceremoniously and rising retreated--still facing him--until she
reached the door where she paused, puckered her smiling lips, and
pantomimed a kiss.

The aged Emperor of Rome was much pleased.

                         * * * * * *

It was high noon and the day was bright.  Not for a long time had
Tiberius enjoyed himself so fully.  This high-spirited girl was
renewing his interest in life.  She had matured beyond belief since
he had last seen her.  He responded to her radiant vitality with an
almost adolescent yearning.  Had Diana hinted that she would like
to own the Island of Capri, Tiberius would have handed it to her
without pausing to deliberate.

After breakfast they had walked to the far east end of the
enchantingly lovely mall, Diana ecstatic, the Emperor bumbling
along with short steps and shorter breaths, scraping the mosaic
pavement with his sandal-heels.  Yes, he panted, there was plenty
of room at the far end of the row for a magnificent villa.
Nothing, he declared, would ever obstruct this splendid view.  He
stopped, clutched at Diana's arm for steadiness, and pointed toward
the north-east with a shaky cane.  There would always be old
Vesuvius to greet you in the morning.  And do you not see the
sunlight glinting from the white roofs of Pompeii and Herculaneum?
And across there, close at hand, is sleepy little Surrentum.  You
can sit at your window and see everything that is going on in
Surrentum.

Observing that the old man's legs were becoming unsteady, Diana had
suggested that they should turn aside here and rest in the arbour
that marked the eastern boundary of the new, and still unoccupied,
Villa Quirinus.  The Emperor sank heavily into a rustic chair and
mopped his perspiring brow, his thin, mottled hand trembling as if
palsied.  For some time they sat in silence, waiting for the old
man to recuperate.  His lean face was contorted and his jaw chopped
convulsively.

'You have grown to be a beautiful woman, Diana!' he remarked, in a
thin treble, after blandly evaluating her charms with the
privileged eyes of eighty-two.  'You will probably be married one
of these days.'

Diana's bright smile slowly faded and her heavy lashes fell.  She
shook her curly, blue-black head and gave what seemed a painful
little sob through locked teeth.  Tiberius snorted impatiently and
pounded the pavement with his cane.

'Now what's the trouble?' he demanded.  'In love with the wrong
man?'

'Yes.'  Diana's face was sober and her reply was a mere whisper.
'I don't mind telling you, Grandfather,' she went on, with
overflowing eyes, 'I'm in love with Marcellus.'

'Well, why not?  What's the matter with Marcellus?'  The old man
leaned forward to peer into her unhappy eyes.  'It would be a most
excellent alliance,' he went on.  'There isn't a more honourable
man in the Empire than Gallio.  And you are fond of Lucia.  By all
means--marry Marcellus!  What's to hinder?'

'Marcellus,' murmured Diana, hopelessly, 'has been sent far away--
to be gone for years, perhaps.  He has been put in command of the
fort at Minoa.'

'Minoa!' shouted Tiberius, straightening his sagging spine with an
indignant jerk.  'Minoa!' he shrilled--'that dirty, dried-up,
pestilential, old rat-hole?  Who ordered him to go there, I'd like
to know?'

'Prince Gaius,' exploded Diana, swept with sudden anger.

'Gaius!'  The Emperor pried himself up by his elbows, struggled to
his feet, and slashed the air with his cane.  His leaky old eyes
were boiling.  'Gaius!' he shrieked.  'The misbegotten, drunken,
dangerous fool!  And what made him think he could do that to the
son of Marcus Lucan Gallio?  To Minoa indeed!  Well! we'll see
about that!'  He clawed at Diana's arm.  'Come!  Let us return to
the villa!  Gaius will hear from his Emperor.'

Leaning heavily on her, and wasting his waning strength on savage
screams of anger, Tiberius shuffled along toward the Villa Jovis,
pausing occasionally to shout long vituperations composed of such
ingenious sacrileges and obscenities that Diana was more astounded
than embarrassed.  On several occasions she had witnessed the old
man's grumpiness when annoyed.  This was the first time she had
seen him in one of his celebrated rages.  It was commonly believed
that the Emperor, thoroughly roused, went temporarily insane.
There was a rumour--probably slanderous--that he had been known to
bark like a dog, and bite, too.

Deaf to Diana's urgent entreaty that he should rest a little while
before dictating the message to Gaius, the old man began howling
for his chief scrivener while they were still trudging through the
peristyle.  A dozen dignified servants approached from all
directions, making as if they would be of service, but keeping a
discreet distance.  Diana finally got the fuming Emperor as far as
the atrium, where she dumped him on a couch and into the solicitous
hands of the Chamberlain; then scurried away to her room, where she
flung herself down on her bed, with her face buried in the pillow,
and laughed hysterically until she cried.

After a while, she repaired her face at the mirror; and, slipping
across the corridor, tapped gently at her mother's door.  She
pushed it open and peeped in.  Paula Gallus stirred and sleepily
opened one eye.

'Mother!'  Diana crossed the room and sat down on the edge of the
bed.  'What do you think?' she whispered, dramatically.  'He's
going to bring Marcellus home!'

'Well,' said Paula, from a considerable distance, 'that's what you
had planned to make him do, wasn't it?'

'Yes, but isn't it wonderful?' insisted Diana.

'It will be, when he has done it,' drawled Paula.  'You'd better
stand over him and see that he doesn't forget all about it.'

'Oh, he wouldn't forget!  Not this time!  Never was anyone so
angry!  Mother, you should have seen him!  He was terrific!'

'I know,' yawned Paula.  'I've seen him.'

'Well, in spite of everything,' declared Diana, 'I think he's an
old darling!'

'He's an old lunatic!' mumbled Paula.

Diana pressed her cheek against her mother's heart.

'Marcellus is coming back,' she murmured ecstatically.  'Gaius will
be very angry to have his orders flouted, but he won't be able to
do a thing about it, will he?'  And when Paula did not immediately
reply, Diana added, anxiously, 'Will he, Mother?'

'Not at present--no.'  Paula's tone carried a hint of warning.
'But we must keep it in mind that Tiberius is a very old man, my
dear.  He shouts and stamps and slobbers on himself--and forgets,
in an hour or two, what it was that upset him.  Besides, he is
going to die one of these days.'

'And then Gaius will be the Emperor?'  Diana's voice was full of
trouble.

'Nobody knows, dear.'

'But he hates Gaius!  You should have heard him!'

'Yes, but that's not imperial power: that's just an angry old man's
noise.  Julia and her little clique will appoint the next Emperor.
It may not be Gaius.  They quarrel frequently.'

'I've often wondered whether Tiberius might not appoint Father.  I
know he likes him.'

'Not a chance in a thousand.'  Paula waved aside the suggestion
with a languid hand.

'But Father is a great man!' declared Diana, loyally.

Paula nodded and her lips curled into a grim smile.

'Great men do not become Emperors, Diana,' she remarked, bitterly.
'It's against the rules.  Your father is not eligible.  He has no
talent for treachery.  He is brave and just.  And, besides, he is
not epileptic. . . .  Now, you had better run along and see that
the letter gets safely started on its way.'

Diana took a few steps; and, returning slowly, sat down on the bed
again.  She smiled mysteriously.

'Let's have it,' encouraged Paula.  'It seems to be a secret--yes?'

'Mother, he is going to build a great villa for me!'

Paula grinned.

'Nonsense!' she muttered.  'By noon he won't remember that he ever
said such a thing.  At least I sincerely hope he doesn't.  Imagine
your living here!'

'Marcellus, too,' said Diana.  'He wants Marcellus to live here, I
think.'

'And do what?'

'We didn't talk about that.'

Paula ran her fingers gently over Diana's hand.

'Well, be sure you don't introduce the subject.  Let him talk.
Promise him anything.  He'll forget.  You don't want a villa on
Capri.  You don't want Marcellus living here in this hateful
atmosphere.  Hot-headed as he is, you would be a widow in a week!
Go now, child!  Make him write that letter!'

                         * * * * * *

Lucia's intuition told her that Marcellus was on board this galley.
For an hour--ever since its black prow had nosed around the bend,
and the three banks of long oars had pushed the heavy hull into
full view--she had been standing here alone in the pergola, leaning
against the balustrade, intently watching.

If the Vestris had experienced no delays, she could have arrived in
Ostia as early as the day before yesterday.  Father had cautioned
them to be patient.  Watched pots were slow to boil.  It was a long
voyage from Joppa, and the Vestris had several ports to make on the
way home.  But even Father, in spite of his sensible advice, was
restless as a caged fox; you could tell from the way he invented
time-killing errands for himself.

The whole villa was on edge with impatience to have Marcellus
safely home.  Tertia was in a flutter of excitement for two good
reasons: she was eager for the return of Marcellus, of course; and
she was beside herself with anxiety to see Demetrius.  It was a
pity, thought Lucia, that Demetrius had been so casual in his
attitude toward Tertia.  Marcipor drifted about from room to room,
making sure that everything was in first-class order.  Mother had
ordered gay new draperies for Marcellus's suite.  The only self-
possessed person in the household was Mother.  She had wept happily
when Diana came to tell them what had happened, but was content to
wait calmly.

As for Lucia, she had abandoned all pretence of patience.  All
yesterday afternoon, and again to-day, she had waited in the
pergola, watching the river.  Sometimes she would leave her post
and try to stroll in the rose arbours--now in their full June glory--
but in a few minutes her feet would turn back, of their own
accord, to the observation point at the east end of the pergola.

As the galley crept up the river, veering toward the docks, Lucia's
excitement increased.  She knew now that her brother was one of the
passengers, probably fidgeting to be off.  If her guess were
correct, it would not be long now until they would see him.  He
would hire a carriage at the wharf and come fast.  Wouldn't Father
be surprised?  He wasn't expecting Marcellus to-day; had gone over
beyond the Aventine to look at a new riding horse; it was to be a
home-coming present.  Maybe Marcellus would be here when Father
returned.

It was going to be a great pity that Diana would not be at home to
welcome him.  Tiresome old Tiberius had sent for her again, and
there was nothing she could do but obey him.

'Will he keep on pestering her like that?' Lucia had wondered.

'She must not offend him,' Father had said, seriously.  'The old
man is malicious enough to hand Marcellus over to the Prince, if
Diana fails to humour him.'  After a moment of bitter reflection,
he had muttered, 'I am afraid the child is in an awkward--if not
dangerous--position.  And while we are not directly responsible for
it, her predicament worries me.'

'But the Emperor wouldn't harm Diana!' she had exclaimed.  'That
old man?'

Father had growled deep in his throat.

'A Csar,' he had snarled, contemptuously, 'is capable of great
wickedness--up to and including his last gasp--though he should
live a thousand years!'

'I don't believe you like the Emperor,' she had said, impishly, to
cool him off, and she made for the door.  He had grunted crossly--
and grinned.

You could just see the stern of the galley now, as it slipped into
its berth.  Lucia had been on this tension for so long that she was
ready to fly into bits.  She couldn't wait here another instant!
The servants might think it strange if she went alone to the
entrance gate.  But this was a special occasion.  Returning to the
house, she ran on, through to the imposing portico, down the marble
steps, and set off briskly on the long, shaded driveway that wound
through the acacias and acanthuses and masses of flowering
shrubbery.  A few slaves, ending their day's work in the formal
gardens, raised their eyes inquisitively.  At a little distance
from the ornate bronze gates, Lucia, flushed and nervous, sat down
on a stone bench, resolved to hold herself together until the great
moment.

After what seemed a very long time, a battered old public chariot,
drawn by two well-lathered horses, turned in from the busy avenue.
Beside the driver stood Demetrius, tall, tanned, and lean.  He
sighted her instantly, clutched the driver's arm, handed him a coin
and dismissed him.  Stepping down, he walked quickly toward her,
and Lucia ran to meet him.  His face, she observed, was grave,
though his eyes had lighted as she impulsively gave him her hands.

'Demetrius!' she cried.  'Is anything wrong?  Where is Marcellus?'

'There was no carriage at the wharf,' he explained.  'I came to
find a better conveyance.'

'Is my brother not well?'  Still holding his hands, Lucia searched
his eyes anxiously.  He flinched a little from this inquisition,
and his reply was evasive.

'No, my master is not; my master did not have a pleasant voyage.'

'Oh, that!'  She smiled her relief.  'I thought my brother was a
better sailor.  Was he sick all the way?'

Demetrius nodded non-committally.  It was plain to see he was
holding something back.  Lucia's eyes were troubled.

'Tell me, Demetrius!' she pleaded, huskily.  'What ails my
brother?'  There was a disturbingly long silence.

'The Tribune had a very unhappy experience, the day before we
sailed.'  Demetrius was speaking slowly, measuring his words.  'It
is too long a story to tell you now, for my master is at the wharf
awaiting me.  He has been deeply depressed and is not yet fully
recovered.  He did not sleep well on the ship.'

'Stormy weather?' suggested Lucia.

'A smooth sea,' went on Demetrius, evenly.  'But my master did not
sleep well; and he ate but little.'

'Was the food palatable?'

'No worse than food usually is on ships, but my master did not eat;
and therefore he suffers of weakness. . . .  May I go quickly now--
and get the large carriage for him?'

'Demetrius, you are trying to spare me, I think.'  Lucia challenged
his eyes with a demand for the whole truth.

'Your brother,' said Demetrius, deliberately, 'is moody.  He
prefers not to talk much, but does not like to be left alone.'

'But he did want to come home, didn't he?' asked Lucia, wistfully.

'Your brother,' replied Demetrius, gloomily, 'does not want
ANYTHING.'  He glanced up the driveway, restlessly.  'Shall I go
now?'

Lucia nodded, and Demetrius, saluting with his spear, turned to go.
She moved forward and fell into step with him.  He lagged to walk
behind her.  She slowed her pace.  He stopped.

'Please precede me,' he suggested, gently.  'It is not well that a
slave should walk beside his master's sister.'

'It is a stupid rule!' flashed Lucia.

'But--a RULE!'  Demetrius's impatience had sharpened his tone.
Instantly he saw that he had offended her.  Her cheeks were aflame
and her eyes were swimming.  'I am sorry,' he murmured, contritely.
'I did not mean to hurt you.'

'It was my fault,' she admitted.  Turning abruptly, she led the way
with long, determined steps.  After they had proceeded for a little
way in silence, Lucia, her eyes straight ahead, declared bitterly,
'I hate this whole business of slavery!'

'I don't care much for it myself,' rejoined Demetrius, dryly.

It was the first time he had been amused for nearly two months.
Half-turning suddenly, Lucia caught him in a broad grin.  Her lips
curved into a fleeting, reluctant smile.  Squaring her shapely
shoulders, she quickened her swinging stride and marched on.
Demetrius lengthening his steps as he followed, stirred by the
rhythm of her graceful carriage.

She paused where the driveway divided to serve the great house and
the stables.  Demetrius stood at attention.

'Tell me truly,' she begged, in a tone that disposed of his
slavery, 'is Marcellus's mind affected?'

Demetrius accepted his temporary freedom and spoke without
constraint.

'Marcellus has had a severe shock.  Perhaps he will improve, now
that he is back home.  He will make an effort to show his interest,
I think.  He has promised me that much.  But you must not be
startled if he stops talking--in the middle of a remark--and seems
to forget what you were talking about.  And then, after a long
wait, he will suddenly ask you a question--always the same
question--'  Demetrius averted his eyes, and seemed unwilling
to proceed further.

'What is the question,' insisted Lucia.

'He will say, "Were you out there?"'

'Out where?' she asked, frowning mystifiedly.

Demetrius shook his head and winced.

'I shall not try to explain that,' he said.  'But when he asks you
if you were out there, you are to say, "No!"  Don't ask him,
"Where?"  Just say, "No!"  And then he will recover quickly, and
seem relieved.  At least, that was the way the conversation went
when we were on the Vestris.  Sometimes he would talk quite freely
with the Captain, almost as if nothing was the matter.  Then he
would suddenly lose interest and retreat inside himself.  Then he
would inquire, "Were you out there?"  And Captain Fulvius would
say, "No."  Then Marcellus would be pleased, and say, "Of course--
you weren't there.  That is good.  You should be glad."'

'Did the Captain know what he was talking about?' inquired Lucia.

Demetrius nodded, rather grudgingly, she thought.

'Why can't you tell me?'  Her tone was almost intimate.

'It's--it's a long story,' he stammered.  'Perhaps I may tell you,
sometime.'

She took a step nearer, and lowering her voice almost to a whisper,
asked, 'Were YOU "out there"?'

He nodded reluctantly, avoiding her eyes.  Then, impetuously
abandoning the last shred of reserve, he spoke on terms of
equality.

'Don't question him, Lucia.  Treat him exactly as you have always
done.  Talk to him about anything--except Jerusalem.  Be careful
not to touch this sore spot.  Maybe it will heal.  I don't know.
It's very deep and painful, this mental wound.'

Her cheeks had flushed a little.  Demetrius had made full use of
the liberty she had given him: he had spoken her name.  Well, why
not?  Who had a better right?  They all owed much to this devoted
slave.

'Thanks, Demetrius,' she said, gently.  'It was good of you to tell
me what to do.'

At that, he abruptly terminated his brief parole, snapped to a
stiff military posture, looked through her without seeing her as he
made a ceremonious salute, then turned, and marched away.  Lucia
stood for a moment, indecisively, watching his dignified retreat
with softened eyes.

                         * * * * * *

For the first hour after his arrival, it was difficult to reconcile
Marcellus's behaviour and his slave's warning.  Parting from
Demetrius, Lucia had hurried upstairs with the appalling news, and
before she had finished devastating her mother with these sad
tidings of her brother's predicament, her father had returned.
There was little to be said.  They were awed, stunned.  It was as
if they had learned of Marcellus's death, and were waiting for his
body to be brought home.

It was a happy surprise, therefore, when he entered breezily with
unusually affectionate greetings.  True, he was alarmingly thin and
his face was haggard; but good food and plenty of rest (boomed
Father, confidently) would quickly restore him to full weight and
vitality.  As for his mental condition, Demetrius's report had been
wholly incorrect.  What, indeed, had ailed the fellow--to frighten
them with the announcement that his master was moody and depressed?
Quite the contrary, Marcellus had never been so animated!

Without pausing to change after his journey, he had seemed
delightfully eager to talk.  In his mother's private parlour, they
had drawn their chairs close together, at his suggestion, though
Marcellus had not sat down himself.  He had paced about, like a
caged animal, talking rapidly with an almost boisterous exuberance,
pausing to toy with trifles on his mother's table, halting to peer
out at the window, but continuing to chatter about the ship, the
ports of call, the aridity of Gaza, the crude life at Minoa.  Under
normal conditions, the family might have surmised that he had had
too much wine.  It wasn't like Marcellus to talk so incessantly, or
so fast.  But they were glad enough that it wasn't the other thing!
He was excited over his home-coming; that was all.  They listened
attentively, their eyes shining.  They laughed gaily at his
occasional drolleries and cheered him on.

'Do sit down, boy!' his mother had urged, tenderly, at his first
full stop.  'You're tired.  Don't wear yourself out.'

So Marcellus had sat down, in the very middle of a stirring story
about the bandits who infested the old salt trail, and his voice
had become less strident.  He continued talking, but more slowly,
pausing to grope for the right word.  Presently his forced gaiety
acknowledged his fatigue, and he stopped--quite suddenly, too, as
if he had been interrupted.  For an instant his widened eyes and
concentrated expression made him appear to have seen or heard
something that had commanded his full attention.  They watched him
with silent curiosity, their hearts beating hard.

'What is it, Marcellus?' asked his mother, trying to steady her
voice.  'Would you like a drink of water?'

He tried unsuccessfully to smile, and almost imperceptibly shook
his head, as the brightness faded from his eyes.  The room was very
quiet.

'Perhaps you had better lie down, my son,' his father suggested,
trying hard to sound casual.

Marcellus seemed not to have heard that.  For a little while his
breathing was laborious.  His hands twitched, and he slowly
clenched them until the thin knuckles whitened.  Then the seizure
passed, leaving him sagged and spiritless.  He nervously rubbed his
forehead with the back of his hand.  Then he slowly turned his
pathetically sad face toward his father, stared at him curiously,
and gave a long, shuddering sigh.

'Were you--were you out there, sir?' he asked, weakly.

'No, my son.'  It was the thin voice of an old, old man.

Marcellus made a self-deprecating little chuckle, and shook his
head, as if decrying his own foolishness.  He glanced about with an
attempted smile, vaguely searching their eyes for an opinion of
this strange behaviour.  He swallowed noisily.

'Of course you weren't,' he said, disgusted with himself.  'You
have been here, all the time; haven't you?'  Then he added, in a
tired voice, 'I think I should go to bed now, Mother.'

'I think so too,' said his mother, softly.  She had made an earnest
effort not to let him see how seriously she had been affected, but
at the sight of his drooping head, she put both hands over her eyes
and sobbed.  Marcellus looked toward her pleadingly, and sighed.

'Will you call Demetrius, Lucia?' he asked, wearily.

She stepped to the door, thinking to send Tertia, but it was
unnecessary.  Demetrius, who obviously had been waiting in the
corridor, just outside the door, entered noiselessly and assisted
his master to his feet.

'I'll see you--all--in the morning,' mumbled Marcellus.  He leaned
heavily on his slave as they left the room.  Lucia made a little
moan and slipped away quietly.  The Senator bowed his head in his
hands, and was silent.

                         * * * * * *

Marcus Lucan Gallio had not made a quick and easy decision when he
resolved to have a confidential, man-to-man conference with
Demetrius.  The Senator punctiliously practised the same sort of
justice in dealing with his slaves as he had ever proudly observed
in his relations with freedmen; but he also believed in firm
discipline for them.  Sometimes it annoyed him when he observed a
little gesture of affection--almost a caress, indeed!--in Lucia's
attitude toward Tertia; and on a couple of occasions (though this
was a long time ago) he had had to remind his son that the way to
have a good slave was to help him keep his place.

Gallio had an immense respect for Marcellus's handsome and loyal
Corinthian.  He would have trusted him anywhere and with anything,
but he had never departed from the inexorable line which he felt
should be drawn, straight and candid, between master and slave.  It
had now come to pass that he must invite Demetrius to step across
that social boundary; for how else could he hope to get the full
truth about the circumstances which had made such sad havoc of his
son's mind?

Two days had passed, Marcellus remaining in his room.  Gallio had
gone up several times to see him, and had been warmly but shyly
welcomed.  A disturbing constraint on Marcellus's part, a forced
amiability, an involuntary shrinking away from a compassionate
contact lest it inadvertently touch some painfully sensitive lesion--
these strange retreats, in pathetic combination with an obvious
wish to show a filial affection, constituted a baffling situation.
Gallio didn't know how to talk with Marcellus about it; feared he
might say the wrong thing.  No, Demetrius had the key to it.  He
must make Demetrius talk.  In the middle of the afternoon, he sent
for him to come to the library.

Demetrius entered and stood at attention before Gallio's desk.

'I wish to have a serious talk with you, Demetrius, about my son.
I am greatly disturbed.  I shall be grateful to you for a full
account of whatever it is that distresses him.'  The Senator
pointed to the chair opposite his desk.  'You may sit down, if you
like.  Perhaps you will be more comfortable.'

'Thank you, sir,' said Demetrius, respectfully.  'I shall be more
comfortable standing, if you please, sir.'

'As you choose,' said Gallio, rather curtly.  'It occurred to me
that you might be able to speak more freely, more naturally, if you
sat.'

'No, sir, thank you,' said Demetrius.  'I am not accustomed to
sitting in the presence of my betters.  I can speak more naturally
on my feet.'

'Sit down!' snapped Gallio.  'I don't want you towering over me,
answering questions in stiff monosyllables.  This is a life-and-
death matter!  I want you to tell me everything I ought to know--
without reserve!'

Demetrius laid his heavy metal-studded leather shield on the floor,
stood his spear against a pillar, and sat down.

'Now, then!' said Gallio.  'Let's have it!  What ails my son?'

'My master was ordered to bring a detachment of legionaries to
Jerusalem.  It was a custom, during the annual festival of the
Jews, for representations from the various Palestinian forts to
assemble at the Procurator's Insula, presumably to keep order, for
the city was crowded with all sorts.'

'Pontius Pilate is the Prefect of Jerusalem: is that not true?'

'Yes, sir.  He is called the Procurator.  There is another
provincial governor residing in Jerusalem.'

'Ah--I remember.  A vain fellow--Herod.  A rascal.'

'Doubtless,' murmured Demetrius.

'Jealous of Pilate, I am told.'

'No one should be jealous of Pilate, sir.  He permits the Temple to
dictate to him.  At least he did, in the case I must speak of.'

'The one that concerns my son?'  Gallio leaned forward on his
folded arms and prepared to listen attentively.

'May I inquire, sir, whether you ever heard of the Messiah?'

'No.  What is that?'

'For hundreds of years the Jews have been expecting a great hero to
rise and liberate them.  He is their promised Messiah.  On these
yearly feast-weeks, the more fanatical among them are on the alert,
thinking he may appear.  Occasionally they have thought they had
found the right man--but nothing much ever came of it.  This time--'
Demetrius paused, thoughtfully, stared out of the open window,
and neglected to finish the sentence.

'There was a Jew from the Province of Galilee,' he continued,
'about my own age, I should think, though he was such an unusual
person that he appeared almost independent of age, or time--'

'You saw him, then?'

'A great crowd of country people tried to persuade him that he was
the Messiah; that he was their king.  I saw that, sir.  It happened
the day we arrived.'

'"Tried to persuade him," you say.'

'He had no interest in it, at all, sir.  It appears that he had
been preaching, mostly in his own province, to vast throngs of
people; a simple, harmless appeal for common honesty and kindness.
He was not interested in the Government.'

'Probably advised them that the Government was bad,' surmised
Gallio.

'I do not know, sir; but I think he could have done so without
violating the truth.'

The crow's-feet about Gallio's eyes deepened a little.

'I gather that you thought the Government was bad, Demetrius.'

'Yes, sir.'

'Perhaps you think all governments are bad.'

'I am not acquainted with all of them, sir,' parried Demetrius.

'Well,' observed Gallio, 'they're all alike.'

'That is regrettable,' said Demetrius, soberly.

'So, then, the young Galilean repudiated kingship--and got into
trouble, I suppose, with his admirers?'

'And the Government, too.  The rich Jews, fearing his influence in
the country, insisted on having him tried for treason.  Pilate,
knowing he had done no wrong, made an effort to acquit him.  But
they would have him condemned.  Against his will, Pilate sentenced
him to death.'  Demetrius hesitated.  'Sentenced him to be
crucified,' he went on, in a low tone.  'The Commander of the fort
at Minoa was ordered to conduct the execution.'

'Marcellus?  Horrible!'

'Yes, sir.  Fortunately he was blind drunk when he did it.  A
seasoned Centurion, of the Minoa staff, had seen to that.  But he
was clear enough to realize that he was crucifying an innocent man
and--well, as you see, sir, he didn't get over it.  He dismisses it
from his mind for a while--and then it all sweeps over him again,
like a bad dream.  He sees the whole thing, so vividly that it
amounts to acute pain!  It is so real to him, sir, that he thinks
everybody else must have known something about it; and he asks them
if they do--and then he is ashamed that he asked.'

Gallio's eyes widened with sudden understanding.

'Ah!' he exclaimed.  '"Were you out there?"  So that's it!'

'That is it, sir; but not quite all.'  Demetrius's eyes travelled
to the window and for a moment he sat tapping his finger-tips
together as if uncertain how to proceed.  Then he faced the Senator
squarely and went on.  'Before I tell you the rest of it, sir, I
should like to say that I am not a superstitious person.  I have
not believed in miracles.  I am aware that you have no faith in
such things, and you may find it very hard to accept what I must
now tell you.'

'Say on, Demetrius!' said Gallio, thumping his desk impatiently.

'This Jesus of Galilee wore a simple, brown, homespun robe to the
cross.  They stripped it off and flung it on the ground.  While he
hung there, dying, my master and a few other officers sat near-by
playing with dice.  One took up this robe and they cast lots for
it.  My master won it.  Later in the evening, there was a banquet
at the Insula.  Everyone had been drinking to excess.  A Centurion
urged my master to put on the robe.'

'Shocking idea!' grumbled Gallio.  'Did he do it?'

'He did it--quite unwillingly.  He had been very far gone in wine,
in the afternoon, but was now steadied.  I think he might have
recovered from the crucifixion horror if it had not been for the
robe.  He put it on--AND HE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE!'

'You think the robe is haunted, I suppose.'  Gallio's tone was
almost contemptuous.

'I think something happened to my master when he put it on.  He
tore it off quickly, and ordered me to destroy it.'

'Very sensible!  A poor keepsake!'

'I still have it, sir.'

'You disobeyed him?'

Demetrius nodded.

'My master was not himself when he gave that order.  I have
occasionally disobeyed him when I felt that the command was not to
his best interest.  And now I am glad I kept the robe.  If it was
the cause of his derangement, it might become the instrument of his
recovery.'

'Absurd!' expostulated Gallio.  'I forbid you to let him see it
again!'

Demetrius sat silent while Gallio, rising angrily, paced the floor.
Presently he stopped short, rubbed his jaw reflectively, and
inquired:

'Just HOW do you think this robe might be used to restore my son's
mind?'

'I do not know, sir,' Demetrius confessed.  'I have thought about
it a great deal.  No plan has suggested itself.'  He rose to his
feet and met the Senator's eyes directly.  'It has occurred to me
that we might go away for a while.  If we were alone, an occasion
might arise.  He is always on the defensive here.  He is confused
and ashamed of his mental condition.  Besides, there is something
else weighing heavily on his mind.  The daughter of Legate Gallus
will return soon.  She will expect my master to call on her, and he
is worrying about this meeting.  He does not want her to see him in
his present state.'

'I can understand that,' said Gallio.  'Perhaps you are right.
Where do you think he should go?'

'Is it not customary for a cultured young man to spend some time in
Athens?  Should he decide to go there--either to attend lectures or
practise some of their arts--no questions would be asked.  Your son
has always been interested in sculpture.  My belief is that it will
be difficult to do very much for him while he remains here.  He
should not be confined to the house; yet he knows he is in no
condition to see his friends.  The word may get about that
something is wrong.  This would be an embarrassment for him--and
the family.  If it is your wish, sir, I shall try to persuade him
to go to Athens.  I do not think it will require much urging.  He
is very unhappy.'

'Yes, I know,' muttered Gallio, half to himself.

'He is so unhappy'--Demetrius lowered his voice to a tone of
intimate confidence--'that I fear for his safety.  If he remains
here, Diana may not find him alive when she returns.'

'You mean, Marcellus might destroy himself rather than face her?'

'Why not?  It's a serious matter with him.'

'Have you any reason to believe that he has been contemplating
suicide?'

Demetrius was slow about replying.  Drawing a silver-handled dagger
from the breast of his tunic, he tapped its keen blade against the
palm of his hand.  Gallio recognized the weapon as the property of
Marcellus.

'I think he has been toying with the idea, sir,' said Demetrius.

'You took this from him?'

Demetrius nodded.

'He thinks he lost it on the boat.'

Gallio sighed deeply; and, returning to his desk, he sat down, drew
out a sheet of papyrus and a stylus, and began writing rapidly in
large letters.  Finishing, he affixed his seal.

'Take my son to Athens, Demetrius, and help him recover his mind.
But no man should ask a slave to accept such a responsibility.'  He
handed the document to Demetrius.  'This is your certificate of
manumission.  You are a free man.'

Demetrius stared at the writing in silence.  It was hard for him to
realize its full significance.  Free!  Free as Gallio!  He was his
own man!  Now he could speak--even to Lucia--as a freedman!  He was
conscious of Gallio's eyes studying him with interest as if
attempting to read his thoughts.  After a long moment, he slowly
shook his head and returned the document to the Senator.

'I appreciate your generosity, sir,' he said, in an unsteady voice.
'In any other circumstances, I should be overjoyed to accept it.
Liberty means a great deal to any man.  But I think we would be
making a mistake to alter the relationship between my master and
his slave.'

'Would you throw away your chance to be free,' demanded Gallio,
huskily, 'in order to help my son?'

'My freedom, sir, would be worthless to me--if I accepted it at the
peril of Marcellus's recovery.'

'You are a brave fellow!'  Gallio rose and walked across the room
to his huge bronze strong-box.  Opening a drawer, he deposited the
certificate of Demetrius's release from bondage.  'Whenever you ask
for it,' he declared, 'it will be here, waiting for you.'  He was
extending his hand, but Demetrius, pretending not to have seen the
gesture, quickly raised his spear-shaft to his forehead in a stiff
salute.

'May I go now, sir!' he asked, in the customary tone of servitude.

Gallio bowed respectfully, as to a social equal.

                         * * * * * *

No one in the household had been more distressed than Marcipor, who
did not feel at liberty to ask questions of anybody but Demetrius,
and Demetrius's time had been fully occupied.  All day he had paced
about restlessly, wondering what manner of tragedy had befallen
Marcellus whom he idolized.

When the door of the library opened, after the lengthy interview,
Marcipor, waiting impatiently in the atrium, came forward to meet
Demetrius.  They clasped hands silently and moved away together
into an alcove.

'What is it all about, Demetrius?' asked Marcipor, in a guarded
tone.  'Is it something you can't tell me?'

Demetrius laid a hand on the older Corinthian's shoulder and drew
him closer.

'It is something I MUST tell you,' he murmured.  'Come to my room
at midnight.  I cannot tarry now.  I must go back to him.'

After the villa was quiet and Demetrius was assured that Marcellus
was asleep, he retired to his adjacent bedchamber.  Presently there
was a light tap on the door, and Marcipor entered.  They drew their
chairs close and talked in hushed voices until the birds began to
stir in the pale blue light of the oncoming dawn.  It was a long,
strange story that Demetrius had to tell.  Marcipor wanted to see
the robe.  Demetrius handed it to him, and he examined it
curiously.

'But YOU don't believe there is some peculiar power in this
garment, do you?' asked Marcipor.

'I don't know,' admitted Demetrius.  'If I said, "Yes, I do believe
that," you would think I was going crazy; and if I feared I was
crazy, I wouldn't be a fit person to look after Marcellus, who
unquestionably IS crazy, and needs my care.  So--I think I had
better say that there's nothing in this robe that you don't put
into it yourself--out of your own imagination.  As for me, I saw
this man, and--well--that makes all the difference.  He was not an
ordinary person, Marcipor.  I could be easily persuaded that he was
divine.'

'That seems an odd thing for you to say, Demetrius,' disapproved
Marcipor, studying his face anxiously.  'You're the last man I
would have suspected.'  He stood up, and held the robe out at arm's
length.  'Do you care if I put it on?'

'No, he wouldn't care if you put it on,' said Demetrius.

'Who do you mean--wouldn't care?'  Marcipor's face was puzzled.
'Marcellus?'

'No, the man who owned it.  He didn't object to my having it, and
you are as honest as I am.'

'By the Gods, Demetrius,' muttered Marcipor.  'I believe you ARE a
bit touched by all this grim business.  How do you know he didn't
object to your having his robe?  That's foolish talk!'

'Well, be it foolish or not, when I touch this robe it--it does
something to me,' stammered Demetrius.  'If I am tired, it rests
me.  If I am dejected, it revives my spirits.  If I am rebellious
over my slavery, it reconciles me.  I suppose that is because, when
I handle his robe, I remember his strength and courage.  Put it on,
if you want to, Marcipor.  Here, let me hold it for you.'

Marcipor slipped his long arms into the sleeves, and sat down.

'It IS strangely warm,' he said.  'My imagination, I suppose.  You
have told me of his deep concern for the welfare of all other
people; and, quite naturally, his robe--'  Marcipor's groping words
slowed to a stop, and he gave Demetrius a perplexed wisp of a
smile.

'I'm not as crazy as I look, eh?' grinned Demetrius.

'What is it?' asked Marcipor, in a husky whisper.

'Well--whatever it IS,' said Demetrius, 'it's THERE!'

'Peace?' queried Marcipor, half to himself.

'And confidence,' added Demetrius.

'And--one need not worry, for everything will come out all right.'



Chapter VIII


At sunset on the last day of the month which Julius Csar--revising
the calendar--had named for himself, Marcellus and his slave
sighted the Parthenon from a decrepit vehicle that deserved a place
in the Athenian Museum of Antiquities.  It was with mingled
feelings that Demetrius renewed acquaintance with his native land.

Had his business in the Grecian capital been more urgent, and had
he been of normal mind, the erstwhile Legate of the Legion at Minoa
might have fretted over the inexcusable tedium of their voyage.

He and Demetrius had embarked on the Greek ship Clytia for the sole
reason that they wanted to leave Rome without delay and the
Clytia's sailing was immediate.  In no other respect was this boat
to be recommended.  Primarily a cargo vessel built expressly for
wheat shipments to the Imperial City, the battered old hulk usually
returned to Greece in ballast, except for certain trivial
consignments of furniture and other household gear for Roman envoys
in the provinces.

There was no private accommodation for passengers.  All nine of
them shared the same cabin.  There was only one deck.  At the stern
a primitive kitchen, open to the sky, was at the disposal of fare-
paying voyagers, who were expected to cook their own meals.  The
Clytia offered the raw materials for sale at a nice profit.

Almost too handy to the kitchen and adjacent dining-table a half-
dozen not very tidy pens confined a number of unhappy calves and
sheep and a large crate of dilapidated fowls.  Upon embarkation
there had also been a few pigs, but a Jewish merchant from Cytherea
had bought them, on the second day out, and had unceremoniously
offered them to Neptune--with his unflattering compliments, for he
was not a good sailor.

Amidship in the vicinity of the Clytia's solitary mast a
constricted area of deck space, bounded by a square of inhospitable
wooden benches, served as promenade and recreation centre.  Beside
the mast a narrow hatchway descended steeply into the common cabin,
which was lighted and ventilated by six diminutive port-holes.
Upon the slightest hint of a fresh breeze these prudent little
ports were closed.  The Clytia made no attempt to pamper her
passengers.  Indeed, it was doubtful whether any other craft plying
between Ostia and Piraeus was equipped to offer so comprehensive an
assortment of discomforts.

The grimy old ship's only grace was her love of leisure.  She
called everywhere and tarried long; three days and nights, for
example, in unimportant Corfu, where she had only to unload a bin
of silica and take on a bale of camel's-hair shawls; four whole
days in Argostoli, where she replenished her water-casks,
discharged a grateful passenger, and bought a crate of lemons.  She
even ambled all the way down to Crete, for no better cause than to
leave three blocks of Carrara marble and acquire a case of reeking
bull-hides for conversion into shields.  While in port, one of her
frowsy old hawsers parted, permitting the Clytia to stave a galley
that lay alongside; and another week had passed before everybody
was satisfied about that and clearance was ordered for the next lap
of the interminable cruise.

Had Marcellus been mentally well, he would surely have found these
delays and discomforts insupportable.  In his present mood of
apathetic detachment, he endured his experiences with such
effortless fortitude that Demetrius's anxiety about him mounted to
alarm.  Marcellus had no natural talent for bearing calmly with
annoyances, however trivial; and it worried the Corinthian to see
his high-spirited master growing daily more and more insensitive to
his wretched environment.  As for himself, Demetrius was so
exasperated by all this boredom and drudgery that he was ready to
jump out of his skin.

Vainly he tried to kindle a spark of interest in the wool-gathering
mind of Marcellus.  The Senator had provided his son with a small
but carefully selected library, classics mostly, and Demetrius had
tactfully endeavoured to make him read; but without success.

For the better part of every fair day, Marcellus would sit silently
staring at the water.  Immediately after breakfast he would pick
his way forward through the clutter that littered the deck; and,
seating himself on a coil of anchor-cable near the prow, would
remain immobile, with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his
hands, gazing dully out to sea.  Demetrius would give him time to
get himself settled, and then he too would saunter forward with a
few scrolls under his arm and sprawl at full length on a battened
hatch close by.  Sometimes he would read a paragraph or two aloud
and ask a question.  On these occasions, Marcellus would sluggishly
return from a remote distance to make a laconic reply, but it was
obvious that he preferred not to be molested.

Although Demetrius's chief concern was to beguile his master's
roving mind, he himself was finding food for reflection.  Never
before had he found opportunity for so much uninterrupted reading.
He was particularly absorbed by the writings of Lucretius.  Here,
he thought, was a wise man.

'Ever read Lucretius, sir?' he asked, one afternoon, after an
hour's silence between them.

Marcellus slowly turned his head and deliberated the question.

'Indifferently,' he replied, at length.

'Lucretius thinks it is the fear of death that makes men
miserable,' went on Demetrius.  'He's for abolishing that fear.'

'A good idea,' agreed Marcellus, languidly.  After a long wait, he
asked, 'How does he propose to do it?'

'By assuming that there is no future life,' explained Demetrius.

'That would do it,' drawled Marcellus, 'provided the assumption
would stay where you had put it.'

'You mean, sir, that the assumption might drag its anchor in a
gale?'

Marcellus smiled wanly at the seagoing metaphor, and nodded.  After
a meditative interval, he said:

'For some men, Demetrius, the fear of death might be palliated by
the belief that nothing more dreadful could possibly happen to them
than had already happened--in their present existence.  Perhaps
Lucretius has no warrant for saying that all men fear death.  Some
have even sought death.  As for me, I am not conscious of that
fear; let death bring what it will. . . .  But does Lucretius have
aught to say to the man who fears life?'

Demetrius was sorry he had introduced the conversation, but felt he
should not abandon it abruptly; assuredly not at this dismaying
juncture.

'Lucretius concedes that all life is difficult, but becoming less
so as men grow out of savagery to civilization.'  Demetrius tried
to make this observation sound optimistic.  Marcellus chuckled
bitterly.

'"As men grow out of savagery," eh?  What makes him think men are
growing out of savagery?'  He made an impatient gesture, throwing
the idea away with a toss of his hand.  'Lucretius knew very little
about what was going on in the world.  Lived like a mole in a
burrow.  Lived on his own fat like a bear in winter.  Went wrong in
his head at forty, and died.  "Growing out of savagery"?  Nonsense!
Nothing that ever went on in the jungle can compare with the
bestiality of our life to-day!'  Marcellus's voice had mounted from
a monologic mutter to a high-tensioned harangue.  '"Growing out of
savagery"!' he shouted.  'You know better than that!  YOU WERE OUT
THERE!'

Demetrius nodded soberly.

'It was very sad,' he said, 'but I think you have reproached
yourself too much, sir.  You had no alternative.'

Marcellus had retreated into his accustomed lethargy, but he
suddenly roused, clenching his fists.

'That's a lie, Demetrius, and you know it!  There WAS an
alternative!  I could have set the Galilean free!  I had enough of
those tough fellows from Minoa with me to have dispersed that mob!'

'Pilate would have court-martialled you, sir.  It might have cost
you your life!'

'My life!' shouted Marcellus.  'It DID cost me my life!  Far better
to have lost it honourably!'

'Well,' soothed Demetrius, gently, 'we should try to forget about
it now.  In Athens you can divert your mind, sir.  Are you not
looking forward with some pleasure to your studies there?'

There was no reply.  Marcellus had turned his back and was again
staring at the sea.

On another day, Demetrius--imprudently, he felt afterwards--
ventured to engage his moody master again in serious talk.

'Lucretius says here that our belief that the gods are concerned
with our human affairs has been the source of nothing but
unhappiness to mankind.'

'Of course,' muttered Marcellus, 'and he was a fool for believing
that the gods exist at all.'  After the Clytia had swayed to and
fro sleepily for a couple of stadia, he mumbled, 'Lucretius was
crazy.  He knew too much about the unknowable.  He sat alone--and
thought--and thought--until he lost his mind. . . .  That's what
I'm doing, Demetrius.'

                         * * * * * *

In a less perturbed state of mind, Marcellus, thoroughly fatigued
by the long journey, would have been gaily excited over the welcome
he received at the hands of his Athenian host, though this warm
reception was not altogether unexpected.

When Marcus Lucan Gallio was in his early twenties, he had spent a
summer in Athens, studying at the famous old Academy of Hipparchus,
and lodging in the exclusive House of Eupolis which had been
conducted by one family for five generations.  Old Georgias
Eupolis, his host, treated the patrons of his establishment as
personal guests.  You had to be properly vouched for if you sought
accommodation there; but having been reliably introduced, nothing
was too good for you.

The cool hauteur of the House of Eupolis in its attitude toward
applicants was not mere snobbery.  Athens was always filled with
strangers.  The city had more than a hundred inns, and all but a
half-dozen of them were notorious.  The typical tavern-keeper was a
pander, a thief, and an all-around rascal; and, for the most part,
his clients were of the same feather.  The Athenian inn that hoped
to maintain a reputation for decency had to be critical of its
patrons.

Apparently young Gallio had made a favourable impression, for when
he left the House of Eupolis old Georgias had broken a silver
drachma in two, and, handing one half to Marcus, had attached a
little tablet of memoranda to the other which he had put away for
safe-keeping.

'Whoever presents your piece of that drachma, my son,' Georgias had
said, 'will be welcome here.  You will not lose it, please.'

Arriving now at dusk in the shaded courtyard of the fine old
hostelry, Marcellus had silently handed the broken coin to the
churlish porter who had stepped out of the shadow to question them.
Immediately the slave's behaviour had changed from surly challenge
to alert deference.  Bowing and scraping he had made haste to carry
the little talisman to his master.  In a few moments the genial
proprietor, a well-groomed man of forty, had come down the stone
steps of the vine-clad portico, offering a smile and outstretched
hands.  Marcellus had stepped out of the antiquated chariot,
announcing that he was the son of Gallio.

'And how are you addressed, sir?' asked the innkeeper.

'I am a Tribune.  My name is Marcellus.'

'Your father is well remembered here, Tribune Marcellus.  I hope he
is alive and well.'

'He is, thank you.  Senator Gallio sends his greetings to your
house.  Though it was a very long time ago, my father hopes his
message of affection for Georgias may still be delivered.'

'Alas!  My venerable father has been gone these ten years.  But in
his name, I give you welcome.  My name is Dion.  The House of
Eupolis is yours.  Come in!  I can see you are weary.'

He turned to Demetrius.

'The porter will help you with your burdens, and show you where you
are to sleep.'

'I wish my slave to share my own quarters,' put in Marcellus.

'It is not customary with us,' said Dion, a bit coolly.

'It is with me,' said Marcellus.  'I have been subjected lately to
considerable hardship,' he explained, 'and I am not well.  I do not
wish to be alone.  Demetrius will lodge with me.'

Dion, after a momentary debate with himself, gave a shrug of
reluctant consent, and signed to Marcellus to precede him into the
house.

'You will be responsible for his conduct,' he said, crisply, as
they mounted the steps.

'Dion,' said Marcellus, pausing at the doorway, 'had this
Corinthian his freedom, he would appear to advantage in any well-
bred company.  He has been gently brought up; is a person of
culture, and brave withal.  The House of Eupolis will come to no
dishonour on his account.'

The well-worn appointments of the spacious andronitis, into which
entrance was had directly from the front door, offered a
substantial, homelike comfort.

'If you will be seated, Marcellus,' advised Dion, recovering his
geniality, 'I shall find the other members of my family.  Then--
because you are tired--I shall show you to your rooms.  Will you be
with us long?'

Marcellus lifted an indecisive hand.

'For some time, I think,' he said.  'Three months; four; six: I do
not know.  I want quiet.  Two bedchambers, a small parlour, and a
studio.  I might want to amuse myself with some modelling.'  Dion
said he understood, and would be able to provide a suitable suite.

'And you will face the garden,' he said, as he moved toward the
stairs.  'We have some exceptionally fine roses this year.'

Demetrius entered as Dion disappeared and came to the chair where
Marcellus sat.

'Have you learned, sir, where we are to go?' he asked.

'He will tell us.  Remain here until he comes,' said Marcellus,
wearily.

Presently they appeared, and he rose to meet them; Dion's comely
wife, Phoebe, who, having learned the identity of their guest, was
genuinely cordial; and Ino, Dion's widowed elder sister, who
thought she saw in Marcellus a strong resemblance to the young man
she had admired so much.

'Once we thought,' said Dion, with a teasing smile for his sister,
'that something might come of it.'

'But we Greeks are never comfortable anywhere else,' explained Ino,
which made Marcellus wonder if their friendship hadn't been
serious.

No one had paid any attention to Demetrius, which was entirely
natural, for Dion had probably advised the family that Marcellus
was accompanied by his slave.

At the first pause in the conversation, Ino turned to him inquiring
if he wasn't a Greek.  Demetrius bowed a respectful affirmative.

'Where from?' inquired Ino.

'Corinth.'

'You have been in Athens before?'

'Once.'

'Do you read?'

'Sometimes.'

Ino laughed a little.  Glancing toward her brother, she was aware
that he disapproved of this talk.  So did Marcellus, she noticed.
Demetrius retreated a step and straightened to a sentry's posture.
There was a momentary constraint before general conversation was
resumed.

While they talked, a tall, strikingly beautiful girl sauntered in
through the front door, apparently having just arrived from without
the grounds, for she wore an elaborately fringed and tasselled pink
himation, drawn about her so tightly that it accented her graceful
figure.  Her mother reached out an affectionate hand as she came
into the circle.

'Our daughter, Theodosia,' she said.  'My child, our guest is
Marcellus, the son of Marcus Gallio, of whom you have often heard
your father speak.'

Theodosia gave him a bright smile.  Then her dark, appraising eyes
drifted over his shoulder and surveyed Demetrius with interest.  He
met her look of inquiry with what was meant to be a frown.  This
only added to Theodosia's curiosity.  Obviously she was wondering
why no one was inclined to introduce him.

It was an awkward moment.  Marcellus did not want to hurt
Demetrius.  He felt it would be cruel to remark, casually, 'That
man is my slave.'  He heartily wished afterwards that he had done
so, instead of merely trying to be humane.

'This is Demetrius,' he said.

Theodosia took a step forward, looked up into Demetrius's face, and
gave him a slow smile that approved of him first with her candid
eyes and then with pouting lips.  Demetrius gravely bowed with
stiff dignity.  Theodosia's eyes were puzzled.  Then, after a
little hesitation--for unmarried women were not accustomed to
shaking hands with men, unless they were close relatives--she
offered him her hand.  Demetrius stared straight ahead and
pretended not to see it.

'He's a slave,' muttered her father.

'Oh,' said Theodosia.  'I didn't know.'  Then she looked up into
Demetrius's eyes again.  He met her look, this time, curiously.
'I'm sorry,' she murmured.  After an instant she stammered in a
tone that was almost intimate, 'It is too bad that we have to--to
act like this--I think.  I hope we have not--I didn't mean--'  She
floundered to a stop as Demetrius, with an understanding smile,
nodded that it was all right, and she wasn't to fret about it.

'We will show you to your suite now,' said Dion, abruptly.

Marcellus bowed to the women and followed his host, Demetrius
marching stiffly behind him.  Theodosia stared after them until
they disappeared.  Then she gave a quick little sigh and turned a
self-defensive smile on her aunt.

'Never mind, child,' murmured Ino, sensibly.  'How could you know
he was a slave; certainly wasn't dressed like one; certainly didn't
look like one.  And we don't have slaves standing about in here.'

'Well--it shouldn't have happened,' said Phoebe, crossly.  'You'll
have to be careful now.  If he takes any advantage of this, you
must snub him--properly!'

'Wasn't he snubbed--properly?' wondered Theodosia.

'With words, perhaps,' remarked Aunt Ino with a knowing grin.

                         * * * * * *

After a week, Demetrius, who had counted heavily upon this sojourn
in Athens to relieve his master's deep dejection, began to lose
heart.

Upon their arrival at the House of Eupolis, Marcellus had been
welcomed so warmly, and had responded to these amenities so
gratefully, that Demetrius felt they had already gone a long way
toward solving the distressing problem.

The new environment was perfect.  Their sunny rooms on the ground
floor looked out upon a gay flower-garden.  In their stone-flagged
little peristyle, comfortable chairs extended an invitation to
quiet reading.  Surely no one at all interested in sculpture could
have asked for a better opportunity than the studio afforded.

But it was of no use.  Marcellus's melancholy was too heavy to be
lifted.  He was not interested in Demetrius's suggestion that they
should visit the Acropolis or Mars' Hill or some of the celebrated
galleries.

'Shall we not stroll down to the agora?' Demetrius suggested, on
the second morning.  'It's always interesting to see the country
people marketing their produce.'

'Why don't you go?' countered Marcellus.

'I do not like to leave you alone, sir.'

'That's true,' nodded Marcellus.  'I dislike being alone.'

He wouldn't even go to see the Temple of Heracles, directly across
the street, within a boy's arrow of where he sat slowly examining
his fingers.  Demetrius expected that he would surely want to show
some civility to the Eupolis family.  Dion had called twice,
frankly perplexed to find his guest so preoccupied and taciturn.
Theodosia had appeared, one morning, at the far end of the garden;
and Marcellus, observing her, had come in from the peristyle,
apparently to avoid speaking to her.

Demetrius thought he knew what was keeping Marcellus away from the
Eupolis family.  He never could tell when one of these mysterious
seizures would arrive to grip him, until the sweat streamed down
his face, in the midst of which he would stun somebody with the
incomprehensible query, 'Were you out there?'  Not much wonder he
didn't care to have a friendly chat with Theodosia.

True, it was not absolutely necessary for Marcellus to make further
connections with his host's family.  Meals were sent over to their
suite.  Household slaves kept their rooms in order.  Demetrius had
practically nothing to do but wait--and keep a watchful but not too
solicitous eye on his master.  It was very trying, and he was bored
almost to death.

On the morning of the eighth day, he resolved to do something about
it.

'If you are not quite ready to do any modelling, sir,' he began,
'would you object if I amused myself with some experiments in
clay?'

'Not at all,' mumbled Marcellus.  'I know this must be very
tiresome for you.  By all means, get the clay.'

So that afternoon, Demetrius dragged the tall, stout modelling-
table into the centre of the studio and began some awkward attempts
to mould a little statuette.  After a while, Marcellus came in from
his perpetual stupor in the peristyle and sat down in the corner to
watch.  Presently he chuckled.  It was not a pleasantly mirthful
chuckle, but ever so much better than none.  Realizing that his
early adventure in modelling was at least affording some wholesome
entertainment, Demetrius persisted soberly in the production of a
bust that would have made a dog laugh.

'Let me show you.'  Marcellus came over to the table and took up
the clay.  'To begin with, it's too dry,' he said, with something
like critical interest.  'Get some water.  If you're going to do
this at all, you may as well give yourself a chance.'

Now, thought Demetrius, we have solved our problem!  He was so
happy he could hardly keep his joy out of his face, but he knew
that Marcellus would resent any felicitations.  All that afternoon
they worked together; or rather, Marcellus worked, and Demetrius
watched.  That evening Marcellus ate his supper with relish and
went early to bed.

After breakfast the next morning, it delighted Demetrius to see his
master stroll into the studio.  He thought he would leave him
alone.  Perhaps it would be better for him to work without any
distraction.

Half an hour later Marcellus came out to the peristyle and sat
down.  He was pale.  His forehead was beaded with perspiration.
His hands were trembling.  Demetrius turned away with a deep sigh.
That night he decided to do the thing he had resolved to do if all
other expedients failed.  It would be drastic treatment.  In
Marcellus's mental condition, it might indeed be the one tragic
move that would put him definitely over the border line.  But he
couldn't go on this way!  It was worth a trial.

After Marcellus had retired, Demetrius went over to the kitchen and
asked Glycon, the steward, whether he could tell him the name of a
first-class weaver, as he wanted to have a garment mended for his
master.  Glycon was prompt with the information.  Of course!  A
skilful weaver?  Who but old Benjamin?  That would be down near the
Theatre of Dionysus.  Anybody could tell you, once you got to the
theatre.

'Benjamin sounds like a Jew,' remarked Demetrius.

'So he is,' nodded Glycon, 'and a fine old man; a scholar, they
say.'  Glycon laughed.  'There's ONE Jew not interested in getting
rich.  I've heard it said that if Benjamin doesn't like your looks
he won't do business with you.'

'Perhaps he wouldn't care to talk with a slave,' wondered
Demetrius.

'Oh, that wouldn't matter to Benjamin,' Glycon declared.  'Why
should it?  Haven't his own people rattled plenty of chains?'

                         * * * * * *

All the next day until mid-afternoon, Marcellus sat hunched in his
big chair outside the doorway, staring dully at the garden.  In the
adjacent studio Demetrius disinterestedly toyed with the soft clay,
listening for any movement in the little peristyle.  Twice he had
gone out, with an assumption of cheerfulness, to ask questions
which he thought might stir his moody master's curiosity about his
absurd attempts at modelling; but there was no response.

The situation had now become so desperate that Demetrius felt it
was high time to make the dangerous experiment on which--if
everything else failed--he had resolved.  His heart beat rapidly as
he turned away from the table and went to his own room, and his
hands were trembling as he reached into the depths of the large
sailcloth bag in which the cherished Galilean garment had been
stowed.

It had been many weeks since he had seen it himself.  He had had
no privacy on the Clytia, and the enchanted robe that had so
profoundly affected Marcellus's mind had not been unpacked since
they had left Rome.

Sitting down on the edge of his couch, Demetrius reverently
unfolded it across his knees.  Again he had the strange sensation
of tranquillity that had come to him when he had handled the robe
in Jerusalem.  It was a peculiar sort of calmness; not the calmness
of inertia or indifference, but the calmness of self-containment.
He was stilled--but strengthened.

There had never been any room in his mind for superstition.  He had
always disdained the thought that any sort of power could be
resident in an inanimate object.  People who believed in the
magical qualities of insensate things were either out-and-out
fools, or had got themselves into an emotional state where they
were the easy victims of their own inflamed imagination.  He had no
patience with otherwise sensible men who carried lucky stones in
their pockets.  It had comforted him to feel that although he was a
slave his mind was not in bondage.

Well, be all that as it might, the solid fact remained that when he
laid his hands upon the Galilean's robe, his agitation ceased.  His
nervous anxiety vanished.  After the previous occasion when he had
sensed this, he had told himself that the extraordinary experience
could be accounted for in the most practical, common-sense terms.
This robe had been worn by a man of immense courage; effortless,
inherent, built-in, automatic courage!  Demetrius had seen this
Jesus on trial, serene and self-assured, with the whole world
arrayed against him, with death staring him in the face, and not
one protesting friend in sight.  Was it not natural that his robe
should become a symbol of fortitude?

Having far too much time on his hands during these recent weeks,
Demetrius had deliberated upon this phenomenon, until he had
arrived at the reasonable explanation of his own attitude toward
the thorn-torn garment: it was a symbol of moral strength, just as
his mother's ring was a symbol of her tender affection.

But now!--with the robe in his suddenly steadied hands--he wasn't
so sure about the soundness of his theory.  There was a power
clinging to this homespun Galilean robe which no cool rational
argument was fit to cope with.  Indeed, it seemed rather impudent
to attempt an analysis of its claims upon his emotions.

Folding the robe across his arm, Demetrius walked confidently to
the open door.  Marcellus slowly turned his head with a listless
expression of inquiry.  Then his eyes gradually widened with
terror, his face a contorted mask of amazement and alarm.  He
swallowed convulsively and slowly bent backward over the broad arm
of his chair, recoiling from the thing that had destroyed his
peace.

'I have heard of a good weaver, sir,' said Demetrius, calmly.  'If
you have no objections, I shall have him mend this robe.'

'I told you'--Marcellus's dry throat drained the life out of his
husky tone--'I ordered you to destroy--that thing!'  His voice
rose, thin and shrill.  'Take it away!  Burn it!  Bury the ashes!'
Pulling himself to his feet, he staggered to the corner of the
peristyle, with the feeble steps of an invalid; and, hooking an arm
around the pillar, he cried, 'I had not thought this of you,
Demetrius!  You have known the nature of my distress!  And now, you
come coolly confronting me with this torturing reminder; this
haunted thing!  I tell you, you have gone too far with your callous
disobedience!  I had always treated you as a friend--you who were
my slave!  I am finished with you!  I shall sell you--in the market-
place!'  Thoroughly spent with rage, Marcellus threw himself upon
the stone bench.  'Leave me,' he muttered, hoarsely.  'I can bear
no more!  Please go away!'

Demetrius slowly and silently withdrew into the house, shaking his
head.  His experiment had failed.  It had been exactly the wrong
thing to do.  The patient, wearisome game of restoring Marcellus
was now lost.  Indeed, he seemed quite out of reach.

Returning to his own small bedchamber, Demetrius sat down, with the
robe still clutched tightly in his arms, and wondered what should
be the next step to take.  Curiously enough, Marcellus's complete
breakdown had not upset him: he was unspeakably sorry, but self-
controlled.  The hysterical threat of being sold in the agora did
not disturb him.  Marcellus would not do that.  Nor was he going to
permit himself to be offended by the savagery of his master's
rebuke.  If ever Marcellus needed him, it was now.

Clearly the next thing to be done was to do nothing.  Marcellus
must be given time to compose himself.  There would be no sense in
trying to reason with him in his present state.  It would be
equally futile to plead for pardon.  Marcellus had far better be
left alone for a while.

Laying the folded robe across the top of the capacious gunny-bag,
Demetrius slipped quietly out through the front door and strolled
through the cypress grove toward the street.  Deeply preoccupied,
he did not see Theodosia, who was sitting in the swing, until he
was too close to retreat unobserved.  She straightened from her
lounging posture, put down the trifle of needlework beside her, and
beckoned to him.  He was quite lonely enough to have welcomed her
friendly gesture, but he disliked the idea of compromising her.
Theodosia was evidently a very wilful girl, accustomed to treating
the conventions with saucy indifference.

With undisguised reluctance, he walked toward the swing; and, at a
little distance, drew up stiffly to listen to whatever she might
want to say.  He was far from pleased by the prospect of getting
them both into trouble, but there was no denying that Theodosia
made a very pretty picture, in the graceful white peplos girdled
with a wide belt of panelled silver, a scarlet ribbon about her
head that accented the whiteness of her brow, and gaily beaded
sandals much too fragile for actual service.

'Why is it,' she demanded, with a comradely smile, 'that we see
nothing of your master?  Have we offended him?  Does he disapprove
of us?  Tell me, please.  I am dying of curiosity.'

'My master has not been well,' replied Demetrius, soberly.

'Ah, but there's more to it than that.'  Theodosia's dark eyes were
narrowed knowingly as she slowly nodded her blue-black head.
'You're troubled too, my friend.  Needn't tell me you're not.  You
are worried about him.  Is that not so?'

It was evident that this girl was used to having her own way with
people.  She was so radiant with vitality that even her impudence
was forgivable.  Demetrius suddenly surprised them both with a
candid confession.

'It is true,' he admitted.  'I am worried--beyond the telling!'

'Is there anything that we can do?'  Theodosia's eager eyes were
sincerely sympathetic.

'No,' said Demetrius, hopelessly.

'He has puzzled me,' persisted Theodosia.  'When you arrived, the
other night, Marcellus struck me as a person who was trying to get
away from something.  He didn't really want to talk to us.  You
know that.  He was polite enough, but very anxious to be off.  I
can't think it was because he did not like us.  He had the air of
one wanting to escape.  It's clear enough that he is not hiding
from the law; for surely this is no place for a fugitive.'

Demetrius did not immediately reply, though Theodosia had paused
several times to give him a chance to say something.  He had been
busy thinking.  As he stood listening to this bright girl's
intuitive speculations, it occurred to him that she might be able
to offer some sensible advice, if she knew what the problem was.
Indeed, it would be better for her to know the facts than to
harbour a suspicion that Marcellus was a rascal.  He knew that
Theodosia was reading in his perplexed eyes a half-formed
inclination to be frank.  She gave him an encouraging smile.

'Let's have it, Demetrius,' she murmured, intimately.  'I won't
tell.'

'It is a long story,' he said, moodily.  'And it would be most
imprudent for the daughter of Eupolis to be seen in an intimate
conversation with a slave.'  He lowered his voice confidentially.
'Your father is already annoyed, you know, because you made the
mistake of treating me cordially.'

Theodosia's pretty lips puckered thoughtfully.

'I do not think anyone is watching us,' she said, glancing
cautiously toward the house.  'If you will walk briskly down the
street, as if setting out on an errand, and turn to the right at
the first corner, and again to the right, at the next one, you will
come to a high-walled garden behind that old temple over there.'

Demetrius shook his head doubtfully.

'Priests are notorious spies,' he said.  'At least they are in
Rome, and it was true of them in Corinth.  Doubtless it is the same
here in Athens.  I should think a temple would be about the last
place that people would go for a private talk.  We might find
ourselves under suspicion of discussing a plot.'

Theodosia flushed a little, and gave him a mischievous smile.

'We will not be suspected of sedition,' she promised.  'I shall see
to that.  Two very good friends will have come to the garden--not
to arrange for poisoning the Prefect's porridge, but to exchange
pleasant compliments.'

Demetrius's heart quickened, but he frowned.

'Don't you think,' he asked, prudently, 'that you are taking a good
deal for granted by trusting so much in the honesty of a slave?'

'Yes,' admitted Theodosia.  'Go quickly now.  I'll join you
presently.'

Deeply stirred by the anticipation of this private interview,
but obliged to view it with some anxiety, Demetrius obeyed.
Theodosia's almost masculine directness assured him that she was
quite beyond a cheap flirtation, but there was no denying her
amiable regard for him.  Well, he would know, soon enough, whether
she was really concerned about Marcellus, or enlivening a dull
afternoon with a bit of adventure.  It was conceivable, of course,
that both of these things might be true.

As he neared the old wall, Demetrius firmly pressed his grey head-
band down over the ear that denied him a right to talk on terms of
equality with a free woman.  It gave him a rather rakish appearance
which, he felt, might not be altogether inappropriate if this
meeting was to be staged as a rendezvous.  Sauntering in through
the open gate, he strolled to the far end of the arbour and sat
down on the commodious marble lectus.  A well-nourished priest, in
a dirty brown cassock, gave him an indifferent nod, and resumed his
hoeing.

He did not have long to wait.  She was coming out of the temple,
into the cloister, swinging along with her independent head held
high.  Demetrius stood to wait for her.  It was hard to break an
old habit, and his posture was stiffly conventional.

'Sit down!' she whispered.  'And don't look so serious.'

He did not have to dissemble a smile as he obeyed her, for her
command had been amusing enough.  She dropped down close beside him
on the stone seat and gave him both hands.  The priest leaned on
his hoe and sanctioned their meeting with a knowing leer.  Then he
looked a bit puzzled.  Presently he dropped the hoe, deliberately
cut a large red rose, and waddled toward them, his shifty little
eyes alive with enquiry.  Affecting an almost sinister smile he
presented the rose to Theodosia.  She thanked him prettily and
raising it to her face inhaled luxuriously.  The priest, with his
curiosity about them still unsatisfied, was backing away.

'Put your arm around me,' she muttered, deep in the rose, 'and hold
me tight--as if you meant it.'

Demetrius complied, so gently, yet so competently, that the priest
wagged his shaggy head and ambled back to his weeds.  Then,
apparently deciding that he had done enough work for one day, he
negligently trailed the hoe behind him as he plodded away to
disappear within the cloister, leaving them in sole possession of
the quiet garden.

Reluctantly withdrawing his arm as Theodosia straightened,
Demetrius remarked, with a twinkle, 'Do you suppose that holy beast
might still be watching us--through some private peep-hole?'

'Quite unlikely,' doubted Theodosia, with a gently reproving smile.

'Perhaps we should take no risks,' he cautioned, drawing her
closer.

She leaned back in his arm without protest.

'Now,' she said, expectantly, 'begin at the beginning and tell me
all about it.  The Tribune is afraid of something, or somebody.
Who is it?  What is it?'

Demetrius was finding it difficult to launch upon his narrative.
Theodosia's persuasive warmth was distracting his mind.

'You are very kind to me,' he said, softly.

'I should have had a brother,' she murmured.  'Let's pretend you
are he.  You know, I feel that way about you, as if we'd known each
other a long time.'

Resolutely pulling himself together, Demetrius began his story, not
at the beginning but at the end.

'Marcellus,' he declared soberly, 'is afraid of a certain robe--a
brown, homespun, blood-stained garment--that was worn by a man he
was commanded to crucify.  The man was innocent, and Marcellus
knows it.'

'And how did he come by the robe?' queried Theodosia.

It was, as he had threatened, a long story; but Demetrius told it
all, beginning with Minoa and the journey to Jerusalem.  Frequently
Theodosia detained him with a question.

'But Demetrius,' she interrupted, turning to look up into his face,
'what was there about this Jesus that made him seem to you such a
great man?  You say he was so lonely and disappointed, that
morning, when the crowd wanted him as their king: but what had he
done to make so many people admire him so much?'

Demetrius had to admit he didn't know.

'It is hard to explain,' he stammered.  'You had a feeling that he
was sorry for all these people.  This may sound very foolish,
Theodosia; but it was as if they were homeless little children
crying for something, and--'

'Something he couldn't give them?' she wondered, thoughtfully.

'There you have it!' declared Demetrius.  'It was something he
couldn't give them, because they were too inexperienced to
understand what they needed.  Maybe this will seem a crazy thing to
say: it was almost as if this Galilean had come from some far-away
country where people were habitually honest and friendly and did
not quarrel; some place where the streets were clean and no one was
greedy, and there were no beggars, no thieves, no fights, no
courts, no prisons, no soldiers; no rich, no poor.'

'You know there's no place like that,' sighed Theodosia.

'They asked him, at his trial--I'll tell you about that, presently--
whether he was a king; and he said he had a kingdom--but--it was
not in this world.'

Theodosia glanced up, startled, and studied his eyes.

'Now don't tell me you believe anything like that,' she murmured,
disappointedly.  'You don't look like a person who would---'

'I'm not!' he protested.  'I don't know what I believe about this
Jesus.  I never saw anyone like him; that's as far as I can go.'

'That's far enough,' she sighed.  'I was afraid you were going to
tell me he was one of the gods.'

'I take it you don't believe in the gods,' grinned Demetrius.

'Of course not!  But do go on with your story.  I shouldn't have
interrupted.'

Demetrius continued.  Sometimes it was almost as if he were talking
to himself, as he reviewed the tragic events of that sorry day.  He
relived his strange emotions as the darkness settled over Jerusalem
at mid-afternoon.  Theodosia was very quiet, but her heart was
beating hard and her eyes were misty.

'And he didn't try to defend himself--at all?' she asked, huskily;
and Demetrius, shaking his head, went on to tell her of the
gambling for the robe, and what had happened that night at the
Insula when Marcellus had been forced to put it on.

When he had finished his strange story, the sun was low.  Theodosia
rose slowly, and they walked arm in arm toward the cloister.

'Poor Marcellus,' she murmured.  'It would have to be something
very exciting indeed, to divert his mind.'

'Well, I've tried everything I can think of,' sighed Demetrius.
'And now I'm afraid he has completely lost confidence in me.'

'He thinks the robe is--haunted?'

Demetrius made no answer to that; and Theodosia, tugging at his
arm, impulsively brought him to a stop.  She looked into his eyes
bewildered.

'But--YOU don't believe that!  Do you?' she demanded.

'For my unhappy master, Theodosia, the robe is haunted.  He is
convinced of it, and that makes it so--for him.'

'And what do YOU think?  Is it haunted for YOU?'

He avoided her eyes for a moment.

'What I am going to say may sound silly.  When I was a very little
boy, and had fallen down and hurt myself, I would run into the
house and find my mother.  She would not bother to ask me what in
the world I had been doing to bruise myself that way, or scold me
for not being more careful.  She would take me in her arras and
hold me until I had done weeping, and everything was all right
again.  Perhaps my skinned knee still hurt, but I could bear it
now.'  He looked down tenderly into Theodosia's soft eyes.  'You
see, my mother was always definitely on my side, no matter how I
came by my mishaps.'

'Go on,' she said.  'I'm following you.'

'Often I have thought--'  He interrupted himself to interpolate,
'Slaves get very lonely, my friend!--Often I have thought there
should be, for grown-up people, some place where they could go,
when badly hurt, and find the same kind of assurance that a little
child experiences in his mother's arms.  Now this robe--it isn't
haunted, for me, but--'

'I think I understand, Demetrius.'

After a moment's silence, they separated, leaving as they had
arrived.  Demetrius went out through the gate in the old wall.  His
complete review of the mysterious story had had a peculiar effect
on him.  Everything seemed unreal, as if he had spent an hour in a
dream-world.

The clatter of the busy street, when he had turned the corner,
jangled him out of his reverie.  It occurred to him--and he
couldn't help smiling--that he had spent a long time with his arm
around the highly desirable Theodosia, almost oblivious of her
physical charms.  And he knew she had not been piqued by his
fraternal attitude toward her.  The story of Jesus--inadequately as
Demetrius had related it out of his limited information--was of an
emotional quality that had completely eclipsed their natural
interest in each other's affections.  Apparently the Galilean epic,
even when imperfectly understood, had the capacity for lifting a
friendship up to very high ground.

                         * * * * * *

It was quite clear now to Marcellus that the time for decisive
action had arrived.  Life, under these humiliating conditions, was
no longer to be endured.

He had not fully shared his father's earnest hope that a sojourn in
Athens, with plenty of leisure and no embarrassing social
responsibilities, would relieve his mental strain.  He knew that it
would be carrying his burden along with him.

It was possible, of course, that time might dim the tragic picture
that filled his mind.  He would pursue a few distracting studies,
give his restless hands some entertaining employment, and try to
resume command of his thoughts.

But it was hopeless.  He had no interest in anything!  Since his
arrival in Athens, far from experiencing any easing of the painful
nervous tension, he had been losing ground.  The dread of meeting
people and having to talk with them had deepened into a relentless
obsession.  He was afraid to stir from the house.  He even shunned
the gardeners.

And now he had gone to pieces.  In an utter abandonment of all
emotional control, he had made a sorry spectacle of himself in the
sight of his loyal slave.  Demetrius could hardly be expected to
maintain his patience or respect much longer.

This afternoon, Marcellus had been noisy with his threats and
recriminations.  At the rate he was going to pieces, by to-morrow
afternoon he might commit some deed of violence.  It was better to
have done with this dreadful business before he brought harm to
anyone else.

His people at home would be grieved when they learned the sad
tidings, but bereavement was much easier to bear than disgrace.  As
he sat there in the peristyle, with his head in his hands,
Marcellus made a mental leave-taking of those he had loved best.
He saw Lucia, in the shaded pergola, her slim legs folded under as
she sat quietly reading.  He briefly visited his distinguished
father in his library.  He didn't worry so much about his father's
reception of the bad news.  Senator Gallio would not be surprised;
he would be relieved to know that the matter was settled.  He went
on to his mother's room, and was glad to find her quietly sleeping.
He was thankful that his imagination had at least spared him the
anguish of a tearful parting.

He bade good-bye to Diana.  They were together in the pergola, as
on that night when he had left for Minoa.  He had taken her in his
arms, but rather diffidently, for he felt he would not be coming
back; and it wasn't quite honest to make promises.  This time he
held Diana tightly--and kissed her.

Demetrius had unquestionably deceived him about a dagger he had
bought in Corfu.  Previous to this, the silver-handled dagger he
had carried for years had been lost somehow on the Vestris.
Marcellus had doubted that.  Demetrius, alarmed over his melancholy
state, had taken the weapon from him.  However, the theft had been
well enough meant.  Marcellus had not pressed the matter; had even
consented unprotestingly to the theory that the dagger was lost.
So at Corfu he had found another.  It was less ornamental than
serviceable.  Next day after leaving Corfu, it was missing.
Marcellus had thought it unlikely that any of his fellow passengers
would steal a dagger of such insignificant value.  Demetrius had
it: there was no question about that.  Very likely, if he searched
his slave's gunny-sack, he would find both of them.

Of course, it was possible that Demetrius might have thrown the
weapons overboard, but he was so scrupulously honest that this
seemed improbable.  Demetrius would hold them against the arrival
of a day when he thought it safe to restore them.

Unbuckling the belt of his tunic and casting it aside, Marcellus
entered the Corinthian's small bedchamber, and saw the gunny-sack
on his couch.  His hands were trembling as he moved towards it; for
it was no light matter to be so close to death.

Now he stopped!  There it was--the THING!  He slowly retreated and
leaned against the wall.  Ah! so the ingenious Demetrius had
anticipated his decision!  He was using the robe to safeguard his
stolen daggers!

Marcellus clenched his hands and growled.  He would have it out
with this Thing!

Resolutely forcing his feet to obey, he moved slowly to the couch
and stretched out a shaking hand.  The sweat was pouring down his
face and his legs were so weak he could hardly stand.  Suddenly he
brought his hand down with a violent movement as if he were
capturing a living thing.

For a long moment Marcellus stood transfixed, his fingers buried in
the dreaded, hateful garment.  Then, sitting down on the edge of
the couch, he slowly drew the robe toward him.  He stared at it
uncomprehendingly; held it up to the light; rubbed it softly
against his bare arm.  He couldn't analyse his peculiar sensations,
but something very strange had happened to him.  His agitation was
stilled.  Rising, as if from a dream, he laid the robe over his arm
and went out into the peristyle.  He sat down and draped it across
the broad arms of his chair.  Smoothing it gently with his hand, he
felt a curious elation; an indefinable sense of relief.  A great
load had been lifted.  He wasn't afraid any more!

Hot tears gathered in his eyes and overflowed.

After a while he rose and carried the robe back to Demetrius's
room, replacing it where he had found it.  Unaccustomed to his new
sense of wellbeing, he was puzzled about what to do next.  He went
into the studio and laughed as he looked at Demetrius's poor little
statuette.  The house wasn't quite large enough to hold him; so,
donning his toga, he went out into the garden.

It was there that his slave found him.

Demetrius had approached the house with a feeling of dread.  He
knew Marcellus well enough to surmise that he wasn't going to be
able to endure much more humiliation.

Entering the house quietly, he looked into his master's bedchamber
and into the studio.  Then he went out to the peristyle.  His heart
sank.

Then he saw Marcellus sauntering in the garden.  He walked toward
him eagerly, realizing instantly that a great change had come over
him.

'You are feeling better, sir, are you not?' he said, staring into
his face incredulously.

Marcellus's lips twitched as he smiled.

'I have been away from you a long time, Demetrius,' he said,
unsteadily.

'Yes, sir.  I need not tell you how glad I am that you have
returned.  Is there anything I can do for you?'

'Did you tell me that you had heard of a good weaver; one who might
mend that robe?'

Enlightenment shone in Demetrius's eyes.

'Yes, sir!'

'After we have had our supper,' said Marcellus, 'we will try to
find him.'  He sauntered slowly toward the house, Demetrius
following him, his heart almost bursting with exultation.  When
they reached the peristyle, Demetrius could no longer keep silent.

'May I ask you, sir, what happened?  Did you touch it?'

Marcellus nodded and displayed a bewildered smile.

'I was hoping you would, sir,' said Demetrius.

'Why?  Have YOU had any strange experiences with it?'

'Yes, sir.'

'What did it do to you?'

'I can't quite define it, sir,' stammered Demetrius.  'There's a
queer energy--belonging to it--clinging to it, somehow.'

'Don't you know that's a very crazy thing to say?' demanded
Marcellus.

'Yes, sir.  I have tried to account for it.  I saw him die, you
know.  He was very brave.  Perhaps I invested this robe with my own
admiration for his courage.  When I look at it, I am ashamed of my
own troubles, and I want to behave with fortitude, and--'

He paused, uncertain how to proceed.

'And that explains it, you think?' persisted Marcellus.

'Y-yes, sir,' stammered Demetrius.  'I suppose so.'

'There's more to it than that, Demetrius, and you know it!'

'Yes, sir.'



Chapter IX


Waking at dawn, Marcellus was ecstatic to find himself unencumbered
by the weight that so long oppressed him.  It was the first time he
had ever realized the full meaning of freedom.

Pausing at Demetrius's open door he noted with satisfaction that
his loyal slave, whose anxiety had been as painful as his own, was
still soundly sleeping.  That was good.  Demetrius deserved a rest--
and a forthright apology, too.

Not since that summer when, at fifteen, Marcellus was slowly
convalescing from a serious illness, had he experienced so keen an
awareness of life's elemental properties.  The wasting fever had
left him weak and emaciated; but through those days of his recovery
his senses had been abnormally alert.  Especially in the early
morning: all colours were luminous, all sounds were intensified,
all scents were heady concentrates of familiar fragrances.

Until then, the birds chirped and whistled, each species shrieking
its own identifying cry; but it was silly to say that they sang.
Now the birds sang, their songs melodious and choral.  The dawn
breeze was saturated with a subtle blend of new-mown clover and
sweetish honeysuckle, of jasmine and narcissus, welcoming him back
to life's brightness and goodness.  An occasional cool wisp of dank
leaf-mould and fresh-spaded earth momentarily sobered him; and then
he would rejoice that he had escaped their more intimate
acquaintance.

For those few days, as a youth, Marcellus had been impressed by his
kinship with all created things.  It stilled and steadied his
spirit to find himself so closely integrated with Nature.  Then, as
he regained his bodily vigour, this peculiar sensitivity gradually
passed from him.  He still enjoyed the colours and perfumes of the
flowers, the liquid calls of the birds, and the insistent hum of
little winged creatures; but his brief understanding of their
language was lost in the confusion of ordinary work and play.  Nor
did he expect ever to reclaim that transient rapture.  Perhaps it
could be experienced only when one's physical resources had ebbed
to low tide, and one's fragility had made common cause with such
other fragile things as hummingbirds and heliotrope.

This morning, to his happy amazement, that higher awareness had
returned, filling him with a mystifying exaltation.  He had somehow
recaptured that indefinable ecstasy.

It had rained softly in the night, bathing the tall sycamores until
their gaily fluttering leaves reflected glints of gold.  The air
was heavy with the scent of refreshed roses.  Perhaps it was on
such a morning, mused Marcellus, that Aristophanes had composed his
famous apostrophe to the Birds of Athens.

Doubtless it was inevitable that yesterday afternoon's strange
experience should have produced a sequence of varied reactions.
The immediate effect of his dealings with the robe had been a
feeling of awe and bewilderment, quickly followed by an
exhilaration bordering on hysteria.  But the protracted nervous
strain had been so relentless, and had taken such a heavy toll,
that this sudden release of tension had produced an almost
paralysing fatigue.  Marcellus had gone supperless to bed and had
slept like a little child.

Rousing, wide-awake, with an exultant sense of complete cleansing
and renewal, he had wished he could lift his eyes and hands in
gratitude to some kindly spirit who might be credited with this
ineffable gift.  As he sat there in the rose-arbour, he mentally
called the roll of the classic gods and goddesses, questing a name
worthy of homage; but he could think of none who deserved his
intellectual respect, much less his reverence.  He had been
singularly blest; but the gift was anonymous.  For the first time
in his life, Marcellus envied all nave souls who believed in the
gods.  As for himself, he was incapable of belief in them.

But this amazing experience with the robe was something that could
not be dismissed with a mere 'I do not understand; so, let it be
considered a closed incident.'

No, it was a problem that had to be dealt with, somehow.  Marcellus
gave himself up to serious reflection.  First of all, the robe had
symbolized that whole shameful affair at Jerusalem.  The man who
wore it had been innocent of any crime.  He had been unfairly
tried, unjustly sentenced, and dishonourably put to death.  He had
borne his pain with admirable fortitude.  Was 'fortitude' the word?
No, murmured Marcellus, the Galilean had something else besides
that.  The best that 'fortitude' could accomplish was courageous
endurance.  This Jesus had not merely endured.  It was rather as if
he had confronted his tragedy!--HAD GONE TO MEET IT!

And then, that night at the Insula, dully sobering from a whole
day's drunkenness, Marcellus had gradually roused to a realization
that he--in the face of this incredible bravery--had carried out
his brutal work as if the victim were an ordinary criminal.  The
utter perfidy of his behaviour had suddenly swept over him like a
storm, that night at Pilate's banquet.  It was not enough that he
had joined hands with cowards and scoundrels to crucify this Jesus.
He had consented to ridicule the dead hero by putting on his blood-
stained robe for the entertainment of a drunken crowd.  Not much
wonder that the torturing memory of his own part in the crime had
festered, and burned, and poisoned his spirit!  Yes, that part of
it was understandable.  And because the robe had been the
instrument of his torture, it was natural, he thought, that he
should have developed an almost insane abhorrence of it!

Yesterday afternoon its touch had healed his wounded mind.  How was
he to evaluate this astounding fact?  Perhaps it was more simple
than it seemed: perhaps he was making it all too difficult.  He had
shrunk from this robe because it symbolized his great mistake and
misfortune.  Now, compelled by a desperate circumstance to lay his
hands upon the robe, his obsession had vanished!  Was this effect
entirely imaginary? or was the robe actually possessed of magical
power?

This latter suggestion was absurd, preposterous!  It offended every
principle he had lived by!  To admit of such a theory, he would
have to toss overboard all his reasonable beliefs in an impersonal,
law-abiding universe, and become a confessed victim of superstition.

No--he could not and would not do that!  There was no magic in this
robe!  It was a mere tool of his imagination.  For many weeks it
had symbolized his crime and punishment.  Now it symbolized his
release.  His remorse had run its full measure through the
hourglass and the time had come for him to put his crime behind
him.  The touch of the robe in his hands had simply marked the
moment for the expiration of his mental punishment.  He was not
going to admit that the robe was invested with power.

To-day he would find that weaver and have the robe repaired.  He
would at least show it so much honour and respect.  It was nothing
more than a garment, but it deserved to be handled with gratitude
and reverence.  Yes, he would go that far!  He could honestly say
that he reverenced this robe!

Demetrius had joined him now, apologetic for tardiness.

'I am glad you could sleep,' smiled Marcellus.  'You have had much
worry on my account.  In my unhappiness, I have been rough with
you.  You have been truly understanding, Demetrius, and immensely
patient.  I am sorry for the way I have treated you, especially
yesterday.  That was too bad!'

'Please, sir!' pleaded Demetrius.  'I am so glad you are well
again!'

'I think we will try to find your weaver, to-day, and see if he can
mend the robe.'

'Yes, sir.  Shall I order your breakfast now?'

'In a moment.  Demetrius, in your honest opinion, is that robe
haunted?'

'It is very mysterious, sir.'  Demetrius was choosing his words
deliberately.  'I had hoped that you might be able to throw a
little light on it.  May I ask what conclusion YOU have come to?'

Marcellus sighed and shook his head.

'The more I think about it,' he said, slowly, 'the more bewildering
it is!'  He rose, and moved toward the house.

'Well, sir,' volunteered Demetrius, at his elbow, 'it isn't as if
we were REQUIRED to comprehend it.  There are plenty of things that
we are not expected to understand.  This may be one of them.'

                         * * * * * *

Across the street from the main entrance to the sprawling open-air
Theatre of Dionysus, there was a huddle of small bazaars dealing in
such trifles as the playgoers might pick up on their way in:
sweetmeats, fans, and cushions.  At the end of the row stood
Benjamin's little shop, somewhat aloof from its frivolous
neighbours.  There was nothing on the door to indicate the nature
of Benjamin's business; nothing but his name, burned into a cypress
plank, and that not plainly legible; dryly implying that if you
didn't know Benjamin was a weaver, and the oldest and most skilful
weaver in Athens, you weren't likely to be a desirable client.

Within, the shop was unbearably stuffy.  Not a spacious room to
begin with, it contained (besides the two looms, one of them the
largest Marcellus had ever seen) an ungainly spinning-wheel, a huge
carding device, and bulky stores of raw materials; reed baskets
heaped high with silk cocoons, big bales of cotton, bulging bags of
wool.

Most of the remaining floor space was occupied by the commodious
worktable, on which Benjamin sat, cross-legged, deeply absorbed in
the fine hem he was stitching around the flowing sleeve of an
exquisitely wrought chiton.  He was shockingly lean and stooped,
and his bald head seemed much too large for his frail body.  A long
white beard covered his breast.  His shabby robe was obviously not
worn as a specimen of his handicraft.  Behind him, against the wall
and below the window-ledge, there was a long shelf well filled with
scrolls whose glossy spools showed much handling.

Benjamin did not look up until he had reached the end of his
thread; then, straightening with a painful grimace, he peered at
his new clients with a challenge that wrinkled his long nose and
curled his lip, after the manner of an overloaded, protesting
camel.  Except for the beady brightness of his deeply caverned
eyes, Benjamin was as old as Jehovah--and as cross, too, if his
scowl told the truth about his disposition.

Marcellus advanced confidently with Demetrius at his elbow.  'This
garment,' he began, holding it up, 'needs mending.'

Benjamin puckered his leathery old mouth unpleasantly, sniffed,
licked his thumb, and twisted a fresh thread to a sharp point.

'I have better things to do,' he declaimed, gutturally, 'than darn
holes in old coats.'  He raised his needle to the light, and
squintingly probed for its eye.  'Go to a sailmaker,' he added,
somewhat less gruffly.

'Perhaps I should not have bothered you with so small a matter,'
admitted Marcellus, unruffled.  'I am aware that this garment is of
little practical value, but it is a keepsake, and I had hoped to
have it put in order by someone who knows his job.'

'Keepsake, eh?'  Old Benjamin reached for the robe with a
pathetically thin hand and pawed over it with well-informed
fingers.  'A keepsake,' he mumbled.  'And how did this come to be a
keepsake?'  He frowned darkly at Marcellus.  'You are a Roman, are
you not?  This robe is as Jewish as the Ten Commandments.'

'True!' conceded Marcellus, patiently.  'I am a Roman, and the robe
belonged to a Jew.'

'Friend of yours, I suppose.'  Benjamin's tone was bitterly
ironical.

'Not exactly a friend, no.  But he was a brave Jew and well
esteemed by all who knew him.  His robe came into my hands, and I
wish to have it treated with respect.'  Marcellus leaned closer to
watch as the old man scratched lightly at a dark stain with his
yellow finger-nail.

'Died fighting, maybe,' muttered Benjamin.

'It was a violent death,' said Marcellus, 'but he was not fighting.
He was a man of peace--set upon by enemies.'

'You seem to know all about it,' growled Benjamin.  'However, it is
naught to me how you came by this garment.  It is clear enough that
you had no hand in harming the Jew, or you would not think so
highly of his old robe.'  Thawing slightly, he added, 'I shall mend
it for you.  It will cost you nothing.'

'Thanks,' said Marcellus, coolly.  'I prefer to pay for it.  When
shall I call?'

Benjamin wasn't listening.  With his deep-lined old face upturned
toward the window he was inspecting the robe against the light.
Over his thin shoulder he beckoned Marcellus to draw closer.

'Observe, please.  It is woven without a seam; all in one portion.
There is only one locality where they do it.  It is up in the
neighbourhood of the Lake Gennesaret, in Galilee.'  Benjamin
waggled his beard thoughtfully.  'I have not seen a piece of
Galilean homespun for years.  This is from up around Capernaum
somewhere, I'd say.'

'You are acquainted with that country?' inquired Marcellus.

'Yes, yes; my people are Samaritans, a little way to the south;
almost on the border.'  Benjamin chuckled grimly.  'The Samaritans
and the Galileans never had much use for one another.  The
Galileans were great Temple people, spending much time in their
synagogues, and forever leaving their flocks and crops to look
after themselves while they journeyed to Jerusalem for the
ceremonies.  They kept themselves poor with their pilgrimages and
sacrifices.  We Samaritans didn't hold with the Temple.'

'Why was that?' wondered Marcellus.

Benjamin swung his thin legs over the edge of the table and sat up
prepared to launch upon an extended lecture.

'Of course,' he began, 'you have heard the story of Elijah.'

Marcellus shook his head, and Benjamin regarded him with withering
pity; then, apparently deciding not to waste any more time, he drew
up his legs again, folded them comfortably, and resumed his re-
threading of the needle.

'Was this Elijah one of the gods of Samaria?' Marcellus had the
misfortune to inquire.

The old man slowly put down his work and seared his young customer
with a contemptuous stare.

'I find it difficult to believe,' he declared, 'that even a Roman
could have accumulated so much ignorance.  To the Jew--be he
Samaritan, Galilean, Judean, or of the dispersed--there is but one
God!  Elijah was a great prophet.  Elisha, who inherited his
mantle, was also a great prophet.  They lived in the mountains of
Samaria, long before the big temples and all the holy fuss of the
lazy priests.  We Samaritans have always worshipped on the
hilltops, in the groves.'

'That sounds quite sensible to me,' approved Marcellus, brightly.

'Well,' grunted the old man, 'that's no compliment to our belief;
though I suppose you intended your remark to be polite.'

Marcellus spontaneously laughed outright, and Benjamin, rubbing his
long nose, grinned dryly.

'You are of a mild temper, young man,' he observed.

'That depends, sir, upon the nature of the provocation,' said
Marcellus, not wishing to be thought weak.  'You are my senior--by
many, many years.'

'Ah, so, and you think an old man has a right to be rude?'

'Apparently we share the same opinion on that matter,' asserted
Marcellus, complacently.

Benjamin bent low over his work, chuckling deep in his whiskers.

'What is your name, young man?' he asked, after a while, without
looking up; and when Marcellus had told him, he inquired, 'How long
are you to be in Athens?'

The query was of immense interest to Demetrius.  Now that
conditions had changed, Marcellus might be contemplating an early
return to Rome.  He had not yet indicated what his intentions were,
or whether he had given the matter any thought at all.

'I do not know,' replied Marcellus.  'Several weeks, perhaps.
There are many things I wish to see.'

'How long have you been here?' asked Benjamin.

Marcellus turned an inquiring glance towards Demetrius, who
supplied the information.

'Been on Mars' Hill?' queried the old man.

'No,' replied Marcellus, reluctantly.

'Acropolis?'

'Not yet.'

'You have not been in the Parthenon?'

'No--not yet.'

'Humph!  What have you been doing with yourself?'

'Resting,' said Marcellus.  'I've recently been on two long
voyages.'

'A healthy young fellow like you doesn't need any rest,' scoffed
Benjamin.  'Two voyages, eh?  You're quite a traveller.  Where were
you?'

Marcellus frowned.  There seemed no limit to the old man's
inquisitiveness.

'We came here from Rome,' he said, hoping that might be sufficient.

'That's one voyage,' encouraged Benjamin.

'And, before that, we sailed to Rome from Joppa.'

'Ah, from Joppa!'  Benjamin continued his precise stitching, his
eyes intent upon it, but his voice was vibrant with sudden
interest.  'Then you were in Jerusalem.  And how long ago was
that?'

Marcellus made a mental calculation, and told him.

'Indeed!' commented Benjamin.  'Then you were there during the week
of the Passover.  I am told there were some strange happenings.'

Demetrius started, restlessly shifted his weight, and regarded his
master with anxiety.  Benjamin's darting glance, from under shaggy
eyebrows, noted it.

'Doubtless,' replied Marcellus, evasively.  'The city was packed
with all sorts.  Anything could have happened.'  He hitched at his
belt, and retreated a step.  'I shall not interfere with your work
any longer.'

'Come to-morrow--a little before sunset,' said Benjamin.  'The robe
will be ready for you.  We will have a glass of wine together--if
you will accept the hospitality of my humble house.'

Marcellus hesitated for a moment before replying, and exchanged
glances with Demetrius, who almost imperceptibly shook his head as
if saying we had better not risk a review of the tragedy.

'You are most kind,' said Marcellus.  'I am not sure--what I may be
doing to-morrow.  But, if I do not come, I shall send for the robe.
May I pay you now?'  He reached into the breast of his tunic.

Benjamin continued stitching, as if he had not heard.  After a long
minute, he searched Marcellus's eyes.

'I think,' he said slowly, patting the robe with gentle fingers, 'I
think you do not want to talk--about this Jew.'

Marcellus was plainly uncomfortable, and anxious to be off.

'It is a painful story,' he said, shortly.

'All stories about Jews are painful,' said Benjamin.  'May I expect
you to-morrow?'

'Y-yes,' agreed Marcellus, indecisively.

'That is good,' mumbled Benjamin.  He held up his bony hand.
'Peace be upon you!'

'Er--thank you,' stammered Marcellus, uncertain whether he, in
turn, was expected to confer peace upon the old Jew.  Maybe that
would be a social error.  'Farewell,' he said at last, feeling he
would be safe to leave it at that.

Outside the shop, Marcellus and Demetrius exchanged looks of mutual
inquiry as they sauntered across the road to the empty theatre.

'Odd old creature,' remarked Marcellus.  'I'm not sure that I want
to see any more of him.  Do you think he is crazy?'

'No,' said Demetrius, 'far from it.  He is a very wise old man.'

'I think you feel that I should be making a mistake to come back
here to-morrow.'

'Yes, sir.  Better forget all about that now.'

'But I need not talk about that wretched affair in Jerusalem,'
protested Marcellus.  'I can simply say that I do not want to
discuss it.'  His tone sounded as if he were rehearsing the speech
he intended to make.  'And that,' he finished, 'ought to settle it,
I think.'

'Yes, sir; that ought to settle it,' agreed Demetrius, 'but it
won't.  Benjamin will not easily be put off.'

They strolled down the long grass-grown aisle toward the deserted
stage.

'Do you know anything about the customs and manners of the Jews,
Demetrius?' queried Marcellus, idly.

'Very little, sir, about their customs.'

'When old Benjamin said, "Peace be upon you," what should I have
replied?  Is there a formulated answer to that?'

'"Farewell" is correct usage, sir, I think,' said Demetrius.

'But I did say that!' retorted Marcellus, returning with a bound
from some far-away mental excursion.

'Yes, sir,' agreed Demetrius.  He hoped they were not already
slipping back into that pool of painful reflection.

They retraced their steps to the theatre entrance.

'I wonder how much the old man knows about Galilee,' mused
Marcellus.

'He will tell you to-morrow.'

'But I'm not going back to-morrow!  I don't want to have this
matter reopened.  I intend to put the whole thing out of my mind!'

'That is a wise decision, sir,' approved Demetrius, soberly.

                         * * * * * *

It was immediately apparent that this firm resolution was to be
enforced.  Leaving the Theatre of Dionysus, they strolled through
the agora, where Marcellus paused before the market booths to
exchange a bit of banter with rosy-cheeked country girls and slip
copper denarii into the grimy incredulous hands of their little
brothers and sisters.  Then they went up on Mars' Hill and spent an
hour in the sacred grove where the great of the Greeks had been
turned into stone.

Turning aside from the main path, Marcellus sat down on a marble
bench, Demetrius standing a little way distant.  Both were silently
reflective.  After an interval, Marcellus waved an arm toward the
stately row of mutilated busts.

'Demetrius, it has just occurred to me that there isn't a warrior
in the lot!  You Greeks are hard fighters, when you're put to it;
but the heroes who live forever in your public gardens are men of
peace.  Remember the Forum?  Sulla, Antony, Scipio, Camillus,
Julius, Augustus--all tricked out in swords and helmets!  But look
at this procession of Greeks, marching up the hill!  Socrates,
Epicurus, Herodotus, Solon, Aristotle, Polybius!  Not a fighter
among them!'

'But, they all look as if they'd been to war, sir,' jested
Demetrius.

'Ah, yes, WE did that!' said Marcellus, scornfully.  'Our gallant
Roman legions; our brave illiterates!'  He sat scowling for a
moment; then went on, with unaccustomed heat:  'Demetrius, I say
damn all men who make war on monuments!  The present may belong to
the Roman Empire by force of conquest; but, by all the gods, the
past does not!  A nation is surely of contemptible and cowardly
mind that goes to battle against another nation's history!  It
didn't take much courage to come up here and hack the ears off old
Pericles!  I daresay the unwashed, drunken vandal who nicked his
broadsword on the nose of Hippocrates could neither read nor write!
There's not much dignity left in a nation that has no respect for
the words and works of geniuses who gave the world whatever wisdom
and beauty it owns!'

Deeply stirred to indignation, he rose and strode across the path,
and faced the bust of Plato.

'That man, for example, HE has no nationality!  HE has no
fatherland!  HE has no race!  No kingdom--in this world--can claim
him, or destroy him!'  Abruptly, Marcellus stopped in the midst of
what promised to be an oration.  He stood silent, for a moment;
then walked slowly toward Demetrius, and stared into his eyes.

'Do you know, Demetrius, that is what the Galilean said of
himself!'

'I remember,' nodded Demetrius.  'He said his kingdom was not of
the world--and nobody knew what he meant.'

'I wonder--'  Marcellus's voice was dreamy.  'Perhaps, some day,
he'll have a monument, like Plato's. . . .  Come--let us go!  We
had decided to be merry, to-day; and here we've been owling it like
old philosophers.'

It was late in the afternoon before they reached the inn.  When
they were drawing within sight of it, Marcellus remarked that he
must call on the Eupolis family.

'I should have done so earlier,' he added, casually.  'Upon my
word, I don't believe I've seen any of them since the night we
arrived!'

'They will be glad to see you, sir,' said Demetrius.  'They have
inquired about you frequently.'

'I shall stop and see them now,' decided Marcellus, impulsively.
'You may return to our suite.  I'll be back presently.'

After they had separated, Demetrius reflected with some amusement
that this renewal of acquaintance, after so strange a lapse, would
be of much interest to the Eupolis household.  Perhaps Theodosia
would want to tell him about it.

Then he fell to wondering what she would think about himself in
this connection.  Had he not been so alarmed over his master's
condition that he had confided his distress to her?  And here was
Marcellus--supposedly mired in an incurable despair--drifting in to
call, as jauntily as if he had never fretted about anything in his
life!  Would Theodosia think he had fabricated the whole story?
But she couldn't think that!  Nobody could invent such a tale!

After a while one of the kitchen slaves came to announce that the
Tribune would be dining with the family.  Demetrius grinned broadly
as he sauntered out alone to the peristyle.  He wondered what they
would talk about at dinner.  The occasion would call for a bit of
tact, he felt.

                         * * * * * *

Early the next morning Marcellus donned a coarse tunic and set to
work at his modelling-table with the air of a professional
sculptor.  Demetrius hovered about, waiting to be of service, until
it became evident that nothing was desired of him to-day but his
silence, perhaps his absence.  He asked if he might take a walk.

Theodosia had set up a gaily coloured target near the front wall
that bounded the grounds and was shooting at it from a stadium's
distance.  She made a pretty picture in the short-sleeved white
chiton, a fringe of black curls escaping her scarlet fillet.  As
Demetrius neared, he was surprised to see that she was using a
man's bow, and although she was not drawing it quite to top
torsion, her arrows struck with a clipped, metallic ping that
represented an unusual strength, for a girl.  And the shots were
well placed, too.  Demetrius reflected that if Theodosia wanted to,
she could do a lot of damage with one of those long, bone-tipped
arrows.

She smiled and inquired whether he had any suggestions for her.  He
interpreted this as an invitation to join her; but, reluctant, as
before, to compromise them both by appearing in conversation
together, he did not turn aside from the gravelled driveway.

'I think your marksmanship is very good,' he halted to say.  'You
surely need no instruction.'

She flushed a little, and drew another arrow from the quiver that
leaned against the stone lectus.  Demetrius could see that she felt
rebuffed as she turned away.  Regardless of consequences, he
sauntered toward her.

'Are you too busy for a quiet talk?' she asked, without looking at
him.

'I was hoping you might suggest it,' said Demetrius.  'But we can't
talk here, you know.'

'Ssss--ping!' went the arrow.

'Very well,' said Theodosia.  'I'll meet you--over there.'

Walking quickly away, Demetrius made the circuitous trip to the
Temple garden.  Apparently the priests were occupied with their
holy employments, whatever they were, for no one was in sight.  His
heart speeded a little when he saw Theodosia coming.  It was a new
experience to be treated on terms of equality, and he was not quite
sure how this amenity should be viewed.  He needed and wanted
Theodosia's friendship--but how was he to interpret the freedom
with which she offered it?  Should she not have some compunction
about private interviews with a slave?  It was a debatable question
whether this friendship was honouring him, or merely lowering her.

Theodosia sat down by him, without a greeting, and regarded him
soberly, at such short range that he noted the little flecks of
gold in her dark eyes.

'Tell me about the dinner-party,' said Demetrius, wanting to get it
over.

'Very strange, is it not?'  There was nothing ironical in her tone.
'He is entirely recovered.'

Demetrius nodded.

'I was afraid you might think I had misrepresented the facts,' he
said.  'I could not have blamed you.'

'No, I believed what you told me, Demetrius, and I believe it
still.  Something happened.  Something very important happened.'

'That is true.  He found the robe, while I was absent, and adopted
an entirely different attitude toward it.  Once he had touched it,
his horror of it suddenly left him.  Last night he slept.  To-day
he has been his usual self.  I think his obsession has been cured.
I don't pretend to understand it.'

'Naturally, I have thought of nothing else all day,' confessed
Theodosia.  'If it was the robe that had tormented Marcellus, then
it must have been a new view of the robe that restored him.  Maybe
it's something like this: I keep a diary, Demetrius.  Every night,
I write a few things I wish to remember.  If someone who does not
know me should read a page where I am happy and life is good, he
might have quite a different impression of me than if he read the
other side of the papyrus where I am a cynic, a stoic, cold and
bitter.  Now, you and Marcellus recorded many different thoughts on
that Galilean robe.  Yours were sad, mostly, but they did not chide
you.  Marcellus recorded memories on it--and they afflicted him.'

She paused, her eyes asking whether this analogy had any merit at
all.  Demetrius signed to her to go on.

'You told me that this Jesus forgave them all, and that Marcellus
had been much moved by it.  Maybe, when he touched the robe again,
this impression came back to him so strongly that it relieved his
remorse.  Does that sound reasonable?'

'Yes, but wouldn't you think, Theodosia, that after having had such
an experience--a sort of illumination, setting him free of his
hauntings--Marcellus would be in a great state of exaltation?
True, he was ecstatic, for a while; but his high moment was brief.
And for the most of the day, yesterday, he acted almost as if
nothing had happened to him.'

'My guess is that he is concealing his emotions,' ventured
Theodosia.  'Maybe he feels this more deeply than you think.'

'There is no reason for his being reticent with me.  He was so
stirred by his experience, the night before last, that he was half-
indignant because I tried to regard it rationally.'

'Perhaps that is why he doesn't want to discuss it further.  He
thinks the problem is too big for either of you, so he's resolved
not to talk about it.  You say he had a high moment--and then
proceeded as if the experience had been of no consequence.  Well,
that's natural, isn't it?  We can't live on mountain-tops.'
Theodosia's eyes had a far-away look, and her voice was wistful.

'My Aunt Ino,' she continued, 'once said to me, when I was
desperately lonely and dispirited, that our life is like a land
journey, too even and easy and dull over long distances across the
plains, too hard and painful up the steep grades.  But, on the
summit of the mountain, you have a magnificent view, and feel
exalted, and your eyes are full of happy tears, and you want to
sing and you wish you had wings!  And then--because you can't stay
there, but must continue your journey--you begin climbing down the
other side, so busy with your footholds that your summit experience
is forgotten.'

'You have a pretty mind, Theodosia,' said Demetrius, gently.

'That was my Aunt Ino's mind I was talking about.'

'I am sorry you were lonely and depressed, Theodosia.'  Absently he
rubbed his finger-tips over the small white scar on his ear.  'I
shouldn't have thought you were ever sad.  Want to talk about it?'

Her eyes had followed his hand with frank interest.

'Not all slaves have had their ears marked,' she said, pensively.
'Your position is tragic.  I know that.  There is something very
wrong with a world in which a man like you must go through life as
a slave.  But, really, is there much to choose between your social
condition and mine?  I am the daughter of an innkeeper.  In your
case, Demetrius, it makes no difference that you were brought up in
a home of refinement and well endowed with a good mind: wicked men
put you into slavery--and there you are!  And where am I?  It makes
no difference that my father, Dion, is a man of integrity, well
versed in the classics, acquainted with the arts, and bearing
himself honourably before the men of Athens, as did his father
Georgias.  He is an innkeeper.  Perhaps it would have been better
for me if I had not been taught to love things beyond my social
station.'

'But, Theodosia, your advantages have made your life rich,' said
Demetrius, consolingly.  'You have so much to make you happy; your
books, your music, your boundless vitality, your beautiful clothes--'

'I have no place to wear my nice clothes,' she countered, bitterly,
'and I have no use for my vitality.  If the daughter of an
innkeeper wants to be happy, she should conform to the traditions.
She should be noisy, pert, and not above petty larcenies.  Then she
could have friends--of her own class.'  Her eyes suddenly flooded.
'Demetrius,' she said, huskily, 'sometimes I think I can't bear
it!'

He slipped his arm about her, and they sat for a long moment in
silence.  Then she straightened, and regarded him soberly.

'Why don't you run away?' she demanded, in a whisper.  'I would--if
I were a man.'

'Where would you go?' he asked, with an indulgent grin.

Theodosia indicated with a negligent gesture that the question was
of secondary importance.

'Anywhere,' she murmured vaguely.  'Sicily, maybe.  They say it is
lovely, in Sicily.'

'It's a land of thieves and cut-throats,' declared Demetrius.  'It
is in the lovely lands that life is most difficult, Theodosia.  The
only places where one may live in peace--so far as I know--are arid
desolations where nothing grows and nothing is covetable.'

'Why not Damascus?  You thought of that once, you know.'

'I should die of loneliness up there.'

'You could take me with you.'  She laughed lightly, as she spoke,
to assure him the remark was intended playfully, but they quickly
fell silent.

Rousing from her reverie, Theodosia sat up, patted her fillet, and
said she must go.

Demetrius rose and watched her as she drifted gracefully away; then
resumed his seat and unleashed his thoughts.  He was becoming much
too fond of Theodosia, and she was being too recklessly generous
with her friendship.  Perhaps it would be better to avoid any more
private talks with her, if he could do so without hurting her
feelings.  She was very desirable and her tenderness was endearing.
The freedom with which she confided in him and the artless candour
of her attitude--sometimes but little short of a caress--had
stirred him deeply.  Until now, whatever devotion he had to offer a
woman was silently, hopelessly given to Lucia.  As he reflected
upon his feeling for her now, Lucia was in the nature of a shrine.
Theodosia was real!  But he was not going to take advantage of her
loneliness.  There was nothing he could ever do for her.  They were
both unhappy enough without exchanging unsecured promises.  He was
a slave--but not a thief.

The day was still young and at his disposal; for Marcellus did not
want him about.  Perhaps that was because he wished to be
undistracted while he made experiments with his modelling-clay;
perhaps, again, he needed solitude for a reshaping of his
preconceived theories about supernatural phenomena.

Strolling out of the Temple garden, Demetrius proceeded down the
street which grew noisier and more crowded as he neared the agora.
He sauntered aimlessly through the vasty market-place, savouring
the blended aromas of ground spices, ripe melons, roasted nuts, and
fried leeks; enjoying the polyglot confusion.  Emerging, he lounged
into a circle gathered about a blind lute-player and his loyal dog;
drifted across the cobbled street to listen to a white-bearded
soothsayer haranguing a small, apathetic company from the portico
of an abandoned theatre; was jostled off the pavement by a shabby
legionary who needed much room for his cruise with a cargo of wine.
Time was beginning to hang heavy on his hands.

It now occurred to him that he might trump up some excuse to have a
talk with Benjamin.  Purchasing a small basket of ripe figs, he
proceeded to the weaver's house; and, entering, presented himself
before the old man's worktable.

'So, he decided not to come, eh?' observed Benjamin, glancing up
sourly and returning immediately to his stitches.  'Well, you're
much too early.  I have not finished.  As you see, I am at work on
it now.'

'I did not come for the robe, sir.'  Demetrius held out his gift.
'It was a long day, and I had no employment.  I have been strolling
about.  Would you like some figs?'

Benjamin motioned to have the basket put down on the table beside
him; and, taking one of the figs, slowly munched it, without
looking up from his work.  After a while, he had cleared his mouth
enough to be articulate.

'Did you say to yourself, "I must take that cross old Jew some of
these nice figs"?--or did you say, "I want to ask Benjamin some
questions, and I'll take the figs along, so he'll think I just
dropped in to be friendly"?'

'They're quite good figs, sir,' said Demetrius.

'So they are.'  Benjamin reached for another.  'Have one yourself,'
he mumbled, with difficulty.  'Why did you not want him to come
back and see me to-day?  You were afraid I might press him to talk
about that poor, dead Jew?  Well, and why not?  Surely a proud
young Roman need not shrink from the questions of an old weaver--an
old Jewish weaver--in subjugated Athens!'

'Perhaps I should let my master speak for himself.  He has not
instructed me to discuss this matter.'

'I daresay you are telling the truth; albeit frugally,' grinned
Benjamin.  'You would never be mistaken for a sieve.  But why may
we not do a little honest trading?  You came to ask questions.
Very well; ask them.  Then--I shall ask questions of you.  We will
put all the questions on the table, and bargain for answers.  Is
that not fair enough?'

'I'm afraid I don't quite understand,' parried Demetrius.

'Well, for one thing, I noticed yesterday that you were surprised
and troubled when I showed knowledge of strange doings in Jerusalem
last Passover Week; and I think you would like to ask me how much I
know about that.  Now, I shall be glad to tell you, if you will
first answer some questions of mine.'  Benjamin glanced up with a
sly, conspiratorial smile.  'I shall give you an easy one first.
Doubtless you were in Jerusalem with your master: did you happen to
see the Galilean whom they crucified?'

'Yes, sir,' replied Demetrius, promptly.

'Very good.  What manner of man was he?'  Benjamin put down his
work, and leaned forward with eager interest.  'You are a bright
fellow, for a slave--and a heathen.  Was there anything--anything
peculiar--about this Galilean?  How close did you get to him?  Did
you hear him speak?'

'My first sight of the Galilean was on the morning of our entrance
into Jerusalem.  There was a great crowd accompanying him into the
city.  Not knowing the language, I did not fully understand the
event; but learned that this large multitude of country people
wanted to crown him king.  They were shouting "Messiah!"  I was
told that these people were always looking for a great leader to
deliver them from political bondage; he would be the "Messiah."  So
the crowd shouted "Messiah!" and waved palms before him, as if he
were a king.'

Benjamin's eyes were alert and his shrunken mouth was open, the
puckered lips trembling.

'Go on!' he demanded, gutturally, when Demetrius paused.

'I forced my way into the pack until I was almost close enough to
have touched him.  He was indeed an impressive man, sir, albeit
simply clad--'

'In this?'  Benjamin caught up the robe in his shaking hands and
pushed it toward Demetrius, who nodded--and went on.

'It was quite evident that the man was not enjoying the honour.
His eyes were brooding; full of sadness; full of loneliness.'

'Ah!--wait a moment, my friend!'  Benjamin turned to his shelf of
scrolls; drew out one that had seen much handling; turned it
rapidly to the passage he sought, and read, in a deep sonorous
tone:  '"--a man of sorrows--acquainted with grief--"  This is the
prophecy of Yeshayah.  Proceed, please!  Did he speak?'

'I did not hear him speak--not that day.'

'Ah! so you saw him again!'

'When he was tried--at the Insula, a few days later--for treason.'

'You saw that?'

Demetrius nodded.

'What was his behaviour there?' asked Benjamin.  'Did he plead for
mercy?'

'No--he was quite composed.  I could not understand what he said:
but he accepted his sentence without protest.'

Benjamin excitedly spread open his ancient scroll.  'Listen, my
friend!  This, too, is from the prophecy of Yeshayah.  "He was
oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth."'

'He did talk,' remembered Demetrius, 'but very calmly--and
confidently.  That was thought strange, too; for he had been
cruelly whipped.'

Benjamin read again from the scroll in an agitated voice:  '"He was
wounded for our transgressions--and with his stripes we are
healed."'

'Whose transgressions?' wondered Demetrius.  'The Jews'?'

'Yeshayah was a Jewish prophet, my friend,' replied Benjamin.  'And
he was foretelling the coming of a Jewish Messiah.'

'That means then that the Messiah's injuries would not be borne in
the interest of any other people?' persisted Demetrius.  'If that
is true, I do not think this Jesus was the Messiah!  Before he
died, he forgave the Roman legionaries who had nailed him to the
cross!'

Benjamin glanced up with a start.

'How do you know that?' he demanded.

'So it was said by those who stood by,' declared Demetrius.  'It
was heard by all.'

'This is a strange thing!' murmured Benjamin.  Presently he roused
from a long moment of deep meditation.  'Now--you may ask me
questions, if you wish,' he said.

'I think you have answered my queries, sir.  I thought you might
tell me something more about the Messiah--and you have done so.
According to the writings, he was to come as the champion of the
Jewish people.  The man I saw had no wish to be their champion.  It
made him unhappy when they urged kingship upon him.  At his trial
he said he had a kingdom--but it was not in the world.'

'Where then--if not in the world?' rasped Benjamin.

'You are much wiser than I, sir.  If you do not know, it would be
presumptuous for a pagan slave to attempt an explanation.'

'You are sarcastic, my young friend,' grumbled Benjamin.

'No, sir, I am entirely sincere, and bewildered.  I think this
Jesus was interested in EVERYBODY!  I think he was SORRY FOR
EVERYBODY!'  Demetrius paused, and murmured apologetically,
'Perhaps I have been talking too freely, sir.'

'You have a right to talk,' conceded Benjamin.  'I am a Jew--but I
believe that our God is the father of mankind.  Peradventure the
Messiah--when he comes to reign over the Jews--will establish
justice for all.'

'I wish I could study these ancient prophecies,' said Demetrius.

'Well'--Benjamin shrugged--'and why not?  Here they are.  You have
a good mind.  If you have much time, and little to do, learn to
read them.'

'How?'

'I might help you,' said Benjamin, amiably.  He swung his thin legs
over the edge of the table.  You will excuse me now,' he added,
abruptly.  'I must prepare my noonday meat.'  Without further words
of leave-taking, he moved slowly toward a door at the rear, and
disappeared.

                         * * * * * *

Evidently Benjamin had finished his day's labour, for the sleek-
topped worktable was unoccupied.  A door in the far corner behind
the largest loom, unnoticed by Marcellus on his previous visit,
stood hospitably ajar.  He walked toward it.

In pleasant contrast to the stifling confusion of the overcrowded
shop, Benjamin's private quarters were simply but tastefully
furnished.  The orange-and-blue rug that covered the entire floor
was of fine workmanship.  There were three comfortable chairs and
footstools, a couch with a pair of camel's-hair saddle-bags for a
pillow, and a massive metal-bound chest.  An open case of deep
shelves, fitted around either side and below a large window, was
filled to capacity with ancient scrolls.

A farther door opposite gave upon a shaded, stone-flagged court.
Assuming that the old man expected him to proceed, Marcellus
crossed the room.  Benjamin, surprisingly tall in his long black
robe and tasselled skull-cap, was laying a table in the centre of
his high-walled vine-thatched peristyle.

'I hope I am not intruding,' said Marcellus.

'It is never an intrusion,' said Benjamin, 'to pass through an open
door in Athens.  You are welcome.'  He pointed to one of the rug-
covered chairs by the table and put down the two silver goblets
from his tray.

'I did not know that you lived here, at your shop,' remarked
Marcellus, for something to say.

'For two reasons,' explained Benjamin, laying an antique knife
beside the brown barley-loaf.  'It is more convenient, and it is
prudent.  One does not leave a shop unguarded in this city.'

'Or any other city of my acquaintance,' commented Marcellus.

'Such as--'  Benjamin drew out his chair and sat.

'Well, such as Rome, for example.  We are overrun with slaves.
They are notorious thieves, with no regard for property rights.'

Benjamin laughed gutturally.

'The slave is indeed a predatory creature,' he remarked dryly.  'He
makes off with your best sandals when the only thing you have
stolen from him is his freedom.'  He raised his cup and bowed to
Marcellus.  'Shall we drink to the day when no man is another man's
property?'

'Gladly!'  Marcellus sipped his wine.  It was of good vintage.  'My
father,' he asserted, 'says the time will come when Rome must pay
dearly for enslaving men.'

'He does not approve of it?  Then I presume he owns no slaves.'
Benjamin was intent upon evenly slicing the bread.  Marcellus
flushed a little at the insinuation.

'If slavery were abolished,' he said, defensively, 'my father would
be among the first to applaud.  Of course--as the matter stands--'

'Of course,' echoed Benjamin.  'Your father knows it is wrong, but
other men of his social station practise it.  In his opinion, it is
better to be wrong than eccentric.'

'If I may venture to speak for my father,' said Marcellus, calmly,
'I do not think he has elaborated a theory of that nature.  He is a
man of integrity and generosity.  His slaves are well treated.
They probably have better food and shelter in our home--'

'I can readily believe that,' interrupted Benjamin.  'They have
more to eat than they might have if they were free.  Doubtless that
is also true of your horses and dogs.  The question is:  Are men
and beasts of the same category?  Is there no essential difference
between them in respect to the quality of their value?  If a
healthy, hard-working ass can be had for ten drachmas, and an able-
bodied man can be had for two silver talents, the difference in
their worth is purely quantitative.  It is at that point that I
find human slavery abhorrent.  It is an offence to the majesty of
the human spirit; for if any man deserves to be regarded as of the
same quality as a beast of burden, then no man has any dignity
left.  I, Benjamin, believe that all men are created in the image
of God.'

'Is that a Jewish conception?' asked Marcellus.

'Yes.'

'But wealthy Jews own slaves, do they not?'  Marcellus raised the
question casually, as if it didn't matter much how or whether the
old man answered it, but the charge stirred Benjamin to instant
attention.

'Ah, there you have tapped one of the roots of our trouble!' he
exclaimed.  'The Jew professes to believe that humanity was created
in the image of God.  Thus he affirms that God is his spiritual
father.  But that can be true only if he declares that all men are
the children of God.  Either they all are--or none!  I, Benjamin,
think they all are!  Therefore, when I enslave another man, placing
him at once with the cattle in the fields, I throw my whole case
away.'

Marcellus broke his bread and amiably conceded that it didn't seem
quite right for one man to own another.  It was no way to regard a
fellow human, he said, even if you treated him kindly.  A man
shouldn't be made to feel that he was just another animal.

'Oh, as for that'--Benjamin dismissed this idea with an indifferent
wave of his thin arm--'you don't rob a slave of his divine
character when you buy him and hitch him to a plough, between an ox
and an ass.  He has had no choice in the matter.  It isn't he who
has degraded mankind: it is YOU!  He is still free to believe that
God is his spiritual father.  But YOU aren't!  Now, you take the
case of that handsome Greek who trails about after you.  Slavery
hasn't stopped HIM from being one of the sons of God, if he wants
to consider himself so; but his slavery has made YOU a relative of
the beasts, because that is your conception of man's value.'

'I am not much of a philosopher,' admitted Marcellus, carelessly.
'Perhaps, after I've been in Athens awhile, lounging on Mars' Hill,
observing the spinning of sophistical cobwebs--'

'You'll be able to tie up sand with a rope,' assisted Benjamin, in
the same temper.  'But what we're talking about is more than a
pedantry.  It is a practical matter.  Here is your great Roman
Empire, sending out its ruthless armies in all directions to
pillage and persecute weak nations; bringing home the best of their
children in stinking slave-ships, and setting the old ones at hard
labour to pay an iniquitous tribute.  Eventually the Roman Empire
will collapse--'

'My father thinks that,' interposed Marcellus.  'He says that the
Romans, with their slave labour, are getting softer and fatter and
lazier, every day; and that the time will come--'

'Yes, yes, the time will come--but that won't be the reason!'
declaimed Benjamin.  'The Romans will be crushed, but not because
they are too fat.  It will be because they have believed that all
men are beasts.  Enslaving other men, they have denied their own
spiritual dignity.  Not much wonder that your Roman gods are a jest
and a mockery in the sight of all your intelligent people.  What do
YOU want with gods--you who think that men are like cattle, to be
led by a halter?  Why should YOU look to the gods, when your dog
doesn't?'

Benjamin paused in his monologue to refill their goblets.  He had
been much stirred, and his old hand was trembling.

'I am a Jew,' he went on, 'but I am not unconversant with the
religion of other races.  Time was when your Roman deities were
regarded with some respect.  Jove meant something to your
ancestors.  Then the time came when Julius Csar became a god, more
important than Jove.  Only the down-trodden any longer believed in
the classic deities who controlled the sunrise and the rain, who
dealt out rewards and punishments, who tempered the wind for the
mariner, and filled the grape with goodness.  And why, let me ask
you, did Csar make a mockery of the Roman religion?  Ah, that was
when the Romans had achieved enough military power to enslave other
nations, buying and selling men, and driving them in herds.  By
that act they declared that all men--including themselves, of
course--were of no relation to the gods!  Vain and pompous Csar
was god enough when it became established that all men were
animals!'

'I don't believe any sensible person ever thought that Julius was a
god,' protested Marcellus.

'Down in his heart--no,' agreed Benjamin.  'Nor Csar, himself, I
dare say!'

'Is it your belief, then, that if the Romans abolished slavery they
would think more highly of the old gods, and by their reverence
make themselves more noble?'

Benjamin chuckled derisively.

'An "if" of such magnitude,' he growled, 'makes the rest of your
question ridiculous.'

'Well, as for me'--Marcellus had tired of the subject, as his tone
candidly announced--'I have no interest in the gods, be they
classic or contemporary.'

'How do you account for the universe?' demanded Benjamin.

'I don't,' replied Marcellus.  'I didn't know that I was expected
to.'  And then, feeling that this rejoinder was more impolite than
amusing, he added quickly:  'I should be glad to believe in a
supernatural being, if one were proposed who seemed qualified for
that office.  It would clarify many a riddle.  Yesterday you were
saying that your people, the Samaritans, worshipped on the mountain-
tops.  I can cheerfully do that too if I'm not required to
personify the sunrise and the trees.'

'We do not personify the objects of nature,' explained Benjamin.
'We believe in one God--a Spirit--creator of all things.'

'Somewhere I have heard it said'--Marcellus's eyes were averted
thoughtfully--'that the Jews anticipate the rise of a great leader,
a champion, a king.  He is to set them free and establish an
enduring government.  Do you Samaritans believe that?'

'We do!' declared Benjamin.  'All of our great prophets have
foretold the coming of the Messiah.'

'How long have you been looking for him?'

'For many centuries.'

'And you are still hopeful?'

Benjamin stroked his long beard thoughtfully.

'The expectation ebbs and flows,' he said.  'In periods of national
calamity there has been much talk of it.  In times of great
hardship and persecution, the Jews have been alert to discover
among themselves some wise and brave man who might give evidence of
messianic powers.'

'And never found one to qualify?' asked Marcellus.

'Not the real one--no.'  Benjamin paused to meditate.  'It is a
queer thing,' he went on.  'In a time of great need, when powerful
leadership is demanded, the people--confused and excited--hear only
the strident voices of the audacious, and refuse to listen to the
voice of wisdom which, being wise, is temperate.  Yes--we have had
many zealous pretenders to messiahship.  They have come and gone--
like meteors.'

'But, in the face of all these disappointments, you sustain your
faith that the Messiah will come?'

'He will come,' murmured Benjamin.  'Of course, every generation
thinks its own problems are severe enough to warrant his coming.
Ever since the Roman occupation, there has been a revival of
interest in the ancient predictions.  Even the Temple has pretended
to yearn for the Messiah.'

'Pretended?'  Marcellus raised his brows.

'The Temple is fairly well satisfied with things as they are,'
grumbled Benjamin.  The Roman Prefects grind the poor with vicious
taxation, but they are careful about imposing too hard on the
priests and the influential rich.  The Temple would be embarrassed,
I fear, if the Messiah put in an appearance.  He might want to make
some changes.'  The old man seemed to be talking mostly to himself
now, for he did not bother to explain what he meant.

'He might discharge the merchants, perhaps, who sell sacrificial
beasts to the poor at exorbitant prices?' asked Marcellus,
artlessly.

Benjamin rallied from his reminiscent torpor and slowly turned an
inquiring gaze upon his pagan guest.

'How do you happen to know about that iniquity?' he asked slyly.

'Oh, I heard it discussed in Jerusalem.'  Marcellus made it sound
unimportant.  'It seems there had been a little protest.'

'A little protest?'  Benjamin lifted an ironical eyebrow.  'It must
have been quite an insistent protest to have come to the ears of a
visiting Roman.  What were you doing there--if I may venture to
ask?'

'It was Empire business,' replied Marcellus, stiffly.  He rose,
readjusting the folds of his toga.  'I must not outstay my
welcome,' he said, graciously.  'You have been most kind.  I am
greatly indebted to you.  May I have the robe now?'

Benjamin withdrew, returning almost immediately.  Marcellus
examined the robe in the waning light.

'It is well done,' he said.  'No one would know it had ever been
torn.'

'No one but you,' said Benjamin, gravely.  Marcellus shifted his
position, uneasily, avoiding the old man's eyes.  'These stains,'
added Benjamin, 'I tried to remove them.  They will not come out.
You have not told me about this poor Jew.  He was brave, you said;
and died at the hands of his enemies.  Was he a Galilean, perhaps?'

'I believe so,' replied Marcellus, restlessly.  He folded the robe
over his arm, and extended his hand in farewell.

'Was his name Jesus?'  Benjamin's insistent voice had dropped to a
mere guttural whisper.

'Yes, that was his name,' admitted Marcellus, grudgingly.  'How did
you know?'

'I learnt of the incident from a long-time friend, one Popygos, a
dealer in spices.  He was in Jerusalem during this last Passover
Week.  Tell me'--Benjamin's tone was entreating--'how did you come
by this robe?'

'Does it matter?' countered Marcellus, suddenly haughty.

Benjamin bowed obsequiously, rubbing his thin hands.

'You must forgive me for being inquisitive,' he muttered.  'I am an
old man, without family, and far from my native land.  My scrolls--
the history of my race, the words of our great prophets--they are
my meat and drink, my young friend!  They are a lamp unto my feet
and a light upon my path.  They are my heritage.  My daily work--it
is nothing!  It busies my fingers and brings me my food; but my
soul, my life--it is hidden and nourished in words so fitly spoken
they are as apples of gold in pictures of silver!'  Benjamin's
voice had risen resonantly and his deep-lined face was enraptured.

'You are fortunate, sir,' said Marcellus.  'I, too, am fond of the
classics bequeathed to us by men of great wisdom--Plato, Pythagoras,
Parmenides--'

Benjamin smiled indulgently and wagged his head.

'Yes, yes--it was through their works that you were taught how to
read--but not how to live!  They who spoke the Hebrew tongue
understood the words of life!  Now--you see--my young friend--
throughout these prophecies there runs a promise.  One day, a
Messiah shall arise and reign!  His name shall be called Wonderful!
And of his kingdom there shall be no end!  No certain time is set
for his coming--but he will come!  Think you then that it is mere
idle curiosity in me to inquire diligently about this Jesus, whom
so many have believed to be the Messiah?'

'I would hear more about these predictions,' said Marcellus, after
a meditative pause.

'Why not?'  Benjamin's deepset eyes lighted.  'I love to think of
them.  I shall gladly tell you; though it would be better if you
could read them for yourself.'

'Is Hebrew difficult?' asked Marcellus.

Benjamin smiled and shrugged.

'Well, it is no more difficult than Greek, which you speak
fluently.  Naturally, it is more difficult than Latin.'

'Why "naturally"?' snapped Marcellus, frowning.

'Forgive me,' retreated Benjamin.  'Perhaps the Greeks ask more of
the mind because the Greek writers--'  The old man politely
floundered to a stop.

'The Greek writers thought more deeply,' assisted Marcellus.  'Is
that what you're trying to say?  If so, I agree with you.'

'I meant no offence,' reiterated Benjamin.  'Rome has her poets,
satirists, eulogists.  There are many interesting little essays by
your Cicero; rather childish.  They pick flowers, but they do not
sweep the sky!'  Benjamin caught up a worn scroll from the table
and deftly unrolled it with familiar hands.  'Listen, friend!--
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and
the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art
mindful of him?"'

'Rather pessimistic, I'd say,' broke in Marcellus, 'although it
sounds sensible enough.'

'But wait!' cried Benjamin.  'Let me go on, please!--"Thou hast
made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with
glory and honour."  Ah--there is richness in the Hebrew wisdom!
You should acquaint yourself with it!'

'For the present, I shall have to content myself with such choice
bits of it as you may be good enough to offer me, from time to
time,' said Marcellus.  'I am doing some sculpturing now, and it
will claim my full attention.'  He laid a small silk bag of silver
on the table.  'Please accept this--for mending the robe.'

'But I do not wish to be paid,' said Benjamin, firmly.

'Then give it to the poor,' said Marcellus, impatiently.

'Thank you.'  Benjamin bowed.  'It has just occurred to me that if
you would know something of this ancient Jewish lore--and are too
busy to study it for yourself--you might permit your Greek slave to
learn the language.  I should be glad to instruct him.  He is
intelligent.'

'It is true that Demetrius is bright.  May I ask how you discovered
it?'

'He spent an hour here to-day.'

'Indeed!  What was his errand?'

Benjamin shrugged the query away as of no consequence.

'He was sauntering about, and paid me a friendly call; brought me
some figs; asked me some questions.'

'What manner of questions?'

'He may tell you if you ask him,' said Benjamin, dryly.  'He is
your property, is he not?'

'I do not own his thoughts,' retorted Marcellus.  'Perhaps you have
imputed to me a more brilliant talent for brutality than I
possess.'

Old Benjamin smiled, almost benevolently, shook his head slowly,
and laid a thin hand on Marcellus's broad shoulder.

'No, I do not think you are cruel, my son,' he declared, gently.
'But you are an unfortunate representative of a cruel system.
Perhaps you cannot help yourself.'

'Perchance, when your Messiah comes,' rejoined Marcellus crisply,
still smarting under the old man's condescension, 'he may make some
valuable suggestions.'  He turned to go.

'By the way,' said Benjamin, following to the door, 'how long,
after the crucifixion of Jesus, did you remain in Jerusalem?'

'I left the city before sunrise, the next morning,' replied
Marcellus.

'Ah!' reflected Benjamin, stroking his white beard.  'Then you
heard nothing further--about him?'

'What more was there to hear?  He was dead.'

'Do you'--the old man hesitated--'do you know that--for a
certainty?'

'Yes,' declared Marcellus.  'I am sure of it.'

'Were you there?'  Benjamin's cavernous eyes insisted upon a direct
answer.  It was slow in coming.

'I saw him die,' admitted Marcellus.  'They pierced his heart, to
make sure, before they took him down.'

To his amazement, Benjamin's seamed face lighted with a rapturous
smile.

'Thank you, my friend!' he said, brightly.  'Thank you--for telling
me!'

'I had not supposed my painful words would make you glad,' said
Marcellus, in a tone of bewilderment.  'This Jesus was a brave man.
He deserved to live!  Yet you seem pleased to be assured that he
was put to death!'

'There have been many rumours,' said Benjamin, 'many idle tales,
reporting that the drunken legionaries left the scene before he
died, and that the friends of the Galilean rescued and revived
him.'

'Well, I happen to know that such tales are untrue!' said
Marcellus, firmly.  'The executioners were drunk enough, but they
killed the Galilean, and when they left--he was dead!  This is not
hearsay with me.  I KNOW!'

'You are speaking important words, my son!'  Benjamin's voice was
husky with emotion.  'I am glad you came to-day!  I shall hope to
see more of you, sir.'  He raised his bony hand over Marcellus's
head.  His arm was trembling.  'The Lord bless you and keep you,'
he intoned, reverently.  'The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon
you, and give you peace.'

There was a long moment of silence before Marcellus stirred.  Much
perplexed, and uncertain what was expected of him, he bowed
respectfully to Benjamin; and, without further words, walked slowly
through the shop and out into the twilight.



Chapter X


Now that Diana was expected back from Capri almost any day, the
Gallio family felt that some explanation must be contrived to
account for the sudden departure of Marcellus.

Unquestionably word had already reached Tiberius that the Vestris
had arrived with Marcellus as her most important passenger.  Diana
would be eager to see him, and she had every reason to believe that
he would be waiting impatiently for her return.

Lucia was for telling her that Marcellus had come home in such
frail health that an immediate change of climate seemed imperative,
though Diana would inquire about the nature of his malady, and
wonder in what respect the climate of Athens was so highly
esteemed.

Cornelia had weakly suggested that perhaps there were better
physicians in Athens.  Diana might be satisfied with that, she
thought, or said she did; but this was nonsense, for everybody knew
that most of the really good Athenian physicians had been imported
to Rome.

'No,' Senator Gallio had observed judicially, 'you are both in
error.  When there is some serious explaining to be done, no
contrivance is as serviceable as the truth.  Let her have it.  If
Diana and my son are in love, as you two seem to think, she has a
right to know the story and it is our duty to tell her.  It should
not be difficult.'  With everything thus sensibly settled, the
Senator rose and was leaving his wife's boudoir when their daughter
detained him.

'Assuming that I have it to do,' said Lucia, maturely, 'how much of
the story is to be told?'

Her father made the query of no great importance with a negligent
flick of his fingers.

'You can say that your brother was required to conduct the
crucifixion of a Jewish revolutionist; that the experience was a
shock; that it plunged him into a deep melancholy from which he has
not yet fully recovered; that we thought it best for him to seek
diversion.'

'Nothing, then,' mused Lucia, 'about those dreadful seizures of
remorse, and the haunted look, and that odd question he insisted on
asking, against his will?'

'Mmm, no,' decided the Senator.  'That will not be necessary.  It
should be sufficient to say that Marcellus is moody and depressed.'

'Diana will not be contented with that explanation,' declared
Lucia.  'She is going to be disappointed, embarrassed, and
indignant.  Quite apart from their fondness for each other, it was
no small thing she did for Marcellus in having him recalled from
exile.  And she will think it very strange indeed that a Roman
Tribune should be so seriously disturbed by the execution of a
convict.'

'We are all agreed on that,' glumly conceded the Senator.  'I do
not pretend to understand it.  My son has never been lacking in
courage.  It is not like him to fall ill at the sight of blood.'

'Perhaps it would be better,' put in Cornelia, suddenly inspired,
'if we omit all reference to that dreadful crucifixion, and simply
say that Marcellus wanted to do some sculpturing, and attend some
lectures, and--'

'So urgently,' scoffed Lucia, 'that he couldn't wait a few days to
see the girl who was responsible for bringing him home.'

Her mother sighed, added another stitch to her embroidery, and
murmured that her suggestion did sound rather silly, an
afterthought accepted without controversy.

'He promised me he would write to her,' remembered Lucia.

'Well, we cannot wait for that,' said her father.  'It might be
weeks.  Diana will want to know--now!  Better tell her everything,
Lucia.  She will get it out of you, in any case.  A young woman
bright enough to extort valuable favours from our crusty old
Emperor will make her own deductions about this, no matter what you
tell her.'

'If she really loves him,' cooed Cornelia, 'she will forgive him--
anything!'

'Doubtless,' agreed her husband, dryly, moving toward the door.

'I'm afraid you do not know Diana very well,' cautioned Lucia.
'She has had no training that would fit her to understand.  She
idolizes her father, who would as lief kill a man as a mouse.  I do
not think she is experienced in forgiving people for being weak.'

'That doesn't sound like you, Lucia,' reproved her mother, gently,
when the Senator was out of hearing.  'One would almost think you
were not sympathetic with your brother.  Surely--you do not think
Marcellus weak; do you?'

'Oh, I don't know what to think,' muttered Lucia, dismally.  'What
is there to think?'  She put both her hands over her eyes and shook
her head.  'We've lost Marcellus, Mother,' she cried.  'He was so
manly!  I loved him so much!  It is breaking my heart.'

                         * * * * * *

But if the problem of breaking the bad news to Diana was
perplexing, it was simple as compared with the dilemma that arose
on the following afternoon when an impressively uniformed Centurion
was shown in, bearing an ornate, official scroll addressed to
Marcellus.  It was from the Emperor.  The Centurion said he was
expected to wait for instructions, adding that the royal carriage
would call early in the morning.

'But my son is not here,' said Gallio.  'He has sailed for Athens.'

'Indeed!  That is most unfortunate!'

'I gather that you are acquainted with the nature of this message.'

'Yes, sir; it is no secret.  The Emperor has appointed Tribune
Marcellus to be the Commander of the Palace Guard.  We are all much
pleased, sir.'

'I sincerely regret my son's absence, Centurion.  Perhaps I should
send a message by you to the Emperor.'  Gallio reflected for a
moment.  'No--I shall go and explain to him in person.'

'Very good, sir.  Will it be agreeable to start at dawn?'

So they started at dawn, though it was not particularly agreeable,
a swift drive from Rome to Neapolis being counted by the Senator as
a doubtful pleasure.  Moreover, he had no great relish for his
errand.  He was not unacquainted with the techniques of persuasive
debate, but the impending interview with the Emperor would be
unpleasant; for Tiberius had no patience and Gallio had no case.
The horses galloped over the deep-rutted cobbles, the big carriage
bounced, the painful hours dragged, the Senator's head ached.  All
things considered, it was not an enjoyable excursion, and by the
time he reached the top of Capri, at midnight, there was nothing
left in him but a strong desire to go to bed.

The Chamberlain showed him to a sumptuous apartment and Gallio sank
into a chair utterly exhausted.  Two well-trained Macedonians began
unpacking his effects, laying out fresh linen.  Another slave drew
water for his bath while a big Nubian, on his knees, unlaced the
Senator's sandals.  A deferential Thracian came with a welcome
flagon of chilled wine.  Then the Chamberlain reappeared.

'The Emperor wishes to see you, sir,' he reported, in an apologetic
tone.

'Now?'  Gallio wrinkled his nose distastefully.

'If you please, sir.  His Majesty had left orders to have Tribune
Marcellus shown into his presence immediately upon his arrival.
When told that Senator Gallio had come instead, the Emperor said he
would give him an audience at once.'

'Very well,' sighed Gallio.  Signing to the Nubian to relace his
sandals, the weary man rose stiffly and followed along to the
Emperor's lavishly appointed suite.

The old man was sitting up in bed, bolstered about with pillows,
his nightcap rakishly askew.  A half-dozen attendants were
fluttering about, inventing small errands.

'Out!' he yelled, as the Senator neared the imperial couch; and
they backed nimbly away--all but the Chamberlain.  'You, too!'
shrilled Tiberius, and the Chamberlain tiptoed to the door.
Peering up into Gallio's face, the Emperor regarded him with a
surly look of challenge.

'What is the meaning of this?' he squeaked.  'We confer a great
honour upon your son, who has done nothing to deserve it, only to
learn that--without so much as a by-your-leave--he has left the
country.  You, his father, have come to explain.  Well! be about
it, then!  High time somebody explained!'

'Your Majesty,' began Gallio, with a deep bow, 'my son will be very
unhappy when he learns that he has unwittingly offended his
Emperor, to whom he owes so much.'

'Never mind about that!' barked Tiberius.  'Get on with it!  And
make it short!  I need my rest!  They were a pack of fools to wake
me up for no better cause--and you were a fool to let them!  You,
too, should be in bed.  You have had a hard trip.  You are tired.
Sit down!  Don't stand there like a sentry!  I command you to sit
down!  You are an old, old man.  Sit down, before you fall down!'

Gallio gratefully sank into the luxurious chair by the Emperor's
massive golden bed, pleased to observe that the royal storm was
subsiding somewhat.

'As Your Majesty has said, it is too late in the night for a
lengthy explanation.  My son Marcellus was appointed Legate of the
Legion at Minoa--'

'Yes, yes, I know all about that!' spluttered Tiberius.  'We
rescinded the order of that addlepated scamp in Rome and brought
your son back.  And then what?'

'From Minoa, sire, he was ordered to Jerusalem to help preserve the
peace during the Jews' annual festival.  A small but turbulent
revolutionary party became active.  Its leader was tried for
treason and condemned to death by crucifixion.'

'Crucifixion, eh?  Must have been a dangerous character.'

'I did not understand it so, Your Majesty.  He was a young Jew of
no great repute, a harmless, mild-mannered, peace-loving fellow
from one of the outlying provinces--Galilee, I believe.  It seems
he had grossly offended the Temple authorities.'

'Indeed!'  Tiberius leaned forward with sudden interest.  'What did
he do?'

'It is their custom, sire, to sell sacrificial animals in the court
of the Temple.  The priests profit by it, demanding high prices
from the poor.  This Galilean was enraged over the fraud and the
sacrilege; took up a drover's whip, and lashed the priests and the
beasts out of the Temple and into the street, and--'

'Hi!  Hi!' yelled Tiberius, so loudly that the Chamberlain put his
head in at the door.  'Here--you!  Worthless eavesdropper!  Bring
wine for Senator Gallio.  We, ourself, shall have wine!  Hi!  Hi!
Mild-mannered, peace-loving Galilean whipped the prating priests
out into the street, eh?  Not much wonder they crucified him!  He
was a reckless fellow, indeed!  But when does your son appear in
this story?'

'He was ordered to crucify the Jew, and it made him ill.'  Gallio
paused to sip his wine slowly, while the old man snuffled and
bubbled into the huge goblet which the Chamberlain held to his
lips.

'Ill?'  Tiberius grinned sourly and belched.  'Sick at his
stomach?'

'Sick in his head.  If it is your pleasure, sire, I shall tell you
about it,' said Gallio; and when Tiberius had nodded assent, he
proceeded to an account of Marcellus's depression and strange
behaviour, and their decision to send him to Athens, where, they
hoped, he might find mental diversion.

'Well!' grunted Tiberius.  'If your sensitive son cannot endure the
scent of warm blood, we would not urge him to undertake the
protection of our person.  We had understood from the young
daughter of Gallus that he was a brave man.  In her sight he is
highly esteemed, and it was to please her that we brought him home,
and appointed him to command the Villa Guard.  It is well for her
that his weakness is made manifest before he has had an opportunity
to bring disgrace upon her.'

This was too bitter a dose for Gallio to take without protest.

'Your Majesty places me in a difficult position,' he declared,
dangerously.  'It would be most unseemly in me to express a
contrary opinion; yet the Emperor would surely consider me mean and
cowardly did I not venture some defence of my own flesh and blood!'

Tiberius slobbered in the depths of his goblet for a moment that
seemed very long to Gallio.  At length he came up wheezing.

'Very--hic--well!  Say on!'  The old man scrubbed his wet chin with
the back of a mottled hand.  'Defend your son!'

'Marcellus is not a weakling, sire.  He is proud and brave; worthy
of his Roman citizenship and his rank as a Tribune.  I do not fully
understand why he should have been so affected by the crucifixion
of this Jew, except that--'

'Go on!  Except what?'

'He thinks the Galilean was innocent of any crime deserving so
severe a punishment.  The Procurator himself declared the man
innocent and tried to argue in his behalf.'

'And then condemned him to death?  What manner of justice does the
Empire administer in Jerusalem?  Who is the Prefect now--this sleek
and slimy fellow, what's his name--Herod?'

'They tried him before Herod, yes--but it was Pontius Pilate who
sentenced him.  Pilate is the Procurator.'

Tiberius laughed bitterly, coughed, and spat on the silk sleeve of
his robe.

'Pontius Pilate,' he snarled reminiscently.  'He's the dizzy one
who built that damned aqueduct.  Wife wanted gardens.  Had to have
water.  Robbed the Temple to build an aqueduct.  Fool!  Had all the
Jews in turmoil.  Cost us thousands of legionaries to put down the
riots.  Had we to do it again, we would let Pilate settle his own
account with the Jews!  I never thought much of the fellow, letting
his silly, spoiled wife lead him about by the nose.'  The Emperor
paused for breath.  'An impotent nobody,' he added, 'afraid of his
wife.'  Having grimly pondered this final observation, Tiberius
startled his guest by breaking forth in a shrill, drunken guffaw.
'You are at liberty to laugh too, Gallio,' he shouted.  'Afraid of
his wife!  Impotent nobody, 'fraid of wife!  Hi!  Hi!'

Gallio grinned obligingly, but did not join in the Emperor's noisy
hilarity over his self-debasing joke.  Tiberius was drunk, but he
would be sober again, and he might remember.

'And this serpent, Herod!'  The Emperor rubbed his leaky old eyes
with his fists, and rambled on, thickly.  'Well do we know of his
perfidies.  A loathsome leech, fattening on the blood of his
countrymen.  Gallio--I have waged war in many lands.  I have
enslaved many peoples.  I have put their brave defenders to death.
But--though I commanded their warriors to be slain, I had much
respect for their valour.  But this Herod!  This venomous vulture!
This slinking jackal! pretending to represent the interests of his
conquered fellow Jews, while licking our sandal-straps for personal
favours!--what a low creature he is!  Yes, yes, I know, it is to
the Empire's advantage to have such poltroons in high office
throughout all our provinces--selling out their people, betraying
them--'  Exhausted by his long speech, Tiberius broke off suddenly,
gulped another throatful of wine, dribbled a stream of it down his
scrawny neck, explored his lips with a clumsy tongue, retched, and
muttered, 'I hate a traitor!'

'I have sometimes wondered, sire,' remarked Gallio, thinking some
rejoinder was expected, 'whether it really is to the advantage of
the Empire when we allow treacherous scoundrels like Herod to
administer the affairs of our subjugated provinces.  Is it safe?
Does it pay?  Our subjects are defrauded, but they are not
deceived.  Their hatred smoulders, but it is not quenched.'

'Well, let them hate us, then,' growled Tiberius, tiring of the
subject, 'and much good may it do them!  The Roman Empire does not
ask to be loved.  All she demands is obedience--prompt obedience--
and plenty of it!'  His voice shrilled, truculently.  'Let them
hate us!  Let the whole world hate us!'  He clenched his gnarled
old fists.  The Chamberlain gently stroked his pillow to soothe his
passion, and ducked as one of the bony elbows shot up unexpectedly
in his direction.

Presently the heavy old head drooped.  The Chamberlain ventured a
beseeching glance at the Senator, who half-rose from his chair,
uncertain whether to take the initiative in a withdrawal.  Tiberius
roused and swallowed hard, making a wry face.

'We have gone far afield, Gallio,' he mumbled.  'We were discussing
your frail son.  He crucified a harmless Jew, and the injustice of
it put him to bed, eh?  And weeks afterwards, he is still brooding.
Very peculiar!  How do you account for it?'

'The case is full of mystery, sire,' sighed Gallio.  'There is one
small matter of which I have not spoken.  It concerns this Jew's
robe.'

'Eh?'  Tiberius leaned forward, spurred to curiosity.  'Robe?  What
about a robe?'

Gallio debated with himself, for a moment, how best to proceed,
half-sorry he had alluded to the incident.

'My son was accompanied by his Greek slave, a quite intelligent
fellow.  It is from him that I have this feature of the story.  It
seems that when the Galilean was crucified, his discarded robe lay
on the ground, and my son and other officers--whiling the time away--
cast dice for it.  Marcellus won it.'

Tiberius was sagging into his pillow, disappointed with so dull a
tale.

'That night,' continued Gallio, 'there was a banquet at Pilate's
Insula.  According to the slave, my son was far from happy, but
there was nothing peculiar in his behaviour during or after the
crucifixion.  He had been drinking heavily, but otherwise was of
normal mind.  At the banquet, one of his staff officers from Minoa,
far gone with wine, urged him to put on this Jew's robe.'  Gallio
paused, and the old man's face showed a renewed interest.

'Well?' he queried, impatiently.  'Did he put it on?'

Gallio nodded.

'Yes, and he has never been the same since.'

'Ha!' exclaimed the Emperor, brightening.  'Now we are getting
somewhere with this story!  Does your son think the Jew laid a
curse on his robe?'

'It is hard to say what my son thinks, sire.  He is very reticent.'

Suddenly a light shone in the old man's eyes.

'Ah, I see!  That is why you sent him to Athens!  He will consult
the learned astrologers, soothsayers, and those who commune with
the dead!  But why Athens?  There are better men at Rhodes.  Or,
you might have sent him here!  There are no wiser men than my
Rhodesian, Telemarchus!'

'No, Your Majesty; we did not send Marcellus to Athens to consult
the diviners.  We urged him to go away, for a time, so that he
might not be embarrassed by meeting friends in his unhappy state of
mind.'

'So, the dead Jew's robe is haunted?'  Tiberius smacked his lips.
This tale was much to his liking.  'The Jews are a queer people;
very religious; believe in one god.  Evidently this Galilean was a
religious fanatic, if he got himself into trouble with the Temple;
had some new kind of religion, maybe.'

'Did Your Majesty ever hear of the Messiah?' inquired Gallio.

The Emperor's jaw slowly dropped and his rheumy eyes widened.

'Yes,' he answered, in a hoarse whisper.  'He that is to come.
They're always looking for him, Telemarchus says.  They've been
expecting him for a thousand years, Telemarchus says.  He that is
to come--and set up a kingdom.'  The old man chuckled, mirthlessly.
'A kingdom, Telemarchus says; a kingdom that shall have no end; and
the government shall be upon his shoulders.  Telemarchus says it is
written.  I let him prattle.  He is old.  He says the Messiah will
reign, one day, in Rome!  Hi!  Hi!  I let Telemarchus prattle.
Were he younger, by a century or two, I would have him whipped for
his impudence.  A Messiah--huh!  A kingdom--pouf!  Well'--Tiberius
returned from his rumbling monologue--'what were you starting to
say about the Messiah?'

'Nothing, sire, except that there was a strong feeling among the
common people--my son's slave says--that this Galilean Jew was the
promised Messiah.'

'What?' shouted Tiberius.  'You don't believe that, Gallio!'

'I am not religious, sire.'

'What do you mean--you're not religious?  You believe in the gods,
do you not?'

'I have no convictions on the subject, Your Majesty.  The gods are
remote from my field of study, sire.'

Tiberius scowled his stern disapproval.

'Perhaps Senator Gallio will presently be telling us that he does
not believe his Emperor is divine!'

Gallio bowed his head and meditated a reply.

'How about it?' demanded the old man, hotly.  'Is the Emperor
divine?'

'If the Emperor thought he was divine,' replied Gallio, recklessly,
'he would not need to ask one of his subjects to confirm it.'

This piece of impudence was so stunning that Tiberius was at a loss
for appropriate words.  After a long, staring silence he licked his
dry lips.

'You are a man of imprudent speech, Gallio,' he muttered, 'but
honest withal.  It has been refreshing to talk with you.  Leave us
now.  We will have further conversation in the morning.  We are
sorry your son cannot accept our appointment.'

'Good night, sire,' said Gallio.  He retreated toward the door.
Something in his weighted attitude stirred the old man's mellowed
mind to sympathy.

'Stay!' he called.  'We shall find a place for the son of our
excellent Gallio.  Marcellus shall do his sculpture and attend the
learned lectures.  Let him dabble in the arts and drowse over the
philosophies.  Let him perfect himself in logic and metaphysics.
By the gods! there are other things needful at this court besides
watching at keyholes and strutting with swords!  Your son shall be
our preceptor.  He shall lecture to us.  We are weary of old men's
counsel.  Marcellus shall give us a youthful view of the mysteries.
Gallio--inform your son of our command!'

'Your Majesty is most kind,' murmured the Senator, gratefully.  'I
shall advise my son of your generous words, sire.  Perhaps this
appointment may help to restore his ailing mind.'

'Well, if it doesn't'--the old man yawned mightily--'it won't
matter.  All philosophers are sick in the head.'  He grinned,
slowly sank back into his pillows, and the leathery lips puffed an
exhausted breath.  The Emperor of Rome was asleep.

                         * * * * * *

Informed by the Chamberlain that His Imperial Majesty was not yet
awake, the Senator breakfasted in his room and set out for a walk.
It had been many years since he had visited Capri; not since the
formal opening of the Villa Jovis when the entire Senate had
attended the festivities, memorable for their expensiveness rather
than their impressiveness.  Although fully informed about the
enormously extravagant building operations on the island, he had
not clearly pictured the magnitude of these undertakings.  They had
to be seen to be believed!  Tiberius might be crazy, but he was an
accomplished architect.

Walking briskly on the broad mosaic pavement to the east end of the
mall, Gallio turned aside to a shaded arbour, sank into a
comfortable chair, and dreamily watched the plume of blue smoke
floating lazily above Vesuvius.  Somehow the sinister old mountain
seemed to symbolize the Empire; tremendous power under compression;
occasionally spewing forth sulphurous fumes and molten metals.  Its
heat was not the kind that warmed and cheered, nor did its lava
grow harvests.  Vesuvius was competent only as a destroyer.  They
who dwelt in its shadow were afraid.

The same thing was true of the Empire, reflected Gallio.  'Let them
hate us!' old Tiberius had growled.  'Let the whole world hate us!'
Long before the Csars, that surly boast had brought disaster to
the Persians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks.  Nemesis had laughed
at their arrogance, and swept them--cursing impotently, into
servitude.

Gallio wondered if he would be alive to witness the inevitable
breakup of the Empire.  What plans had Nemesis in mind for the
disposal of Rome?  What would be the shape of the new dynasty?  Who
would rise--and whence--to demolish the thing that the Csars had
built?  Last night the disgusting old drunkard Tiberius had seemed
almost frightened when he rehearsed the cryptic patter of the
Jewish prophets.  'He that is to come.'  Ah, yes, Tiberius saw the
crisis nearing!  Maybe the superstitious old fellow had never
defined his exact reasons for being so deeply interested in the
oracles and enchantments and ponderous nonsense of his avaricious
soothsayers and stargazers; but that was IT!  Tiberius saw the
Empire drifting toward the cataract!  'He that is to come!'  Well,
somebody would come, and the government would be upon his shoulders--
but he wouldn't be a Jew!  That was impossible!  That was
ridiculous!

Completely absorbed by his grim speculations, Gallio did not
observe Diana's arrival until she stood directly before him, tall,
slim, vital.  She smiled and graciously held out her hand.

It was the first time he had had an opportunity for conversation
with her, beyond the brief greetings they had exchanged when she
came to visit Lucia.  Until lately, Diana was only a little girl,
shy and silent in his presence, but reputed to be high-spirited
almost to the extent of rowdiness.  In recent weeks, apprised of a
growing attachment between his son and the daughter of Gallus, he
had become somewhat more aware of her; but, this morning, it was
almost as if he had never seen her before.  Diana had grown up.
She had taken on the supple grace and charming contours of a woman.
She was beautiful!  No wonder that Marcellus had fallen in love
with her.

He rose to his feet, bowed deeply, and was warmed by her firm
handclasp.  Her steady eyes were set wide apart, framed in long,
curling lashes, and arched by exquisitely modelled brows.  The red
silk fillet accented the blue-blackness of her hair, the whiteness
of her patrician forehead, the pink flush on her cheeks.  Gallio
looked into the level eyes with frank admiration.  They were quite
disturbingly feminine, but fearless and forthright as the eyes of a
man; an inheritance from her father, perhaps.  Gallus had a
delightful personality, and an enviable poise, but--just underneath
his amiability--there was the striking strength of a coiled spring
in a baited trap.  Diana's self-possessed smile and confident
handclasp instantly won the Senator's respect, though the thought
darted through his mind that the arrestingly lovely daughter of
Gallus was equipped with all the implements for having her own way,
and, if any attempt were made to thwart her--would prove to be a
handful indeed.

'May I join you, Senator Gallio?'  Diana's full lips were girlish,
but her well-disciplined voice was surprisingly mature.

'Please sit down, my dear.'  The Senator noted the easy grace of
her posture as she took the chair opposite, artless but alert.  'I
was hoping to have a talk with you,' he went on, resuming his seat.

Diana smiled encouragingly, but made no rejoinder; and Gallio,
measuring his phrases, proceeded in a manner almost didactic:

'Marcellus came home from his long voyage, a few days ago, ill and
depressed.  He was grateful--we are all grateful, Diana--for your
generous part in bringing him back to us.  Marcellus will be eager
to express his deep appreciation.  But--he is not ready to resume
his usual activities.  We have sent him away--to Athens--hopeful
that a change of environment may divert his gloomy mind.'

Gallio paused.  He had anticipated an involuntary exclamation of
surprise and regret, but Diana made no sound; just sat there,
keenly attentive, alternately studying his eyes and his lips.

'You see,' he added, 'Marcellus has had a severe shock!'

'Yes, I know,' she nodded, briefly.

'Indeed?  How much do you know?'

'Everything you told the Emperor.'

'But--the Emperor is not yet awake.'

'I have not seen him,' said Diana.  'I had it from Nevius.'

'Nevius?'

'The Chamberlain.'

Gallio stroked his cheek thoughtfully.  This Nevius must be a
talkative fellow.  Diana interpreted his dry smile.

'But you had intended to tell me, had you not?' she reminded him.
'Nevius is not a common chatterer, sir: I must say that for him.
He is very close-mouthed.  Sometimes,' she went on, ingenuously,
'it is difficult to make Nevius tell you everything that is going
on at the Villa.'

The Senator's lips slowly puckered and his shoulders twitched with
a silent chuckle.  He was on the point of asking her if she had
ever thought of taking up diplomacy as a profession; but the matter
at issue was too serious for badinage.  He grew suddenly grave.

'Now that you know--about Marcellus--I need not repeat the painful
story.'

'It is all very strange.'  Diana's averted eyes were troubled.
'According to Nevius, it was an execution that upset Marcellus.'
Her expressive eyes slowly returned to search the Senator's sober
face.  'There must be more to it than that, sir.  Marcellus has
seen cruel things done.  Who has not?  Is not the arena bloody
enough?  Why should Marcellus sink into grief and despair because
he had to put a man to death?--no matter who--no matter how!  He
has seen men die!'

'This was a crucifixion, Diana,' said the Senator, quietly.

'And perfectly ghastly, no doubt,' she agreed, 'and Nevius says
there was much talk of the man's innocence.  Well--that wasn't
Marcellus's fault.  He didn't conduct the trial, nor chose the
manner of execution.  I can understand his not wanting to do it,
but surely no amount of brooding is going to bring this poor Jew
back to life!  There is a mystery behind it, I think.  Nevius had a
tale about a haunted robe, and darkness in the middle of the
afternoon, and a confused jumble about a predicted Messiah, or
something like that.  Does Marcellus think he has killed a person
of great importance?  Is that what's fretting him?'

'I shall tell you the very little that I know about it, Diana, and
you may draw your own conclusions.  As for me, it has been
difficult to arrive at any sensible solution to the problem.'
Gallio frowned studiously.  'For ages, the Jewish prophets have
predicted the coming of a champion of their people's liberty.  This
fearless chieftain would restore the Jews' kingdom.  Indeed, the
traditional forecast (according to Emperor Tiberius, who is learned
in all occult matters) is of wider scope, prefiguring a king with a
more extensive dominion than the mere government of poor little
Palestine.'

'Somebody the size of the Csars?' wondered Diana.

'At least,' nodded Gallio, with a brief, derisory grin.  'Now, it
happens that a very considerable number of Jews thought they had
reason to believe that this Galilean, whom the Temple executives
and the Roman provincial government tried for treason and heresy,
was their promised Messiah--'

'But, surely,' broke in Diana, 'Marcellus doesn't believe anything
like that!  He's the last person in the world!'

'That is true,' agreed Gallio.  'He is not superstitious.  But--
according to Demetrius, who was present throughout the whole
affair, it was a strange occasion.  The Jew's demeanour at the
trial was, to say the least, unusual.  Demetrius says everybody was
on trial but the prisoner; says the man's behaviour on the cross
was heroic.  And Demetrius is a cold-blooded fellow, not accustomed
to inventing lies.'

'What do you think about the robe?' queried Diana.

'I have no ideas,' confessed the Senator.  'Marcellus had had a
hard day.  He was nervous, ashamed, overwrought.  He may have been
a victim of his own imagination.  But--when he put on that robe, it
did something to him!  We may not like the implications of this
problem, but--well--there it is!  You doubtless think it is silly
to believe that the Jew's robe is haunted, and so do I.  All such
idiotic prattle is detestable to me!  I do not believe there is any
energy resident in an inanimate thing.  As for the Messiah legend,
I have no interest in it.  Whether the Galilean was justly accused,
or not, is a closed incident, of no concern to me.  But, after all
of these considerations are dismissed, either as foolish or
finished, Marcellus is worrying himself into madness.  That much,
at least, we know for a fact.'  Gallio rubbed his wrinkled brow and
gave a hopeless sigh.

'Nevius says the Emperor wants Marcellus to come to Capri as a
teacher,' said Diana, after the brief silence between them.  'We
don't want him to do that; do we, sir?'

'I find it difficult to see Marcellus in that rle,' agreed Gallio.
'He has but scant respect for the kind of learning that engages the
mind of the Emperor.'

'Do you think he will consent?'

'Well'--Gallio made a helpless little gesture--'Marcellus may not
have much choice in the matter.  He is, at present, able to remain
in Athens.  But when he comes home, he will have to obey the
Emperor's order, whether he enjoys it or not.'

Suddenly Diana leaned forward, her face clouded with anxiety.

'Tell him not to come home,' she whispered.  'He mustn't come
here!'  She rose, and Gallio, mystified, rose to his feet,
regarding her with serious interest.  'I must tell you something,'
she went on, nervously.  She took him by the arm and pointed to a
long row of stakes, with little flags fluttering on them.  'This is
where the Emperor is going to build the beautiful new villa.  He is
drawing the plans for it now.  When it is finished, it is to be
mine.'

Gallio stared.

'Yours?' he said, woodenly.  'Do you mean you want to live here,
under the thumb of this cruel, crazy old man?'

Diana's eyes were full of tears.  She shook her head, and turned
her face away, still holding tightly to the Senator's arm.

'He suggested it, sir, when I was pleading with him to bring
Marcellus home,' she confided, brokenly.  'It wasn't exactly a
condition to his promise to send for Marcellus, but--he seems now
to think it was.  I thought he would forget about it.  He forgets
almost everything.  But I'm afraid he means to go through with it.
That is why he wants Marcellus here.  It is to be our villa.'

'Well,' soothed Gallio.  'Why not, then?  Is it not true that
Marcellus and you are in love?'

Diana nodded and bent her head.

'There will be much trouble if he comes to Capri,' she said,
huskily.  Then, dashing the tears from her eyes and facing Gallio
squarely, she said, 'I must tell you all about it.  Please don't
try to do anything.  Gaius has been here twice recently.  He wants
me to marry him.  The Emperor will not let me go home.  I have
written to my mother and I know the letter was not delivered.'

'I shall tell her to come to you, at once!' declared Gallio, hotly.

'No, no, not yet, please!'  Diana clutched his arm with both hands,
'Maybe there will be some other way out!  I must not put my mother
in danger!'

'But, Diana, you can't stay here--under these conditions!'

'Please!  Don't say--or do--anything.'  She was trembling.

'What are you afraid of, my dear?' demanded Gallio.

'I am afraid of Gaius!' she whispered.



Chapter XI


At sunrise on the seventh day of September a market gardener with
fresh fruits and vegetables for the House of Eupolis reported that
the Vestris has been sighted off Pirus.

Feeling sure there must be letters for him on the ship, and
unwilling to await their sluggish delivery through the Tetrarch's
Insula in the city, Marcellus engaged a port-wagon and set off at
once, accompanied by Demetrius.

Ordinarily the slave would have sat by the driver, but, of late,
Demetrius and his master had been conducting all of their
conversations in Aramaic.  It was not an easy tongue, and when they
spoke they enunciated carefully, watching each other's lips.  This
morning they sat side by side in the rear seat of the jolting
wagon, and anyone casually observing them would not have guessed
that one of these young men owned the other.  Indeed, Demetrius was
taking the lead in the conversation, occasionally criticizing his
master's accent.

Every morning after breakfast, for several weeks, Demetrius had
gone to Benjamin's shop for instruction, spending the day until
late afternoon.  The old weaver had not asked to be recompensed for
his services as a pedagogue.  It would be a pleasure to him, he
said.  But as the days went by, Demetrius began to be useful in the
shop, quickly picking up deftness in carding and spinning.  In the
evenings, he relayed his accumulating knowledge of Aramaic to
Marcellus who, unwilling to be in Benjamin's debt, had presented
him (in spite of his protest) with two great bales of long-fibred
Egyptian cotton and several bags of selected wools from the Cyprian
Mountains where fleeces were appropriate to a severe climate.

Benjamin, who had no talent for flattery, had been moved to
volunteer the statement--after a month had passed--that Demetrius
was making surprising progress.  If that were true, Demetrius had
remarked, it was because he had received such clear instruction, to
which Benjamin had replied that the best way to learn anything is
to explain it to somebody else.  Marcellus was absorbing his
Aramaic with enthusiasm, but none-the-less thoroughly; for
Demetrius was holding him to it with a tactful but relentless
tyranny.

On the way to Pirus, they were engaged in an animated discussion
of the Ten Commandments, Marcellus approving of them, Demetrius
complaining that they were unjust.  On occasions, he became so
enthusiastic in advocating his cause that he abandoned the Aramaic
and took to the Greek, much to his master's amusement.

'Here, you!' shouted Marcellus.  'No talking about the Jewish
Commandments in a heathen language!'

'But, sir, they are so unfair!  "Thou shalt not steal."  Very good;
but there is no Commandment enjoining the man of property to deal
generously with the poor, so they would have no wish to steal!
"Thou shall not covet!"  Good advice; no doubt.  But is it fair to
tell the poor man he mustn't be envious of the rich man's goods--
and then forget to admonish the rich man that he has no right to be
so selfish?'

'Oh--you're just looking at it from the slave angle,' objected
Marcellus.  'You're prejudiced.  The only fault I can find with the
Commandments is their injunction against sculpture.  This Jehovah
was certainly no patron of the arts.'

'That was to keep them from making idols,' explained Demetrius.

'I know--but what's the matter with idols?  They're usually quite
artistic.  The ordinary run of people are bound to worship
something: it had better be something lovely!  Old Zeus didn't
raise a row when the Greek sculptors carved a flock of gods--all
shapes and sizes--take your pick.  There must be forty of them on
Mars' Hill!  They even have one up there in honour of "The Unknown
God."'

'I wonder what Zeus thought of that one?' speculated Demetrius.

'He probably laughed,' said Marcellus.  'He does laugh, sometimes,
you know.  I think that's the main trouble with Jehovah.  He
doesn't laugh.'

'Maybe he doesn't think the world is very funny,' observed
Demetrius.

'Well, that's his fault, then,' said Marcellus, negligently.  'If
he created it, he should have made it a little funnier.'

Demetrius made no reply to that.

'I believe that's the silliest thing I ever said in my life!'
reflected Marcellus, soberly.

'Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say that, sir,' rejoined Demetrius,
formally.  They both laughed.  This study of Aramaic was making
their master-slave relationship very difficult to sustain.

                         * * * * * *

Captain Fulvius, roaring orders to the sweating slaves, stared
strangely at Marcellus as he came on deck; then beamed with sudden
recognition and grasped him warmly by the hand.

'You are well again, sir!' he boomed.  'That is good!  I hardly
knew you.  Many's the time I have thought about you.  You were a
very sick man!'

'I must have tried your patience, Captain,' said Marcellus.  'All
is well now, thank you.'

'Ho!  Demetrius!'  Fulvius offered his hand, somewhat to
Marcellus's surprise.  'I haven't forgotten that good turn you did
me, son, on the voyage down from Joppa.'

'I hadn't heard about that,' said Marcellus, turning a questioning
glance towards Demetrius.

'It was nothing, sir,' murmured Demetrius.

'Nothing!' shouted Fulvius.  'The fellow saves my life, and now
declares it was nothing!  Demetrius, you should be put in chains
for that!'  He turned to Marcellus.  'You were too ill to be
interested in the story, sir; so we did not bother you with it.  A
mad slave--it gets quite hot, down in the bottom tier, sir--managed
to slip his bracelet, one night, when we were standing off
Alexandria; sneaked up on deck, and had a belaying-pin raised to
dash my brains out.  And your Demetrius got there just in time!'

'I am glad I happened to be standing by, sir,' said Demetrius.

'So am I!' declared the Captain, fervently.  'Well, it's good to
see you both.  There are letters for you, I notice, Legate.  I
asked the Tribune to take them to you when he went to deliver the
message from the Emperor, but he is a haughty young fellow; said he
was not a common errand-boy.'

'Message from the Emperor?' queried Marcellus, uneasily.

'You have not yet received it, then?  Perhaps you passed the
magnificent Tribune on the way.  Will you stay and break bread with
us?'

'It would be a pleasure, Captain Fulvius; but I should return
without delay.  This Tribune may be waiting.'

'Aye!  He will be waiting and fuming; a restless fellow, who takes
his duties hard; a very important fellow, too, who likes to give
orders.'  Fulvius sighed unhappily.  'And I shall have him on my
hands for another threescore and five days, at least; for he is
bearing a message also to Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem--and returns
on the Vestris.'

'Can't you pitch him overboard?' suggested Marcellus.

'I can,' grinned Fulvius, 'but my wife is expecting me back in
Ostia by early December.  Legate, if you can spare Demetrius for
the day, shall he not tarry with me?'

Marcellus was about to give his consent, but hesitated.

'He may come to-morrow, Fulvius, if you wish it.  Perhaps he had
best return with me now.  This message from the Emperor might make
some alterations in our plans.'

'Thank you, Captain Fulvius,' said Demetrius.  'I shall come if I
can.'

Marcellus was more eager than the shambling horses to return to the
city, but even at their plodding gait it was an uncomfortable ride,
certainly not conducive to the pleasant perusal of letters, for the
dusty, deep-rutted highway was crammed with lumbering wagons and
overburdened camel-trains, requiring frequent excursions to the ill-
conditioned roadside.

He slit the seal of his father's bulky scroll, happy to note that
it contained also messages from his mother and Lucia.  Diana's
letter--he was surprised to find it addressed from Capri--might
have been read first had the circumstances been more favourable.
Marcellus revolved the scroll in his hands and decided he would
enjoy it later in private.

'Evidently the daughter of Gallus had occasion to reopen her letter
after sealing it,' he remarked, more to himself than Demetrius, who
sat idly observant as his master inspected the scroll.

'The overlaid wax seems of a slightly different colour, sir,'
commented Demetrius.

More painstakingly, Marcellus examined the scroll again, picking at
the second application of wax with the point of his dagger.

'You're right,' he muttered.  'The letter has been tampered with.'

'By a woman,' added Demetrius.  'There is her finger-mark.'

Frowning with annoyance, Marcellus tucked Diana's scroll into the
breast of his tunic, and began silently reading his father's
letter.  He had just returned from Capri (he wrote) where he had
explained his son's sudden departure.

'It was imperative that I should be entirely frank with the
Emperor'--the letter went on--'because you had no more than reached
open sea before a message arrived appointing you--'

'Demetrius, I bid you listen to this!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'The
Emperor has appointed me Commander of the Guard--at Capri!
Doubtless that is the import of the message I am receiving to-day.
Commander of the Guard at Capri!  What do you suppose the Commander
of the Capri Guard has to do?'

The intimate tone meant that Demetrius was not only temporarily
emancipated, but would probably be reproached if he failed to make
prompt use of his privilege to speak on terms of equality.

'Taste soup, I should think,' he ventured.  'And sleep in his
uniform--with one eye open.'

'While his slave sleeps with both eyes open,' remarked Marcellus in
the same manner.  'I dare say you're right.  The island is a hotbed
of jealousy and conspiracy.  One's life wouldn't be worth a punched
denarius.'  Resuming the letter, he read on for a time with a
deepening scowl.

'I am not receiving that appointment,' he glanced up to say.  'My
father advises me that the Emperor has something else in mind.  Let
me read what he says:--"He was much interested in what I felt
obliged to tell him of your unpleasant experience in Jerusalem.
And when I informed him that this crucified Jew was thought by some
to have been the Messiah--"'  Marcellus suddenly broke off and
stared into Demetrius's face.  'How do you suppose my father found
that out?' he demanded.

'I told him,' said Demetrius, with prompt candour.  'Senator Gallio
insisted on a full account of what happened up there.  I thought it
due to you, sir, that an explanation be made--seeing you were in no
condition to make it yourself.'

'That's true enough,' admitted Marcellus, grimly.  'I hope you did
not feel required to tell the Senator about the Galilean's robe.'

'Yes, sir.  The robe was responsible for your--your illness.  The
story--without the robe--would have been very confusing.'

'You mean--it was quite clear--with the robe included?'

'No, sir.  Perhaps that part of it will always be a mystery.'

'Well, let us get on with this.'  Marcellus took up the scroll and
resumed his reading aloud:  '"The Emperor was stirred to an immense
curiosity, for he is deeply learned in all of the religions.  He
has heard much about the messianic prophecies of the Jews.  He
wishes you to pursue your studies in Athens, especially concerning
the religions, and return to Capri as a teacher."  A TEACHER!'
Marcellus laughed, self-derisively; but Demetrius did not smile.
'Do not you think this funny, Demetrius?' he insisted.  'Can you
picture ME--lecturing to that menagerie?'

'No, sir,' replied Demetrius, soberly, 'I do not think this is
funny.  I think it is a disaster!'

'You mean--I'll be bored?'

'Worse than bored!' exclaimed Demetrius, recklessly.  'It is a
contemptible position, if you ask me, sir!  The Emperor is said to
have a large contingent of astrologers, diviners of oracles, ghost-
tenders, dream-mechanics--and all that sort of thing--clustered
about him.  It would be a sorry business for my master to be
engaged in!'

Marcellus had begun to share the Corinthian's seriousness.

'You think he wants me to teach a mess of superstitious nonsense?'

'Yes,' nodded Demetrius.  'He wants to hear some more about that
robe.'

'But that isn't superstitious nonsense!' objected Marcellus.

'No--not to us--but it will be little else than that by the time
Emperor Tiberius and his soothsayers have finished discussing it.'

'You feel deeply about this, Demetrius,' said Marcellus, gently.

'Well, sir, I don't want to see the robe reviled by that loathsome
old man--and his crew of lunatics!'

Marcellus pretended to be indignant.

'Are you aware, Demetrius, that your references to the Emperor of
Rome might be considered bordering on disrespect?'  They both
grinned, and Marcellus took up his father's letter again, reading
aloud, slowly:


'"I doubt whether you would have any relish for this employment, my
son.  The Emperor is of strange, erratic mind.  However, this is
his command, and you have no choice but to obey.  Fortunately, you
are permitted to remain in Athens for a reasonable length of time,
pursuing your studies.  We are all eager to have you back in Rome,
but I cannot counsel you to speed your return."'


There was no reference to Diana.  Marcellus thought this odd, for
surely Diana must have been at the Villa Jovis while his father was
there.  He was anxious to read her letter.  It disquieted him to
know that she was a guest on that sinister island.  Someone had
opened her scroll.  Someone was spying on her.  It was not a safe
place for Diana.

                         * * * * * *

The House of Eupolis was apparently in a great state of excitement.
It was not every day that a flashily uniformed Tribune arrived with
a message from the Emperor of Rome; and the whole establishment,
habitually reserved, was undeniably impressed by the occasion.

Dion, grave-faced and perspiring freely, was pacing up and down the
driveway as the battered old port-wagon entered the gate.

'You must make haste, Marcellus!' he pleaded, in a frightened
voice, as they pulled up beside him.  'There is a message from the
Emperor!  The Tribune has been waiting in a rage, shouting that if
you did not soon arrive he would report our house to the Tetrarch!'

'Be at ease, Dion,' said Marcellus, calmly.  'You are not at
fault.'  Dismissing the carriage, he proceeded up the driveway,
passing a huddle of scared garden-slaves who stared at him with awe
and sympathy.  Theodosia and her Aunt Ino hovered about her mother,
who sat stiffly apprehensive in the swing.  The pompous figure of
the Tribune strutted imperiously before the entrance to the house.

Instantly Marcellus recognized Quintus Lucian!  So that was why the
fellow was showing off.  Gaius's pet--Quintus!  Doubtless the
creature had had no stomach for his errand.  That explained his
obnoxious conduct on the ship.  Gaius was probably in a red-hot
fury because the old man at Capri had gone over his head with
orders for Marcellus's return from Minoa; and now the Emperor had
sent this detestable Quintus with a message--and there hadn't been
anything that Quintus, or Gaius, either, could do about it.

'And how long shall the Emperor's envoy be kept waiting?' he
snarled, as Marcellus drew nearer with Demetrius following at a few
paces.

'I had not been advised to be on the alert for a message from His
Majesty,' rejoined Marcellus, trying to keep his temper.  'But now
that I am here, Tribune Quintus, I suggest that you perform your
errand with the courtesy that a Roman expects from an officer of
his own rank.'

Quintus grunted crossly and handed over the gaudily gilded imperial
scroll.

'Are you to wait for a reply?' inquired Marcellus.

'Yes, but I advise you not to keep me waiting long!  His Majesty's
envoys are not accustomed to wasting their time at Greek inns.'
The tone was so contemptuous that it could have only one meaning.
Demetrius moved forward a step and stood at attention.  Marcellus,
white with anger, made no retort.

'I shall read this in private, Quintus,' he said, crisply, 'and
prepare a reply.  You may wait--or you may return for it--as you
prefer.'  As he strode away, he muttered to Demetrius, 'You remain
here.'

After Marcellus had disappeared, on his way to his suite, Quintus
swaggered toward Demetrius and faced him with a surly grin.

'You his slave?'  He nodded in the general direction Marcellus had
taken.

'Yes, sir.'

'Who is the pretty one--by the swing?' demanded Quintus, out of the
corner of his mouth.

'She is the daughter of Eupolis, sir,' replied Demetrius, stiffly.

'Indeed!  We must make her acquaintance while we wait.'
Shouldering past Demetrius, he stalked haughtily across the lawn,
accenting each arrogant step with a sidewise jerk of his helmet.
Dion, pale and flustered, scurried along toward the swing.
Demetrius slowly followed.

With elegantly sandalled feet wide apart and arms akimbo, Quintus
halted directly before Theodosia, ignoring the others, and looked
her over with an appraising leer.  He grinned, disrespectfully.

'What's your name?' he demanded, roughly.

'That is my daughter, sir!' expostulated Dion, rubbing his hands in
helpless entreaty.

'You are fortunate, fellow, to have so fair a daughter.  We must
know her better.'  Quintus reached for her hand, and Theodosia
recoiled a step, her eyes full of fear.  'Timid, eh?'  He laughed
contemptuously.  'Since when was the daughter of a Greek innkeeper
so frugal with her smiles?'

'But I implore you, Tribune!'  Dion's voice was trembling.  'The
House of Eupolis has ever been respectable.  You must not offend my
daughter!'

'Must not--indeed!' crowed Quintus.  'And who are you--to be
advising the envoy of the Emperor what he must not do?  Be gone,
fellow!'  He thrust out an arm toward Phoebe and Ino.  'You, too!'
he barked.  'Leave us!'

Deathly white, Phoebe rose unsteadily and took a few steps, Ino
supporting her.  Dion held his ground for a moment, panting with
impotent anger, but began edging out of range as their enemy
fumbled for his dagger.

'What are you doing here, slave?' shouted Quintus, turning savagely
to Demetrius.

'My master ordered me to remain, sir,' replied Demetrius; then, to
Theodosia, 'You had better go with your father to the house.'

Purple with rage, Quintus whipped out his dagger and lunged
forward.  Demetrius sprang to meet the descending arm, which he
caught at the wrist with a tiger-claw grip of his right hand while
his left crashed into the Tribune's face.  It was a staggering blow
that took Quintus completely by surprise.  Before he could regain
his balance, Demetrius had sent another full-weight drive of his
left' fist into the Tribune's mouth.  The relentless finger-nails
cut deep into his wrist and the dagger fell from his hand.  The
battle was proceeding too rapidly for Quintus.  Dazed and disarmed,
he struck wildly, blindly, while Demetrius, pressing forward step
by step, continued to shoot stunning blows into the mutilated face.

Quintus was quite at his mercy now, and Demetrius knew it would be
simple enough to administer the one decisive uppercut to the jaw
that would excuse the Emperor's envoy from any further participation
in the fight; but a strong desire had laid hold on him to see how
much damage could be inflicted on the Tribune's face before he
finally put him away.  It was becoming a very sanguinary engagement.
Both of Demetrius's fists were red with blood as they shot into the
battered eyes and crashed against the broken nose. Quintus was
making no defence now.  Bewildered and blinded with blood, he
yielded ground with staggering steps until he had been driven
backwards to a huge pine, where he put out a hand for support.
He breathed with agonized, whistling sobs.

'You'll die for this!' he squeaked, through swollen lips.

'Very well!' panted Demetrius.  'If I'm to die for punishing you--!'

Grabbing Quintus by the throat-strap of his helmet, he completed
the ruin of his shockingly mangled face.  Then, satisfied with his
work, he deliberately drew back his arm and put his full strength
behind an ultimate drive at the point of the Tribune's jaw.  The
knees buckled and Quintus sank limply to the ground.

The Eupolis family had withdrawn some distance while the punishment
was being administered.  Now Dion came running up, ghastly pale.

'Have you killed him?' he asked, hoarsely.

Demetrius, breathing heavily, was examining his bruised and
bleeding hands.  He shook his head.

'We will all be thrown into prison,' moaned Dion.

'Don't think of trying to escape,' advised Demetrius.  'Stay where
you are--all of you.  You had nothing to do with it.  That can be
proved.'  He started to walk away toward his master's suite.

'Shall I do anything for this fellow?' called Dion.

'Yes--bring a basin of water and towels.  He will be coming round
presently.  And if he shows fight, send for me--and tell him that
if I have to do this again, I shall kill him!'

Very much spent, Demetrius walked slowly to their quarters and
proceeded through to the peristyle where Marcellus sat at the table
writing, his face brightly animated.  He did not look up from his
letter.

'Demetrius!  The Emperor commands me to go to Palestine and learn
what is to be known--at first hand--about the Galilean!'
Marcellus's voice was vibrant.  'Could anything have been more to
my liking?  Tiberius wants to know how much truth there is in the
rumour that Jesus was believed to be the Messiah.  As for me--I
care naught about that!  I want to know what manner of man he was!
What a chance for us, Demetrius!  We will pursue our Aramaic
diligently with old Benjamin.  Come early spring, we will journey
into Galilee!'  He signed his name to the letter, put down his
stylus, pushed back his chair, looked up into Demetrius's pale
face.  'Why--what on earth have you been doing?' he demanded.

'The Tribune,' said Demetrius, wearily.

Marcellus sprang to his feet.

'What?  You haven't been fighting--with Quintus!'

'Not exactly fighting,' said Demetrius.  'He insulted the family--
Theodosia in particular--and I rebuked him.'

'Well, from the look of your hands, I should say you had done a
good job.  But Demetrius! this is very serious!  Greek slaves can't
do that--not to Roman Tribunes--no matter how much it is needed!'

'Yes, I know, sir.  I must run away.  If I remain here, you will
try to defend me--and get into trouble.  Please--shall I not go--at
once?'

'By all means!' insisted Marcellus.  'But where will you go?  Where
can you go?'

'I don't know, sir.  I shall try to get out into the country, into
the mountains, before the news spreads.'

'How badly is Quintus hurt?' asked Marcellus, anxiously.

'He will recover,' said Demetrius.  'I used no weapons.  His eyes
are swollen shut--and his mouth is swollen open--and the last few
times I hit him on the nose, it felt spongy.'

'Has he gone?'

'No, he was still there.'

Marcellus winced and ran his fingers through his hair.

'Go, wash your hands--and pack a few things for your journey.'
Walking past Demetrius, he went to his bedroom and unlocking his
strong-box filled a silk bag with gold and silver talents and other
coins of smaller value.  Returning, he sat down at the table, took
up his stylus, wrote a page, stamped it with his heavy seal ring,
rolled it, and thrust it into a scroll.  'Here you are,' he said,
when Demetrius reappeared.  'This money will befriend you for the
present--and this scroll contains your manumission.  I shall remain
here until spring; the Ides of March, approximately.  Then I shall
go to Jerusalem.  I cannot tell how long I may be touring about in
the Palestinian provinces; all summer, certainly; perhaps longer.
Then I am to return to Capri and report to the Emperor.  For that I
have no relish; but we will not borrow trouble.'

'Would I were going with you, sir!' exclaimed Demetrius.

'I shall miss you, Demetrius; but your first duty now is to put
yourself quickly out of danger.  Try to let me know, as soon as
safety permits, where you are in hiding.  Remember that I shall be
burning to learn that you have not been caught!  Notify me of your
needs.  If you are captured, I shall leave no stone unturned to
effect your deliverance.'

'I know that, sir.'  Demetrius's voice was unsteady.  'You are very
kind.  I shall take the money.  As for my freedom--not now.'  He
laid the scroll on the table.  'If I were caught with this on me,
they might think you had rewarded me for punishing Quintus.'
Drawing himself stiffly to attention, he saluted with his spear.
'Farewell, sir.  I am sorry to go.  We may never meet again.'

Marcellus reached out his hand.

'Good-bye, Demetrius,' he said, huskily.  'I shall miss you sorely.
You have been a faithful friend.  You will be much in my thoughts.'

'Please tell Theodosia why I did not tarry to bid her farewell,'
said Demetrius.

'Anything between you two?' inquired Marcellus, with sudden
interest.

'That much--at least,' admitted Demetrius.

They silently gripped each other's hands, and Demetrius sped away
through the rose garden.

Marcellus moved slowly back into the house, relocked his strong-
box, and went out by the front door.  Dion was approaching, pale
and agitated.

'You have heard, sir?' he asked, anxiously.

'How is he?' inquired Marcellus.

'Sitting up--but he is an unpleasant sight.  He says he is going to
have us all punished.'  Dion was shaken with fear.

'Tell me--what really happened?'

'The Tribune showed much disrespect for Theodosia.  Your slave
remonstrated, and the Tribune lunged at him with his dagger.  After
that--well--your Demetrius disarmed him and began striking him in
the face with his fists.  It was a very brutal beating, sir.  I had
not thought your gentle-spoken slave could be so violent.  The
Tribune is unrecognizable!  Has your slave hidden himself?'

'He is gone,' said Marcellus, much to Dion's relief.

Proceeding through the grove, they came upon the wretched Quintus,
sitting hunched under the tall pine, dabbing at his mutilated face
with a bloody towel.  He looked up truculently and squinted through
the slim red slit in a purpling eye.

'When I inform the Tetrarch,' he declaimed, thickly, 'there will be
prison for you--and beheadings for the others.'

'What had you thought of telling the Tetrarch, Quintus?' inquired
Marcellus, with a derisive grin.  'And what do you think they will
say, at the Insula, when you report that after you had insulted a
respectable young woman, and had tried to stab a slave who
intervened, you let the fellow disarm you and beat you with his
bare hands until you couldn't stand up?  Go, Quintus, to the
Insula!' went on Marcellus, mockingly.  'Let them all see how you
look after having had a duel with a Greek slave!  The Tetrarch will
probably tell you it was disgraceful enough for a Roman Tribune to
be engaged in a fight with a slave, even if he had come out of it
victorious!  Come, then; let us go to the Insula, Quintus.  I shall
accompany you.  I wouldn't miss it for the world.'

Quintus patted his face gingerly.

'I shall not require your assistance,' he muttered.

'Let me put you up, sir,' wheedled Dion, 'until you feel better.'

'That is a good suggestion,' advised Marcellus.  'Dion certainly
owes you nothing for playing the scoundrel on his premises, but if
he is willing to give you shelter until you are fit to be seen, you
would be wise to accept his offer.  I understand you are sailing on
the Vestris, the day after to-morrow.  Better stay under cover
here, and go directly to the ship when she is ready to put off.
Then none of your acquaintances at the Insula will have an amusing
story to tell about you, next time he visits Rome.'

'I shall have that slave of yours whipped to ribbons!' growled
Quintus.

'Perhaps you might like to do it yourself!' retorted Marcellus.
'Shall I summon him?'

                         * * * * * *

The grey days were short, cold, and tiresome.  Marcellus had
discovered how heavily he had leaned on his Corinthian slave, not
only for personal service but for friendship and entertainment.
Demetrius had become his alter ego.  Marcellus was lost and
restless without him.

Nothing interesting happened.  The days were all alike.  In the
morning he went early to old Benjamin's shop for his regular ration
of Aramaic, offered mostly in the form of conversation.  At noon he
would return to the inn and spend the rest of the daylight in his
studio, hacking away without much enthusiasm or inspiration on a
marble head that resembled Diana Gallus less and less, every day.
It was still apparent that she was a girl, a Roman girl, a quite
pretty girl; but no one would have guessed that she was Diana.

And perhaps this was to be accounted for, surmised Marcellus, by
the increasing vagueness of Diana on the retina of his imagination.
She was very far away--and retreating.  He had had two letters from
her.  The first, from Capri, had been written in haste.  She knew
all about the Emperor's orders that he was to continue his studies
in Athens, and then proceed to Jerusalem and the northern provinces
of Palestine for authentic information about that mysterious young
Jew.

As for herself, Diana said, the Emperor had insisted on her
remaining at Capri for a few weeks; and, in view of his valued
favours, she had decided to do so.  He had been very kind; he was
lonely; she must stay.

Her second letter had been written from home.  It, too, sounded as
if the carriage were waiting and someone were reading the words
over her shoulder.  The letter was friendly enough, solicitous of
his welfare, but wanting in the little overtones of tenderness and
yearning.  It was as if their love had been adjourned to await
further development in some undated future.  Marcellus re-read this
letter many times, weighing and balancing its phrases, trying to
decide whether Diana had been taking extra precautions in case the
scroll were read by a third party, or whether she was losing
interest in their affection.  It might be one or the other: it
might indeed be both.  Her words were not softly whispered.  They
were gentle--but clearly audible.  And they made him feel very
lonely.

It was an important occasion, therefore, when the long letter
arrived from Demetrius.  A light snow had fallen in the night and
the sky was heavily overcast.  Marcellus had stood for a long time
at the studio window debating whether to go to Benjamin's shop to-
day.  But the light was too poor for sculpturing.  And the old man
would be expecting him.  With a mood to fit the sullen sky, he made
his way to the shop where Benjamin greeted him with bright-eyed
excitement.

'Here is a letter for you!'

'Indeed!  Why was it sent here?'

'In my care.  Addressed to me--but intended for you.  It was
brought by a slave attached to a caravan, and delivered here last
night by Zenos, the noisy boy who runs errands for my friend
Popygos.  Demetrius, as you will see, is in Jerusalem.  I read that
much of it.  Your slave is prudent.  Fearing a letter addressed to
you might be examined and reveal his whereabouts, he has sent it to
me.'  Benjamin laughed as he handed over the scroll.  'Now you will
have an opportunity to put your Aramaic to practical use.  It's
very good Aramaic, too!' he added proudly.

Marcellus drew up a stool beside the worktable, unrolled the end of
the long sheet of papyrus, and began reading aloud, with occasional
hesitations and appeals to Benjamin who delightedly came to his
rescue.


Esteemed Master (read Marcellus), I am writing this on the Jewish
Sabbath in the upper chamber of an old house overlooking the
Kidron, no great distance from the Temple area.  I share this room
with one Stephanos, a Greek of my own age, whom the Jews call
Stephen.  He is intelligent, well-informed, and friendly.  At
present he is absent, on some mysterious errand; possibly the same
business that kept him out, last night, until shortly before dawn.

I arrived in Jerusalem but three days ago.  You will be curious to
learn the manner of my departure from Athens.  Confident of
Fulvius's friendship, I ran to Pirus, boarded the Vestris, and
confided my dilemma.  Fulvius hid me in the hold.  When the ship
stood well out to sea, on the second day, I was brought on deck
where I enjoyed full liberty.  We had an important passenger who
was recovering from an accident that had disfigured his face.  He
kept to his cabin until we had cleared from Alexandria.  Recognizing
me, he ordered Fulvius to put me in irons, which Fulvius refused to
do, saying that I had paid my passage.  This was untrue, though I
had offered to pay.  Fulvius told the distinguished passenger that
if he wished he could have me apprehended at the next port.

We anchored at nightfall in the Bay of Gaza, and Fulvius secretly
put me ashore in the small boat.  Providing myself with a few
necessities, I journeyed on foot over the same route taken by the
Legion from Minoa to Jerusalem.  In a desolate wady, some twelve
parasangs north-east of Ascalon, I was captured and robbed by
Bedouins, who did not otherwise harm me, and permitted my escape.
The weather was extremely cold and I was lightly clad.  That
country is sparsely settled, as you may recall.  The few
inhabitants are poor, and hostile to strangers.  I learned to
relish warm goat-milk and frosted corn; and I was stoned while
pillaging withered leeks from an ill-kept garden.  I discovered
that eggs, sucked from the shell, are delicious, and that a sleepy
cow does not resent sharing her warmth with a wayfarer seeking
shelter in her stall.  The cattle of Judea are hospitable.  On the
last night of my journey I was pleasantly surprised by being
permitted to sleep in the stable of a tavern in the village of
Bethlehem.  In the morning the innkeeper sent his servant with a
dish of hot broth and a small loaf of wheaten bread.  The servant
said it was a custom of the inn to befriend impoverished
travellers.  I observed that on the corner of the napkin, in which
the bread was brought, there was embroidered the figure of a fish.
It stirred my curiosity a little because a similar design had been
burned with an iron into the timber of the stable-door.  After
leaving Bethlehem I noticed, at two road-crossings, the crude
outline of a fish, drawn in the sand, and surmised that the device
might indicate the direction taken by someone who wished to leave
this cryptic advice for another person following.  Not knowing what
it meant--or caring very much--I dismissed the matter from my mind.

Arriving in Jerusalem, hungry and footsore, I decided to seek the
house of a weaver, hoping I might be given some small tasks to
provide me with food and shelter.  In this I was most fortunate.
At the shop of Benyosef I was kindly received by Stephanos, who
works there.  Learning that I am a Greek and having been informed
that I had done some carding and spinning for Benjamin in Athens,
whose name Stephanos recognized, he commended me to Benyosef, and I
was given employment.  The wage is small, but consistent with the
service I render, and is ample to sustain me for the present.
Stephanos bade me lodge with him.

Of course, his interest in me is due, primarily, to the fact that I
am a Greek.  His people were long ago of Philippi, his great-
grandparents having fled for refuge in Jerusalem when Macedonia was
subjugated.  It seems that there are hundreds of Greeks here, whose
ancestors migrated to Jerusalem for the same reason.  But many of
them are literate; and Stephanos, who is a student of the classics,
longs for congenial company.  He seemed pleased when, in response
to his queries, I told him I was at least somewhat conversant with
Greek literature.

On our first evening together, after we had eaten supper and were
talking of many things relating to the unhappy Greeks, Stephanos
idly drew the outline of a fish on the back of a papyrus tablet;
and, pushing it across the table, raised his brows inquiringly.

I told him it signified nothing to me, though I had seen the symbol
before.  He then asked me if I had not heard of Jesus, the
Galilean.  I admitted that I had--but not very much--and would be
interested in hearing more.  He said that the people who believed
in the teachings of Jesus were being so savagely persecuted that
they met only in secret.  This fish-emblem had been adopted as
their method of identifying themselves to others of similar belief.
He did not tell me how they came to use this device.  Jesus was not
a fisherman, but a carpenter.

Stephanos went on to say that Jesus advocated freedom for all men.
'Surely a slave should ally himself with such a cause,' he said.  I
told him I was deeply concerned, and he promised to tell me more
about Jesus when there was an opportunity.

The house of Benyosef, I am discovering, is not only a weaver's
shop, but a secret meeting-place for the men who were intimate
friends of Jesus.  My position here is so lowly and menial that my
presence is unnoticed by the sober men who come neither to buy nor
sell, but to slip in quietly and sit beside the old man, whispering
while he whacks his ancient loom.  (Benjamin would laugh at that
loom.)

Yesterday a heavily-bearded man of great strength and stature spent
an hour in low-voiced conversation with Benyosef and two young
fellows, in a far corner of the shop.  Stephanos said they were
Galileans.  The huge man, he said, was called 'The Big Fisherman,'
and the younger men, who were brothers, he referred to as 'The Sons
of Thunder.'  'The Big Fisherman' seems a very forceful man.
Perhaps he is the leader of the party, though why there should be a
party at all, or so much secrecy, now that their Jesus is dead and
his cause is lost, I do not pretend to understand.  They all act as
if they were suppressing some excitement.  It does not resemble the
excitement of fear; rather that of expectancy.  They behave as if
they had found something valuable and had hidden it.

This afternoon, a tall, well-favoured man from the country came
into the shop and was greeted with much warmth.  I gathered that
they had not seen him for some time.  When the day's work was done,
and Stephanos and I were on the way to our lodging, I remarked of
this man that he seemed an amiable person whom everyone liked, and
he unexpectedly confided that the man was Barsabas Justus, of
Sepphoris in Galilee.  He then went on to say that Jesus had
appointed twelve friends to serve as his accredited disciples.  One
of them, Judas of Kerioth, had betrayed Jesus' whereabouts to the
priests.  After his master's arrest, he was filled with remorse and
hanged himself.  The eleven disciples met later to elect a
successor to this Judas, though why they felt the necessity to do
that, after Jesus was dead, Stephanos did not explain.

They voted on two men who had followed Jesus about through the
provinces, hearing him speak to the people and witnessing many
strange deeds of which Stephanos may tell me when he is in a mood
to speak more freely.  I think he wants first to make sure that I
will respect his confidence.  One of these two men, Matthias by
name, was elected to succeed the traitor Judas.  The other man is
this Barsabas Justus.

I venture to suggest, sir, that when you come to Jerusalem to make
inquiries about Jesus' career, you could not do better than to
contrive the acquaintance of a man like Barsabas Justus.  This will
not be easy to do.  These friends of Jesus are watched closely for
any indication that they are attempting to extend or preserve his
influence.  The Temple authorities evidently feel that the
teachings of the Galilean contain the seeds of revolution against
the established religion, and the Insula has probably been
persuaded that the sooner everybody forgets about Jesus, the more
likely it may be that this next Passover season can be celebrated
without a political uprising.

During these past three days I have given much thought to a plan
which might assist you in getting up into Galilee without exciting
suspicion.  You could appear in Jerusalem as a connoisseur of
homespun fabrics, particularly interested in the products of
Galilean household looms.  Let it be known that such textiles are
now highly esteemed in Rome.  Inquire in the bazaars for such
fabrics and pay generously for a few articles.  They are not
considered as of much value here, but might quickly become so if
you permit yourself to be well cheated in two or three shops.
Rumour spreads rapidly in this city.

In the course of your search for Galilean homespun you would
naturally call at the house of Benyosef, where you might let it be
known that you contemplate a trip into the region around Capernaum
to look for textiles.  You could inquire whether it would be
possible to employ, as a guide, some man well acquainted with that
country.

Of the several Galileans who visit the shop, Barsabas Justus would
be the most likely, I think, to accept such employment.  The man
they call 'The Big Fisherman' is too passionately absorbed in
whatever he is doing in the city and 'The Sons of Thunder' appear
to be weighted with duties, but Barsabas Justus seems to have fewer
responsibilities.  Unquestionably he is your man--if you can get
him.

My belief is that they will scatter when Passover Week approaches,
for the Insula will be on the alert, and these Galileans will want
to avoid useless trouble.  I suggest that you plan to arrive here
about a month before the Passover.  Spring will be approaching, and
the country will be beautiful.  It will be more prudent if you do
not recognize me, even if we meet face to face; for, unless I am
mistaken, Stephanos will--by that time--have taken me into his full
confidence, and it would be most unfortunate if he suspected
collusion between us.  Stephanos does not know that I have ever
been in Jerusalem before.  If I can contrive a secret meeting when
you come, I shall be overjoyed to talk with you, but I think you
should ignore me completely.  If a private conference is practical,
I shall arrange for it and let you know--somehow.


Marcellus glanced up at Benjamin, and grinned.

'That boy should have been a Jew!' declared the old man.  'He has a
keen mind--and is cunning.'

'Yes,' agreed Marcellus, dryly.  'I can see that a study of Aramaic
has done wonders for him.  He is crafty.  However, this advice
sounds sensible enough, don't you think?'

'I doubt it, my friend.  This is a game that will have to be played
with the utmost care,' warned Benjamin.  'The Jews have no reasons
for trusting the Romans.  Their confidence will not be easily won.'

'Do you think I might be able to pass myself off for a merchant?'
inquired Marcellus, doubtfully.

'A good way to find out,' suggested Benjamin, with a twinkle, 'is
to go over here to David Sholem's bazaar and buy something; and
then go across the street and try to sell it to old Aaron Barjona.'
They both laughed.

'But, seriously,' said Marcellus.  'Do you think I might be able to
get into Galilee by any such scheme as the one Demetrius suggests?'

'Not a chance!' scoffed Benjamin.

'Not if I offered the fellow a handsome wage?'

Benjamin shook his head decisively.

'No--not for a handsome wage.  This Barsabas Justus may have much
to give that you would like to know; but he will have nothing to
sell.'

'You advise me not to attempt it?'

The old man laboriously threaded a needle, with many grotesque
squints and grimaces.  Having accomplished it, he grinned,
triumphantly, and deftly rolled a tight knot into the end of the
thread.

'It might be worth trying,' he grunted.  'These Galileans may be
bigger fools than we think.'



Chapter XII


With almost no conversation they had eaten their lunch under an old
fig tree, a little distance from the highway, and were now lounging
in the shade.

Justus had stretched out his long frame on the grass, and with his
fingers laced behind his shaggy head was staring up through the
broad leaves into a bland April sky, his studious frown denoting
perplexity.

Marcellus, reclining against the tree-trunk, moodily wished himself
elsewhere.  He was restless and bored.  Old Benjamin's pessimistic
forecast that this proposed expedition into Samaria and Galilee
would be a disappointment had turned out to be correct.

Arriving in Jerusalem two weeks ago, Marcellus had acted fully upon
Demetrius's written advice.  Having engaged lodgings at the best
inn, a commodious old house with a garden, halfway up the hill
toward the suburb of Bethany, registering in the name of 'M.
Lucan,' he had proceeded deliberately to bewilder the downtown
bazaars with inquiries for homespun fabrics and garments--
particularly articles of Galilean origin.  He went from one shop to
another, navely admiring the few things they showed him;
recklessly purchasing robes and shawls at the first price quoted,
professing to be immensely pleased to have them at any cost.  And
when the merchants confessed, with unfeigned lamentations, that
their stock of Galilean textiles had run low, he upbraided them for
their lack of enterprise.

Then he had lain up, for a few days, lounging in the garden of the
inn, re-reading The Book of Yeshayah--old Benjamin's farewell gift--
and waiting for the rumour of his business transactions to be
whispered about among the clothing dealers.  It was very trying to
be so close to Demetrius and unable to communicate with him.  One
day he almost persuaded himself that this elaborate scheme for
getting into Galilee was unnecessarily fantastic, and he half-
resolved to go down to Benyosef's shop and explain, in the most
forthright manner, that he had a desire to talk with men who had
known Jesus in his own community.  But, upon reflection, he saw
that such a course might embarrass Demetrius; so he abandoned this
impulsive procedure and impatiently bided his time.

At mid-afternoon on the fifth day of that second week, he went to
the house of Benyosef, sauntering in casually to give the
impression that he really wanted to do business; for he had
observed that, in Jerusalem, the serious customer with his mind set
on something he intended to buy invariably tried to disguise his
interest.  The most ridiculous subterfuges were practised.  The
customer would stroll in, pretending he had come to meet a friend,
or that he had lost his bearings and wanted to know how to find
Straight Street.  On the way out he would pause to finger some
article of merchandise.  Apparently these childish tricks deceived
nobody.  The more indifferent the customer was, the more
attentively the merchant hovered about him.  It was evident that
all business in the Holy City was so full of mendacity that a man
who gave evidence of an honest purpose was immediately suspected of
rank imposture.

Pausing indecisively in the open doorway of Benyosef's shop,
Marcellus glanced about in search of Demetrius.  It was not going
to be easy, after this long separation, to confront his loyal
friend with the cool stare of a stranger.  A survey of the
cluttered shop failed to reveal the presence of Demetrius, but
Marcellus was not sure whether he was disappointed or relieved; for
he had dreaded this moment.

The clatter of the two antiquated looms slowed and ceased as he
made his way toward the venerable weaver who, he felt, must be old
Benyosef himself.  If the aged Jew was alarmed at the presence of
an urbane young Roman in his house, he gave no sign of it.  He
maintained his seat on the bench of his loom, methodically polite
but not obsequious.  Marcellus briefly stated his errand.  Benyosef
shook his long white beard.  His weaving, he said, was all custom
work.  He had nothing made up to sell.  If his client wished to
order a coat, they would gladly make it for him, and it would be a
good one.  But as for homespun, it might be found in the bazaars;
or, better, in the country.  And with that laconic announcement, he
deftly scooted a wooden shuttle through the open warp and gave the
thread a whack with the beam that made the old loom shudder.  It
was apparent that so far as Benyosef was concerned the interview
had terminated.

Four other men had been mildly interested, also a dark, handsome
boy of twelve, who had stopped romping with a dog to listen.  One
of the men was a young Greek with a refined face, seated at a
ramshackle loom adjacent to Benyosef's.  Marcellus surmised that
this might be Demetrius's friend Stephanos.

Near the wall, behind the looms, sat two men who bore a marked
resemblance, one in his early thirties, the other considerably
younger.  They were deeply tanned and simply dressed in country
garb, their rustic, well-worn sandals indicating that they were
accustomed to long journeys on foot.  This pair, obviously
brothers, might easily qualify as 'The Sons of Thunder,' though the
appellation did seem rather incongruous, for they appeared benign
enough, especially the younger whose expressive eyes had a marked
spiritual quality.  He would have passed more reasonably as a
mystic than as an agitator.

The fourth man, who sat on the corner of an inverted tub, was
probably sixty.  He, too, was an outlander, to judge by his homely
dress and the shagginess of his grey-streaked hair and beard.
Bronzed and bushy, he seemed out of place under a roof.  During the
brief colloquy, he had sat gently stroking his beard with the back
of his hand, his brown eyes drifting lazily from old Benyosef to
the eccentric Roman who, for some obscure reason, wanted to
purchase articles of homespun.

At first sight of him, Marcellus thought this might be the man
Demetrius had referred to as 'The Big Fisherman.'  He was big
enough.  But another glance at the reposeful posture and the
amiable smile assured Marcellus that if 'The Big Fisherman' was a
man of energy and something of a party leader, the hairy one who
lounged on the tub must be someone else, conceivably Barsabas
Justus.

Now that the looms had gone into action again, Marcellus had begun
to doubt whether this was the time or place to introduce his
question about the possibility of finding a guide, but Benyosef had
remarked that one might hope to buy homespun in the country; so the
query would be natural enough.  As if this were a fresh inspiration,
Marcellus inquired, in his best Aramaic, and addressing them all
impartially, whether they knew of a man--well acquainted in the
northern provinces--who might be employed to accompany him on a
leisurely tour.

Benyosef, ceasing his racket, scowled thoughtfully, but made no
movement.  The older brother shook his head.  The younger calmly
stared through and beyond the inquirer as if he had not heard.  The
Greek, who might be Stephanos, slowly turned about and faced the
big man in the corner.

'You could go, Justus,' he said.  'You were intending to go home,
anyhow, weren't you?'

'How long do you want to stay?' rumbled Justus, after some
deliberation.

'Two weeks, perhaps, or three--or a month.'  Marcellus tried not to
sound too urgent.  'Once I am up there, and have found my way
about,' he added, 'you could leave me--if you had other things to
do.'

'When do you want to start?' inquired Justus, with a little more
interest.

'Soon as possible.  How about the day after to-morrow?'

'The day after to-morrow,' put in Benyosef, reproachfully, 'is the
Sabbath of the Lord our God!'

'Sorry,' mumbled Marcellus.  'I had forgotten.'

'Don't you Romans ever observe a day of rest, young man?' demanded
Benyosef, enjoying his right to be querulous.

'The Romans rest oftener than we do,' drawled Justus, encouraged to
this audacity by the broad grin with which Marcellus had met the
old man's impertinence.

'But not oftener than YOU do!' growled Benyosef, darting his bright
little eyes at Justus.

This was good for a chuckle.  Even the younger brother turned about
and smiled a little.  As if to prove himself a man of action,
Justus rose and led the way to a wooden bench in front of the
house.  Marcellus, with a nod to the others, followed.  So did the
boy, who sat beside them, hugging his knees.

With more resourcefulness than Marcellus had expected, Justus led
the conversation about necessary arrangements for the journey.
They would need a small string of pack-asses, he said, to carry
camp equipment; for some of the smaller villages offered very poor
accommodation.  Four asses would be sufficient, he thought, to pack
everything including whatever might be purchased.

'Will you buy the asses for me, and the camping tackle?' asked
Marcellus.  'Doubtless you could make better terms.  How much money
will it take?'  He unstrapped his wallet.

'You are trusting me to buy these things?' inquired Justus.

'Why not?  You look honest.'  Noting that this comment had brought
a little frown, he added, 'You would not be an acceptable visitor
at old Benyosef's shop if you were unscrupulous.'

Justus gave him a long sidewise look without turning his head.

'What do you know about old Benyosef--and his shop?' he queried
gruffly.

Marcellus shrugged.

'The place is of good repute,' he answered negligently.  'Benyosef
has been in business for a long time.'

'That means nothing,' retorted Justus.  'Plenty of rascals stay in
business for a long time.'  And when Marcellus had agreed to that
with a nod, and an indifferent 'Doubtless,' Justus said:  'There
will be no need to buy pack-asses.  You can hire them, and a boy to
drive them.  Hire the tent, too, and everything else.'

'Will you see to it, then?  Let us be on our way early on the first
day of the week.'  Marcellus rose.  'How much will you expect for
your services?'

'I am willing to leave that to you, sir,' said Justus.  'As you
heard Stephen say, I had intended going home in a few days to
Sepphoris in Galilee.  This journey will not inconvenience me.  I
have nothing to do at present.  My time is of little value.  You
may provide me with food and shelter.  And I could do with a new
pair of sandals.'

'Well--I mean to do better than that by you,' declared Marcellus.

'A new robe, then,' suggested Justus, holding up a frayed sleeve.

'With pleasure.'  Marcellus lowered his tone and said, 'Pardon the
question, but--but'--he hesitated--'you are a Jew; are you not?'

Justus chuckled and nodded, stroking his whiskers.

When they parted, a moment later, with a definite understanding to
meet at the Damascus Gate soon after sunrise on the next morning
after the Sabbath, Marcellus felt confident that the journey would
be rewarding.  Justus was a friendly old fellow who would tell him
everything he wanted to know.  He was just the type to enjoy
reminiscence.

With his errand satisfactorily performed and nothing in particular
to do, Marcellus strolled back toward the busy, ill-flavoured
marketplace, where he idled past the booths and stalls, pausing to
listen, with amusement and disgust, to the violent rages of
hucksters and shoppers over deals relating to one small pickled
fish or a calf's foot.  Vituperations rent the air.  Unpleasant
comments were made by customers reflecting on the merchants'
ancestry.  Insults were screamed, and ignored, and forgotten,
which, had they been exchanged in a Roman barracks, would have
demanded an immediate blood atonement.  At one booth, where he
stopped to witness an almost incredible scene involving the
disputed price of a lamb kidney, Marcellus was surprised to find,
close beside him, the boy he had seen at Benyosef's shop.

Having had more than enough of the market-place, he decided to
return to his inn.  It was a long tramp.  Turning about, at the top
of the steps leading to the entrance, Marcellus looked down toward
the city.  The boy from Benyosef's was sauntering down the street.
It was more amusing than annoying to have been followed.  On second
thoughts, these people were quite within their rights to
investigate him as far as they could.  Perhaps they wanted to know
at what manner of place he was stopping.  Had he been a guest at
the Insula, they would have had nothing further to do with him.

That evening, as he sat in the walled garden of the inn, after
supper, studying the ancient scroll that Benjamin had given him,
Marcellus glanced up to find Stephanos standing before him.

'May I speak with you privately?' asked Stephanos, in Greek.

They walked to the far end of the garden, and Marcellus signed to
him to sit down.

'You were surprised not to find Demetrius,' began Stephanos.
'About a fortnight after he wrote to you, he had the misfortune to
be recognized on the street by the Tribune with whom he had had
trouble in Athens.  No effort was made to apprehend him, but he
believed that the Tribune might seek revenge.  In that case his
friends at Benyosef's shop might be involved--and we are in no
position to defend ourselves.'

'Where did he go, Stephanos?' asked Marcellus, deeply concerned.

'I do not know, sir.  He returned to our lodgings and awaited me.
We sat up and talked nearly all through the night.  Several of our
men were in a secret meeting at Benyosef's shop.  We joined them an
hour before dawn.  Demetrius, having bade us farewell, slipped away
before the sun rose.  He will return when it is safe; when the
Tribune has left.  You may leave a letter for him with me, if you
like, or send it later in my care--should you find a messenger who
can be trusted.  He confided to me that you were coming and asked
me to explain his absence.  None of the others were told.'
Stephanos lowered his voice, and continued, 'Demetrius also
confided your reasons for wanting to visit Galilee.'

'Just how much did he tell you?'  Marcellus studied the Greek's
face.

'Everything,' replied Stephanos, soberly.  'You see, sir, he wanted
to make sure that Justus would go along with you.  He felt that I
might be of some service in arranging this.  And when he began to
explain the nature of your interest in Jesus--with much hesitation,
and many mysterious gaps in the story--I urged him to make a clean
breast of the whole business; and he did.  You can trust me to keep
your secret.'

Marcellus had no rejoinder ready to meet this startling
announcement.  For a time he sat quietly deliberating.

'Are they suspicious of me, at Benyosef's shop?' he asked, at
length.  'I was followed, this afternoon.'

'Young Philip is my nephew, sir,' explained Stephanos.  'I needed
to know where you were lodging.  You need have no anxiety about
Philip.  He will not talk.  No one at the shop will learn of our
meeting.  I feared, for a moment, this morning, that John might
recognize you, but apparently he did not.  He is a dreamy fellow.'

'How could he have recognized me?' asked Marcellus.

'John was at the crucifixion, sir.  Perhaps you may recall the
young man who tried to comfort Jesus' mother.'

'His mother.  She was there?  How dreadful!'  Marcellus bowed his
head and dug his finger-tips into his temples.

'It was indeed, sir,' muttered Stephanos.  'I was there.  I
recognized you instantly when you came into the shop, though of
course I was expecting you.  I think you may feel sure that John
did not remember.'

'You have been very kind, Stephanos.  Is there any way in which I
can serve you?'

'Yes, sir.'  The Greek lowered his voice to a whisper.  'Have you
the robe?'

Marcellus nodded.

'May I see it?' asked Stephanos.

'Yes,' said Marcellus.  'Come with me.'

                         * * * * * *

They had been on the road for three days now, and the name of Jesus
had not been mentioned.  For all his apparent ingenuousness, Justus
was surprisingly profound.  His ready smile promised a childish
capitulation to your wishes.  His deference to your status as a
well-to-do young Roman was graciously tendered.  But your negligent
prediction that Justus would be eager to talk about Jesus had
turned out to be incorrect.  You were learning that there were a
few things which not even a wealthy, well-dressed Roman could
acquire either by cajolery, command, or purchase; and one of these
things was the story of Jesus.

It had never occurred to Marcellus that an occasion could arise
when his Roman citizenship might be an inconvenience.  If you were
a Roman and had plenty of money, you could have what you wanted,
anywhere in the world.  Doors and gates were swung open, bars and
bridges were let down, tables were set up, aliens climbed out of
public vehicles to give you their seats, merchants made everybody
else stand aside while they attended to your caprices.  If you
arrived late at the wharf, the boat waited.  If there was only one
commodious cabin, the rich Jew surrendered it without debate.  When
you said Come, people came; when you said Go, they went.

But if you had journeyed on foot into the impoverished little
provinces north of Jerusalem, ostensibly to purchase homespun, but
actually to make inquiries concerning a certain penniless carpenter
who had moved about in that region, your Roman citizenship was a
nuisance and your money was of no aid.

The project, as Marcellus had originally conceived it, had
presented no problems.  Barsabas Justus, full of zeal for his new
cause, would be bubbling with information about his hero.  Perhaps
he might even have designs on you as a possible convert.  He would
be eager to introduce you to the country people who had often met
this strange Galilean face to face.  You would be shown into their
homes to see the outgivings of their household looms and, before
you had a chance to sit down, they would be reciting stories of
enchanted words and baffling deeds.

Well, it hadn't turned out that way.  True, the country people had
welcomed you at their little wayside inns, had greeted you
respectfully on the highway, had shown you their fabrics, had
politely answered your random questions about their handicrafts;
but they had had nothing to say about this Jesus.  They were
courteous, hospitable, friendly; but you, who had often been a
stranger in strange places, had never felt quite so lonesome
before.  They all shared a secret; but not with you.  Justus would
present you to a household and tell them why you had come and they
would make haste to bring out the best specimens of their weaving.
And presently, the father of the family and Justus would exchange a
covert glance of mutual understanding and quietly drift out of the
room.  After a while, your hostess would excuse herself, leaving
you with auntie and the children; and you knew that she had slipped
away to join her husband and Justus.

The very air of this country was full of mystery.  For instance,
there was this fish-emblem; figure of a fish, freshly cut into the
bark of a sycamore, scrawled with a stick into the sand by the
roadside, chalked on a stone fence, scratched into a bare table at
a village inn.  Demetrius had said it was the accepted token of the
new movement to practise the teachings of Jesus.

On the second day out, Marcellus, hoping to make Justus talk, had
asked casually:

'What's all this--about fish?'

And Justus had replied:

'That's what we live on--up here--fish.'

Marcellus had been a little put out by this evasion.  He resolved
to ask no more questions.

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus, lounging against the fig tree, studied the tanned face
of old Justus, and wondered what he was thinking about; wondered,
too, how long he was likely to lie there gazing wide-eyed at the
sky.  Justus gave no sign that he was aware of his client's
restlessness.

After a while, Marcellus rose slowly to his feet and sauntered over
toward the pack-asses which the cloddish young driver--sound asleep
under a tree--had staked out to graze.

Noticing with indignation that the lead-donkey's bridle was buckled
so short that the unhappy creature's mouth had been torn by the bit
and was bleeding, he tugged the torturing harness off over the long
ears; and, sitting down on the grass, proceeded to lengthen the
straps by punching new holes with the point of his dagger.  It was
not an easy task, for the leather was old and stiff; and before he
had put the bridle together again, the donkey-boy had roused and
was watching him with dull curiosity.

'Come here, stupid one!' barked Marcellus.  'I shall not tolerate
any cruelty to these beasts.'  He reached into his wallet and drew
out a copper coin.  'Go you to that house--or the next--or the next--
and get some ointment, and don't come back here without it!'

After the dolt had set off, shambling down the road, Marcellus
rose, carelessly patted the old donkey on the nose, and returned to
find Justus sitting up, smilingly interested.

'You like animals,' he observed, cordially.

'Yes,' said Marcellus, 'some animals.  I can't say that I am
particularly fond of donkeys; but it irritates me when I see them
mistreated.  We will have to keep an eye on that dunce!'

Justus nodded approvingly.  Marcellus sat down beside him, aware
that his guide was studying him with the air of having made a new
acquaintance.

'Do you like flowers?' asked Justus, irrelevantly, after a lengthy,
candid, and somewhat embarrassing inspection.

'Of course.  Why not?'

'This country is full of wild flowers.  It's the season for them.
Later, it is very dry, and they wither.  They are especially
abundant this year.'  Justus made a slow, sweeping gesture that
covered the sloping hillside.  'Look, sir, what a wide variety.'

Marcellus followed the tanned finger as the gentle voice identified
the blossoms with what seemed like confident knowledge; pink
mustard, yellow mustard, blue borage, white sage, rayed umbel,
plantain, bugle-weed, marigold, and three species of poppies.

'You must be an ardent lover of nature, Justus,' commented
Marcellus.

'Only in the last couple of years, sir.  I used to pass the flowers
by without seeing them, as almost every man does.  Of course I
recognized the useful plants; flax and wheat, oats and barley and
clover; but I never thought much about flowers until I made the
close acquaintance of a man who knew all about them.'

Justus had again stretched out on the grass, and his tone had
become so dreamily reminiscent that Marcellus, listening with
suspended breath, wondered if--at last--the soft-voiced Galilean
might be about to speak of his lost friend.

'He knew all about flowers,' reiterated Justus, with a little shake
of his head, as if the recollection were inexpressibly precious.
Marcellus thought of asking whether his friend had died or left the
country, seeing that Justus's reference to him sounded as if it
belonged to the past; but decided not to be too intrusive with his
questions.

'You would have thought,' Justus was saying, half to himself, 'that
the flowers were friends of his, the way he talked about them.  One
day he bade some of us, who were walking with him, to stop and
observe a field of wild lilies.  "See how richly they are clad!" he
said.  "They do no work.  They do not spin.  Yet even King Solomon
did not have such raiment."'

'A lover of beauty,' commented Marcellus.  'But probably not a very
practical fellow.  Did he not believe in labour?'

'Oh, yes, he believed that people should be industrious,' Justus
had been quick to declare, 'but he held that most of them spent too
much time and thought on their bodies; on clothing--and food--and
hoarding--and bigger barns--and the accumulation of things.'

'Sounds as if he wasn't very thrifty.'  Marcellus grinned as he
said it, so it wouldn't seem a contemptuous criticism; but Justus,
staring at the sky, did not see the smile, and the comment brought
a frown.

'He was not indolent,' said Justus, firmly.  'He could have had
things, if he'd wanted them.  He was a carpenter by occupation--and
a skilful one too.  It was a pleasure to see him handle keen-edged
tools.  When he mortised timbers they looked as if they had grown
that way.  There was always a fair-sized crowd about the shop,
watching him work; children all over the place.  He had a way with
children--and animals--and birds.'  Justus laughed softly, and
exhaled a nostalgic sigh.  'Yes--he had a way with him.  When he
would leave the shop to go home, there was always a lot of children
with him--and dogs.  Everything belonged to him; but he never owned
anything.  He often said that he pitied people who toiled and
schemed and worried and cheated to possess a lot of things; and
then had to stand guard over them to see that they weren't stolen
or destroyed by moths and rust.'

'Must have been an eccentric person,' mused Marcellus, 'not to want
anything for his own.'

'But he never thought he was poor!'  Justus raised up on one elbow,
suddenly animated.  'He had the spirit of truth.  Not many people
can afford that, you know.'

'What an odd thing to say!'  Marcellus had stared into Justus's
eyes, until the older man grinned a little.

'Not so odd, when you stop to think about it.  A talent for truth
is worth having.  If a man loves truth better than things, people
are glad to have him for a friend.  Almost everybody wishes he
could be honest, but you can't have the spirit of truth when your
heart is set on dickering for THINGS.  That's why people hung about
this carpenter and listened to everything he said; he had the
spirit of truth.  Nobody had to be on guard with him; didn't have
to pretend; didn't have to lie.  It made them happy and free as
little children.'

'Did everybody respond to him--that way?' asked Marcellus,
seriously.

'Almost everybody,' nodded Justus.  'Oh--sometimes people who
didn't know him tried to deceive him about themselves, but'--he
grinned broadly as if remembering an occasion--'but, you see, sir,
he was so perfected in the truth that you couldn't lie to him, or
pretend to be what you weren't.  It simply couldn't be done, sir;
either by word, tone, or manner!  And as soon as people found that
out, they dropped their weapons and defences, and began to speak
the truth, themselves!  It was a new experience for some of them,
and it gave them a sensation of freedom.  That's why they liked
him, sir.  They couldn't lie to him, and so they told the truth--
and--and the truth set them free!'

'That's a new thought!' declared Marcellus.  'Your friend must have
been a philosopher, Justus.  Was he a student of the classics?'

Justus was briefly puzzled, and presently shook his head.

'I do not think so,' he replied.  'He just--KNEW!'

'I don't suppose he had very many admirers among the well-to-do,'
ventured Marcellus, 'if he discouraged the accumulation of
property.'

'You would have been surprised, sir!' declared Justus.  'Plenty of
rich men listened.  I recall that once a wealthy young nobleman
followed him about for a whole afternoon; and before he left he
came up closer and said, "How can I get that--what you have?"'

Justus paused so long and the look in his eyes grew so remote that
Marcellus wondered whether he had drifted off to thinking about
something else.

'And then--what did your carpenter say?'

'Told him he was too heavily weighted with THINGS,' replied Justus.
'"Give your things away," he said, "and come along with me."'

'Did he?'

'No, but he said he wished he could.  He went away quite depressed,
and we were all sorry, for he was indeed a fine young fellow.'
Justus shook his head, and smiled pensively.  'I suppose that was
the first time he had ever really wanted something that he couldn't
afford.'

'This carpenter must have been a very unusual man,' remarked
Marcellus.  'He appears to have had the mind of a dreamer, a poet,
an artist.  Did he draw, perhaps--or carve?'

'Jews do not draw--or carve.'

'Indeed?  How then do they express themselves?'

'They sing,' replied Justus, 'and tell stories.'

'What manner of stories?'

'Oh, the legends of our people, mostly; the deeds of our great
ones.  Even the little children can recite the traditions and the
prophecies.'  Justus smiled benevolently, and seemed about to
confide an incident.  'I have a grandson, sir.  His name is
Jonathan.  We called him Jonathan because he was born with a
crooked foot, like Jonathan of old--the son of King Saul.  Our
Jonathan is seven.  You should hear him tell the story of the
Creation, and the Great Flood, and the Exodus.'

'The Exodus?'  Marcellus searched his memory.

'You do not know, sir?'  Justus was tolerant but surprised.

'I know what the word means,' said Marcellus, defensively.  'Exodus
is a going-away, or a road out; but I do not recall a story about
it.'

'I thought everyone knew the history of our people's escape from
bondage in Egypt,' said Justus.

'Oh--that!' recalled Marcellus.  'I didn't know that was an escape.
Our history teachers insist that the Jews were expelled from
Egypt.'

'That,' declared Justus, indignantly, 'is a vicious untruth!  The
Pharaohs tried to keep our fathers there--in slavery--to till their
soil and build their monuments.'

'Well, no matter,' said Marcellus.  'There's nothing we can do
about it now.  I'll accept your version of the story, if you want
to tell me.'

'Little Jonathan will recite it for you when we visit Sepphoris.
He is a bright boy.'  Justus's sudden anger had cooled.

'It is easy to see you are fond of him, Justus.'

'Yes--little Jonathan is all we have.  My wife entered into her
rest many years ago.  My daughter Rebecca is a widow.  Jonathan is
a great comfort to us.  Perhaps you know how it is, sir, in a home
where a child is sick or crippled.  He gets a little more care; a
little more love, maybe, to make up for it.  Jonathan still gets
it, though he is perfectly well now.'

'Well?' queried Marcellus.  'His foot, you mean?'

Justus nodded slowly, turning his face away.

'Is that not unusual?' persisted Marcellus.

The crow's-feet on Justus's temple deepened and his face was sober
as he nodded again without looking up.  It was plain now that he
did not wish to be questioned further.  Presently he tugged himself
loose from his meditative mood, returned with a smile, stretched
his long, bronzed arms, and rose to his feet.

'It is time we moved on, sir,' he declared, 'if we expect to reach
Sychar by sunset.  The town does not possess a good inn.  We will
make camp this side, near Jacob's well.  Ever hear of Jacob, sir?'
He grinned, good-humouredly.

'I believe not, Justus,' confessed Marcellus.  'Is it such a good
well?'

'No better than plenty of other wells, but a landmark; fifteen
centuries old.'

They were on the highway again.  The lout with the browsing donkeys
had dragged his stubborn caravan out of the weeds.  Justus turned
about; and, shielding his eyes with his cupped hands, gazed
intently down the road over which they had come.  Marcellus's
curiosity was rekindled.  It was not the first time that Justus had
stopped to look backwards.  And whenever they had come to a
crossing, he had paused to look carefully in all directions.  He
did not seem to be apprehensive of danger.  It was rather as if he
had made an appointment to meet someone up here.  Marcellus was on
the point of asking if that were true, but discreetly decided it
was none of his business.

For more than three hours they plodded along the dusty highway, not
meeting many travellers, nor making much conversation.  It was late
afternoon.  A half-mile ahead, a cluster of sycamores was sighted
and a few scattered dwellings.

'There are the outskirts of Sychar,' said Justus, lengthening his
stride.

In a little while they reached the little suburb, a sleepy, shabby
community of whitewashed, flat-roofed houses.  In its centre, by
the roadside, was the historic well.  Two women were walking away
with water-jars on their shoulders.  A third was arriving.
Justus's steps lagged to give her time to draw up the huge bucket
and fill her jar.  She glanced apathetically in their direction,
put down her jar, stared; and then proceeded vigorously with her
task.  Hurriedly filling the jar, and spilling much water about her
feet, she shouldered her burden and made off toward one of the
small houses.

'Have we alarmed her?' asked Marcellus, grinning.  'I had not
thought we looked so fierce.'

'She is not frightened,' said Justus soberly.

It was a large well.  The ancient stonework around it was of the
height of a sheep, and broad enough to be sat upon comfortably.
Justus, who had suddenly become preoccupied, sank wearily on to the
ledge with his back toward the small group of dwellings.  After
standing about for some moments, wondering how long they were to
linger here, Marcellus sat down on the opposite side to wait until
Justus was ready to move on.  His eyes idly followed the rapidly
retreating figure of the woman until she entered one of the houses.

Almost immediately she reappeared without her water-jar and ran
across the highway to a neighbour; entered, and came out in a
moment accompanied by another younger and more attractive woman.
They stood for a while looking toward the well; then advanced
slowly, stopping frequently to parley, their faces full of
perplexity.

'That woman is coming back, Justus, and bringing another along, and
they are not coming for water,' observed Marcellus.

Justus roused with a little jerk and turned his head.  Then he rose
and walked toward the women, who came quickly to meet him.  They
held a brief, low-voiced conversation, Justus solemnly shaking his
head.  The younger woman, her eyes--very pretty eyes, too--wide
with curiosity, continued to press her questions, and Justus shook
his head, as if saying, No--no--no.  Finally he tipped his head
slightly in Marcellus's direction, and the women's eyes
instantaneously followed the gesture.  Justus was cautioning them
not to pursue the matter, whatever it was.

Then the older woman left them and began slowly retracing her steps
toward her house; and Justus, frowning heavily and nodding what
seemed to be a reluctant consent, turned back toward the well.
Yes, he would try to talk with her again, his manner plainly said.
He would talk with her again, as soon as he could do so without
arousing the curiosity of this Roman.

After Justus had unpacked their camping equipment and put up the
sleeping-tent under some sycamores, he had mumbled something about
having to go back to the village for bread, though Marcellus knew
they had enough for their supper and suspected that his more urgent
errand was to talk with that woman again; for his manner had made
it plain that he wished to go alone.

Wearied by the long day's tramp and annoyed by his guide's
secretiveness, he flung himself down on the rug that Justus had
spread in front of the tent and moodily watched the sun going down
over the tree-tops and house-roofs of the village.

Why did Justus want to have a private interview with this woman?
What did they have to talk about?  Something quite serious,
apparently.  Perhaps they would discuss this mystery.  But why
should there be a mystery?  The Galilean was dead.  Who was going
to persecute these people for what the carpenter had said or done;
or for their tender remembrance of him?

Marcellus was offended.  Surely Justus had no reason to think that
he had come up into this poverty-stricken land to harass the simple-
hearted country-folk.  There was no occasion for this fellow to
treat him as if he were an ordinary eavesdropper!

Well, if Justus did not trust him, it was conceivable that he might
secretly go through his belongings, looking for some evidence.  If
he did so--he would get a stunning surprise!  There was one article
of Galilean homespun, at the bottom of his gunny-bag, that Justus
must not see!



Chapter XIII


It was well on toward sunset when they sighted Cana, after a
fatiguing tramp from the village of Nain where Justus's insistence
on observing the Sabbath had kept them off the road for a day--one
of the most tedious and profitless days that Marcellus had ever
experienced.

Justus had gone to the little synagogue in the morning.  Had he
been invited, Marcellus would have accompanied him, so hard up was
he for diversion in an unkempt town where there was nothing of
interest to see or do.  But Justus had set off alone, after
assuring Marcellus that there were ample provisions for his noonday
meal.

About the middle of what threatened to be an interminable
afternoon, Marcellus, lounging on the ground in front of the tent,
observed Justus returning in the company of an elderly woman and a
tall sober-faced young man.  They walked slowly, preoccupied with
serious conversation.  When within a stadium of the camp, they came
to a stop and continued their earnest talk for a long time.  Then
the woman and the young man who, Marcellus surmised, might have
been her son, reluctantly turned back toward the village, arm in
arm, while Justus came on wearing a studious frown.

Marcellus knew it was childish to feel any resentment over the
quite obvious disinclination of Justus to acquaint him with his
local friends.  When there was trading in prospect, Justus was
promptly polite with his introductions, but he was making it plain
that their relationship was strictly on a business basis.

It wasn't that Marcellus had any considerable interest in meeting
this grey-haired woman, or the thoughtful young man on whose arm
she leaned affectionately; but he couldn't help feeling a bit
chagrined over the snubbing.  Of course, in all fairness to Justus,
he reflected, the fellow had contracted only to take him into
households where homespun might be purchased.  He had not promised
to introduce the young Roman merchant as his friend.  Nor could
Justus be expected to know--nor might he be permitted to suspect--
that his patron had no interest whatsoever in this merchandising,
but wanted only to meet and talk with persons who had known Jesus.

Returning to the tent, with an absent nod toward his idle client,
Justus had sat silently staring at the distant hills.  Occasionally
Marcellus stole a glance in his direction, but he was completely
oblivious.  It could not be divined whether this retreat into
silence was of a piece with Sabbath observance or whether some new
reason accounted for his taciturnity.

Early the next morning, Justus had been suddenly animated with a
desire to be on the highway.  Breakfast was dispatched at top
speed.  The pack-asses and their socially inferior custodian were
advised that there would be no nonsense on this day's journey.  The
sun was hot, but the determined guide led the little caravan with
long, swinging strides.  Marcellus was mightily relieved when, at
high noon, Justus turned off the road and pointed to a near-by
clump of olives.

'Shall we rest now, and eat?' he inquired.

'By all means!' panted Marcellus, mopping his brow.  'Is this Cana
such an interesting city, then, that we must walk our legs off to
get there to-day?'

'I am sorry to have pressed you,' said Justus.  'I did not explain,
because I wanted to give you a pleasant surprise at the end of the
day.  There is a young woman in Cana who sings every evening in the
park.'

'Indeed!' muttered Marcellus, wearily.  'Well--she'd better be
good!'

'She is good.'  Justus began unpacking their lunch.  'The people of
Cana have their supper early; and afterwards a great many of them--
both young and old--assemble about the fountain where this crippled
girl sings the songs that our people love.  Her family and the
neighbours carry her there on her cot, and the people sit down and
listen until dark.'

'Extraordinary!' commented Marcellus, rubbing his lame muscles.
'You say she's a cripple?  I shall want to meet her.  At the rate
we're travelling, by the end of the day she and I may have a common
cause.'

Justus acknowledged the raillery with a grin, broke a wheaten loaf,
gave half of it to Marcellus, and seated himself on the grass.

'Miriam is a beautiful young woman,' he went on, munching his bread
hungrily.  'She is about twenty-two now.  Some seven years ago she
was suddenly stricken with paralysis.  That would have been a great
misfortune in any case, but for Miriam it was a calamity.  She had
been very active in games, and a leader in the children's sports.
Now she was unable to walk.  Moreover, she added to her unhappiness
by resenting her affliction, spending her days in such pitiful
lamentations that her parents were beside themselves with grief,
and their house was in mourning.'

'I take it that you knew them well,' contributed Marcellus, mildly
interested.

'Not at that time,' admitted Justus, 'but the day came when that
part of Miriam's story was quite widely discussed.  For three years
she lay on her bed, inconsolable, peevish, so embittered by her
trouble that she rejected all the kindly efforts made to divert her
mind.  As time passed, she refused to admit her friends into her
room; and sat alone, sullen and smouldering with rebellion.'

'And now she sings?  What happened?'

'Now she sings,' nodded Justus; adding, after a meditative moment,
'I do not know the particulars, sir.  I am not sure that anyone
does.  Miriam refuses to discuss it.  Her parents profess not to
know.  When people have inquired of them, they have replied, "Ask
Miriam."'

'Perhaps they are telling the truth when they say they do not
know.'  Marcellus was becoming concerned.  'Surely they could have
no motive for refusing to explain the improvement in their
daughter's disposition.'

Justus had nodded, without comment.

'Maybe Miriam herself doesn't know,' speculated Marcellus, hopeful
that the story had not come to an end.  'Maybe Miriam found that
she had finally exhausted her resentment, and might as well make
the best of it.'  He paused to give Justus a chance to contradict
this inexpert opinion; and, meeting no rejoinder, ventured another
guess.  'Maybe she woke up one morning and said to herself, "I've
been making everybody miserable.  I'm going to pretend that I'm
happy.  I'll be cheerful--and sing!"  Maybe she just reached that
decision, after proving that the other course was futile.'

'Maybe,' murmured Justus, remotely.

'But you don't think so,' declared Marcellus, after a long interval
of silence.

'I don't know.'  Justus shook his head decisively.  'One of her
girl friends, whom she hadn't seen for a couple of years, was to be
married.  They had urgently pleaded with Miriam to attend the
wedding, but she would not go; and all that day she wept bitterly.
But, that evening, when her parents returned from the wedding-
feast, she met them with gladness, and sang!'

'Amazing!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'And she has a voice--really?'

'You may decide that for yourself, sir, when you hear her,' said
Justus.  'And you may meet her in her home to-morrow.  Naomi, her
mother, does beautiful weaving.  I shall take you there.  She may
have some things that might interest you.  If you are rested now,
sir, shall we be on our way?'

                         * * * * * *

They pitched their tent at the edge of little Cana, ate their
supper quickly, and walked to the centre of the village, overtaking
many people going in the same direction.  Already fifty or more
were seated on the ground in semi-circular rows facing a natural
fountain that gently welled up into the huge brick basin.

'I suppose this is Cana's drinking water,' said Marcellus, as they
moved toward an unoccupied spot on the lawn.

'It is warm water,' said Justus.  'Hot springs abound in this
region.'  They seated themselves cross-legged on the ground.

'Is it thought to be a healing water?' asked Marcellus.

'Yes, but not by the people of Galilee.  Travellers come from afar
to bathe in the water from these springs.'

'Oh?  Then Cana sees many strangers.'

'Not so many in Cana.  They go mostly to Tiberias, on the Lake
Gennesaret.  It is a more important city, and possesses much
wealth.  It is only the rich who come to bathe in medicinal
waters.'

'And why is that?' inquired Marcellus.  'Do not the poor believe in
the virtue of these hot springs?'

Justus laughed.  It was a deep, spontaneous laugh that he seemed to
enjoy; an infectious laugh that evoked companionable chuckles in
their vicinity, where many men and women had recognized the big
gentle-voiced neighbour from Sepphoris.  Marcellus was discovering
something new and interesting about Justus.  He was naturally full
of fun.  You wouldn't have suspected it.  He had been so serious;
so weighted.

'The poor do not have the diseases, sir, that these springs are
supposed to cure,' explained Justus.  'Only men accustomed to rich
foods and an abundance of fine wines seek these healing waters.
The Galileans do not suffer of ills arising from such causes.'

It was delicious irony, because so free of any bitterness.
Marcellus admired the tone of the appreciative laughter that came
from their candidly eavesdropping neighbours.  His heart warmed
toward them.  He was going to feel at home with them.

'That's a new thought, Justus,' he replied, 'and a sound one.  I
never considered it before, but it is a fact that hot springs are
intended for gluttons and winebibbers.  Now that you speak of it, I
recall having heard something about this city of Tiberias on Lake
Gennesaret.'

'Often called the Sea of Galilee,' nodded Justus, 'but not by the
Galileans.'  The crowd seated about them had grown attentive,
tilting its head at a favourable angle, frankly interested.

'Big lake?' wondered Marcellus.

'Big enough to be stormy.  They have some rough gales.'

'Any fishing?'

Justus nodded indifferently, and a middle-aged man sitting in front
of them turned his head, plainly wanting to say something.  Marcellus
caught his dancing eye, and raised his brows encouragingly.

'That's one of the diseases that poor people can afford, sir,'
remarked the man, 'fishing!'  Everybody laughed merrily at that.

'Do they catch any fish?' inquired Marcellus.

'Yes,' admitted Justus, 'they have caught fish--all of them--a long
time ago.'  This sally was good, too; and the friendly hilarity
increased the circle of listeners.  Marcellus felt that they were
showing quite an amiable attitude toward him; perhaps because he
was sponsored by Justus who, it seemed, everyone knew; and,
besides, Marcellus was doing fairly well with his Aramaic.

'But they still fish?' he inquired, artlessly.

A shrill childish voice unexpectedly broke in, from up the row a
little way.

'Once they caught a great lot of them!' shouted the lad.

'Sh-sh!' came a soft, concerted caution from his kin.

All eyes were now turning toward the fountain where a cot was being
borne in from the street.  The girl seated on it was propped about
with pillows.  In her bare, shapely arms she hugged a small harp.

The sculptor in Marcellus instantly responded.  It was a finely
modelled, oval face, white with a pallor denoting much pain
endured; but the wide-set, long-lashed eyes had not been hurt.  Her
abundant hair, parted in the middle, framed an intelligent brow.
Her full lips were almost gay as she surveyed the crowd.

Two men followed, carrying wooden trestles, and the cot was lifted
up until everyone could see.  A deep hush fell upon the people.
Marcellus was much impressed by the unusual scene, and found
himself wishing that the girl wouldn't try to sing.  The picture
was perfect.  It was imprudent to risk spoiling it.

Miriam gently swept the strings of her harp with slim, white
fingers.  Then her face seemed to be transfigured.  Its momentary
gaiety had faded, and there had come an expression of deep
yearning.  It was clear that she had left them now, and was putting
out on an enchanted excursion.  The luminous eyes looked upward,
wide with far vision.  Again she lightly touched the harp-strings.

The voice was a surprisingly deep, resonant contralto.  That first
tone, barely audible at its beginning, swelled steadily until it
began to take on the pulsing vibration of a bell.  Marcellus felt a
quick tightening of his throat, a sudden suffusion of emotion that
burned and dimmed his eyes.  Now the song took wings!

'I waited patiently for the Lord--and He inclined unto me--and
heard my cry.'

All around Marcellus heads had bent to meet upraised hands; and
stifled sobs, with childish little catches of breath in them, were
straining to be quiet.  As for himself, he sat staring at the
entranced girl through uncontrollable tears.  He shook them out of
his eyes, and stared!

'And he hath put a new song in my mouth!' exulted Miriam.

Justus slowly turned his head towards Marcellus.  His seamed face
was contorted and his eyes were swimming.  Marcellus touched his
sleeve and nodded soberly.  Their gaze returned to the enraptured
girl.

'Then I said, "Lo--I come."  In the volume of the Book it is
written of me, "I delight to do Thy will, O God--and Thy law is in
my heart!"'

The song was ended and the close-packed crowd uttered a deep sigh.
Neighbours slowly turned their faces toward their best beloved,
smiled wistfully with half-closed eyes, and shook their heads,
lacking words to tell how deeply they had been moved.  After an
interval Miriam found her wings again.  Marcellus was thrilled by
the phrases of her triumphant song, which stirred in his heart
instinctive longings hitherto unrealized.  The song was coming to
an end now, even as the last rays of sunset filled the sky.

'To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of
death,' sang Miriam, 'and to guide our feet in the way of peace.'

Twilight was falling.  The men bore Miriam away.  The crowd
silently scattered and took to the highway.  It pleased Marcellus
that Justus, trudging by his side in the darkness, did not ask him
if he liked Miriam's voice, or whether he had not been impressed by
the unusual occasion.

                         * * * * * *

The home of Reuben and Naomi, at the northern extremity of the
village, was more commodious and occupied a larger parcel of ground
than most of the residences in Cana.  The white-walled house, well
back from the road, was shaded by tall sycamores.  In the spacious
front yard were many fruit trees, now gay and fragrant with
blossoms; and on either side of this area there was an apparently
prosperous vineyard.

It was with some difficulty that Marcellus had curbed his
impatience to visit this home where he hoped to meet the crippled
girl with the radiant face and the golden voice.  Justus had seemed
wilfully tedious at the two places where they had called on their
way; and had it not been imprudent, Marcellus would have dispatched
these small transactions by purchasing whatever was offered.

'Let us first speak to Miriam,' said Justus, unlatching the gate.
'I see her sitting in the arbour.'

They crossed the neatly clipped grass-plot and sauntered toward the
shaded arbour where Miriam sat alone.  She wore a white himation
trimmed with coral at the throat and flowing sleeves, but no
jewellery except a slim silver chain about her neck with a tiny
pendant--a fish--carved from a seashell.  On the table beside her
cot was the harp and a small case of scrolls.  Her curly head was
bent attentively over the lace medallion she was knitting.  As they
approached, she glanced up, recognizing Justus, and smiled a
welcome.

'Oh--you needn't explain, Barsabas Justus,' she said when, after
presenting Marcellus, he had added that the young man was
interested in Galilean fabrics.  'Everybody in Cana knows about
it.'  She smiled into Marcellus's eyes.  'We are all excited, sir,
over your visit, for it isn't often that anyone comes here to
trade.'

There was a peculiar tone-quality in her low voice that Marcellus
could not define, except that its warmth was entirely unself-
conscious and sincere.  Frequently he had observed, upon being
introduced to young women, that they had a tendency to show a
sudden liveliness, pitching their blithe remarks in a shrill key as
if from a considerable distance.  Miriam's voice was as unaffected
and undefended as her smile.

'Naomi is at home?' asked Justus.

'In the house.  Will you find her?  I think she and Father are
expecting you.'

Justus turned away, and Marcellus was uncertain whether to follow.
Miriam helped him to a gratifying decision by pointing to a chair.

'I heard you sing,' he said.  'It was the most--'  He paused to
grope for an appropriate word.

'How do you happen to speak Aramaic?' she interposed gently.

'I don't speak it very well,' said Marcellus.  'However,' he went
on more confidently, 'even your own countrymen might find it
difficult to describe your singing.  I was deeply moved by it.'

'I am glad you wanted to tell me that.'  Miriam pushed aside the
pillow on which the lace medallion had been pinned, and faced him
with candid eyes.  'I wondered a little what you might think.  I
saw you there with Justus.  I had never sung for a Roman.  It would
not have surprised me if you had been amused; but it would have
hurt me.'

'I'm afraid we have a bad reputation in these provinces,' sighed
Marcellus.

'Of course,' said Miriam.  'The only Romans we see in Cana are
legionaries, marching down the street, so haughtily, so defiantly'--
she straightened and swaggered her pretty shoulders, accenting her
militant pantomime with little jerks of her head--'as if they were
saying--'

She paused and added, apologetically, 'But perhaps I should not
tell you.'

'Oh, I know what we always seem to say when we strut,' assisted
Marcellus.  He protruded his lips with an exaggerated show of
arrogance, and carried on with Miriam's march:  '"Here--we come--
your lords--and--masters!"'

They both laughed a little, and Miriam resumed her needlework.
Bending over it attentively, she inquired:

'Are there many Romans like you, Marcellus Gallio?'

'Multitudes!  I make no claim to any sort of uniqueness.'

'I never talked with a Roman before,' said Miriam.  'But I supposed
they were all alike.  They look alike.'

'In their uniforms, yes; but under their spiked helmets and
shields, they are ordinary creatures with no relish for tramping
the streets of foreign cities.  They would much prefer to be at
home with their families, hoeing in their gardens and tending their
goats.'

'I am glad to know that,' said Miriam.  'It is so unpleasant to
dislike people--and so hard not to think badly of the Romans.  Now
I shall say that great numbers of them wish they were at home with
their gardens and goats; and I shall hope,' she went on, with a
slow smile, 'that their desire may be fulfilled.  Have you a
garden, sir?'

'Yes, we have a garden.'

'But no goats, I think.'

'There is no room for them.  We live in the city.'

'Have you horses?'

'Yes.'

'In Galilee,' said Miriam, 'horses require more room than goats.
Would you like to tell me about your home?'

'Gladly.  Our family consists of our parents and my sister Lucia
and myself.'

'Does your father take care of the garden while you are abroad?'

'Well--not personally--no,' replied Marcellus, after a little
hesitation; and when she glanced up from under her long lashes with
an elder-sisterly grin, he asked, 'Are you having a good time?'

She nodded companionably.

'I might have known that you kept a gardener,' she said, 'and a
maidservant too, no doubt.'

'Yes,' assented Marcellus, casually.

'Are they--slaves?' asked Miriam, in a tone that hoped not to give
offence.

'Yes,' admitted Marcellus, uncomfortably, 'but I can assure you
they are not mistreated.'

'I believe that,' she said, softly.  'You couldn't be cruel to
anyone.  How many slaves have you?'

'I never counted them.  A dozen, perhaps.  No--there must be more
than that.  Twenty, maybe.'

'It must seem odd to own other human beings,' reflected Miriam.
'Do you keep them locked up, when they are not working?'

'By no means!'  Marcellus dismissed the query with a toss of his
hand.  'They are free to go anywhere they please.'

'Indeed!' exclaimed Miriam.  'Don't they ever run away?'

'Not often.  There's nowhere for them to go.'

'That's too bad,' Miriam sighed.  'They'd be better off in chains,
wouldn't they?  Then maybe they could break loose.  As it is, the
whole world is their prison.'

'I never thought about it before,' pondered Marcellus.  'But I
suppose the whole world is a prison for everyone.  Is anybody
entirely free?  What constitutes freedom?'

'The truth!' answered Miriam, quickly.  'The truth sets anyone
free!  If it weren't so, I might feel quite fettered myself,
Marcellus Gallio.  My country is owned by a foreign master.  And,
because of my lameness, I may seem to have very little liberty; but
my spirit is free!'

'You are fortunate,' said Marcellus.  'I should give a great deal
to experience a liberty independent of all physical conditions.
Did you work out that philosophy for yourself?  Was it a product of
your illness, perhaps?'

'No, no!'  She shook her head decisively.  'My illness made a
wretched slave of me.  I did not earn my freedom.  It was a gift.'

Marcellus kept silent, when she paused.  Perhaps she would explain.
Suddenly her face lighted, and she turned toward him with an
altered mood.

'Please forgive me for being inquisitive about you,' she said.  'I
sit here all day with nothing new happening.  It is refreshing to
talk with someone from the outside world.  Tell me about your
sister Lucia.  Is she younger than you?'

'Much.'

'Younger than I?'

'Six years younger,' ventured Marcellus, smiling into her suddenly
widened eyes.

'Who told you my age?'

'Justus.'

'How did he happen to do that?'

'He was telling me, before we arrived in Cana, about your singing.
He said that you never knew you could sing until, one day, you
found that you had a voice--and sang.  Justus said it came all
unexpectedly.  How do you account for it--if it isn't a secret?'

'It is a secret,' she said, softly.

They were coming around the corner of the house now--Naomi first,
with her arms full of robes and shawls, followed by Justus and
Reuben.  Marcellus rose and was introduced.  Reuben rather
diffidently took the hand that Marcellus offered him.  Naomi,
apparently pleased by their guest's attitude, smiled cordially.  It
was easy to see the close resemblance of mother and daughter.
Naomi had the same dimples in her cheeks.

'We have always gone to Jerusalem to attend the Passover at this
season,' she said, spreading out her wares across the back of a
chair.  'This year we shall not go.  That is why I happen to have
so many things on hand.'

Marcellus assumed his best business manner.  Taking up a brown
robe, he examined it with professional interest.

'This,' he said, expertly, 'is typically Galilean.  A seamless
robe.  And excellent workmanship.  Evidently you have had much
practice in weaving this garment.'

Naomi's gratified expression encouraged him to speak freely.  He
felt he was making a good case for himself as a connoisseur of
homespun, and could risk an elaboration of his knowledge,
particularly for Justus's information.

'A weaver of my acquaintance in Athens,' he went on, 'told me
something about this robe.  He was formerly of Samaria, I believe,
and was quite familiar with Galilean products.'  He glanced toward
Justus, and met an inquisitive stare, as if he were searching his
memory for some related fact.  Now his eyes lighted a little.

'There was a young Greek working for Benyosef, a short time ago,'
remarked Justus.  'I heard him say he had been with a weaver in
Athens named Benjamin, from whom he had learned to speak Aramaic.
Might this have been the same weaver?'

'Why--yes!'  Marcellus tried to enjoy the coincidence.  'Benjamin
is well respected in Athens.  He is a good scholar, too.'  He
chuckled a little.  'Benjamin always insists on speaking Aramaic
with anyone whom he suspects of knowing the language.'

'He must have found you pleasant company, sir,' remarked Justus.
'I have noticed that you use many terms which are colloquial with
the Samaritans.'

'Indeed!' said Marcellus, taking up a shawl, and returning his
attention to Naomi.  'This is excellent wool,' he assured her.  'Is
it grown here in Galilee?'

'In our own madbra,' replied Reuben, proudly.

'Madbra!' repeated Marcellus.  'In the desert?'

Justus laughed.

'See, Reuben?' he exclaimed.  'When the Samaritans say "madbra,"
they mean barren land.'  He turned to Marcellus.  'When we say
"madbra," we mean pasture.  "Bara" is our word for desert.'

'Thanks, Justus,' said Marcellus.  'I'm learning something.'  He
dismissed this small episode by concentrating on the shawl.  'It is
beautifully dyed,' he said.

'With our own mulberries,' boasted Naomi.

'Had I known you were acquainted with Benjamin,' persisted Justus,
'I should have told you about this young Greek, Demetrius; a most
thoughtful fellow.  He left suddenly, one day.  He had been in some
trouble--and was a fugitive.'

Marcellus politely raised his brows, but made it clear enough, by
his manner, that they had other things to talk about.

'I shall want the shawl,' he said, 'and this robe.  Now--let us see
what else.'  He began fumbling with the garments, hoping he had not
seemed abrupt in disregarding the comments about Demetrius.

Presently Justus sauntered away toward the vineyard, and Reuben
followed him.

'Why don't you show Marcellus Gallio those pretty head-bands,
Mother?' suggested Miriam.

'Oh, they're nothing,' said Naomi.  'He wouldn't bother with them.'

'May I see them?' asked Marcellus.

Naomi obligingly moved away, and Marcellus continued to inspect the
textiles with exaggerated concern.

'Marcellus.'  Miriam's tone was confidential.

He glanced up and met her level eyes inquiringly.

'Why did you lie to Justus?' she insisted, just above a whisper.

'Lie to him?' parried Marcellus, flushing.

'About that Greek.  You did not want to talk about him.  Perhaps
you know him.  Tell me, Marcellus.  What are you?  You're not a
merchant.  I know that.  You have no real interest in my mother's
weaving.'  Miriam waited for a reply, but Marcellus had not
recovered his self-possession.  'Tell me,' she coaxed, softly.
'What are you doing up here--in Galilee--if it isn't a secret?'

He met her challenging smile with an attempted casualness.

'It is a secret,' he said.



Chapter XIV


Justus was coolly polite to-day, but remote.  He was beginning to
be sceptical about Marcellus.  Yesterday at Reuben's house a few
facts, unimportant when considered singly, had taken on size once
they were strung together.

Marcellus, whose Aramaic was distinctly of the Samaritan variety,
had recklessly volunteered that he knew old Benjamin, the weaver in
Athens, who had derived from Samaria.

Demetrius, the handsome young Greek who had recently been in
Benyosef's employ, also knew old Benjamin; had worked for him; and
the Aramaic he spoke was loaded with Samaritan provincialisms.
Clearly there was some sort of relation between Marcellus and this
fugitive slave, though the Roman had pretended not to have known
him, and had shown no interest in the story of his hasty flight
from Benyosef's shop.  Doubtless Marcellus knew about it, and had
reasons for wanting to evade any discussion of it.  It all went to
prove that you couldn't trust a Roman.

At sunset yesterday, Justus had strolled down the street by
himself, making it clear that his Roman patron's company was not
desired.  For a little while Marcellus had debated the propriety of
going alone to the fountain.  His anxiety to hear Miriam sing again
decided the matter.

The whole town was there and seated when he quietly joined the
crowd at its shaded outskirts.  No notice was taken of him, for
Miriam had at that moment arrived and all eyes were occupied.
Marcellus sat on the ground, a little way apart, and experienced
the same surge of emotion that had swept through him on the
previous evening.  Now that he had talked with her, Miriam's songs
meant even more.  He had been strangely drawn to this girl.  And he
knew that she had been sincerely interested in him.  It was not, in
either case, a mere transient infatuation.  There had been nothing
coyly provocative in Miriam's attitude.  She wanted only to be his
friend, and had paid him the high compliment of assuming that he
was bright enough to understand the nature of her unreserved
cordiality.

As he sat there in the darkness, alternately stilled and stirred by
her deep, vibrant, confident tones, he found himself consenting to
the reality of her honest faith.  His inherent, built-in scepticism
yielded to a curious wistfulness as she sang, 'In the shadow of thy
wings will I make my refuge. . . .  My heart is fixed. . . .
Awake, my glory!  Awake, my harp!'  Miriam couldn't walk--but she
could fly.

Justus had briefly announced that they would be leaving early in
the morning for his home town, Sepphoris, where he must attend to
some errands.

'Will we be coming back through Cana?' Marcellus had asked.

'If it is your wish, yes,' Justus had replied, 'but we have seen
everyone here who has weaving for sale.'

There wasn't much to be said after that.  Marcellus could think of
no reasonable excuse for a return to Cana.  He couldn't say, 'I
must have another private talk with Miriam.'  No--he would have to
go, leaving her to wonder what manner of rle he had been playing.
Given one more day, one more confidential chat with Miriam, he
might have told her why he was here in Galilee.

When the last song was ended, he waited in the shadows for the
crowd to disperse.  Justus, he observed had moved forward to join
Reuben's party as it made its way to the street.  It would be quite
possible to overtake this slow-moving group and say farewell to
Miriam.  Perhaps she might be glad if he did.  But on second
thoughts that seemed inadvisable.  It might prove embarrassing to
both of them.  Perhaps Reuben and Naomi shared the obvious
suspicions of Justus that there was something irregular about this
Roman's tour of Galilee.  After lingering indecisively until the
little park was cleared, Marcellus, deeply depressed and lonely,
slowly retraced his way to the camp, reproaching himself for having
unnecessarily given them cause to distrust him.  He saw now that it
would have been much more sensible if he had told Justus, at the
outset, why he wanted to visit Galilee.  Of course Justus, in that
event, might have refused to conduct him; but the present situation
was becoming intolerable.  Marcellus was very unhappy.  He would
have given much for a talk with Demetrius tonight.  Demetrius was
resourceful.  Had he been present, by this time he would have found
means for penetrating the reticence of these Galileans.

                         * * * * * *

It was nearing midday now.  They had not exchanged a word for more
than an hour.  Justus, who had been tramping on ahead, paused to
wait for Marcellus to come abreast of him.  He pointed to a house
on a near-by shady knoll.

'We will stop there,' he said, 'though it is likely that Amasiah
and Deborah have gone to Jerusalem.  They weave excellent saddle-
bags and sell them to the bazaars when they attend the Passover.'

A stout, middle-aged woman came sauntering through the yard to meet
them as they turned in at the gate, her face suddenly beaming as
she recognized Justus.  No, Amasiah was not at home.  Yes, he had
gone to Jerusalem.

'And why not you, Deborah?' asked Justus.

'Surely you know,' she sighed.  'I have no wish ever to see the
Holy City again.  Nor would Amasiah have gone but to sell the
saddle-bags.'  She turned inquiring eyes toward Marcellus, and
Justus introduced him with cool formality, explaining his mission.
Deborah smiled briefly and murmured her regret that they had
nothing to sell.  No, everything had gone with Amasiah.

'All but a little saddle-blanket I made for Jasper,' she added.  'I
can show it to you.'  They moved toward the house, and Deborah
brought out the saddle-blanket, a thick, well-woven trifle of gay
colours.  'Jasper can get along without it, if you want it.'  She
nodded toward a diminutive, silver-grey donkey, browsing in the
shade.

'I suppose Jasper is a little pet,' surmised Marcellus, lightly.

'Jasper is a little pest,' grumbled Deborah.  'I am too heavy to
ride him any more, and Amasiah says he isn't worth his keep in a
pack-train.'

'Would you like to sell him?' inquired Marcellus.

'You wouldn't have any use for him,' said Deborah, honestly.

'How much would you want?' persisted Marcellus.

'What's he worth, Justus?' asked Deborah, languidly.

Justus sauntered over to the donkey, pulled his shaggy head up out
of the grass, and looked into his mouth.

'Well--if he's worth anything at all, which is doubtful, except
maybe for a child to play with--he should bring twelve to fifteen
shekels.'

'Has he any bad habits?' inquired Marcellus.

'Eating,' said Deborah, dryly.

'But he won't run away?'

'Oh, no; he won't run away.  That would be too much of an effort.'
They all laughed but Jasper, who sighed deeply.

'I'll give you fifteen shekels for the donkey and the blanket,'
bargained Marcellus.

Deborah said that was fair enough, and added that there was quite a
good saddle, too, and a bridle that had been made specially for
Jasper.  She brought them.  It was a well-made saddle, and the
bridle was gaily ornamented with a red leather top-piece into which
a little bell was set.

'How about twenty-five shekels for everything?' suggested
Marcellus.

Deborah tossed the saddle across the donkey's back and began
fastening the girths.  Marcellus opened his wallet.  Justus,
watching the pantomime, chuckled.  It relieved Marcellus to see him
amused about something.

Jasper was reluctant to leave the grass-plot, but showed no
distress when it was time to part with Deborah, who had led him as
far as the gate.  Marcellus took the reins and proceeded to the
highway, Justus lingering for a private word with Deborah.

Late in the afternoon they reached the frowsy fringe of little
Sepphoris, a typical Galilean village.  Everybody waved a hand or
called a greeting to Justus as the big fellow trudged on with
lengthening strides.  Soon they were nearing the inevitable public
plaza.  A small boy broke loose from a group of children playing
about the brick-walled well and came running toward Justus with
exultant shouts.  He was a handsome lad with a sensitive face, a
tousle of curly black hair, and an agile body.  Justus quickened
his steps and caught the little fellow up in his arms, hugging him
hungrily.  He stopped and turned about, his eyes brightly proud.

'This is my Jonathan!' he announced, unnecessarily.  The boy gave
his grandfather another strangling embrace and wriggled out of his
arms.  He had sighted Jasper.  'Is this your donkey?' he cried.

'Perhaps you would like to ride him,' said Marcellus.  Jonathan
climbed on, and Marcellus adjusted the stirrup-straps, a score of
children gathering about with high-keyed exclamations.  Justus
stood by, stroking his beard, alternately smiling and frowning.

'What's his name?' asked Jonathan, as Marcellus put the reins in
his hands.  His small voice was shrill with excitement.

'His name is Jasper,' said Marcellus.  'You may have him, Jonathan.
He is your donkey now.'

'Mine!' squeaked Jonathan.  He gazed incredulously at his
grandfather.

'This gentleman,' said Justus, 'is my friend, Marcellus Gallio.  If
he says the donkey is yours, it must be so.'  He turned to
Marcellus, and said, above the children's shouts of amazement at
Jonathan's good fortune, 'That is most generous of you, sir!'

'Is he one of us, Grandfather?'  Jonathan pointed a finger at his
benefactor.

The two men exchanged quick glances, one frankly mystified, the
other somewhat embarrassed.

'You ARE one of us,' declared Jonathan, 'or you wouldn't give your
things away!'

Again Marcellus looked into Justus's eyes, but received no answer.

'Are you rich?' demanded Jonathan, with childish candour.

'No one has ever said "yes" to that question, Jonathan,' laughed
Marcellus, as Justus mumbled an unintelligible apology for his
grandson's impertinence.

'But you must be rich,' insisted Jonathan, 'to be giving your
things away.  Did Jesus tell you to do that?'  He thrust his small
face forward and studied Marcellus's eyes with childish candour.
'You knew Jesus, didn't you?  Did my grandfather tell you that
Jesus straightened my foot, so I can walk and run?'

The children were quiet now.  Marcellus found himself confronted
with the necessity of making a public address, and was appropriately
tongue-tied.  After a difficult interval, he stammered:

'Y-yes--your grandfather told me--about your foot, Jonathan.  I am
very glad it got well.  That's splendid!'

'Let us go now,' muttered Justus, uneasily.  'My house is close by.
Come!  I want you to meet my daughter.'

Marcellus needed no urging.  They proceeded up the street, their
numbers increasing as they went.  The news had travelled fast.
People came out of their houses, wide-eyed with curiosity; children
of all sizes ran to join the procession.  One small boy on
crutches, dangling a useless leg, waited for the parade, his
pinched face alight with wonder.  Justus stepped to the side of the
road and gave him a friendly pat on the head as he passed.

Now they had arrived at the modest little home.  The door-yard was
scrupulously tidy.  The narrow walk was bordered with tulips.
Rebecca, a gentle-voiced, plain-featured matron of thirty-five, met
them, considerably puzzled by all the excitement.  Justus, on the
doorstep, briefly explained; and, with a new cordiality, presented
Marcellus.

'Oh, you shouldn't have done that, sir,' murmured Rebecca, though
her shining eyes were full of appreciation.  'That is quite an
expensive gift to make to a little boy.'

'I'm fully repaid,' smiled Marcellus.  'It is evident that the
donkey is a success.'

'Look, Mother!' shouted Jonathan, waving his arm.  'It's MINE!'

Rebecca nodded and smiled, and the noisy pack moved on in the wake
of the town's young hero.

'This is a great day for Jonathan,' said Rebecca, as she led the
way into their small, frugally furnished parlour.

'Yes, yes,' sighed Justus, sinking into a chair.  He was frowning
thoughtfully.  'It's a great day for the lad--but Jonathan's rather
young for a responsibility like that.'

'Oh, he's old enough,' remarked Marcellus.  'That lazy little
donkey really should belong to a child.  Jonathan will get along
with him splendidly.'

'As for that--yes,' agreed Justus, soberly.  He stroked his beard
moodily, nodded his head several times and muttered to himself,
'Yes, yes; that's a good deal to expect of a little boy.'  Then
suddenly brightening he said to his daughter, 'Rebecca, we will
pitch Marcellus Gallio's tent there beside the house.  And he will
have his meals with us.'

'Of course, Father,' responded Rebecca, promptly, giving their
guest a hospitable smile.  'Is there anything you are enjoined not
to eat, sir?'  And when Marcellus looked puzzled, she hesitatingly
explained, 'I am not acquainted with the Roman customs.  I thought
perhaps your religion--like ours--forbids your eating certain
things.'

'Oh, no,' declared Marcellus, amiably.  'My religion has never
inconvenienced anyone--not even me.'  He quickly repented of his
flippancy when he observed that his remark had drawn down the
corners of his host's mouth.

'Do you mean that your people have no religion at all?' queried
Justus, soberly.

'No religion!' protested Marcellus.  'Why, we have gods on every
corner!'

'Idols, you mean,' corrected Justus, dourly.

'Statues,' amended Marcellus.  'Some of them quite well done, too.
Imported from Greece, most of them.  The Greeks have a talent for
it.'

'And your people worship these--statues?' wondered Justus.

'They seem to, sir.  I suppose some of them are really sincere
about it.'  Marcellus was tiring of this inquisition.

'But you, personally, do not worship these things,' persisted
Justus.

'Oh, by no means!'  Marcellus laughed.

'Then you do not believe in any Supreme Power?'  Justus was shocked
and troubled.

'I admit, Justus, that all the theories I have heard on this
subject are unconvincing.  I am open to conviction.  I should be
glad indeed to learn of a reliable religion.'

Rebecca, scenting a difficult discussion, moved restlessly to the
edge of her chair, smiling nervously.

'I shall go and prepare your supper,' she said, rising.  'You men
must be starving.'

'I didn't mean to be offensive, Justus,' regretted Marcellus, when
Rebecca had left the room.  'You are a sincerely religious person,
and it was thoughtless of me to speak negligently of these
matters.'

'No harm done,' said Justus, gently.  'You wish you could believe.
That is something.  Is it not true, in our life, that they find who
seek?  You are a man of good intent.  You are kind.  You deserve to
have a religion.'

Marcellus couldn't think of an appropriate rejoinder to that, so he
sat silent, waiting for further directions.  After a moment, Justus
impulsively slapped his big brown hands down on his knees in a
gesture of adjournment; and, rising, moved toward the door.

'Let us put up your tent, Marcellus,' he suggested kindly.  It was
the first time he had spoken Marcellus's name without the formal
addition of 'Gallio.'

                         * * * * * *

Shortly after the family supper, which he had been too busy to
attend, Jonathan appeared at the open front of the brown tent.  He
stood with his feet wide apart, his arms akimbo, and an expression
of gravity on his sensitive lips.  It was apparent that the day's
experiences had aged him considerably.

Marcellus, writing at the small collapsible table, put down his
stylus, regarded his caller with interest, and grinned.  He
mistakenly thought he knew what had been going on in Jonathan's
mind.  At the outset, his amazing windfall had dizzied him into a
state of emotional instability that had made his voice squeaky and
his postures jerky; but now that the crowd had gone home, and
Jasper had been shown into the unoccupied stall beside the cow, and
had been hand-fed with laboriously harvested clover, Jonathan's
excitement had cooled.  He was becoming aware of his new status as
a man of affairs, a man of property, sole owner and proprietor of a
donkey--the only man of his age in all Sepphoris who owned a
donkey.  Even his grandfather didn't own a donkey.  Marcellus felt
that Jonathan's behaviour was approximately normal for a seven-year-
old boy, in these circumstances.

'Well--did you put him up for the night?' he inquired, as one man
to another.

Jonathan pursed his lips and nodded gravely.

'Will you come in and sit down?'

Jonathan came in and sat down, crossing his legs with mature
deliberation.

'Did Jasper behave pretty well?'

Jonathan nodded several times, facing the ground.

Marcellus felt in need of some co-operation, but pursued his
inquiries hopefully.

'Didn't bite anybody?  Or kick anybody?  Or lie down in his harness
and go to sleep in the road?'

Jonathan shook his head slowly, without looking up, his tongue
bulging his cheek.

Not having conversed with a small boy for many years, Marcellus
began to realize that it wasn't as simple a matter as he had
supposed.

'Well!' he exclaimed brightly.  'That's fine!  Is there anything
else you'd like to tell me about it?'

Jonathan glumly raised his head and faced Marcellus with troubled
eyes.  He swallowed noisily.

'Thomas asked me to let him have a ride,' he muttered, thickly.

'Something tells me that you refused,' ventured Marcellus.

Jonathan nodded remorsefully.

'I shouldn't fret about that,' went on Marcellus, comfortingly.
'You can let Thomas ride to-morrow.  Perhaps he shouldn't have
expected you to lend him your donkey on the very first day you had
him.  Is this Thomas a good friend of yours?'

'Did you see the boy with the crutches, the one with the limber
leg?'

'The little boy your grandfather stopped to speak to?'

Jonathan nodded.

'Well, you can make it up with Thomas,' Marcellus said soothingly.
'He'll have plenty of chances to ride.  See here--if you feel so
upset about this, why don't you run over to Thomas's house now and
tell him he may ride Jasper, first thing in the morning.'

'They're going away to-morrow,' croaked Jonathan, dismally.
'Thomas and his mother.  They don't live here.  They live in
Capernaum.  They came here because his grandmother was sick.  And
she died.  And now they're going back to Capernaum.'

'That's too bad,' said Marcellus.  'But it isn't your fault.  If
you're troubled about it, perhaps you'd better talk it over with
your grandfather.  Did you ever sleep in a tent, Jonathan?'

Jonathan shook his head, the gloom lifting a little.

'There's another cot we can set up,' said Marcellus.  'You go and
talk to your grandfather about Thomas, and ask your mother if you
may sleep in the tent.'

Jonathan grinned appreciatively and disappeared.

It was impossible not to overhear the conversation, for Justus was
seated near the open window within an arm's reach of the tent.
After a while, Marcellus became conscious of the deep, gentle voice
of Justus and the rather plaintive treble of his troubled grandson.
Immensely curious to learn how all this was coming out, he put down
his stylus and listened.

'When Jesus told people to give their things away, he said that
just to rich people; didn't he, Grandfather?'

'Yes, just to people who had things they could divide with others.'

'Is Marcellus rich?'

'Yes, and he is very kind.'

'Did Jesus tell him to give his things away?'

There was a long pause here that made Marcellus hold his breath.

'I do not know, Jonathan.  It is possible.'

There was another long silence, broken at length by the little boy.

'Grandfather, why didn't Jesus heal Thomas's leg?'

'I don't know, son.  Perhaps Jesus wasn't told about it.'

'That was too bad,' lamented Jonathan.  'I wish he had.'

'Yes,' sighed Justus.  'That would make things much easier for you,
wouldn't it?'

'I'm glad he straightened my foot,' murmured Jonathan.

'Yes, that was wonderful!' rumbled Justus.  'Jesus was very good to
you!  I know that if you could do anything for Jesus, you would be
glad to; wouldn't you?'

'I couldn't do anything for Jesus, Grandfather,' protested
Jonathan.  'How could I?'

'Well, if you should find that there was something Jesus hadn't
done, because they hadn't told him about it, something he would
have wanted to do, if he had known; something he would want to do
now, if he were still here--'

'You mean--something for Thomas?'  Jonathan's voice was thin.

'Had you thought,' asked Justus, 'there was something you might do
for Thomas?'

Little Jonathan was crying now; and from the sounds of shifting
positions within the room, Marcellus surmised that Justus had taken
his unhappy grandson in his arms.  There was no more talk.  After a
half-hour or more, Jonathan appeared, red-eyed and fagged, at the
door of the tent.

'I'm going to sleep with Grandfather,' he gulped.  'He wants me
to.'

'That's right, Jonathan,' approved Marcellus.  'Your grandfather
hasn't seen you for a long time.  You may play in the tent to-
morrow, if you like.'

Jonathan lingered, scowling thoughtfully and blinking his eyes.

'Would it be all right with you if I gave Jasper away?' he asked,
with an effort.

'To Thomas, maybe?' wondered Marcellus.

Jonathan nodded, without looking up.

'Are you sure you want to?'

'No, I don't want to.'

'Well, you're a pretty brave little boy, Jonathan!  I'll say that
for you!' declared Marcellus.  This fervent praise, being
altogether too much for Jonathan, led to his sudden disappearance.
Marcellus untied his sandal-straps and lounged on his cot as the
twilight deepened.  This Jesus must have been a man of gigantic
moral power.  He had been dead and in his grave for a year now, but
he had stamped himself so indelibly on the house of Justus that
even this child had been marked!  The simile intrigued him for a
moment.  It was as if this Jesus had taken a die and a hammer, and
had pounded the image of his spirit into this Galilean gold,
converting it into the coins of his kingdom!  The man should have
lived!  He should have been given a chance to impress more people!
A spirit like that--if it contrived to get itself going--could make
the world a fit habitation for men of good will!  But Jesus was
dead!  A little handful of untutored country people in Galilee
would remember for a few years, and the great light would be
extinguished.  It would be a pity!  Little Jonathan would give up
his donkey to a crippled boy, but only Sepphoris would ever know
about it.  Miriam would sing her inspired songs, but only for
sequestered little Cana.  Jesus' kingdom belonged to the world!
But its coinage was good only in the shabby villages of Galilee.
He would write that to-morrow, to Demetrius.

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus ate his breakfast alone, Rebecca attentive but
uncommunicative.  He had ventured upon several commonplace remarks,
to which she had replied, amiably enough, in listless monosyllables.
Yes, Jonathan and his grandfather had had their breakfast early.
No, she didn't think they would be gone long.

After he had eaten, Marcellus returned to the tent and continued
writing the letter he had begun to Demetrius; writing it in Greek,
with no present plans for its delivery.  Everybody who was likely
to be journeying to Jerusalem at this season had already gone.

Presently Justus appeared at the tent-door.  Marcellus signed to
him to come in, and he sat down on a camp-chair.

'Well,' began Marcellus, breaking a lengthy silence, 'I suppose
little Jonathan has done a generous deed--and broken his heart.  I
am sorry to have caused him so much distress.'

'Do not reproach yourself, Marcellus.  It may turn out well.  True,
the child is a bit young to be put to such a severe test.  We can
only wait and see how he behaves.  This is a great day for Jonathan--
if he can see it through.'  Justus was proud, but troubled.

'See it through!' echoed Marcellus.  'But he has seen it through!
Hasn't he given his donkey to the crippled lad?  You don't think he
may repent of his generosity, and ask Thomas to give the donkey
back, do you?'

'No, no--not that!  But they're all down there on the corner
telling Jonathan what a fine little fellow he is.  You should have
heard them, when Thomas and his mother set off--Thomas riding the
donkey and his mother walking alongside, so happy she was crying.
And all the women caressing Jonathan, and saying, "How sweet!  How
kind!  How brave!"'  Justus sighed deeply.  'It was too bad!  But,
of course, I couldn't rebuke them.  I came away.'

'But Justus!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'Surely it is only natural that
the neighbours should praise Jonathan for what he did!  It was no
small sacrifice for a little boy!  Isn't it right that the child
should be commended?'

'Commended, yes,' agreed Justus, 'but not praised overmuch.  As you
have said, this thing has cost Jonathan a high price.  He has a
right to be rewarded for it--in his heart.  It would be a great
pity if all he gets out of it is smugness!  There is no vanity so
damaging to a man's character as pride over his good deeds!  Let
him be proud of his muscles, his fleetness, his strength, his face,
his marksmanship, his craftsmanship, his endurance--these are the
common frailties that beset us all.  But when a man becomes vain in
his goodness, it is a great tragedy!  My boy is very young and
inexperienced.  He could be so easily ruined by self-righteousness,
almost without realizing what ailed him.'

'I see what you mean,' declared Marcellus.  'I agree with you.
This thing will either make Jonathan strong--beyond his years, or
it will make a little prig of him.  Justus--let's get out of here
before the neighbours have had a chance to ruin him.  We'll take
him along with us!  What do you say?'

Justus's eyes lighted.  He nodded an enthusiastic approval.

'I shall speak with his mother,' he said.  'We will pack up and
leave--at once!'

'That's sensible,' said Marcellus.  'I was afraid you might insist
on Jonathan's remaining here, just to see how much of this
punishment he could take.'

'No!' said Justus.  'It wouldn't be fair to overload the little
fellow.  He has done very well indeed.  It is time now that we gave
him a helping hand.  We too have some obligations in this case, my
friend!'

'You're right!'  Marcellus began rolling up the letter he had just
finished.  'I got Jonathan into this mess, and I'll do my best to
help him through it without his being damaged.'

Justus no more than had time to enter the house before Jonathan put
in an appearance at the door of the tent, wearing the wan,
tremulous smile of a patient burden-bearer.

'Hi!  Jonathan,' greeted Marcellus, noisily.  'I hear you got young
Thomas started on his way.  That's good.  What do you want with a
donkey, anyhow?  You have two of the best legs in town.'  Busily
preoccupied with the blankets he was folding up and stuffing into a
pack-saddle, he absently chattered on, half to himself, 'A boy who
was once a cripple, and then was cured, should be so glad he could
walk that he would never want to ride!'

'But Jasper was such a nice donkey,' replied Jonathan, biting his
lip.  'Everybody said they didn't know how I could give him up.'

'Well, never mind what everybody said!' barked Marcellus.  'Don't
let them spoil it for you now.  You're a stout little fellow--and
that's the end of it!  Here! blow your nose, and give me a hand on
this strap!'

Justus appeared in time to hear the last of it.  He winced--and
grinned.

'Jonathan,' he said, 'we are taking you with us for a few days'
journey.  Your mother is packing some things for you.'

'ME?  I'm going with you?' squealed Jonathan.  'Oh!' and he raced
around the corner of the tent, shouting gleefully.

Justus and Marcellus exchanged sober glances.

'That was a brutal thing I did just now!' muttered Marcellus.

'"Faithful are the wounds of a friend,"' said Justus.  'Jonathan
will recover.  He already has something new to think about--now
that he is going with us.'

'By the way, Justus, where ARE we going?'

'I had thought of Capernaum next.'

'That can wait.  We might overtake Thomas and Jasper.  We don't
want to see any more of them to-day.  Let's go back to Cana.  It
will do little Jonathan good to have a look at Miriam.'

Justus tried to conceal a broad grin by tugging at his beard.

'Perhaps it would do you good too, Marcellus,' he ventured.  'But
will you not be wasting your time?  We have seen everything there
is for sale--in Cana.'  Suddenly Marcellus, who had been tossing
camp equipment into a wicker box, straightened and looked Justus
squarely in the eyes.

'I think I have bought all the homespun I want,' he announced,
bluntly.  'What I have been learning about this Jesus has made me
curious to hear more.  I wonder if you will help me meet a few
people who knew him--people who might be willing to talk about
him.'

'That would be difficult,' said Justus, frankly.  'Our people have
no reasons for feeling that they can talk freely with Romans.  They
would find it hard to understand why a man of your nation should be
making inquiries about Jesus.  Perhaps you are not aware that the
Romans put him to death.  Maybe you do not know that the
legionaries--especially in Jerusalem--are on the alert for any
signs that the friends of Jesus are organized.'

'Do you suspect me of being a spy, Justus?' asked Marcellus,
bluntly.

'No, I do not think you are a spy.  I do not know what you are,
Marcellus; but I am confident that you have no evil intent.  I
shall be willing to tell you some things about Jesus.'

'Thank you, Justus.'  Marcellus drew from his tunic the letter he
had written.  'Tell me: how may I send this to Jerusalem?'

Justus frowned, eyeing the scroll suspiciously.

'There is a Roman fort at Capernaum,' he muttered.  'Doubtless they
have messengers going back and forth, every few days.'

Marcellus handed him the scroll and pointed to the address.

'I do not want this letter handled through the Capernaum fort,' he
said, 'or the Insula at Jerusalem.  It must be delivered by a
trusted messenger into the care of the Greek, Stephanos, at
Benyosef's shop.'

'So you do know that slave Demetrius,' commented Justus.  'I
thought as much.'

'Yes, he is MY slave.'

'I had wondered about that, too.'

'Indeed!  Well, what else had you wondered about?  Let's clean it
all up, while we're at it.'

'I have wondered what your purpose was in making this trip into
Galilee,' said Justus, brightening a little.

'Well--now you know; don't you?'

'I am not sure that I do.'  Justus laid a hand on Marcellus's arm.
'Tell me this: did you ever see Jesus; ever hear him talk?'

'Yes,' admitted Marcellus, 'but I could not understand what he
said.  At that time I did not know the language.'

'Did you study Aramaic so you could learn something about him?'

'Yes, I had no other interest in it.'

'Let me ask one more question.'  Justus lowered his voice.  'Are
you one of us?'

'That's what I came up here to find out,' said Marcellus.  'Will
you help me?'

'As much as I can,' agreed Justus, 'as much as you are able to
comprehend.'

Marcellus looked puzzled.

'Do you mean that there are some mysteries here that I am not
bright enough to understand?' he demanded, soberly.

'Bright enough, yes,' rejoined Justus.  'But an understanding of
Jesus is not a mere matter of intelligence.  Some of this story has
to be accepted by faith.'

'Faith comes hard with me,' frowned Marcellus.  'I am not
superstitious.'

'So much the better,' declared Justus.  'The higher the price you
have to pay, the more you will cherish what you get.'  Impulsively
throwing aside his coat, he began pulling up tent-stakes.  'We will
talk more about this later,' he said.  'It is time we were on our
way if we hope to reach Cana by sunset.'  Suddenly he straightened
with a new idea.  'I have it!' he exclaimed.  'We will go to
Nazareth!  It is much nearer than Cana.  Nazareth was Jesus' home
town.  His mother lives there still.  She will not hesitate to talk
freely with you.  When she learns that you--a Roman--saw her son,
and was so impressed that you wanted to know more about him, she
will tell you everything!'

'No--no!' exclaimed Marcellus, wincing.  'I have no wish to see
her.'  Noting the sudden perplexity on Justus's face, he added, 'I
feel sure she would not want to talk about her son--to a Roman.'

                         * * * * * *

For the first three miles, Jonathan frolicked about the little
caravan with all the aimless extravagance of a frisky pup, dashing
on ahead, inexpertly throwing stones at the crows, and making many
brief excursions into the fields.  But as the sun rose higher, his
wild enthusiasm came under better control.  Now he was content to
walk sedately beside his grandfather, taking long strides and
feeling very manly.  After a while he took his grandfather's hand
and shortened his steps at the request of his aching legs.

Preoccupied with their conversation, which was weighty, Justus had
been only vaguely aware of the little boy's weariness; but when he
stumbled and nearly fell, they all drew up in the shade, unloaded
the pack-train, and reapportioned their burdens so that the
smallest donkey might be free for a rider.  Jonathan made no
protest when they lifted him up.

'I wish I had kept that nice saddle,' he repined.

'No, you don't,' drawled Marcellus.  'When you give anything away,
make a good job of it.  Don't skimp!'

'Our friend speaks truly, my boy,' said Justus.  'The donkey will
carry you safely without a saddle.  Let us move on, and when the
sun is directly overhead, we will have something to eat.'

'I'm hungry now!' murmured Jonathan.

'The bread will taste better at noon,' advised Justus.

'I'm hungry too,' intervened Marcellus, mercifully.  As he
unstrapped the hamper, he added, out of the corner of his mouth,
'He's only a baby, Justus.  Don't be too hard on him.'

Justus grumbled a little over the delay and the breakdown of
discipline, but it was easy to see that he had been mellowed by
Marcellus's gentle defence of the child.  A token lunch was passed
about, and presently they were on the highway again.

'You would have been delighted with the mind of Jesus,' said
Justus, companionably.  'You have a generous heart, Marcellus.  How
often he talked about generosity!  In his opinion there was nothing
meaner than a mean gift.  About the worst thing a man could do to
himself or a fellow creature was to bestow a grudged gift.  It was
very hard on a man's character to GIVE away something that should
have been THROWN away!  That much of Jesus' teachings you could
accept, my friend, without any difficulty.'

'That is a friendly comment, Justus, but you do me too much
credit,' protested Marcellus.  'The fact is, I have never in my
life given anything away that impoverished me in the least.  I have
never given anything away that I needed or wanted to keep.  I
suppose Jesus parted with everything he had.'

'Everything!' said Justus.  'He had nothing but the garments he
wore.  He held that if a man had two coats, he should give one
away.  During his last year with us he wore a good robe.  Perhaps
he would have given that away, too, if it hadn't been given to him
in peculiar circumstances.'

'Would you like to tell me about it?' asked Marcellus.

'There was an ill-favoured woman in Nazareth who was suspected of
practising witchcraft.  She was a dwarfish person with an ugly
countenance, and walked alone, friendless and bitter.  The children
cried after her on the road.  And so a legend spread that Tamar had
an evil eye.  One Sabbath day the neighbours heard her loom
banging, and warned her against this breaking of the law; for many
of our people have more respect for the Sabbath than they have for
one another.  Tamar did not heed the warning and she was reported
to the authorities, who burst in upon her, on a Sabbath morning,
and destroyed her loom which was her living.  Perhaps you can guess
the rest of the story,' said Justus.

'It was fortunate for Tamar that Jesus was a good carpenter,'
remarked Marcellus.  'But what did the authorities think of his
coming to Tamar's aid?  Did they accuse him of being sympathetic
with Sabbath-breakers?'

'That they did!' declared Justus.  'It was at a time when the
priests were on the alert to find him at fault.  The people often
urged him to speak in the village synagogues, and this displeased
the rabbis.  They were always haranguing the people about their
tithes and sacrificial offerings.  But Jesus talked about
friendship and hospitality to strangers and relief for the poor.'

'But, didn't the rabbis believe in friendship and charity?'
wondered Marcellus.

'Oh, yes, of course.  They took it for granted that everybody was
agreed on that.'

'In theory, at least,' surmised Marcellus.

'Exactly!  In theory.  But securing funds to support the synagogue--
that was practical!  They had to talk constantly about money.  It
left them no time to talk about the things of the spirit.'

'Well, go on about Tamar,' interposed Marcellus.  'I suppose Jesus
reconstructed her loom--and she wove him the robe.'

'Right!  And he wore it until he died.'

'Were you there, when he died?' asked Marcellus, uneasily.

'No, I was in prison.'  Justus seemed disinclined to enlarge upon
this matter; but, when questioned, told the story briefly.  A few
days before his trial for treason and disturbing the peace, Jesus
had impulsively driven the hucksters and bankers out of the Temple.
Several of his friends had been arrested and thrown into prison on
the charge of having gathered up some of the scattered coins from
the pavement.  The accusation was untrue, Justus insisted, but they
were kept in prison for a fortnight.  'It was all over,' he said,
sadly, 'when we were released.  As for the robe--the Roman soldiers
gambled for it, and carried it away with them.  We often wondered
what became of it.  It could have had no value--for them.'

It was noon now, and a halt was made in a little grove where there
was a spring and a green grass-plot for grazing.  The donkeys were
unburdened and tethered.  The food was unpacked; a wineskin, a
basket of bread, a parcel of smoked fish, an earthenware jar of
cooked barley, a box of sun-cured figs.  They spread a blanket on
the ground for little Jonathan, who, stuffed to repletion and
wearied by the journey, promptly tumbled down to sleep.  Justus and
Marcellus, lounging on the grass, pursued a low-voiced conversation.

'Sometimes thoughtless people misunderstood his attitude toward
business,' Justus was saying.  'His critics noised it about that he
had contempt for barter and trade; that he had no respect for
thrift and honest husbandry.'

'I had wondered about that,' said Marcellus.  'There has been much
talk about his urging people to give things away.  It had occurred
to me that this could be overdone.  If men recklessly distributed
their goods to all comers, how could they provide for their own
dependents?'

'Let me give you an illustration,' said Justus.  'This subject came
up, one day, and Jesus dealt with it in a story.  He was forever
contriving simple little fables.  He said, a man with a vineyard
wanted his grapes picked, for they were now ripe.  Going down to
the public market, he asked a group of idlers if they wanted a job.
They said they would work all day for one denarius.'

'Rather high,' observed Marcellus.

'Rather!  But the grapes had to be picked immediately, and the man
wasn't in a position to argue; so he took them on.  By noon, it was
apparent that he would need more help.  Again in the market-place
he asked the unemployed what they would take to work that
afternoon.  And they said, "We will leave that to you, sir."  Well,
when evening came, the men who had bargained with him for one
denarius were paid off according to agreement.  Then came the men
who had worked shorter hours, leaving the wages to the owner's
generosity.'

'So, what did he do?' wondered Marcellus, sincerely interested.

'Gave every man a denarius!  All the way up and down the line--one
denarius!  He even gave a denarius to a few who hadn't worked more
than an hour!'

'That might have started a row,' surmised Marcellus.

'And indeed it DID!  The men who had worked all day complained
bitterly.  But the owner said, "I paid you the price you had
demanded.  That was according to contract.  These other men made no
demands, but relied on my good will."'

'Excellent!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'If a man drives a hard bargain
with you and you are forced to concede to it, you have no
obligation to be generous.  But if he lets YOU say how much he
should have, that's likely to cost you something!'

'There you are!' nodded Justus.  'You have a right to weigh it out
by the pennyworth, if the other fellow haggles.  But if he leaves
it to you, the measure you give must be pressed down, shaken
together, and running over!'

'Justus,' declared Marcellus, 'if it became a custom for people to
deal with one another in that way, the market-place wouldn't be
quite so noisy, would it?'

'And all men would be better off,' said Justus.  'People wouldn't
have to be taxed to employ patrols to keep the peace.  And as the
idea spread,' he added, dreamily, 'all the armies could be
demobilized.  That would lift a great weight off the shoulders of
the people.  And once they had experienced this more abundant life
that Jesus proposed, it is not likely they would want to return to
the old way.'

For some time they sat in silence, each busy with his own thoughts.

'Of course, it's utterly impractical,' declared Marcellus.  'Only a
little handful would make the experiment, and at ruinous cost.  The
great majority would sneer and take advantage of them, considering
them cowardly and feeble-minded for not defending their rights.
They would soon be stripped of everything!'

'That's true,' admitted Justus.  'Stripped of everything but THE
GREAT IDEA!  But, Marcellus, that idea is like a seed.  It doesn't
amount to much if you expect immediate returns.  But if you're
willing to plant it, and nourish it--'

'I suppose,' remarked Marcellus, 'it is as if some benefactor
appeared in the world with a handful of new grain which, if men
should feed on it, would give them peace and prosperity.'

'Very good,' approved Justus, 'but that handful of grain would not
go very far unless it were sowed and reaped and sowed, again and
again.  Jesus talked about that.  Much of this seed, he said, would
never come up.  Some of it would lodge in the weeds and brambles.
Some of it would fall upon stony ground.  But a little of it would
grow.'

'Justus, do you honestly believe there's any future for a theory
like that--in this greedy world?'  Marcellus was deeply in earnest.

'Yes, I do!' declared Justus.  'I believe it because he believed
it!  He said it would work like yeast in meal; slowly, silently;
but--once it began--nothing could ever stop it.  Nobody would ever
be able to shut it off, or dig it up, or tear it out!'

'But--why did it begin up here, in poor little Galilee--so remote
from the main centres of world development?' wondered Marcellus.

'Well,' reflected Justus, 'it had to begin SOMEWHERE!'  After a
moment of meditation, he faced Marcellus with a sly grin.  'Do you
think this seed might have had a better chance to take root and
grow, if it had fallen on the streets in Rome?'

'I think the question answers itself,' conceded Marcellus.

Justus reached over and patted the little boy's tanned cheek.

'On, now, to Cana,' he said, scrambling to his feet.

In a few minutes they were on the highway, Justus leading with
long, swinging strides, indulging in a reminiscent monologue.

'How often we came over this road together!' he was recalling.
'Jesus loved Cana better than any other town in Galilee.'

'Better than Nazareth?' queried Marcellus.

'They never quite appreciated his spirit in Nazareth,' explained
Justus.  'You know how it is.  A prophet has no standing in his own
community.  The Nazarenes used to say, "How can this man have any
wisdom?  Don't WE know him?"'

'Apparently they didn't rank very high in their own esteem,'
laughed Marcellus.

'It was natural,' said Justus, sobering.  'He had grown up with
them.  He never held it against them that they did not respond to
his teachings as they did in Cana and Capernaum.  It was in Cana
that he first exercised the peculiar powers you will be hearing
about.  I don't suppose anyone has told you what happened there,
one day, at a wedding?'

'No,' replied Marcellus, attentively.  'What happened?'

It was a story of some length, and Justus was so particular about
the small details that Marcellus immediately surmised its
importance.  Anna, the daughter of Hariph and Rachel, was to be
married.  Hariph was a potter, an industrious fellow, but by no
means prosperous, and the expense of the wedding dinner for Anna
was not easy for them.  However, Hariph was going to see his child
properly honoured.  Anna was very popular, and Hariph and Rachel
had a host of relatives.  Everybody was invited and everybody came.

'Were you there, Justus?'

'No, that was before I knew Jesus.  The story of what occurred,
that day, quickly spread far and wide.  I don't mind telling you
that when I heard it, I doubted it.'

'Get on with it, please!' insisted Marcellus.

'Jesus arrived late.  The wedding rites had been performed, and the
guests had been at table for some time when he appeared.  Poor
Hariph was unhappy.  He had not provided enough wine for so large a
crowd.  His predicament was whispered into Jesus' ear.'

Justus tramped on for half a stadium in moody silence.

'Maybe it is not the time yet to tell you this,' he muttered.  'You
will not believe it.  I did not believe it when they told me!
Well, Jesus slipped away from the table, and went to the small
serving-room.  He saw some of Hariph's earthenware jars in the
little court outside, and told the servants to fill them with
water.  Then, having instructed them to serve it to the guests, he
went back and resumed his place at the table.  When the water was
served, IT WAS WINE!'

'No, Justus, it couldn't be!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'This spoils
the story of Jesus!'

'I was afraid you weren't ready for it, my friend,' regretted
Justus.

'Oh, but there must have been some better explanation of that
wine,' insisted Marcellus.  'Jesus comes in with that radiant
personality; everyone loving him.  And even the water they drank in
his presence tasted like wine!  And so, this other utterly
preposterous tale got bruited about.'

'Have it your own way, Marcellus,' consented Justus, kindly.  'It
does not offend me that you doubt the story.  You can believe in
the wisdom and goodness of Jesus without that.'

They proceeded, without further conversation, up the long hill
where, at the crest, Justus stopped, cupped his eyes with his big,
brown hands, and gazed intently down the narrow road as far as he
could see; a familiar, though unexplained, occurrence.  The best
Marcellus could make of these frequent long-range observations was
his belief that Justus was expecting to meet someone by appointment.
To-day he thought of asking about it, but decided to wait until
Justus wanted to tell him.

While they tarried, at the top of the hill, for the pack-train to
overtake them, Marcellus broke the silence with a question.

'Did you not tell me, Justus, that Miriam discovered her matchless
voice while her family was absent from home, attending a wedding-
feast to which she had been invited--and had refused to go?'

'Yes,' assented Justus.  'It was Anna's wedding.'

'Jesus arrived late at the wedding,' remembered Marcellus.

'Yes.'  Justus nodded and they exchanged a look of mutual
understanding.

'I wonder what made him late,' reflected Marcellus.

'I, too, have often wondered about that,' said Justus, quietly.

'Do you suppose he might have asked Miriam not to tell?'

'It is possible.'

'So far as you know, Justus,' persisted Marcellus, 'did he ever
confer a great gift upon someone, and request the beneficiary to
keep it a secret?'

'Yes,' said Justus.  'There were many evidences of such events.'

'How do you explain that?'  Marcellus wanted to know.

'Jesus found any public display of charity very offensive,' said
Justus.  'Had it been possible, I think he would have preferred to
do all his generous deeds in secret.  On one occasion he said to a
great throng that had gathered on a hillside to hear him talk,
"When you make gifts, do not let them be seen.  Do not sound a
trumpet that you may receive praise.  When you do your alms-giving,
let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  No one
but your Father will see.  Only your Father will reward you."'

'What did he mean, Justus--about your Father rewarding you, if no
one else knows?  Take little Jonathan's case, for example: if
nobody had learned about his giving his donkey to the crippled lad,
would he have been secretly rewarded?'

'Of course!' declared Justus.  'If no one had known about the gift,
Jonathan's heart would have overflowed with happiness.  You
wouldn't have heard him wishing that he had kept the saddle!'

'But the child had no way of keeping the matter quiet!'
expostulated Marcellus.

'True,' nodded Justus.  'That was not Jonathan's fault, but his
misfortune.'

'Do you think that peculiar radiance of Miriam's can be accounted
for by her having kept her secret?  In her case, she was not the
donor.  She was the recipient!'

'I know,' agreed Justus.  'If the recipient doesn't tell, then the
donor is rewarded in his heart.  It is thus that the recipient
helps him to obtain his reward.'

'But now that Jesus is dead,' argued Marcellus, with a puzzled
look, 'Miriam is free to tell her secret, is she not?'

Justus stroked his beard, thoughtfully.

'Probably not,' he murmured.  'If she were--she would tell.'



Chapter XV


They had reached Cana too late to hear Miriam sing, but Marcellus
thought it was just as well, for Jonathan was so tired and sleepy
that he could hardly hold his head up.

By the time they had pitched camp, washed off their dust, eaten a
light supper, and put the little boy to bed, many voices could be
heard; villagers strolling home in the moonlight from their
customary rendezvous at the fountain.

Justus sauntered out to the street.  Marcellus, wearily stretched
at full length on his cot, heard him talking to a friend.  After a
while he returned to say he had been informed by Hariph the potter
that Jesse, the son of Beoni, was leaving early in the morning for
Jerusalem.  Doubtless he would carry the letter to Demetrius.

'Very good!'  Marcellus handed him the scroll and unstrapped his
coin purse.  'How much will he expect?'

'Ten shekels should be enough.'  There was an expression of
satisfaction in Justus's face and tone, perhaps because the letter
had been given up so casually.  His look said that there could be
nothing conspiratorial in this communication.  'Jesse will probably
be over here presently,' he added.  'Hariph will tell him.  He
lives hard by the home of Beoni.'

'You can talk with him,' said Marcellus.  'I am going to sleep.'

And he did; but after a while the murmur of low-pitched voices
roused him.  He raised up on his elbow, and through the open tent-
door the white moonlight showed Justus and a stocky, shaggy-haired
man of thirty, seated cross-legged on the ground.  Jesse, the son
of Beoni, was rumbling gutturally about the business that was
taking him to Jerusalem.  He was going to attend the annual camel
auction.  They always had it at the end of Passover.  Many caravans
from afar, having disposed of their merchandise, offered their pack-
animals for sale rather than trek them home without a pay-load.
You could get a sound, three-year-old she-camel for as little as
eighty shekels, Jesse said.  He hoped to buy six, this time.  He
could easily sell them in Tiberias for a hundred or better.  Yes--
he made this trip every year.  Yes, he would gladly carry Justus's
letter to the Greek who worked for Benyosef.  And when Justus asked
him how much, Jesse said, 'Nothing at all.  It's no bother.'

'But it isn't my letter,' explained Justus.  'It is sent by this
Roman, Marcellus Gallio, who is up here buying homespun.  He's
there in the tent, asleep.'

'Oh, that one!  My mother told me about him.  It is strange that he
should want our simple weaving.  No one ever thought it was
valuable.  Well, if it is his letter, and not yours, he should pay
me eight shekels.'

'He will give you ten.'  The coins were poured chinking into
Jesse's hand.

'Eight is enough,' said Jesse.  'You keep the other two.'

'But I have done nothing to earn them,' protested Justus.  'They
are yours.  I think the Roman would prefer to give you ten.'

Jesse chuckled, not very pleasantly.

'Since when have the Romans turned soft-hearted?' he growled.  'I
hope there is nothing queer about this scroll.  They tell me the
jail in Jerusalem is alive with vermin.  What say you, Justus?  You
ought to know.'  Jesse laughed at his own grim jest.  'You lodged
there for a couple of weeks, last spring.'

Marcellus could not hear Justus's rejoinder.  Perhaps he had merely
grinned or scowled at Jesse's bucolic raillery.

'You can trust Marcellus,' said Justus, confidently.  'He is a man
of good will.  Not all Romans are crooked, Jesse.  You know that.'

'Yes, yes,' consented Jesse.  'As the saying goes, "Every Jew has
his Roman."  Mine happens to be Hortensius.'

'You mean the Centurion, over in Capernaum, whose orderly Jesus
cured of a palsy?  Did you have dealings with him, Jesse?'

'I sold him four camels--shortly before that affair of his servant.
Three, for a hundred each.  I told him he could have the other one
for sixty because she was spavined.  And he said, "She doesn't
limp.  What did you pay for her?"  And I said, "Eighty, but I
didn't know the spavin was bad until we were on the road two days."
And he said, "She seems to be all right now."  And I said, "She's
rested.  But she'll go lame on a long journey with anything of a
load."  And he said, "You needn't have told me."  Then he said, "Do
you know Jesus?"  And I said, "Yes."  And he said, "I thought so."
And then he said, "Let's split the cost of the spavin.  I'll give
you seventy."  And I said, "That's fair enough."  And then I said,
"Do you know Jesus, sir?"  And he said, "No, but I heard him talk,
one day."  And then I asked him, just as if we were equals, "Are
you one of us?"  And he was busy counting out the money, and didn't
answer that; but when he handed it to me he said--that was four
years ago, and I looked younger than now--he said, "You keep on
listening to Jesus, boy!  You'll never be rich, but you'll never be
poor!"'

'I'm glad you told me that, Jesse,' said Justus.  'You see what
happened there?  Hortensius heard Jesus talk about how people ought
to treat one another.  And maybe he wondered whether anybody was
trying to practise it.  And then you told him the truth about the
spavined camel.  And he began to believe that Jesus had great
power.'

Jesse laughed.

'So you think the camel deal had something to do with his believing
that Jesus could cure his sick orderly.'

'Why not?'  It was Justus's turn to chuckle.  'I suppose the
Centurion decided that any man who could influence a Jewish camel-
drover to tell the truth about a spavin should be able to heal the
sick.  But'--Justus's tone was serious now--'however Hortensius
came by his faith, he had plenty of it.  I was there that day,
Jesse.  The Centurion came forward--a fine figure, too, in full
uniform--and said, very deferentially, that his servant was sick
unto death.  Would Jesus heal him?  "You need not trouble to come
to my house, sir," he said.  "If you will say that my servant is
healed, that will be sufficient."  Jesus was much pleased.  Nothing
like that had happened before.  None of us had ever been so sure as
that.  He said to Hortensius, "You have great faith.  Your wish is
granted."'

'And then,' Jesse recollected, 'they say that almost everyone in
the crowd set off at top speed for Hortensius's house.'

'Yes,' said Justus, 'and they never did agree on a story.  One
report had it that the restored orderly met Hortensius at the gate.
Some said the follow was recovered and sitting up in bed.  Others
told that when the Centurion returned, the orderly was saddling a
horse to ride to Capernaum.  You know how these rumours get about.
I suppose the fact is that none of these curious people was
admitted to the Centurion's grounds.'

'But the man did recover, that day, from his sickness, didn't he?'
Jesse insisted.

'He did, indeed!' declared Justus.  'I heard him say so.  By the
way, think you that Hortensius will be made Commander of the fort
at Capernaum, now that old Julian has been promoted to succeed
Pilate?'

'No such luck for Galilee!' grumbled Jesse.  'Everyone likes
Hortensius.  He is a just man, and he would be friendly to our
cause.  That old fox Herod will see to it that someone tougher than
Hortensius gets the job.  The thing that surprises me is the
appointment of lazy old Julian to the Insula at Jerusalem.'

'Perhaps it's because Julian is lazy that the Temple crowd wanted
him as their Procurator,' suggested Justus.  'The more indolent and
indifferent he is, the more power will be exercised by the High
Priest.  He will let Caiaphas do anything he pleases.  There are
times, Jesse,' went on Justus, thoughtfully, 'when a weak, lazy,
vacillating man--of good intent--is more to be feared than a crafty
and cruel man.  He shuts his eyes--and lets the injustices and
persecutions proceed.  In truth, our cause would have been better
served if Pilate had remained.'

'Does anyone know what has become of Pilate?' asked Jesse.

'Sent back to Crete, I understand.  Better climate.  The rumour is
that Pontius Pilate is a sick man.  He hasn't made a public
appearance for quite a year.'

'Why, that goes back to the crucifixion!' said Jesse.  'Do you mean
that Pilate hasn't been seen in public since that day?'

'That's what they say.  Benyosef thinks Pilate's sickness is
mental.'

'Well, if that's the case, a change of climate will do him no
good,' remarked Jesse.  'Hariph says he heard that there's talk of
transferring the Commander of the fort at Minoa to Capernaum.'

'Impossible!' muttered Justus.  'They wouldn't dare!  It was the
legion from Minoa that put Jesus to death!'

'Yes, I know that,' said Jesse.  'I think, too, that it's just idle
talk.  Hariph didn't say where he'd picked it up.  Someone told him
that this Paulus from Minoa would probably be our next Commander.
If so, we will have to be more careful than ever.'

Justus sighed deeply and rose to his feet.

'I must not keep you longer, Jesse.  You have a long day ahead of
you.  Salute Benyosef for me, and any of the others who may have
returned, now that the Passover is at an end.  And'--he laid a hand
on Jesse's shoulder--'keep watchful eyes on the roads, for no one
knows the day, or the hour--'  His deep voice subsided to a
whisper.  They shook hands and Jesse drifted away.

With his face turned toward the tent-wall, Marcellus feigned sleep
when Justus entered quietly.  For a long time he lay wide awake,
pondering the things he had overheard.  So, it hadn't been so easy
for Pilate.  Pilate had washed his hands in the silver basin, but
apparently the Galilean's blood was still there.  So, Julian was in
command at Jerusalem: Caiaphas could have his own way now.  Julian
wouldn't know; wouldn't care if he did know what persecutions were
practised on the little handful that wanted to keep the memory of
Jesus alive.  It wouldn't be long until old Benyosef and his
secretive callers would have to give it all up.  And perhaps Paulus
was to be sent up here to keep Galilee in order.  Well, maybe
Paulus wouldn't be as hard on them as they feared.  Paulus wasn't a
bad fellow.  Paulus had been forced to take part in the crucifixion
of Jesus.  That didn't mean he had approved of it.  It was
conceivable that Paulus might even take an interest in the Galilean
friends of Jesus.  But they would never accept his friendship.  The
very sight of him would be abhorrent.  Justus's comments had made
that clear.  A man who had had anything to do with nailing their
adored Jesus to the cross could never hope to win their good will,
no matter how generously he treated them.

Marcellus realized now that he had been altogether too sanguine
in believing that his sincere interest in the story of Jesus
might make it safe for him to confide in Miriam.  He had been
telling himself that Miriam--uncannily gifted with sympathetic
understanding--would balance his present concern about Jesus
against the stark facts of his part in the tragedy.  Miriam, he
felt, would be forgiving.  That was her nature; and, besides, she
liked him, and would give him the benefit of whatever doubts
intruded.  Perhaps he would not need to go the whole way with his
confession.  It might be enough to say that he had attended the
trial of Jesus, and had seen him die.  Whether he could bring
himself to be more specific about his own participation in this
shameful business would depend upon her response as he proceeded.

But he knew now that such a conversation with Miriam was
unthinkable!  Justus, too, was a fair-minded person to whom one
might safely confide almost anything; but Justus had revolted
against the shocking suggestion that an officer from MINOA might be
sent to preserve the peace of Galilee.  'They wouldn't dare!'
Justus had muttered through locked teeth.

No, he couldn't tell Miriam.  Perhaps it would be more prudent if
he made no effort to see her alone.

                         * * * * * *

Hariph the potter, upon whom Cana relied for most of its
information on current events, had risen at daybreak with the
remembrance that Reuben had mentioned his need of a few wine-jars.
Although it lacked some three months of the wine-pressing season,
this was as good a time as any to learn Reuben's wishes.  Also, he
thought Reuben might be glad to learn that Barsabas Justus had
arrived in Cana, last evening, with his small grandson--the one
who, crippled from birth, had been made sound as any boy ever was--
and the handsome young Roman who, for some obscure reason, was
buying up homespun at better than market prices.  To this might be
added the knowledge that Jesse, the son of Beoni, had been engaged
by this Marcellus to carry an important letter to Jerusalem.  After
these items had been dealt out to Reuben, piecemeal, he could be
told that Justus would be taking his grandson to see Miriam.

And so it happened that when the three callers sauntered across
Reuben's well-kept lawn, at mid-forenoon, instead of taking the
family by surprise they discovered that their visit was awaited.

Feeling that little Jonathan might enjoy a playmate, Miriam had
sent for her nine-year-old cousin Andrew, who lived a mile farther
out in the country.  And Andrew's widowed mother, Aunt Martha, had
been invited too, which had made her happy, for she had not seen
Justus in recent months.  There were many questions she wanted to
ask him.

They were all in the arbour, grouped about Miriam, who was busy
with the inevitable embroidery.  She was very lovely, this morning,
with a translucent happiness that made her even prettier than
Marcellus had remembered.  After greetings and introductions had
been attended to--the artless sincerity of Miriam's welcome
speeding Marcellus's pulse--they all found seats.  Miriam held out
a slim hand to Jonathan and gave him a brooding smile that brought
him shyly to her side.

'You must be a very strong boy, Jonathan,' she told him, 'keeping
up with these big men on a journey, all the way from Sepphoris.'

'I rode a donkey--most of the time,' he mumbled, self-consciously;
then, with more confidence, 'I had a nicer donkey--of my own.  His
name was Jasper.'  He pointed a finger vaguely in Marcellus's
direction without looking at him.  'He gave Jasper to me.  And I
gave him to Thomas, because Thomas is lame.'

'Oh, what a lovely thing to do!' exclaimed Miriam.  Her shining
eyes drifted past Jonathan and gave Marcellus a heart-warming
glance, and then darted to Justus, whose lips were drawn down in
grim warning.  'I suppose Thomas really needs a donkey,' she went
on accepting Justus's hint.  'It must have made you very happy to
do that for him.'

Jonathan smiled wanly, put one brown bare foot on top of the other,
and seemed to be meditating a dolorous reply.  Divining his mood,
Miriam interrupted with a promising diversion.

'Andrew,' she called, 'why don't you take Jonathan to see the
conies?  There are some little ones, Jonathan, that haven't opened
their eyes yet.'

This suggestion was acted upon with alacrity.  When the children
had scampered away, Naomi turned to Marcellus.

'What's all this about the donkey?' she inquired, smiling.

Marcellus recrossed his long legs and wished that he had been
included in the expedition to inspect the conies.

'I think Jonathan has told it all,' he replied, negligently.  'I
found a lazy little donkey that nobody wanted and gave him to
Jonathan.  There was a lame lad in the neighbourhood and Jonathan
generously presented him with the donkey.  We thought that was
pretty good--for a seven-year-old.'

'But we don't want his good-heartedness to go to his head,' put in
Justus, firmly.  'He's already much impressed.'

'But Jonathan is only a child, Barsabas Justus,' protested Miriam.

'Of course!' murmured Martha.

'I know,' mumbled Justus, stroking his beard.  'But we can't have
him spoiled, Miriam.  If you have an opportunity, speak to him
about it. . . .  Well, Reuben, what's the prospect for the
vineyard?'

'Better than usual, Justus.'  Reuben slowly rose from his chair.
'Want to walk out and have a look at the vines?'

They ambled away.  Presently Naomi remembered something she had to
do in the kitchen.  Aunt Martha, with a little nod and a smile,
thought she might help.  Miriam bent over her work attentively as
they disappeared around the corner of the house.

'You have been much in my thoughts, Marcellus,' she said, softly,
after a silence which they both had been reluctant to invade with
some casual banality.

'You can see that I wanted to come back.'  Marcellus drew his chair
closer.

'And now that you're here'--Miriam smiled into his eyes
companionably--'what shall we talk about first?'

'I am much interested in the story of that carpenter who did so
many things for your people.'

Miriam's eyes widened happily.

'I knew it!' she cried.

'How could you have known it?' wondered Marcellus.

'Oh, by lots of little things--strung together.  You knew nothing
about textiles, nor does good old Justus, for that matter.  You
have had no experience in bargaining.  It was clear that you were
in Galilee on some other errand.'

'True--but what made you think I was interested in Jesus?'

'Your choosing Justus to conduct you.  He saw as much of Jesus as
anyone, except Simon and the Zebedee boys who were with him
constantly.  But you had me quite mystified.'  She shook her head
and laughed softly.  'Romans are under suspicion.  I couldn't
understand why Justus had consented to come up here with you.  Then
it came out that you knew the Greek who works for Benyosef.  He
must have planned your meeting with Justus, for surely that was no
accident!  The men who frequent Benyosef's shop are friends of
Jesus.  So, I added it all up and--'

'And concluded that I had employed Justus to inform me about
Jesus,' interposed Marcellus.  'Well, your deduction is correct,
though I must say that Justus seems to know a great deal that he
isn't confiding in me.'

'Have you told him why you are interested in Jesus?'  Miriam
studied his eyes as she waited for his reply.

'Not fully,' admitted Marcellus, after some hesitation.  'But he is
not suspicious of my motives.'

'Perhaps if you would tell Justus exactly how you happened to
become interested in Jesus, he might be more free to talk,'
suggested Miriam; and when Marcellus failed to respond promptly,
she added, 'I am full of curiosity about that, myself.'

'That's a long story, Miriam,' muttered Marcellus, soberly.

'I have plenty of time,' she said.  'Tell me, Marcellus.'

'A year ago, I was in Jerusalem, on business--' he began, rather
uncertainly.

'But not buying homespun,' she interjected, when he paused.

'It was government business,' Marcellus went on.  'I was there only
a few days.  During that time, there was a considerable stir over
the arrest of this Galilean on a charge of treason.  I was present
at the trial when he was sentenced to death.  It seemed clear that
the man was innocent.  The Procurator himself said so.  I had much
difficulty putting the matter out of my mind.  Everything indicated
that Jesus was a remarkable character.  So, when I had occasion to
come to Jerusalem again, this spring, I decided to spend a few days
in Galilee, and learn something more about him.'

'What was it, about Jesus, that so deeply impressed you?'  Miriam's
tone entreated full confidence.

'His apparently effortless courage, I think,' said Marcellus.
'They were all arrayed against him--the Government, the Temple, the
merchants, the bankers, the influential voices, the money.  Not a
man spoke in his behalf.  His friends deserted him.  And yet--in
the face of cruel abuse--with a lost cause, and certain death
confronting him--he was utterly fearless.'  There was a thoughtful
pause.  'It was impossible not to have a deep respect for a person
of that fibre.  I have had an immense curiosity to know what manner
of man he was.'  Marcellus made a little gesture to signify that he
had ended his explanation.

'That wasn't such a very long story, after all, Marcellus,'
remarked Miriam, intent upon her work.  'I wonder that you were so
reluctant to tell it.  Did you, perhaps, omit to tell Justus some
of the things you have just told me?'

'No,' said Marcellus.  'I told him substantially the same thing.'

'But I thought you said you had not told him fully!'

'Well, what I have told you and Justus is sufficient, I think, to
assure you that my interest is sincere,' declared Marcellus.  'At
least, Justus appears to be satisfied.  There are some stories
about Jesus which he hints at, but refuses to tell, because, he
says, I am not ready to be told.  Yesterday he was lamenting that
he had talked about that wedding-feast where the guests thought the
water tasted like wine.'

'You didn't believe it.'  Miriam smiled briefly.  'I do not wonder.
Perhaps Justus is right.  You weren't prepared for such a story.'
A slow flush crept up her cheeks, as she added, 'And how did he
happen to be talking of Anna's wedding?'

'We had been hoping to reach Cana in time to hear you sing,' said
Marcellus, brightly, glad to have the conversation diverted.
'Naturally that led to comments about your sudden discovery of your
inspiring voice.  Justus had told me previously that it had
occurred on the day of a wedding-feast.  I pressed the subject, and
he admitted that your strange experience had happened on the same
day.'

'The changing of water into wine--that was too much for you,'
laughed Miriam, sympathetically.  'I'm not surprised.  However,'
she went on, seriously, 'you seem to have had no trouble believing
in my discovery that I could sing.  It has completely transformed
my life--my singing.  It instantly made another kind of person of
me, Marcellus.  I was morbid, helpless, heart-sick, self-pitying,
fretful, unreasonable.  And now, as you see, I am happy and
contented.'  She stirred him with a radiant smile, and asked,
softly, 'Is that so much easier to understand than the transformation
of water into wine?'

'May I infer, then, that there was a miracle performed in your
case, Miriam?' asked Marcellus.

'As you like,' she murmured, after some hesitation.

'I know you prefer not to discuss it,' he said, 'and I shall not
pursue you with questions.  But--assuming that Jesus spoke a word
that made you sing--why did he not add a word that would give you
power to walk?  He straightened little Jonathan's foot, they say.'

Miriam pushed her embroidery aside, folded her arms, and faced
Marcellus with a thoughtful frown.

'I cannot tell you how I came by my gift,' she said, 'but I do not
regret my lameness.  Perhaps the people of Cana are more helped by
the songs I sing--from my cot--than they might be if I were
physically well.  They all have their worries, agonies, defeats.
If I had been made whole, perhaps they would say, "Oh, it's easy
enough for Miriam to sing and rejoice.  Miriam has no trouble.  Why
indeed shouldn't she sing?"'

'You're a brave girl!' declared Marcellus.

She shook her head.

'I do not feel that I merit much praise, Marcellus.  There was a
time when my lameness was a great affliction, because I made it an
affliction.  It afflicted not only me but my parents and all my
friends.  Now that it is not an affliction, it has become a means
of blessing.  People are very tender in their attitude toward me.
They come to visit me.  They bring me little gifts.  And, as Jesus
said so frequently, it is more blessed to give than to receive, I
am fortunate, my friend.  I live in an atmosphere of love.  The
people of Cana frequently quarrel--but not with me.  They are all
at their best--with me.'  She flashed him a sudden smile.  'Am I
not rich?'

Marcellus made no response, but impulsively laid an open hand on
the edge of the cot, and she gave him hers with the undeliberated
trust of a little child.

'Shall I tell you another strange story, Marcellus?' she asked,
quietly.  'Of course Justus must have told you that after Jesus had
done some amazing things in our Galilean villages, the news spread
throughout the country, and great crowds followed him wherever he
went; hundreds, thousands; followed along for miles and miles and
days and days!  Men in the fields would drop their hoes and run to
the road as the long procession passed; and then they too would
join the throng, maybe to be gone from home for a week or more,
sleeping in the open, cold and hungry, completely carried away!
Nothing mattered--but to be close to Jesus!  Well, one day, he was
entering Jericho.  You haven't been to Jericho, have you?  No--you
came up through Samaria.  Jericho is one of the larger towns of
Judea.  As usual, a big crowd followed him and the whole city
rushed to the main thoroughfare as the word spread that he had
come.  At that time, the Chief Revenue Officer of Jericho was a man
named Zacchaeus--'

'A Greek?' broke in Marcellus.

'No, he was an Israelite.  His name was Zaccai, really; but being
in the employ of the Roman Government--'  Miriam hesitated,
coloured a little, and Marcellus eased her embarrassment with an
understanding grin.

'You needn't explain.  These provincial officers usually alter
their names as soon as they begin to curry favour with their
foreign masters.  It's fashionable now to have a Greek name; much
smarter and safer than to have a Roman name.  I think I know
something about this Zaccai (alias Zacchaeus) without meeting him.
He is a common type of rascally tax-collector; disloyal to
everybody--to the Government and to his own countrymen.  We have
them in all of our provinces throughout the Empire.  You can't have
an empire, Miriam, without scoundrels in the provincial seats of
government.  Think you that Tiberius could govern far-away Hispania
and Aquitania unless certain of their men betrayed their own
people?  By no means!  When the provincial officers go straight,
the Empire goes to pieces! . . .  But--pardon the interruption,
Miriam, and the long speech.  Tell me about Zacchaeus.'

'He was very wealthy.  The people of Jericho feared and hated him.
He had spies at every keyhole listening for some rebellious
whisper.  Anyone suspected of grumbling about the Government was
assessed higher taxes, and if he protested, he was charged with
treason.  Zacchaeus had built a beautiful home on a knoll at the
southern boundary of Jericho and lived like a prince.  There were
landscaped gardens and lagoons--and scores of servants.'

'But no friends,' surmised Marcellus.

'Neither among the rich nor the poor; but Zacchaeus did not care.
He had contempt for their hatred.  Well, on this day, having heard
that Jesus was proceeding toward Jericho, Zacchaeus came down into
the city for a glimpse of him.  The waiting crowd was so dense that
he abandoned his carriage and struggled through the multitude to
reach a spot where he might see.  A legionary, recognizing him,
assisted him to climb up into the fork of a tree, though this was
forbidden to anyone else.  Presently Jesus came down the street
with his large company, and stopped by the tree.  He called to
Zacchaeus, addressing him by name, though they had never met,
saying, "May I dine with you to-day?"'

'And what did the people of Jericho think of that?' wondered
Marcellus.

'They were indignant, of course,' said Miriam.  'And Jesus' closest
friends were very unhappy.  Zacchaeus had been so mean, and now
Jesus had singled him out for special attention.  Many said, "This
Galilean is no better than the priests, who are ever truckling to
the rich."'

'I suppose Zacchaeus made the most of their discomfiture,'
commented Marcellus.

'He was much flattered; hurried down from the tree and swaggered
proudly at Jesus' side as the procession moved on.  And when they
arrived at his beautiful estate, he gave orders that the multitude
might enter the grounds and wait--'

'While he and his guest had dinner,' assisted Marcellus.  'They
must have resented that.'

'They were deeply offended; but they waited.  And saw Jesus enter
the great marble house of Zacchaeus.  After they had sat waiting
for almost an hour, Zacchaeus came out and beckoned to the people.
They scrambled to their feet and ran to hear what he might say.  He
was much disturbed.  They could see that something had happened to
him.  The haughtiness and arrogance was gone from his face.  Jesus
stood a little way apart from him, sober and silent.  The great
multitude stood waiting, every man holding his breath and staring
at this unfamiliar face of Zacchaeus.  And then he spoke, humbly,
brokenly.  He had decided, he said, to give half of all he owned to
feed the poor.  To those whom he had defrauded, he would make
abundant restitution.'

'But what had happened?' demanded Marcellus.  'What had Jesus said
to him?'

Miriam shook her head.

'Nobody knows,' she murmured; then, with averted, reminiscent eyes,
she added, half to herself:  'Maybe he didn't say anything at all.
Perhaps he looked Zacchaeus squarely in the eyes until the man saw,
reflected there, the image of the person he was meant to be.'

'That is a strange thing to say,' remarked Marcellus.  'I'm afraid
I don't understand.'

'Many people had that experience,' said Miriam, softly.  'When
Jesus looked directly into your eyes--'  She broke off suddenly,
and leaned far forward to face him at close range.  'Marcellus,'
she went on, in an impressive tone lowered almost to a whisper, 'if
you had ever met Jesus--face to face--and he had looked into your
eyes until--until you couldn't get away--you would have no trouble
believing that he could do ANYTHING--ANYTHING HE PLEASED!  If he
said, "Put down your crutches!" you would put them down.  If he
said, "Pay back the money you have stolen!" you would pay it back.'

She closed her eyes and relaxed against the cushions.  Her hand,
still in his, was trembling a little.

'And if he said, "Now you may sing for joy!"' ventured Marcellus,
'you would sing?'

Miriam did not open her eyes, but a wisp of a smile curved her
lips.  After a moment, she sat up with suddenly altered mood,
reclaimed her hand, patted her curls, and indicated that she was
ready to talk of something far afield.

'Tell me more about this Greek who worked for Benyosef,' she
suggested.  'Evidently he too is interested in Jesus, or he
wouldn't have had the confidence of the men who meet one another
there.'

'It will be easy to talk about Demetrius,' replied Marcellus, 'for
he is my closest friend.  In appearance he is tall, athletic,
handsome.  In mind, he is widely informed, with a sound knowledge
of the classics.  At heart, he is loyal and courageous.  As to his
conduct, I have never known him to do an unworthy thing.'
Marcellus paused for a moment, and went on resolutely, 'When I was
seventeen, my father presented Demetrius to me--a birthday gift.'

'But you said he is your closest friend!' exclaimed Miriam.  'How
can that be?  Does he not resent being enslaved?'

'No man can be expected to like slavery, Miriam; but, once you have
been a slave, there is not very much you could do with your freedom
if you achieved it.  I have offered Demetrius his liberty.  He is
free to come and go as he likes.'

'You must have been a good master, Marcellus,' said Miriam, gently.

'Not always.  At times--especially during the past year--I have
made Demetrius very unhappy.  I was moody, restless, wretched,
sick.'

'And why was that?' she asked.  'Would you like to tell me?'

'Not on this fair day,' rejoined Marcellus, soberly.  'Besides--I
am well now.  I need not burden you with it.'

'As you please,' she consented.  'But--how did Demetrius happen to
be working in Benyosef's shop?'

'That is a long story, Miriam.'

'You and your long stories,' she put in, dryly.

Marcellus feigned a wince, and smiled.

'Briefly, then, we were in Athens.  Through no fault of his, and in
defence of some helpless people, Demetrius engaged in combat with a
man who held a position of authority, but had not been advised that
a blow delivered by this Greek slave would stun an ox.  It was a
well-justified battle, albeit one-sided and of short duration.  But
we thought it prudent for Demetrius to lose no time increasing the
distance between himself and the Athenian jail.  So he drifted to
Jerusalem, and because he had some knowledge of carding and
spinning--'

'And how had he picked that up?' asked Miriam, busy again with her
precise stitches.

'At a weaver's shop in Athens.  He was studying Aramaic under the
weaver's instructions, and made himself useful.'

'Was that where you got your Aramaic, Marcellus?'

'Yes.'

'Did you learn carding and spinning, too?'

'No,' laughed Marcellus.  'Just Aramaic--such as it is.'

'That was in preparation for this tour of Galilee, I think,'
ventured Miriam.  'And when you have learned all you wish to know
about Jesus--what then?'

'My plans are uncertain.'  Marcellus frowned his perplexity.  'I
must go back to Rome, though my return is not urgent.  Naturally I
want to rejoin my family and friends, but--'

Miriam took several little stitches before she looked up to ask,
almost inaudibly, 'But what?'

'Something tells me I am going to feel quite out of place in Rome,'
he confessed.  'I have been much impressed by what I have heard of
your brave Galilean's teachings about human relations.  They seem
so reasonable, so sensible.  If they become popular, we could have
a new world.  And, Miriam, we must have a new world!  Things can't
go on this way!  Not very much longer!'

Miriam put down her work and gave him her full attention.  She had
not seen him in such a serious mood before.

'During these past few days,' he went on, 'I have had a chance to
look at the world from a different angle.  It wasn't that I had
never stopped to think about its injustice, its waste, its tragic
unhappiness.  But--out here in this quiet country--I lie at night,
looking up at the stars, and suddenly I recall Rome!--its greed and
gluttony at the top; its poverty and degradation, growing more and
more desperate all the way down to the bottom of damp dungeons and
galleys and quarries.  And Rome rules the world!  The Emperor is a
lunatic.  The Prince Regent is a scoundrel.  They rule the world!
Their armies control the wretched lives of millions of people!'  He
paused, patted a damp brow, and muttered, 'Forgive me, my friend,
for haranguing you.'

'Would it not be wonderful,' exclaimed Miriam, 'if Jesus were on
the throne?'

'Impossible!' expostulated Marcellus.

'Maybe not,' said Miriam, quietly.

He studied her eyes, wondering if she were really serious, and was
amazed at her sober sincerity.

'You can't be in earnest!' he said.  'Besides, Jesus is dead.'

'Are you sure of that?' she asked, without looking up.

'I agree that his teachings are not dead, and something should be
done to carry them to as many people as can be reached!'

'Do you intend to tell your friends about him--when you go home?'

Marcellus sighed.

'They would think me crazy.'

'Would your father think you were crazy?'

'He would, indeed!  My father is a just man of generous heart, but
he has contempt for people who interest themselves in religion.  He
would be embarrassed--and annoyed, too--if I were to discuss these
things with our friends.'

'Might he not think it brave of you?'

'Brave?  Not at all!  He would think it was in very bad taste!'

Justus and Reuben were sauntering in from the vineyard, much
occupied with their low-voiced conversation.

'How long will you be here, Marcellus?' asked Miriam, with
undisguised concern.  'Shall I see you again; to-morrow, maybe?'

'Not to-morrow.  We go to Capernaum to-morrow, Justus says.  He
wants me to meet an old man named Nathanael.  Ever heard of him?'

'Of course.  You will like him.  But you are coming back to Cana,
aren't you, before you return to Jerusalem?'

'I'd like to.'

'Please.  Now you let me have a word with Justus, alone, will you?'

'Justus,' said Marcellus, as the men approached, 'I shall go back
to the village, and meet you there at your convenience.'

He offered his hand to Reuben, who clasped it cordially.  Evidently
Justus had given Reuben a friendly account of him.

'Good-bye, Miriam,' he said, taking her hand.  'I shall see you
next week.'

'Good-bye, Marcellus,' she said, 'I shall be looking for you.'  The
bearded Galileans stood by and watched them exchange a lingering
look.  Reuben frowned a little, as if the situation perplexed him.
The frown said that Reuben didn't want his girl hurt.  This Roman
would go away and forget all about her, but Miriam would remember.

'You're coming back this way, then,' said Reuben to Justus, as
Marcellus moved away.

'It seems so.'  Justus grinned.

'Let me tell Naomi that you will tarry and break bread with us,'
said Reuben.

When they were alone, Miriam motioned Justus to sit down beside
her.

'Why don't you tell Marcellus everything?' she asked.  'He is
deeply concerned.  It seems he knows so little.  He was in
Jerusalem and attended the trial at the Insula, heard Jesus
sentenced to death, and knows that he was crucified.  And that is
all.  So far as he is aware, the story of Jesus ended that day.
Why haven't you told him?'

'I intend to, Miriam, when he is prepared to hear it.  He would not
believe it if I were to tell him now.'  Justus moved closer and
lowered his voice.  'I thought perhaps you would tell him.'

'I almost did.  Then I wondered if you might not have some reason,
unknown to me, for keeping it a secret.  I think Marcellus has a
right to know everything now.  He thinks it such a pity that no
plans have been made to interest people in Jesus' teachings.  Can't
you tell him about the work they are doing in Jerusalem, and Joppa,
and Csarea?  He hasn't the faintest idea of what is going on!'

'Very well,' nodded Justus.  'I shall tell him--everything.'

'To-day!' urged Miriam.

'Tell me truly, daughter,' said Justus, soberly.  'Are you losing
your heart to this foreigner?'

Miriam took several small, even stitches before she looked up into
his brooding eyes.

'Marcellus doesn't seem a bit foreign to me,' she said, softly.

                         * * * * * *

Aimlessly sauntering back to the tent, Marcellus began sorting over
the homespun he had accumulated, wondering what he should do with
it.  Now that there was no longer any reason for pretending an
interest in such merchandise, the articles already purchased were
of no value to him.  The thought occurred--and gave him pleasure--
that he might take them to Miriam.  She would be glad to see that
they were distributed among the poor.

He took up a black robe and held it against the light.  It was of
good wool and well woven.  He had paid twenty shekels for it.
Fifteen would have been enough, but the woman was poor.  Besides,
he had been trying to make a favourable impression on Justus by
dealing generously with his fellow countrymen.

With nothing better to entertain him, Marcellus sat down on the
edge of his cot, with the robe in his hands, and indulged in some
leisurely theorizing on the indeterminate value of this garment.
If you computed the amount of skilled labour invested by the woman
who wove it, on a basis of an adequate wage per hour for such
experienced workmanship, the robe was easily worth thirty shekels.
But not in Sepphoris, where she lived; for the local market was not
active.  In Sepphoris it was worth twelve shekels.  A stranger
would have been asked fifteen.  Marcellus had made it worth twenty.
Now it wasn't worth anything!

He would give it to Miriam, who had no use for it, and it still
wouldn't be worth anything until she had presented it to someone
who needed it.  At that juncture, the robe would begin to take on
some value again, though just how much would be difficult to
estimate.  If the man who received this excellent robe should be
inspired by it to wash his hands and face and mend his torn sandals--
thereby increasing public confidence in his character, and
enabling him to find employment at a better wage--the robe might
eventually turn out to be worth more than its original cost.  If
the man who received it was a lazy scalawag, he might sell it for
whatever it would fetch, which wouldn't be much; for no person of
any substance would want, at any price, a garment that had been in
the possession of this probably verminous tramp.  You could amuse
yourself all day with speculations concerning the shifting values
of material things.

Marcellus had been doing an unusual amount of new thinking, these
past few days, on the subject of property.  According to Justus,
Jesus had had much to say about a man's responsibility as a
possessor of material things.  Hoarded things might easily become a
menace; a mere fire-and-theft risk; a breeding-ground for
destructive insects; a source of worry.  Men would have plenty of
anxieties, but there was no sense in accumulating worries over
THINGS!  That kind of worry destroyed your character.  Even an
unused coat, hanging in your closet--it wasn't merely a useless
thing that did nobody any good; it was an active agent of
destruction to your life.  And your LIFE must be saved, at all
costs.  What would it advantage a man--Jesus had demanded--if he
were to gain the whole world, and lose his own life?

A bit bewildered by this statement, Marcellus had inquired:

'What did he mean, Justus, about the importance of saving your own
life?  He didn't seem to be much worried about losing his!  He
could have saved it if he had promised Pilate and the priests that
he would go home and say nothing more to the people about his
beliefs.'

'Well, sir,' Justus had tried to explain, 'Jesus didn't mean quite
the same thing that you have in mind when he talked about a man's
life.  You see, Jesus wasn't losing his life when they crucified
him, but he would have lost it if he had recanted and gone home.
Do you understand what I mean, Marcellus?'

'No, I can't say that I do.  To speak that way about life is simply
trifling with the accepted definition of the word.  I believe that
when a man is dead, he has lost his life; perhaps lost it in a good
cause; perhaps still living, for a little while, in the memory of
those who believed in him and cherished his friendship.  But if our
human speech is of any use at all, a man who is dead has lost his
life.'

'Not necessarily,' protested Justus.  'Not if his soul is still
alive.  Jesus said we need have no fear of the things that kill the
body.  We should fear only the things that kill the soul.'  And
when Marcellus had shrugged impatiently, Justus had continued, 'The
body isn't very important; just, a vehicle; just a kit of tools--to
serve the soul.'  He had chuckled over Marcellus's expression of
disgust.  'You think that sounds crazy; don't you?' he added,
gently.

'Of course!' Marcellus had shrugged.  'And so do you!'

'I admit it's not easy to believe,' conceded Justus.

And then Marcellus had stopped in the road--they were on their way
from Sepphoris to Cana--and had delivered what for him was a long
speech.

'Justus,' he began, 'I must tell you candidly that while I am much
interested in the sensible philosophy of your dead friend Jesus, I
hope you will not want to report any more statements of that
nature.  I have a sincere respect for this man's mind, and I don't
wish to lose it.'

He had half-expected Justus to be glum over this rebuke, but the
big fellow had only grinned and nodded indulgently.

'I didn't mean to be offensive,' said Marcellus.

'I am not troubled,' said Justus, cordially.  'It was my fault.  I
was going too fast for you; offering you meat when you should have
milk.'

                         * * * * * *

He tossed the black robe aside and examined a white shawl with a
fringe.  He couldn't imagine his mother wearing it, but the woman
who had made it had been proud of her handiwork.  He remembered how
reluctant she was to see it go out of her little house, down on the
Samaritan border somewhere.  She should have been permitted to keep
the shawl.  It meant more to her than it could possibly mean to
anyone else.  Such things should never be sold, or bought, either.
Marcellus recalled the feeling of self-reproach he had often
experienced at lavish banquets in Rome, where the wines were cooled
with ice that had been brought from the northern mountains by
relays of runners who sometimes died of exhaustion.  No honest man
could afford such wine.  It had cost too much.

Well, he would give all these garments to Miriam.  She would put
them to good use.  But wouldn't it be rather ungracious to let
Miriam know that these things, fabricated with great care by her
own fellow countrymen, weren't worth carrying away?

'But they are gifts,' he would say to Miriam.  'The people who
receive them will be advantaged.'

And then Miriam would have a right to say, though she probably
wouldn't, 'How can they be gifts, Marcellus, when they are only
useless things that you don't want to be bothered with?'

And then, assuming that Miriam had said that, he could reply:

'But so far as the people are concerned who get these things, they
would be gifts, wouldn't you say?'

'No,' he thought she might reply, 'they would never be gifts.  You
see, Marcellus--'  And then she would go on to explain again how
Jesus had felt about gifts.

He pitched the heavy white shawl back on to the pile of homespun
and glanced up to see a tall, lean, rugged-faced fellow standing at
the door of the tent.  The visitor grinned amiably and Marcellus
invited him to come in.  He sat down on a camp-stool, crossed his
long legs, and said his name was Hariph.

'Doubtless you came to see Justus,' said Marcellus, cordially.  'He
is at Reuben's house.  If you call this afternoon, I think he will
be there.'

Hariph nodded, but made no move to go; sat slowly swinging his
pendent foot and nursing his elbows on his knee, while he candidly
surveyed the furniture in the tent, the heap of homespun, and the
urbane stranger from Rome.

'I think I have heard Justus speak of you,' said Marcellus, feeling
that if Hariph meant to stay awhile some conversation might be
appropriate.  'You are a potter, I believe.  You make water-jars,
and wine-jars, and things like that.'

Hariph nodded and the grin widened a little.

'Tell me,' went on Marcellus, hopefully, 'is it customary to use
the same sort of jar either for wine or water?'

'Oh, yes, sir,' replied Hariph, with deliberate professional
dignity.  'Many do that.  Water or wine--it's all the same.  Oil
too.  Same pot.'

'But I suppose that after you've had oil in a pot, you wouldn't
want to put wine in it,' observed Marcellus, sensibly enough, he
thought.

'No, that wouldn't be so good,' agreed Hariph.  'The wine would
taste of oil.'

'The same thing might be true, I daresay, of water in a jar that
had held wine,' pursued Marcellus.  'The water might taste like
wine.'

Hariph stopped swinging his foot and gazed squintingly toward the
street, the fine lines on his temple deepening.  Marcellus surmised
that the town gossip was trying to decide whether it would be
prudent to discuss the matter.  After some delay, he turned to his
young host and gratified him by saying:

'Did Justus tell you?'

'Yes.'

'Did you believe it?' asked Hariph.

'No,' replied Marcellus, firmly.  'I should be much interested in
hearing what you think about it.'

'Well, sir,' rejoined Hariph, 'we ran out of wine at the wedding of
my daughter Anna, and when Jesus came he made wine--out of water.
I don't know how.  I just know that he did it.'

'Did you taste it?'

'Yes, sir.  I never tasted wine like that--before or since.'

'What was it--a heavy, potent wine?'

'N-no, sir,' Hariph screwed up his face indecisively.  'It was of a
delicate flavour.'

'Red?' queried Marcellus.

'White,' remembered Hariph.

'White as water?'

'Yes, sir.'  Hariph's eyes collided briefly with Marcellus's dry
smile, and drifted away.  Nothing further was said for a long
moment.

'I am told that everyone was very fond of Jesus,' remarked
Marcellus.

'Indeed they were, sir!' responded Hariph.  'He came late, that
day.  You should have seen them when he appeared; the shouts of
greeting; many leaving their places to crowd about him.  It was so,
wherever he went, sir.  Nobody had eyes for anyone else.'

'Had you ever kept wine in those jars, Hariph?' asked Marcellus.

'Yes, sir,' admitted Hariph.

Marcellus nodded his head slowly and grinned.

'Well, thank you for telling me,' he said.  'I was almost sure
there must be an explanation.'  He rose, significantly.  'I am glad
you called, Hariph.  Shall I tell Justus you will be back later?'

Hariph had not risen.  His face was perplexed.

'If it was only that one thing, sir,' he said, quite unaffected by
his dismissal, 'if it had been only that one time--'

Marcellus sat down again and gave respectful attention.

'But from that day on, sir,' continued Hariph, deliberately, 'there
were many strange happenings.'

'So I have heard,' admitted Marcellus.  'Let me ask you: did you
see any of these mysterious things done, or did you just learn
about them from others?  Strange stories always grow in the
telling, you know.'

'Has anyone told you,' asked Hariph, 'how Jesus fed a crowd of five
thousand people when he had nothing but a little basketful of bread
and a couple of smoked fish?'

'No,' said Marcellus, eagerly.  'Tell me, please.'

'Perhaps Justus will tell you, if you ask him.  He was there.  He
was closer to it--when it happened.'

'Were you there, Hariph?'

'Yes, but I was rather far back in the crowd.'

'Well, tell me what you saw.  I shall be much interested in your
view of it.  Where did all this happen?'

'It wasn't so very long after our wedding.  Jesus had begun going
about through the villages, talking with the people, and large
crowds were following him.'

'Because of what he said?' interposed Marcellus.

'Partly, but mostly because of the reports that he was healing all
manner of diseases, and giving blind men their sight, and--'

'Do you believe that--about the blind men?'

'Yes, sir!' declared Hariph.  'I saw one man who could see as well
as you can, sir.'

'Had you known him before?'

'No, sir,' confessed Hariph.  'But his neighbours said he had been
blind for years.'

'Did you know them--his neighbours?'

'No, sir.  They were from down around Sychar.'

'That kind of testimony,' observed Marcellus, judicially, 'wouldn't
get very far in a court of law; but you must have some good reason
for believing it. . . .  Well, go on, please, about the strange
feast.'

'Always there were big crowds following him,' continued Hariph,
undismayed by the Roman's incredulity.  'And sometimes they weren't
easy to handle.  Everybody wanted to be close enough to see these
wonderful things happen; and you never could tell when it would be.
It's no small matter, sir,' Hariph interrupted himself to comment,
'when one of your own neighbours, as you might say, who had grown
up with the other youngsters of his village, and had worked at a
carpenter's bench, takes to talking as nobody else had ever talked;
and stopping in the middle of a speech to point his finger at some
old man who might be standing in the front row, with his mouth open
and both hands cupped behind his ears, trying to hear--and suddenly
the old man yells "Ahhh!" and begins dancing up and down, shouting,
"I can hear!  I can hear!  I can hear!"  And Jesus wouldn't have
stopped talking: he would just point at the man--and he could
hear!'

'Did you ever see Jesus do that, Hariph?' demanded Marcellus.

'No, sir, but there were plenty who did; people whose word you
could trust, too!'

'Very well,' consented Marcellus, indulgently.  'Now tell me about
the feeding of the five thousand people.  You say you saw that?'

'It was this way, sir.  It all began over in Capernaum.  A lot of
strange things had happened, and the news had spread abroad until a
great crowd had collected--a disorderly crowd it was; for nobody
was trying to keep them from pushing and jostling and tramping on
one another.'

'It's a wonder they didn't call out the legionaries,' said
Marcellus.  'There's a fort at Capernaum.'

'Yes, and many of the soldiers were there; but I don't think the
priests and elders of the city wanted the crowd to be kept in
order.  They probably hoped something would happen, a bad accident,
maybe, so that Jesus could be arrested for disturbing the peace.'

'But didn't he have a few close friends who might have ordered the
people to cease this confusion?'

'Yes, sir, Jesus had many close friends.  He named twelve of them
to be known as his disciples.  But they had no authority to give
orders to that big crowd.  They were really beside themselves to
know what to do.  Reuben and I had gone over to Capernaum--like
everybody else--to see what was going on.  When we arrived, the
people were pushing and struggling in the central plaza.  I never
was in such a press, sir!  Men and women with sick children in
their arms, being jostled roughly in the swaying pack.  Blind men.
Half-dead people on cots, carried by their friends.  There were
even lepers in the crowd.'  Hariph chuckled grimly.  'Nobody
jostled THEM!'

'It's a wonder they weren't arrested,' put in Marcellus.

'Well, sir,' drawled Hariph, 'when a leper is out on his own, not
even a legionary is anxious to lay hands on him.  And you couldn't
blame the poor lepers, sir.  They hoped to be healed, too.'

'Is Jesus supposed to have healed lepers, Hariph?'  Marcellus's
tone was heavy with doubt.

'Yes, sir. . . .  Well, when the crowd became unmanageable, Jesus
began retreating, down toward the shore.  Several of his disciples
had run on ahead and engaged a boat.  And before the people
realized what was happening, Jesus and his twelve closest friends
were pulling away from the beach.'

'Wasn't that a rather heartless thing to do?' queried Marcellus.

'He had tried to talk to them, sir, but there was too much
confusion.  You see, the people who crowded in about him hadn't
come to hear him talk, but to witness some strange thing.  They
wouldn't even give way to the cripples or the blind or the very
sick ones borne on cots.  And then, too, Jesus had just received
bad news.  One of his best friends, whom old Herod Antipas had
thrown into prison, had just been beheaded.  Word of it came to
Jesus while he was trying to deal with that unruly mob.  You can't
blame him, sir, for wanting to get away.'

'Quite to the contrary, Hariph!' declared Marcellus.  'It's
gratifying to hear that he could be puzzled about something.  It
was lucky that there was a boat available.  Was the crowd enraged?'

'Oh, they behaved each according to his own temper,' remembered
Hariph.  'Some shook their fists and shouted imprecations.  Some
shook their heads and turned away.  Some wept.  Some stood still
and said nothing, as they watched the boat growing smaller.'

'And what did you and Reuben do?'

'Well, sir, we decided to go home.  And then somebody noticed that
the boat was veering toward the north.  A great shout went up, and
the people began racing toward the beach.  It seemed likely that
the party in the boat was making for some place up in the
neighbourhood of Bethsaida.'

'How far was that?' inquired Marcellus.

'For the boat, about six miles.  For the crowd, nearly nine.  It
was a hot day and rough going.  That country up there is mostly
desert.  But everybody went, or so it seemed.  It was a singular
sight, sir, that long procession stumbling over the stones and
through the dried weeds.  It was far past midday when we found
them.'

'Did Jesus seem annoyed when the crowd arrived?'

'No, just sorry,' murmured Hariph.  'His face was sad.  The people
were so very tired.  They weren't pushing one another--not after
that trip!'  He laughed a little at the recollection.

'Did he chide them for the way they had behaved in Capernaum?'

'No, sir.  He didn't say anything for a long time.  The people
flung themselves down to rest.  Justus told me afterwards that
Simon urged Jesus to talk to them, but he wanted to wait until all
of them had arrived; for some were carrying their sick, and were
far behind.  He didn't speak a word until they were all there.  And
then he stood up and began to talk.  He did not reprove us for
trailing him to this place, nor did he have aught to say of the
people's rudeness.  He talked about all of us being neighbours.  We
were all one family.  Everyone was very quiet.  There wasn't a
sound--but the voice of Jesus.  And remember, sir; there were five
thousand people in that crowd!'  Hariph's chin twitched
involuntarily.  He cleared his throat.  Marcellus studied his face
soberly.

'I am not one to weep easily, sir,' he went on, huskily.  'But
there was something about those words that brought the tears.
There we were--nothing but a great crowd of little children--tired
and worn out--and here was a man--the only man there--and all the
rest of us nothing but quarrelsome, stingy, greedy, little
children.  His voice was very calm, but--if you can believe me, sir--
his words were as ointment to our wounds.  While he talked, I was
saying to myself, "I have never lived!  I have never known how to
live!  This man has the words of life!"  It was as if God himself
were speaking, sir!  Everybody was much moved.  Men's faces were
strained and their tears were flowing.'  Hariph wiped his eyes with
the back of his hand.

'After a while,' he continued, brokenly, 'Jesus stopped talking and
motioned to some who had carried a sick man all that long way, and
they brought their burden and put it down at Jesus' feet.  He said
something to the sick man.  I could not hear what it was.  And the
sick man got up!  And so did everybody else--as if Jesus had
suddenly pulled us all to our feet.  And everyone gasped with
wonder!'  Hariph grinned pensively and faced Marcellus directly
with childishly entreating eyes.  'Do you believe what I am telling
you, sir?'

'It is difficult, Hariph,' said Marcellus, gently.  'But I think
you believe what you are saying.  Perhaps there is some
explanation.'

'That may be, sir,' said Hariph, politely.  'And then there were
many, many others who went to Jesus to be healed of their diseases;
not jostling to be first, but waiting their turn.'  He hesitated
for a moment, embarrassed.  'But I shall not weary you with that,'
he went on, 'seeing you do not believe.'

'You were going to tell me how he fed them,' prompted Marcellus.

'Yes, sir.  It was growing late in the afternoon.  I had been so
moved by the things I had heard and seen that I had not thought of
being hungry.  Reuben and I, knowing there would be nothing out
there to eat, had stopped at a market-booth in Capernaum and had
bought some bread and cured fish.  In any other kind of crowd, we
would have eaten our luncheon.  But now that we had begun to feel
hungry, I was ashamed to eat what I had before the faces of the men
about me; for, as I have said, Jesus had been talking about us all
being of one family, and how we ought to share what we had with one
another.  I should have been willing to divide with the man next to
me; but I hadn't much more than enough for myself.  So--I didn't
eat; nor did Reuben.'

'I daresay there were plenty of men in the crowd who were faced
with the same dilemma,' surmised Marcellus.

'Well, the disciples were around Jesus telling him he had better
dismiss the people, so they could go to the little villages and buy
food.  Justus told me afterwards that Jesus only shook his head and
told them that the people would be fed.  They were much bewildered
and worried.  There was a small boy, sitting very close and
overhearing this talk.  He had a little basket, his own lunch, not
very much; just enough to feed a boy.  He went to Jesus with his
basket and said he was willing to share what he had.'

Marcellus's eyes lighted, and he leaned forward attentively.

'Go on!' he demanded.  'This is wonderful.'

'Yes, it really was wonderful, sir.  Jesus took the basket and held
it up for the people to see.  And then he told how the boy wanted
to share his food with all the people.  And he looked up and
thanked God for the little boy's gift.  It was very, very quiet,
sir.  Then he began breaking the small loaves into bits, and the
fish he tore into little shreds; and he gave these fragments to his
disciples and told them to feed the people.'

'Did the crowd laugh?' asked Marcellus.

'Well, no, sir.  We didn't laugh, although almost everyone smiled
over such a big crowd being fed on almost nothing, as you might
say.  As I told you, I had been ashamed to bring out the food I
had, and now I was ashamed not to; so I unwrapped my bread and
fish, and broke off a piece, and offered it to the man next to me.'

'Wonderful!' shouted Marcellus.  'Was he glad to get it?'

'He had some of his own,' said Hariph, adding, quickly, 'but there
were plenty of people who hadn't brought any food along with them,
sir.  And everyone was fed, that day!  After it was over, they
gathered up a dozen basketfuls of fragments, left over.'

'It sounds as if some other people, besides you and Reuben, had had
the forethought to bring some provisions along,' speculated
Marcellus.  'They probably wouldn't have gone out into the desert
with empty baskets.  This is really a marvellous story, Hariph!'

'You believe it, sir?'  Hariph was happily surprised.

'Indeed I do!  And I believe it was a miracle!  Jesus had inspired
those stingy, selfish people to be decent to one another!  It takes
a truly great man to make one harmonious family out of a crowd like
that!  I can't understand the healing, Hariph; but I believe in the
feeding!  And I'm glad you wanted to tell me!'



Chapter XVI


They were on the way from Cana to Capernaum.  All day their narrow
road had been gaining altitude, not without occasional dips into
shallow valleys, but tending upwards toward a lofty plateau where
the olive-green terrain met an azure sky set with masses of
motionless white clouds.

It had been a fatiguing journey, with many pauses for rest, and as
the shadows slanted farther to the east, the two men trudged the
steepening track in silence, leaving the little pack-train far
behind.  They were nearing the top now.  Justus had promised that
they would make camp in the lee of the great rock they had sighted
two hours ago.  There was a cool spring, he said, and plenty of
forage.  He hoped they would find the spot untenanted.  Yes, he
knew the place well.  He had camped there many times.  There was a
splendid view.  Jesus had loved it.

Throughout this tour of Galilee, Marcellus had paid very little
attention to the physical characteristics of the province.  Until
now the landscape had been unremarkable, and he had been fully
preoccupied by the strange business that had brought him here.
Marcellus had but one interest in this otherwise undistinguished
land of rock-strewn fields, tiny vineyards, and apathetic villages
drowsing in the dust around an ancient well.  He was concerned only
about a mysterious man who had walked these winding roads, a little
while ago, with crowds of thousands surging about him.

It was not easy to-day, on this sleepy old highway, to picture
either the number or the temper of that multitude.  The people must
have come from long distances, most of them, for this country was
not thickly populated.  Nor was it easy to imagine the confusion,
the jostling, the shouting.  Such Galileans as Marcellus had seen
were not emotional, not responsive; rather stolid, indeed.

That weary, weather-beaten woman, leaning on her hoe, in the frowsy
little garden they had just passed--had she, too, bounded out of
her kitchen, leaving their noonday pottage on the fire, to join in
that curious throng?  This bearded man in the meadows--her husband,
obviously; now sluggishly mowing wisps of grass with his great-
grandfather's scythe--had he run panting to the edge of the crowd,
trying to scramble through the sweating pack for a glimpse of the
face of Jesus?

It was almost incredible that this silent, solemn, stodgy province
could ever have been haled out of its age-long lethargy and stirred
to such a pitch of excitement.  Even Justus, looking back upon it
all, could only shake his shaggy head and mutter that the whole
affair was quite beyond comprehension.  You could think what you
liked about the miracles, reflected Justus, soberly: many of the
people were hysterical and had reported all manner of strange
occurrences, some of which had never been satisfactorily confirmed.
The air had been full of wild rumours, Justus said.  A few
Nazarenes had been quoted as remembering that when Jesus was a lad,
at play with them, he had fashioned birds of clay, and the birds
had come to life and had flown away.  You could hear such tales by
the score, and they had confused the public's estimate of Jesus,
making him seem a mountebank in the opinion of many intelligent
people.

But these passionate throngs of thousands who followed, day after
day, indifferent to their hunger and discomfort--all Galilee knew
that this was true because all Galilee had participated.  You might
have good reasons for doubting the validity of some of these
miracle stories, but you couldn't doubt this one!  Obscure little
Galilee, so slow and stupid that its bucolic habits and uncouth
dialect were stock jokes in Judea, had suddenly come alive!  Its
dull work was abandoned.  Everybody talking at once!  Everybody
shouting questions which nobody tried to answer!  Camels were left
standing in their harness, hitched to water-wheels.  Shuttles were
left, midway of the open warp.  Tools lay scattered on the floor of
the carpenter shop.  Ploughs stopped in the furrow.  Fires burned
out in the brick-kiln.  Everybody took to the road, on foot, on
donkeys, on carts, on crutches.  Helpless invalids who couldn't be
left were bundled up on stretchers and carried along.  Nothing
mattered but to follow the young man who looked into your eyes and
made you well--or ashamed--or tightened your throat with longing
for his calm strength and flower-like purity.

Now the bright light had gone out.  The great crowds had scattered.
The inspired young man was dead.  Galilee had gone back to sleep.
It was a lonely land.  Perhaps the Galileans themselves were now
conscious of its loneliness, after having briefly experienced this
unprecedented activity.

Marcellus wished he knew how much of Jesus' influence still
remained alive.  Of course, you could depend upon a few of them--
those who had known him best and owed him much--to remember and
remember until they died; people like Miriam.  Or were there any
more like Miriam?  Justus had said that some of these Galileans had
been completely transformed, almost as if they had been born again.
Certain men of low estate had learned new occupations.  Certain
beggars had become productive.  A few publicans had become
respected citizens.  Women who had been known as common scolds were
going about doing deeds of kindness.  But perhaps the majority had
been unable to hold on to their resolutions.  He must press Justus
for some more information about that.

Now they had arrived at the top of the terrain, every step adding
depth to the view.  Far to the north lay a range of snow-capped
mountains.  A few steps farther on, and the distant turrets and
domes of a modern city glistened in the declining sun.  There was
no need to inquire its name: it had to be Tiberias.  Marcellus
lengthened his stride to keep pace with Justus, who was moving
swiftly toward the northern rim, turning his head from side to
side, and peering intently in all directions, as if he had expected
to meet a friend up here.

Suddenly the whole breath-taking panorama was spread before them
and Marcellus had his first sight of the deep-blue lake that had
figured so much in his guide's conversation.  It had been around
this little sea that Jesus had spent most of his days.  Justus
dropped wearily to the ground, folded his arms, and sat in silent
contemplation of the scene.  Marcellus, a little way apart,
reclined on his elbows.  Far in the distance was a slanting sail.
All along the shore-line, flat-roofed villages straggled down to
the water's edge.

After a long interval, Marcellus stirred.

'So--this is the Sea of Galilee!' he said, half to himself.

Justus nodded slowly.  Presently he pointed to the farthest
settlement that could be seen.

'Capernaum,' he said.  'Eight miles.'

'I daresay this lake has some tender memories for you, Justus,'
remarked Marcellus.  'Tell me,' he went on, with a slow gesture
that swept the landscape, 'has the general behaviour of those
people been greatly altered by the career of Jesus?'

'It is hard to say,' replied Justus.  'They do not talk much about
it.  They are afraid.  The Roman fort is close by.  One could
easily get into trouble by asking questions.  One only knows what
has happened in the lives of one's friends.  I expect to visit some
of them while we are here.'

'Will I see them?' inquired Marcellus, doubtfully.

'Not many,' said Justus, frankly.  'You will see old Bartholomew,
as I told you.  He has a story I want you to hear.  Bartholomew
will not be afraid to talk to you, after I assure him it will be
safe.'  He turned about and faced Marcellus with a reminiscent
smile.  'You might be interested in knowing how Jesus and
Bartholomew first met.  The old man was sitting out in his little
fig orchard, one morning, when Jesus and Philip passed the house.
And Jesus cheerily waved a hand and said, "Peace be upon you,
Nathanael!"'

'I thought his name was Bartholomew,' put in Marcellus.

'That's the amusing part of it,' chuckled Justus.  'It is not
customary with us to call venerable men by their given names.  I
don't suppose old Bartholomew had heard himself called Nathanael
for at least two-score years.  And here was this young stranger
taking an immense liberty with him.'

'Was he offended?' asked Marcellus, with a grin.

'Well, perhaps not seriously offended, but certainly astonished.
He called Jesus to come to him, perhaps intending to take him to
task for what looked like a bit of impudence.  Philip told me the
story.  He said that old Bartholomew was looking stern as he waited
for Jesus to approach.  Then his eyes widened and softened; and he
smiled and said, "You knew my name."  "Yes," replied Jesus, "and
because it means 'God-given' it is fitting, for you are an
Israelite of high integrity."'

'That should have pleased the old man,' observed Marcellus.

'It did,' said Justus soberly.  'It made him a disciple.'

'You mean, he--followed after Jesus?'

'Yes.  There was something strange about that.  The old man had
long since taken to his chair in the garden, thinking his active
days were ended.  But he got up and went along with Jesus--and he
rarely left his side for nearly three years.'

'His vigour was restored?'  Marcellus's face showed disbelief.

'No, he was still an old man.  It was hard work for him to keep up
with the others.  He got very weary indeed, and he wheezed and
panted like any other hard-pressed old man--'

'But he came along,' assisted Marcellus.

'Yes--Bartholomew came along.  No one else would have ventured to
call him Nathanael--but Jesus did, invariably.  And Bartholomew
liked it.'

'Perhaps Jesus did that to keep the old man going,' suggested
Marcellus.  'Maybe it made him feel younger.'

'Well, it wasn't only Bartholomew who felt younger and immature in
the company of Jesus.'  Justus frowned and stroked his beard, his
habit when groping for an elusive memory.  'With the exception of
John, all the close friends and disciples of Jesus were older than
he; but he was our senior, by years and years.  Sometimes, after we
had slipped away for an hour's rest, he would say, "Come, children:
we must be on our way."  But no one smiled, or thought it
peculiar.'

'He seemed remote?' asked Marcellus.

Justus deliberately pondered a reply, then shook his head.

'No, not remote.  He was companionable.  You wanted to get closer
to him, as if for protection.  I think that's why the people were
always crowding about him, until he hardly had room to move.'

'That must have put him under a great strain,' said Marcellus.
'Didn't he ever seem weary?'

'Very, very weary!' remembered Justus.  'But he never protested.
Sometimes men would brace a shoulder against the crowd and push
their way in, knocking others off their feet, but I can't recall
that he ever rebuked anyone for it. . . .  Marcellus, did you ever
see a flock of little chickens climbing over one another to get
under the hen's wings?  Well, the hen doesn't seem to notice; just
holds out her feathers, and lets them scramble in.  That was his
attitude.  And that was our relation to him.'

'Very strange!' murmured Marcellus, abstractedly.  'But I think--I
understand--what you mean,' he added, as from a distance.

'You couldn't!' declared Justus.  'You think you understand, but
you would have had to know Jesus to comprehend what I am saying.
Some of us were old enough to have been his father, but we were
just--just little chickens!  Take Simon, for example.  Simon was
always the leader among the disciples.  I hope you meet him when
you go back to Jerusalem.  Simon is a very forceful, capable man.
Whenever Jesus happened to be absent from us, for an hour, Simon
was far and away the big man of the company, everyone deferring to
him.  But--when Jesus would rejoin us'--Justus grinned, pursed his
lips, and slowly shook his head--'Simon was just a little boy; just
a humble, helpless little boy!  A little chicken!'

'And Bartholomew--he was a little chicken, too?'

'Well,' deliberated Justus, 'not quite in the same way, perhaps.
Bartholomew never expressed his opinions so freely as Simon, when
Jesus was away from us.  He didn't have quite so far to drop--as
Simon.  It was amazing how much fatigue the old fellow could
endure.  He attended the last supper they had together on the night
Jesus was betrayed.  But when the news came in that the Master had
been arrested, it was too much for Bartholomew.  He was very sick.
They put him to bed.  By the time he recovered--it was all over.'
Justus closed his eyes, sighed deeply, and an expression of pain
swept his face.  'It was all over,' his lips repeated, soundlessly.

'He must be quite infirm, by this time,' said Marcellus, anxious to
lift the gloom.

'About the same,' said Justus.  'Not much older.  Not much weaker.'
He grinned a little.  'Bartholomew has a queer idea now.  He thinks
he may never die.  He sits all day in the fig orchard, when the
weather is fair.'

'Looking up the road, perhaps,' speculated Marcellus, 'and wishing
he might see Jesus again, coming to visit him.'

Justus had been gazing down at the lake.  Now he turned his eyes
quickly towards Marcellus and stared into his face.  After a rather
tense moment, which left Marcellus somewhat bewildered, Justus
returned his gaze to the lake.

'That is exactly what old Bartholomew does,' he murmured.  'All day
long.  He sits, watching the road.'

'Old men get strange fancies,' commented Marcellus.

'You don't have to be old,' said Justus, 'to get strange fancies.'

The little caravan, which had lagged on the last steep climb, now
shuffled over the shoulder of the hill.  Jonathan came running
across, and snuggled down beside Justus.

'When shall we have supper, Grandfather?' he wheedled.

'Quite soon, son,' answered Justus, gently.  'Go and help the boy
unload.  We will join you presently.'  Little Jonathan scampered
away.

'The lad seems in quite good spirits to-day,' observed Marcellus.

'That's Miriam's work,' declared Justus.  'She had a long talk with
Jonathan yesterday.  I think we need not worry about him now.'

'That conversation must have been worth hearing,' said Marcellus.

'Jonathan didn't seem inclined to talk about it,' said Justus, 'but
he was deeply impressed.  You noticed how quiet he was, last
night.'

'I doubt whether there is another young woman--of Miriam's sort--in
the whole world!' announced Marcellus, soberly.

'There is a widow in Capernaum,' said Justus.  'Perhaps you may
have an opportunity to meet her.  She spends all her time with the
very poor who have sickness in their houses.  Her name is Lydia.
You might be interested in her story.'

'Tell me, please.'  Marcellus sat up and gave attention.

'Lydia lost her husband, Ahira, while still quite a young woman.  I
do not know how it is in your country, but with us the predicament
of a young widow is serious.  She goes into retirement.  Lydia was
one of the most beautiful girls in Capernaum, so everyone said.
Ahira had been a man of considerable wealth, and their home was in
keeping with his fortune.  Shortly after his death, Lydia became
grievously afflicted with an ailment peculiar to women, and
gradually declined until her beauty faded.  Her family was most
sympathetic.  At great expense, they summoned the best physicians.
They carried her to many healing springs.  But nothing availed to
check her wasting disease.  The time came when it was with great
difficulty that she could move about in her room.  And now the
whole country began to be stirred by reports of strange things that
Jesus had done for many sick people.'  Justus hesitated, seemingly
in doubt how to proceed with the story.  Marcellus waited with
mounting curiosity.

'I think I had better tell you,' continued Justus, 'that it wasn't
always easy for substantial people to have an interview with Jesus.
As for the poor, they had no caste to lose.  Most of them were in
the habit of begging favours, and were not reticent about crowding
in wherever they thought it might be to their advantage.  But men
and women in better circumstances--no matter how much they wanted
to see Jesus--found it very hard to shed their natural pride and
push into that clamorous multitude.  Jesus was always sorry about
this.  Often and often, he consented to talk alone with important
men, late in the night, when he sorely needed his rest.'

'Men who wanted to be privately cured of something?' asked
Marcellus.

'Doubtless, but I know of some cases in which very influential men,
who had no malady at all, invited Jesus into their homes for a long
conference.  Once we waited at the gate of Nicodemus ben Gorion,
the most widely known lawyer of this region, until the cocks crew
in the early morning.  And there was nothing the matter with
Nicodemus; at least, nothing physical.'

'Do you suppose he was warning Jesus to cease his work?' wondered
Marcellus.

'No.  Nicodemus came out with him, that night, as far as the gate.
Jesus was talking earnestly to him.  When they parted, each man
laid a hand on the other's shoulder.  We only do that with social
equals.  Well--as I had meant to say--it would have taken a lot of
courage for a gently bred woman of means to have invaded the crowd
that thronged about Jesus.'

'That's quite understandable,' agreed Marcellus.

'One day, when Jesus was speaking in the public plaza in Capernaum,
a well-to-do man named Jairus pushed his way through the crowd.
The people made way for him when someone spoke his name.  It was
plain to see that he was greatly excited.  He went directly to
Jesus and said that his little daughter was sick unto death.  Would
Jesus come at once?  Without asking any questions, Jesus consented,
and they started down the principal street, the crowd growing
larger as they went.  When they passed Lydia's house, she watched
them from the window, and saw Jairus, whom she knew, walking at
Jesus' side.'

'Where were you, Justus?' asked Marcellus.  'You seem quite
familiar with these details.'

'As it happened, it was in the neighbourhood of Lydia's house that
I joined the crowd.  I had come with a message for Simon, who had
serious illness at home.  His wife's mother was sick, and had
become suddenly worse.  I was as close to Jesus as I am to you when
this thing happened.  I don't suppose Lydia would have attempted it
if she hadn't seen Jairus in the throng.  That must have given her
confidence.  Summoning all her poor strength, she ran down the
steps and into that crowd, desperately forced her way through, and
struggled on until she was almost at Jesus' side.  Then, her
courage must have failed her; for, instead of trying to speak to
him, she reached out and touched his robe.  I think she was
frightened at her own audacity.  She turned quickly and began
forcing her way out.'

'Why didn't some of you call Jesus' attention to her?' asked
Marcellus.

'Well,' said Justus defensively, 'there was a great deal of
confusion, and it all happened so quickly--and then she was gone.
But, instantly, Jesus stopped and turned about.  "Who touched me?"
he demanded.'

'You mean--he felt that contact--through his robe?' exclaimed
Marcellus.

Justus nodded, and went on.

'Simon and Philip reminded him that there were so many crowding
about.  Almost any of them might have crushed against him.  But he
wasn't satisfied with that.  And while he stood there, questioning
them, we heard this woman's shrill cry.  They opened the way for
her to come to him.  It must have been a very trying moment for
Lydia.  She had lived such a sheltered life.  The crowd grew
suddenly quiet.'

Justus's voice was husky as he recalled the scene.

'I saw many pathetic sights, through those days,' he continued,
'but none more moving.  Lydia came slowly, with her head bowed and
her hands over her eyes.  She knelt on the ground before Jesus and
confessed that she was the one who had touched him.  Then she
lifted her eyes, with the tears running down her cheeks, and cried,
"Master!  I have been healed of my affliction!"'

Overcome by his emotions, Justus stopped to wipe his eyes on his
sleeve.  Steadying his voice with an effort, he went on:

'Everyone was deeply touched.  The people were all in tears.
Jairus was weeping like a child.  Even Jesus, who was always well
controlled, was so moved that his eyes were swimming as he looked
down into Lydia's face.  Marcellus--that woman gazed up at him as
if she were staring into a blinding sunshine.  Her body was shaking
with sobs, but her face was enraptured!  It was beautiful!'

'Please go on,' insisted Marcellus, when Justus fell silent.

'It was a very tender moment,' he said, thickly.  'Jesus gave her
both of his hands and drew her gently to her feet; and then, as if
he were speaking to a tearful little child, he said, "Be comforted,
my daughter, and go in peace.  Your faith has made you whole."'

'That is the most beautiful story I ever heard, Justus,' said
Marcellus, soberly.

'I hardly know why I told you,' muttered Justus.  'I've no reason
to think you could believe that Lydia was cured of her malady
merely by touching Jesus' robe.'

He sat waiting, with an almost wistful interest, for a further
comment from Marcellus.  It was one thing to say of a narrative
that it was a beautiful story; it was quite another thing to
concede its veracity.  Marcellus had been adept in contriving
common-sense explanations of these Galilean mysteries.  The story
of Lydia's healing had obviously moved him, but doubtless he would
come forward presently with an attempt to solve the problem on
natural grounds.  His anticipated argument was so long in coming
that Justus searched his face intently, astonished at its gravity.
He was still more astounded when Marcellus replied, in a tone of
deep sincerity:

'Justus, I believe every word of it!'

                         * * * * * *

Notwithstanding his weariness, Marcellus had much difficulty in
going to sleep that night.  Justus's story about Lydia had revived
the memory of his own strange experiences with the robe.  It had
been a long time since he had examined his mind in respect to these
occurrences.

He had invented reasons for the amazing effects the robe had
wrought in his own case.  His explanation was by no means
conclusive or satisfying, but he had adopted it as less troublesome
than a downright admission that the robe was haunted.

The case, viewed rationally, began with the fact that he had had a
very serious emotional shock.  The sight of a crucifixion was
enough to leave scars on any decent man's soul.  To have actually
conducted a crucifixion was immeasurably worse.  And to have
crucified an innocent man made the whole affair a shameful crime.
The memory of it would be an interminable torture, painful as a
physical wound.  Not much wonder that he had been so depressed that
all his mental processes had been thrown into disarray.

There was that night at the Insula when he had drunkenly consented
to put on the blood-stained robe.  Apparently his weighted remorse
over the day's tragedy had reached a stage where it could not
endure this one more perfidy.  A wave of revulsion had swept
through him, as if some punitive power, resident in the robe, had
avenged the outrage.

For a long time Marcellus had suffered of that obsession.  The robe
was possessed!  He shuddered when he thought of it.  The robe had
become the symbol of his crime and shame.

Then had come his remarkable recovery, that afternoon in Athens.
His mental affliction had reached a moment of crisis.  He could
bear it no longer.  The only way out was by suicide.  And at that
critical juncture, the robe had stayed his hand.

For a few hours thereafter, Marcellus had been completely
mystified.  When he tried to analyse the uncanny thing that had
happened to him, his mind refused to work on it.  Indeed, he had
been so ecstatic over his release from the bondage of his
melancholia that he was in no mood to examine the nature of his
redemption.  Such brief and shallow reasoning as he put upon it was
as futile as an attempt to evaluate some fantastic, half-forgotten
dream.

The time came when he could explain his recovery even as he had
explained his collapse.  The robe had been a focal point of
interest on both occasions.  But--did the robe actually have
anything to do with it?  Wasn't it all subjective?

The explanation seemed sound and practical.  His mind had been
deeply wounded, but now it had healed.  Evidently the hour had
arrived, that afternoon in the cottage at the inn, when his
harassed mind determined to overthrow the torturing obsession.  It
was a reasonable deduction, he felt.  Nature was always in revolt
against things that thwarted her blind but orderly processes.  For
many years a tree might wage a slow and silent warfare against an
encumbering wall, without making any visible progress.  One day the
wall would topple--not because the tree had suddenly laid hold upon
some supernormal energy, but because its patient work of self-
defence and self-release had reached fulfilment.  The long-
imprisoned tree had freed itself.  Nature had had her way.

Marcellus had contented himself with this explanation.  He had
liked the analogy of the tree and the wall; had liked it so well
that he had set it to work on other phases of his problem.  You had
had a peculiar experience that had forced you to a belief in the
supernatural.  But your mind--given a chance to resume its orderly
functions--would begin to resist that untenable thought.  It wasn't
natural for a healthy mind to be stultified by alleged supernatural
forces.  No matter how convincing the evidences of supernatural
power, one's mind would proceed--automatically, involuntarily--to
push this intrusive concept away, as a tree-root pushes against an
offending wall.

Until long after midnight, Marcellus lay on his cot, wide awake, re-
examining his own rationalizings about the robe in the light of
Lydia's experience, and getting nowhere with it.  He had
impulsively told Justus that he believed the story.  There was no
reason to doubt the good man's integrity; but, surely, there must
be a reasonable explanation.  Maybe Lydia's malady had run its
course, that day, needing only this moment of high emotional stress
to effect her release.  He silently repeated this over and over,
trying to make it sound reasonable; trying to make it hold good.
Then he agreed with himself that his theory was nonsense, and
drifted off to sleep.

Rousing with a start, Marcellus cautiously raised himself on one
elbow and peered out through the open tent-door.  In the grey-blue,
pre-dawn twilight he dimly saw the figure of a tall, powerfully
built, bearded man.  It was much too dark to discern the intruder's
features.

His attitude did not denote furtiveness.  He stood erect,
apparently attempting to identify the occupants of the tent, and
probably finding it impossible.  Presently he moved away.

As soon as he had disappeared, Marcellus arose, quietly strapped
his sandals, buckled his belt, and slipped out.  There had been
nothing sinister in this unexpected visitation.  Obviously the man
was neither a thief nor an ordinary prowler.  He had not acted as
if he had plans to molest the camp.  It was quite conceivable that
he had arranged to meet Justus up here and had been delayed.
Finding the campers still asleep, he had probably decided to wait
awhile before making himself known.

This seemed a reasonable surmise, for upon their arrival at the
hilltop yesterday afternoon Justus had scrutinized the terrain as
if expecting to be joined here by some acquaintance, though that
was a habit of his--always scanning the landscape whenever an
elevation presented a farther view; always peering down cross-
roads; always turning about with a start whenever a door opened
behind him.

It was still too dark to explore the terrain in quest of the
mysterious visitor.  Marcellus walked slowly toward the northern
rim of the narrow plateau where he and Justus had sat.  Low in the
east, beyond the impenetrable darkness that mapped the lake, the
blue was beginning to fade out of the grey.  Now the grey was
dissolving on the horizon and a long, slim ribbon of gleaming white
appeared.  Outspread lambent fingers reached up high, higher,
higher into the dome from beyond a dazzling, snow-crowned mountain.
Now the snow was touched with streaks of gold.  Marcellus sat down
to watch the dawn arrive.

At not more than a stadium's distance, also facing the sunrise, sat
the unidentified wayfarer, not yet aware that he was observed.
Apparently absorbed by the pageant in the east, he sat motionless
with his long arms hugging his knees.  As the light increased,
Marcellus noted that the man was shabbily dressed and had no pack;
undoubtedly a local resident; a fisherman, perhaps, for the uncouth
knitted cap, drawn far down over his ears, was an identifying
headgear affected by sailors.

With no wish to spy on the fellow, Marcellus noisily cleared his
throat.  The stranger slowly turned his head, then arose nimbly and
approached.  Halting, he waited for the Roman to speak first.

'Who are you?' asked Marcellus.  'And what do you want?'

The newcomer ran his fingers through his beard, and smiled broadly.
Then he tugged off the wretched cap from a swirl of tousled hair.

'This disguise,' he chuckled, 'is better than I had thought.'

'Demetrius!'  Marcellus leaped to his feet and they grasped each
other's hands.  'Demetrius!--how did you find me?  Have you been in
trouble?  Are you being pursued?  Where did you come by such shabby
clothes?  Are you hungry?'

'I learned yesterday afternoon in Cana that you were on the way to
Capernaum.  I have not been in much trouble, and am not now
pursued.  The clothes'--Demetrius held up his patched sleeves, and
grinned--'are they not befitting to a vagrant?  I had plenty to
eat, last night.  Your donkey-boy helped me to my supper and lent
me a rug.'

'Why didn't you make yourself known?' asked Marcellus,
reproachfully.

'I wanted to see you alone, sir, before encountering Justus.'

'Proceed, then,' urged Marcellus, 'and tell me as much as you can.
He will be waking presently.'

'Stephanos told you of my flight from Jerusalem--'

'Have you been back there?' interrupted Marcellus.

'No, sir; but I contrived to send Stephanos a message, and he wrote
me fully about your meeting.'  Demetrius surveyed his master from
head to foot.  'You are looking fit, sir, though you've lost a
pound or two.'

'Walking,' explained Marcellus.  'Good for the torso; bad for the
feet.  Keep on with your story now.  We haven't much time.'

Demetrius tried to make it brief.  He had fled to Joppa, hoping to
see his master when his ship came in.  He had been hungry and
shelterless for a few days, vainly seeking work on the docks.

'One morning I saw an old man dragging a huge parcel of green hides
along the wharf,' he went on.  'I was so desperate for employment
that I shouldered the reeking pelts and carried them to the
street.'  The old Jew trotted alongside protesting.  When I put the
loathsome burden down, he offered me two farthings.  I refused,
saying he had not engaged me.  He then asked what I would take to
carry the hides to his tannery, a half-mile up the street that
fronted the beach.  I said I would do it for my dinner.'

'Not so many details, Demetrius!' insisted Marcellus, impatiently.
'Get on with it!'

'These details are important, sir.  The old man wanted to know what
part of Samaria I had come from.  Perhaps you have discovered that
our Aramaic is loaded with Samaritan dialect.  His people had lived
in Samaria.  His name was Simon.  He talked freely and cordially,
asking many questions.  I told him I had worked for old Benjamin in
Athens, which pleased him, for he knew about Benjamin.  Then I
confided that I had worked for Benyosef in Jerusalem.  He was
delighted.  At his house, hard by the tannery, he bade me bathe and
provided me with clean clothing.'  Demetrius grinned at his
patches.  'This is it,' he said.

'You shall have something better,' said Marcellus.  'I am a
clothing merchant.  I have everything.  Too, too much of
everything.  So--what about this old Simon?'

'He became interested in me because I had worked for Benyosef, and
asked me if I were one of them, and I said I was.'  Demetrius
studied Marcellus's face.  'Do you understand what I mean, sir?' he
asked, wistfully.

Marcellus nodded, rather uncertainly.

'Are you, really--one of them?' he inquired.

'I am trying to be, sir,' responded Demetrius.  'It isn't easy.
One is not allowed to fight, you know.  You just have to take it--
the way he did.'

'You're permitted to defend yourself, aren't you?' protested
Marcellus.

'HE didn't,' replied Demetrius, quietly.

Marcellus winced, and shook his head.  They fell silent for a
moment.

'That part of it,' went on Demetrius, 'is always going to be
difficult; too difficult, I fear.  I promised Stephanos, that
morning when I left Jerusalem, that I would do my best to obey the
injunctions, and in less than an hour I had broken my word.  Simon
Peter--he is the chief of the disciples, the one they call "The Big
Fisherman"--he baptised me, just before dawn, in the presence of
all the others in Benyosef's shop, and, sir--'

'Baptized you?'  Marcellus's perplexity was so amusing that
Demetrius was forced to smile, in spite of his seriousness.

'Water,' he explained.  'They pour it on you, or put you in it,
whichever is more convenient--and announce that you are now clean,
in Jesus' name.  That means you're one of them, and you're expected
to follow Jesus' teachings.'  Demetrius's eyes clouded and he shook
his head self-reproachfully as he added, 'I was in a fight before
my hair was dry.'

Marcellus tried to match his slave's remorseful mood, but his grin
was already out of control.

'What happened?' he asked, suppressing a chuckle.

Demetrius glumly confessed his misdemeanour.  The legionaries had a
habit of stopping unarmed citizens along the road, compelling them
to shoulder their packs.  A great hulk of a soldier had demanded
this service of Demetrius and he had refused to obey.  Then there
was the savage thrust of a lance.  Demetrius had stepped out of the
way, and the legionary had drawn up for another onslaught.

'In taking the lance from him,' continued Demetrius, 'I broke it.'

'Over his head, I suspect,' accused Marcellus.

'It wasn't a very good lance, sir,' commented Demetrius.  'I am
surprised that the army doesn't furnish these men with better
equipment.'

Marcellus laughed aloud.  'And then what?' he urged.

'That was all.  I did not tarry.  Now that I have broken my
promise,'--Demetrius's tone was repentant--'do you think I can
still consider myself a Christian?  Do you suppose I'll have to be
baptized again?'

'I don't know,' mumbled Marcellus, busy with his own thoughts.
'What do you mean--"Christian"?'

'That's the new name for people who believe in Jesus.  They're
calling Jesus "The Christos," meaning "The Anointed."'

'But that's Greek!  All these people are Jews, aren't they?'

'By no means, sir!  This movement is travelling fast--and far.
Simon the tanner says there are at least three hundred banded
together down in Antioch.'

'Amazing!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'Do you suppose Justus knows?'

'Of course.'

'This is astounding news, Demetrius!  I had considered the whole
thing a lost cause!  How could it stay alive--after Jesus was
dead?'

Demetrius stared into his master's bewildered eyes.

'Don't you--haven't you heard about that, sir?' he inquired,
soberly.  'Hasn't Justus told you?'

Both men turned at the sound of a shrill shout.

'Who is the child?' asked Demetrius, as Jonathan came running
toward them.  Marcellus explained briefly.  The little boy's pace
slowed as he neared them, inquisitively eyeing the stranger.

'Grandfather says you are to come and eat now,' he said moving
close to Marcellus, but giving full attention to the unexplained
man in the shabby tunic.  'Do you catch fish?' he asked Demetrius.
'Have you a boat?  Can I ride in it?'

'This man's name is Demetrius,' said Marcellus.  'He is not a
fisherman, and he does not own a boat.  He borrowed the cap.'

Demetrius smiled and fell in behind them as Marcellus, with the
little boy's hand in his, walked toward the tent.  Jonathan turned
around, occasionally, to study the newcomer who followed with
measured steps.

Justus, busily occupied at the fire, a few yards from the tent,
glanced up with a warm smile of recognition and a word of greeting,
apparently not much surprised at the arrival of their guest.

'May I take over, sir?' asked Demetrius.

'It is all ready, thank you,' said Justus.  'You sit down with
Marcellus, and I shall serve you.'

Demetrius bowed and stepped aside.  Presently Justus came to the
low table he had improvised by drawing a couple of packing-cases
together, and served Marcellus and Jonathan with the broiled fish
and honey cakes.  Jonathan motioned with his head toward Demetrius
and looked up anxiously into Marcellus's face.

'Why doesn't he come and eat with us?' he inquired.

Marcellus was at a loss for a prompt and satisfactory reply.

'You needn't worry about Demetrius, son,' he remarked, casually.
'He likes to stand up when he eats.'

Instantly he divined that he had said the wrong thing.  Justus, who
was sitting down opposite them, with his own dish, frowned darkly.
He had some deep convictions on the subject of slavery.  It was bad
enough, his glum expression said, that Demetrius should be
Marcellus's slave.  It was intolerable that this relationship
should be viewed so casually.

Jonathan pointed over his shoulder with his half-eaten cake in the
direction of Demetrius, who was standing before the fire, dish in
hand, apparently enjoying his breakfast.

'That man stands up when he eats, Grandfather!' he remarked in a
high treble.  'Isn't that funny?'

'No,' muttered Justus, 'it is not funny.'  With that, he left the
table, and went over to stand beside the slave.

Marcellus decided not to make an issue of it and proceeded to some
lively banter with Jonathan, hoping to distract the child's
attention.

Demetrius surveyed Justus's grim face and smiled.

'You mustn't let this slave business distress you, sir,' he said,
quietly.  'My master is most kind and considerate.  He would gladly
give his life for me, as I would for him.  But slaves do not sit at
table with their masters.  It is a rule.'

'A bad rule!' grumbled Justus, deep in his throat.  'A rule that
deserves to be broken!  I had thought better of Marcellus Gallio.'

'It is a small matter,' said Demetrius, calmly.  'If you wish to
make my slavery easier, please think no more of it, sir.'

At that, Justus's face cleared a little.  There was no use making a
scene over a situation that was none of his business.  If Demetrius
was contented, there wasn't much more to be said.

After they had eaten, Justus carried a dish of food out to the
donkey-boy, Jonathan trotting beside him, still perplexed about the
little episode.

'Grandfather,' he shrilled, 'Marcellus Gallio treats Demetrius no
better than we treat our donkey-boy.'

Justus frowned, but made no attempt to explain.  His grandson had
given him something new to think about.  In the meantime Demetrius
had joined Marcellus, his bearded lips puckered as he tried to
control a grin.

'Perhaps it will clear the air for everybody, sir,' he said, 'if I
go on by myself to Capernaum.  Let me meet you, late this
afternoon.'

'Very well,' consented Marcellus.  'Ask Justus where he proposes to
stop.  But are you sure it is prudent for you to go down to
Capernaum?  We have a fort there, you know.'

'I shall be watchful, sir,' promised Demetrius.

'Take this!'  Marcellus poured a handful of coins into his palm.
'And keep your distance from that fort!'

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius, unencumbered, made good progress down the serpentine
road to the valley floor.  The air was hot.  He carried his shabby
coat and the disreputable cap under his arm.  The lake-shore on
this side was barren and unpopulated.  Tossing off his clothing, he
waded out and swam joyously, tumbled about like a dolphin, floated
on his back, churned the water with long overhand strokes,
luxuriating in his aquatics and the thorough cleansing.  He came
out shaking his mop of hair through his fingers, the blazing sun
drying him before he reached the little pile of patched and faded
garments.

Tiberias gleamed white in the mid-forenoon sun.  The marble palace
of Herod Antipas, halfway up the hill, appropriately set apart from
the less noble but surprisingly lavish residences, glistened
dazzlingly.  Demetrius imagined he could see a sinuous shimmer of
heat enveloping the proud structure, and was glad he did not have
to live there.  He was not envious of Herod's privilege to spend
the summer here.  However, he reflected, the family had probably
sought a more congenial altitude for the hot season, leaving a
small army of servants to sweat and steal and quarrel until the
weather eased with the coming of autumn.

He had reached the little city now, and proceeded on through it,
keeping close to the beach, where many fishing-boats had been drawn
up on the sand, and the adjacent market-booths reeked of their
merchandise.  Occasionally he was viewed with a momentary curiosity
by small groups of apathetic loungers, sitting cross-legged in the
shade of dirty food-shops.  The air was heavy with decaying fruit
and the stench of rancid oil sizzling in tarnished pans.  It had
been a long time since breakfast, and Demetrius had had an unusual
amount of exercise.  He tarried before one of the unpleasant food-
stalls.  The swarthy cook scowled, and waved his wooden spoon at
the shabby traveller with the uncouth cap--and no pack.

'Begone, fellow!' he commanded.  'We have nothing to give you.'

Demetrius jingled his money, and made a wry face.

'Nor have you anything to sell that a dog would eat,' he retorted.

The greasy fellow instantly beamed with a wheedling smile, lifting
his shoulders and elbows into a posture of servitude.  It was this
type of Jew that Demetrius had always despised, the Jew who was
arrogant, noisy, and abusive until he heard a couple of coins
clink.  Immediately, you were his friend, his brother, his master.
You could pour out a torrent of invective on him now, if you liked.
He would be weather-proofed and his smile undiminished.  He had
heard the pennies.

'Oh, not so bad as that, sir!' exclaimed the cook.  'The evil
smell'--he wagged a confidential thumb toward the neighbouring
booth--'it is that one who defiles the air with his stale perch and
wretched oil.'  Tipping a grimy kettle forward, he stirred its
steaming contents, appreciatively sucking his lips.  'Delicious!'
he murmured.

A tousled, red-eyed legionary sauntered up from the water-front,
rested an elbow on the end of the high table, and sourly sniffed
the heavy scent of burning fat.  His uniform was dirty.  Apparently
he had slept where he fell.  Doubtless he was ready for food now.
He gave Demetrius a surly stare.

'Have a bowl of this beautiful pottage, Centurion,' coaxed the
cook.  'Choice lamb, with many costly spices.  A great helping for
only two farthings.'

Demetrius repressed a grin.  'Centurion,' eh?  Why hadn't the Jew
gone the whole way and addressed the debauched legionary as
'Legate'?  But perhaps he knew where to stop when dishing out
flattery.  The unkempt Roman snarled a curse, and rubbed his clammy
forehead with his dirty brown head-band.  The cook took up an empty
bowl and smiled encouragingly at Demetrius, who scowled and shook
his head.

'None for me,' he muttered, turning away.

'I'll have some!' declared the legionary truculently, slapping an
empty wallet.

The cook's eager face collapsed, but he was not in a position to
refuse the penniless soldier.  With a self-piteous shrug, he half-
filled the bowl and put it down on the filthy table.

'Business is so bad,' he whined.

'So is your pottage,' mumbled the legionary, chewing a hot
mouthful.  'Even that slave would have none of it.'

'Slave, sir?'  The cook leaned over the high table to have another
look at the tall Greek, who was moving leisurely up the street.
'He has a wallet full of money.  Good money, too--from the sound of
it!  A thief, no doubt!'

The legionary put down his spoon.  His lip curled in a crafty grin.
If an overdue soldier could reappear at the fort with a prisoner in
tow, he might make a better case for his absence all night.

'Hi, you!' he shouted.  'Come back here!'

Demetrius hesitated, turned, held a brief parley with himself, and
retraced his steps.  It would do no good to attempt an escape in
the neighbourhood of a fort.

'Did you call me, sir?' he asked quietly.

'How do you happen to be in Tiberias alone, fellow?'  The legionary
wiped his stubbled chin.  'Where is your master?  Don't pretend
you're not a slave--with that ear.'

'My master is on the way to Capernaum, sir.  He sent me on to seek
out a desirable camping-place.'

This sounded reasonable.  The legionary untidily helped himself to
another large spoonful of the pottage.

'Who is your master, fellow?  And what is he doing in Capernaum?'

'A Roman citizen, sir; a merchant.'

'A likely tale!' snorted the legionary.  'What manner of
merchandise does a Roman find in Capernaum?'

'Homespun, sir,' said Demetrius.  'Galilean rugs and robes.'

The legionary chuckled scornfully and scraped the bottom of his
bowl with a shaky spoon.

'Greek slaves are usually better liars than that,' he growled.
'You must think me a fool.  A slave in rags and patches, seeking a
camp-site for a Roman who comes all the way to little Capernaum to
buy clothing!'

'And with much money on him!' shrilled the cook.  'A robber he is!'

'Shut up, pig!' bellowed the legionary.  'I should take you up too
if you were not so filthy.'  Setting his soiled head-band at a
jaunty angle, he rose, tightened his belt, belched noisily, and
motioned to Demetrius to fall in behind him.

'But why am I arrested, sir?' demanded Demetrius.

'Never mind about that!' snarled the legionary.  'You can tell your
story at the fort.'  With an exaggerated swagger, he marched
stiffly up the street without turning to see whether his captive
was following.

Demetrius hesitated for a moment, but decided that it would be
foolhardy to attempt an escape in a vicinity so well patrolled.  He
would go along to the fort and try to send a message to Marcellus.

Beyond the limits of Tiberias the grim old sand-coloured barracks
loomed up on the arid hillside.  Above the centre of the quadrangle
reared the parapets of the inevitable praetorium.  The legionary
strutted on toward the massive wooden gate.  A sentry sluggishly
unbarred the heavy barricade.  They passed into the treeless, sun-
blistered drill-ground and on between orderly rows of brown tents,
unoccupied now, for it was noon and the legion would be in the mess-
hall.  Presently they brought up before the relatively impressive
entrance of the praetorium.  A grey-haired guard made way for them.

'Take this slave below and lock him up,' barked the legionary.

'What's your name, fellow?' demanded the guard.

Demetrius told him.

'And your master's name?'

'Lucan, a Roman citizen.'

'Where does he live?'

'In Rome.'

The guard gave the dishevelled legionary an appraising glance.
Demetrius thought he saw some hesitancy on the part of the older
man.

'What's the charge?' asked the guard.

'Suspicion of theft,' said the legionary.  'Lock him up, and let
him explain later how he happens to be wandering about, away from
his master, dressed like a fisherman--and with a wallet full of
money.'

'Write his name on the slate, then,' said the guard.  'The
Centurion is at mess.'

The legionary fumbled with the chalk, and handed it to Demetrius.

'Can you write your name, slave?' he enquired gruffly.

In spite of his predicament, Demetrius was amused.  It was obvious
that neither of these Romans could write.  If they couldn't write,
they couldn't read.  He took the chalk and wrote:

'Demetrius, Greek slave of Lucan, a Roman encamped in Capernaum.'

'Long name--for a slave,' remarked the legionary.  'If you have
written anything else--'

'My master's name, sir.'

'Put him away, then,' said the legionary, turning to go.  The old
guard tapped on the floor with his lance and a younger guard
appeared.  He signed with a jerk of his head that Demetrius should
follow, and strode off down the corridor to a narrow stairway.
They descended to the prison.  Bearded faces appeared at the small
square apertures in the cell-doors; Jewish faces, mostly, and a few
tough-looking Bedouins.

Demetrius was pushed into an open cell at the far end of the narrow
corridor.  A perpendicular slit, high in the outer wall, admitted a
frugal light.  The only furniture was a wide wooden bench.
Anchored to the masonry lay a heavy chain with a rusty manacle.
The guard ignored the chain, retreated into the corridor, banged
the heavy door shut and pushed the bolt.

Sitting down on the bench, Demetrius surveyed his cramped quarters,
and wondered how long he would have to wait for some official
action in his case.  It suddenly occurred to him that if the
dissipated legionary suspected the entry on the slate he might have
thought it safer to rub it out.  In that event, the new prisoner
stood a good chance of being forgotten.  Perhaps he should have
made a dash for it when he had an opportunity.  Assuming a speedy
trial, how much should he tell?  It would be difficult to explain
Marcellus's business in Galilee.  Without doubt, old Julian the
Legate was under orders to make short work of this Christian
movement.  There was no telling what attitude he might take if he
learned that Marcellus had been consorting with these disciples of
Jesus.

As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom, Demetrius noticed a
shelf in the corner bearing an earthenware food-basin and a small
water-bowl.  He had been hungry an hour ago.  Now he was thirsty.
Moving to the door he crouched--for the barred window was not
placed for a tenant of his height--and looked across the narrow
corridor into a pair of inquisitive Roman eyes framed in the
opposite cell-door.  The eyes were about the same age as his own,
and seemed amused.

'When do we get food and water?' asked Demetrius, in circus Latin.

'Twice,' replied the Roman, amiably.  'At mid-morning--you should
have arrived earlier--and again at sunset.  Praise the gods, I
shan't be here for the next feeding.  I'm getting out this
afternoon.  My week is up.'

'I can't wait until sunset for water,' muttered Demetrius.

'I'll wager you ten sesterces you'll wait until they bring it to
you,' drawled the Roman.  He straightened to relieve his cramped
position, revealing a metal identification tablet on the chain
around his neck.

'What is your legion?' inquired Demetrius, seeing his neighbour was
disposed to be talkative.

'Seventeenth: this one.'

'Why aren't you in the legion's guardhouse,' ventured Demetrius,
'instead of down in this hole with the villains?'

'The guardhouse is full,' chuckled the legionary.

'Was there a mutiny?' inquired Demetrius.

Not a mutiny, the legionary explained.  They had had a celebration.
Julian the Legate had been transferred to Jerusalem.  The new
Legate had brought a detachment of fifty along with him from his
old command, to guard him on the journey.  During the festivities,
much good wine had flowed; much good blood, too, for the detachment
from Minoa was made up of quarrelsome legionaries--

'From Minoa!' exclaimed Demetrius.  'Is Tribune Paulus your new
Legate?'

'Indeed he is!' retorted the legionary.  'And hard!  Old Julian was
easy-going.  This fellow has no mercy.  As for the fighting, it was
nothing; a few dagger cuts, a couple of bloody noses.  One man from
Minoa lost a slice off his ear.'  He grinned reminiscently.  'I
sliced it off,' he added, modestly.  'It didn't hurt him much.  And
he knew it was accidental.'  After a little pause, 'I see somebody
nicked you on the ear.'

'That wasn't accidental,' grinned Demetrius, willing to humour the
legionary, who laughed appreciatively, as if it were a good joke on
the Greek that he had been enslaved.

'Did you run away?' asked the Roman.

'No--I was to have joined my master in Capernaum.'

'He'll get you out.  You needn't worry.  He's a Roman, of course.'

'Yes,' said Demetrius, 'but he doesn't know I'm here.'  He lowered
his voice.  'I wonder if you could get a message to him.  I'd
gladly give you something for your trouble.'

The legionary laughed derisively.

'Big talk--for a slave,' he scoffed.  'How much?  Two denarii,
maybe?'

'I'll give you ten shekels.'

'That you won't!' muttered the legionary.  'I don't want any of
that kind of money, fellow!'

'I didn't steal it,' declared Demetrius.  'My master gave it to
me.'

'Well, you can keep it!'  The legionary scowled and moved back from
the door.

Demetrius sat down dejectedly on the bench.  He was very thirsty.



Chapter XVII


Of course it was sheer nonsense to say that you had full confidence
in Nathanael Bartholomew's integrity but disbelieved his eye-
witness account of the storm.

Nor could you clarify this confusion by assuming that the old man
had been a victim of hallucination.  Bartholomew wasn't that type
of person.  He was neither a liar nor a fool.

According to his story, told at great length as they sat together
in his little fig orchard, Jesus had rebuked a tempest on the Sea
of Galilee; he commanded the gale to cease, and it had obeyed his
voice--instantly!  Jesus had spoken and the storm had stopped!
Bartholomew had snapped his dry old fingers.  Like THAT!

And the story wasn't hearsay.  Bartholomew hadn't heard it from a
neighbour who had got it from his cousin.  No, sir!  The old man
had been in the boat that night.  He had heard and seen it all!  If
you couldn't believe it, Bartholomew would not be offended; but it
was TRUTH!

The tale was finished now.  The aged disciple sat calmly fanning
his wrinkled neck, drawing his long, white beard aside and
loosening the collar of his robe.  Marcellus, with no further
comments to offer and no more questions to ask, frowned studiously
at his own interlaced fingers, conscious of Justus's inquisitive
eyes.  He knew they expected him to express an opinion; and, after
a silence that was becoming somewhat constrained, he obliged them
by muttering to himself, 'Very strange!  Very strange indeed!'

The dramatic story had been told with fervour, told with an old
man's verbosity, but without excitement.  Bartholomew wasn't trying
to persuade you; nor was he trying to convert you.  He had nothing
to sell.  Justus had asked him to tell about that storm, and he had
done so.  Perhaps it was his first opportunity for so complete a
recital of all its incidents.  Certainly it was the first time he
had ever told the story to someone who hadn't heard it.

Shortly after Demetrius had set off alone, that morning, the little
caravan had proceeded slowly down the winding road to the valley;
had skirted the sparsely populated lake-shore to Tiberias where the
ostentatious Roman palaces on the hills accented the squalor of the
water-front; had followed the beach street through the city; had
passed the frowning old fort, and entered the sprawling suburbs of
Capernaum.

Jonathan had been promised a brief visit with Thomas--and the
donkey; so they had turned off into a side street where, after many
inquiries, they had found the little house and an enthusiastic
welcome.  Upon the urgent persuasion of Thomas and his mother,
Jonathan was left with them, to be picked up on the morrow.
Everybody agreed that the donkey recognized Jonathan, though the
elders privately suspected that the sugar which had been melting in
the little boy's warm hand for the past two hours might have
accounted partly for Jasper's flattering feat of memory.

Regaining the principal thoroughfare, they had moved on toward the
business centre of the town which had figured so prominently in
Justus's recollections of Jesus.  They had halted for a moment in
front of Lydia's home, and Justus was for making a brief call, but
Marcellus dissuaded him as it was nearing midday and a visit might
be inopportune.

The central plaza had seemed familiar.  The synagogue--ironically
more Roman than Jewish in its architecture, which was understandable
because Centurion Hortensius had furnished the money--spread its
marble steps fanwise into the northern boundary of the spacious
square, exactly as Marcellus had pictured it; for it was from these
steps that Jesus had addressed massed multitudes of thousands.  It
was almost deserted now, except for the beggars, tapping on the
pavement with their empty bowls; for everybody who had a home to go
to was at his noonday meal.

Marcellus felt he had been here many times before.  Indeed he was
so preoccupied with identifying the cherished landmarks that he
almost forgot they were to have met Demetrius here.  Justus had
reminded him, and Marcellus had looked about apprehensively.  It
would be a very awkward situation if Demetrius had been arrested.
He had no relish for an interview with old Julian; not while on his
present mission.  Justus relieved his anxiety somewhat by saying he
had told Demetrius where they would make camp, on the grounds of
the old Shalum Inn; but what could be detaining Demetrius in the
meantime?

'Perhaps he misunderstood me,' suggested Justus.

'It's possible,' agreed Marcellus, 'but unlikely.  Demetrius has a
good ear for instructions.'

They had sauntered down to the beach, strewn with fishing-boats
drawn up on the shingle, leaving the donkey-boy to keep an eye open
for Demetrius.  Justus had suggested that they eat their lunch on
the shore.  After waiting a half-hour for the Greek to appear, they
had packed their lunch kit and proceeded northward, Marcellus
anxious but still hopeful of meeting his loyal slave at the inn.
It was a quiet spot--the Inn of Ben-Shalum, with spacious grounds
for travellers carrying their own camping equipment.  No one had
seen anything of a tall Greek slave.  Hastily unpacking, they put
up the tent in the shade of two tall sycamores, and made off toward
the home of Bartholomew, a little way up the suburban street.

And now the old man had ended the story they had come to hear.  In
its preliminary phases, episodes had been introduced which bore no
closer relation to the eventful storm than that they had occurred
on the same day.  Jesus had been very weary that night; so weary
that he had slept at the height of the gale and had had to be
awakened when it became clear that the little ship was foundering.
Such deep fatigue had to be accounted for; so Bartholomew had
elaborated the day's activities.

Sometimes, for a considerable period, the husky old voice would
settle deep in the sparse white beard and rumble on in an almost
inaudible monotone, and you knew that Bartholomew had deserted you
and Justus for the great crowd that sat transfixed on a barren
coast--a weary, wistful, hungry multitude of self-contained people
who, in the melting warmth of Jesus' presence, had combined into
one sympathetic family, for the sharing of their food.

'A clean, bright lad,' Bartholomew was mumbling to himself; 'a
nephew of Lydia's, who had none of her own; he spent most of his
time at her house.  She had packed his little basket.'

And then, suddenly remembering his guests, Bartholomew had roused
from his reverie to tell Marcellus all about Lydia's strange
healing; and Justus had not intervened with a hint that their young
Roman friend had already heard of her experience.  Having finished
with Lydia--and Jairus, too, whose little daughter had been
marvellously restored that day--the old man had drifted back to his
memories of the remarkable feast in the desert.

'The boy must have been sitting at the Master's feet,' he
soliloquized, with averted eyes.  'He must have been sitting there
all the time; for when Jesus said we would now eat our supper,
there he was, as if he had popped up from nowhere, holding out his
little basket.'

It had taken Bartholomew a long time to tell of that strange
supper; the sharing of bread, the new acquaintances, the breaking
down of reserve among strangers, the tenderness toward the old ones
and the little ones. . . .  And then the tempo of the tale speeded.
Wisps of chill wind lashed the parched weeds.  Dark clouds rolled
up from the north-east.  The old man swept them on with a beckoning
arm; black clouds that had suddenly darkened the sky.  There was a
low muttering of thunder.  The crowd grew apprehensive.  The people
were scrambling to their feet, gathering up their families,
breaking into a run.  The long procession was on its way home.

Darkness came on fast, the lowering black clouds lanced by slim,
jagged, red-hot spears that spilled torrents splashing on to the
sun-parched sand.  Philip was for rushing to shelter in the little
village of Bethsaida, two miles east.  Peter was for beaching the
big boat and using the mainsail for cover.  And when they had all
finished making suggestions, Jesus said they would embark at once
and return to Capernaum.

'He said we had nothing to fear,' went on Bartholomew, 'but we were
afraid, nevertheless.  Some of them tried to reason with him.  I
said nothing, myself.  Old men are timid,' he paused to interpolate
directly to Marcellus.  'When there are dangers to be faced, old
men should keep still, for there's little they can do, in any
case.'

'I should have thought,' commented Marcellus, graciously, 'that an
elderly man's experience would make him a wise counsellor--on any
occasion.'

'Not in a storm, young man!' declared Bartholomew.  'An old man may
give you good advice, under the shade of a fig tree, on a sunny
afternoon; but--not in a storm!'

The boat had been anchored in the lee of a little cove, but it was
with great difficulty that they had struggled through the waves and
over the side.  Unutterably weary, Jesus had dropped down on the
bare bench near the tiller and they had covered him up with a
length of drenched sail-cloth.

Manning the oars, they had manoeuvred into open water, had put out
a little jib and promptly hauled it in, the tempest suddenly
mounting in fury.  No one of them, Bartholomew said, had ever been
out in such a storm.  Now the boat was tossed high on the crest,
now it was swallowed up, gigantic waves broke over their heads, the
flood pounded them off their seats and twisted the oars out of
their hands.  The tortured little ship was filling rapidly.  All
but four oars had been abandoned now.  The rest of the crew were
bailing frantically.  But the water was gaining on them.  And Jesus
slept!

Justus broke into the narrative here, as Bartholomew--whose vivid
memory of that night's hard work with a bailing-bucket brought big
beads of perspiration out on his deep-lined forehead--had paused to
wield his palm-leaf fan.

'You thought Jesus should get up and help, didn't you?'  Justus was
grinning broadly.

The old man's lips twitched with a self-reproachful smile.

'Well,' he admitted, 'perhaps we did think that after getting us
into this trouble he might take a hand at one of the buckets.  Of
course,' he hastened to explain, 'we weren't quite ourselves.  We
were badly shaken.  It was getting to be a matter of life or death.
And we were completely exhausted--the kind of exhaustion that makes
every breath whistle and burn.'

'And so you shouted to him,' prodded Justus.

'Yes!  We shouted to him!'  Bartholomew turned to address
Marcellus.  '_I_ shouted to him!  "Master!" I called.  "We are
going to drown!  The boat is sinking!  Don't you care?"'  The old
man dropped his head and winced at the memory.  'Yes,' he muttered,
contritely, '_I_ said that--to my Master.'

After a moment's silence, Bartholomew gave a deep sigh, and
continued.  Jesus had stirred, had sat up, had stretched out his
long, strong arms, had rubbed his fingers through his drenched
hair.

'Not alarmed?' inquired Marcellus.

'Jesus was never alarmed!' retorted Bartholomew, indignantly.  'He
rose to his feet and started forward, wading through the water,
hands reaching up to steady him as he made for the housing of the
mainmast.  Climbing up on the heavy planking, he stood for a moment
with one arm around the mast, looking out upon the towering waves.
Then he raised both arms high.  We gasped, expecting him to be
pitched overboard.  He held both hands outstretched--and spoke!  It
was not a shrill shout.  It was rather as one might soothe a
frightened animal.  "Peace!" he said.  "Peace!  Be still!"'

The climax of the story had been built up to such intensity that
Marcellus found his heart speeding.  He leaned forward and stared
wide-eyed into the old man's face.

'Then what?' he demanded.

'The storm was over,' declared Bartholomew.

'Not IMMEDIATELY!' protested Marcellus.

Bartholomew deliberately raised his arm and snapped his brittle old
fingers.

'Like THAT!' he exclaimed.

'And the stars came out,' added Justus.

'I don't remember,' murmured Bartholomew.

'Philip said the stars came out,' persisted Justus, quietly.

'That may be,' nodded Bartholomew.  'I don't remember.'

'Some have said that the boat was immediately dry,' murmured
Justus, with a little twinkle in his eyes as if anticipating the
old man's contradiction.

'That was a mistake,' sniffed Bartholomew.  'Some of us bailed out
water all the way back to Capernaum.  Whoever reported that should
have been helping.'

'How did you all feel about this strange thing?' asked Marcellus.

'We hadn't much to say,' remembered Bartholomew.  'I think we were
stunned.  There had been so much confusion--and now everything was
quiet.  The water, still coated with foam, was calm as a pond.  As
for me, I experienced a peculiar sensation of peace.  Perhaps the
words that Jesus spoke to the storm had stilled us too--in our
hearts.'

'And what did HE do?' asked Marcellus.

'He went back to the bench by the tiller and sat down,' replied
Bartholomew.  'He gathered his robe about him, for he was wet and
chilled.  After a while he turned to us, smiled reproachfully, and
said, as if speaking to little children, "Why were you so
frightened?"  Nobody ventured to answer that.  Perhaps he didn't
expect us to say anything.  Presently he reclined, with his arm for
a pillow, and went to sleep again.'

'Are you sure he was asleep?' asked Justus.

'No, but he was very quiet and his eyes were closed.  Perhaps he
was thinking.  Everyone thought he was asleep.  There was very
little talk.  We moved to the centre of the boat and looked into
each other's faces.  I remember Philip's whispering, "What manner
of man is this--that even the winds and waves obey him?"'

The story was finished.  Marcellus, for whose benefit the tale had
been told, knew they were waiting for him to say whether he
believed it.  He sat bowed far forward in his chair, staring into
the little basket he had made of his interlaced fingers.
Bartholomew wasn't wilfully lying.  Bartholomew was perfectly sane.
But--by all the gods!--you couldn't believe a story like THAT!  A
man--speaking to a storm!  Speaking to a storm as he might to a
stampeded horse!  And that storm obeying his command!  No!--you
couldn't have any of THAT!  He felt Justus's friendly eyes
inquiring.  Presently he straightened a little, and shook his head.

'Very strange!' he muttered, without looking up.  'Very strange
indeed!'

                         * * * * * *

The afternoon was well advanced when the grey-haired captain of the
guard came down to free the legionary who had sliced off the ear of
a visiting fellow-in-arms from Minoa.

Demetrius listened attentively at the little window in his door as
his neighbour's bolt was drawn, hoping to overhear some
conversation relative to the prisoner's release; but was
disappointed.  Neither man had spoken.  The heavy door was swung
back and the legionary had emerged.  The captain of the guard had
preceded him down the dusky corridor.  The sound of their sandals,
scraping on the stone floor, died away.

Shortly afterwards there was a general stir throughout the prison;
guttural voices; unbolting of doors and rattling of heavy
earthenware bowls and basins; the welcome sound of splashing water.
Feeding time had arrived and was being greeted with the equivalent
of pawing hoofs, clanking chains, and nostril-fluttering whimpers
in a stable.  Demetrius's mouth and throat were dry; his tongue a
clumsy wooden stick.  His head throbbed.  He couldn't remember ever
having been so thirsty; not even in the loathsome prison-ship on
the way from Corinth to Rome, long years ago.

It seemed they would never reach his end of the corridor.  He hoped
the water would hold out until they came to his cell.  That was all
he wanted--water!  As for food, it didn't matter; but he had to
have water--NOW!

At length they shuffled up to his door, unbolted it, and swung it
wide open.  Two burly, brutish, ear-slit Syrian slaves appeared in
the doorway.  The short, stocky one, with the spade beard, deep
pockmarks, and greasy hands, plunged his gourd-dipper into an
almost empty bucket of malodorous pottage and pointed angrily to
the food-basin on the shelf.  Demetrius, with nothing on his mind
but his consuming thirst, had been waiting with his water-bowl in
hand.  He reached up for the food-basin, and the surly Syrian
dumped the gourdful of reeking hot garbage into it.  Then he
rummaged in the bottom of a filthy bag and came up with a small
loaf of black bread which he tossed on to the bare bench.  It
bounced and clattered like a stone.

Retreating to make room for his companion, the stocky one edged out
into the corridor and the tall one entered with a large water-jar
on his shoulder.  Half-crazed with thirst, Demetrius held his water-
bowl high.  The Syrian, with a crooked grin, as if it amused him to
see a Greek in such a predicament, tipped the jar, and from its
considerable height poured a stream that overflowed the bowl,
drenching the prisoner's clothing.  There was hardly more than a
spoonful left.  The Syrian was backing toward the door.

'Give me water!' demanded Demetrius, huskily.

The fellow sneered, tipped the jar again, and poured the remainder
of the water over Demetrius's feet.  Chuckling, but vigilant, he
moved back into the doorway.

Though the bowl was not large, it was heavy and sturdy pottery, and
in the hand of a man as recklessly thirsty and angry as Demetrius
it was capable of doing no small amount of damage.  But for the
thick mop of kinky hair that covered his forehead, the blow might
have cracked the Syrian's skull, for it was delivered with all the
earnestness that Demetrius could put into it.

Dropping the water-jar, which broke into jagged fragments, the
dizzied Syrian, spluttering with rage, whipped out a long dagger
from his dirty sash, and lunged forward.  Hot pottage would not
have been Demetrius's choice of weapons, but it was all he had to
fight with; so he threw it into his assailant's face.  Momentarily
detained by this unexpected onslaught, the Syrian received another
more serious blow.  Raising the heavy food-basin in both hands,
Demetrius brought it down savagely on the fellow's forearm,
knocking the dagger from his hand.  Unarmed, the Syrian reeled back
into the corridor, where the stocky one, unable to force his way
into the cell, was waiting the outcome of the battle.  Demetrius
took advantage of this moment to pick up the dagger.  With the way
cleared, the stocky one, dagger in hand, was about to plunge in;
but when he saw that the prisoner had armed himself, he backed out
and began swinging the door shut.

Unwilling to be trapped and probably killed with a lance thrust
through the window, Demetrius threw his weight against the closing
door and forced his way out into the corridor.  Excited by the
confusion, the prisoners set up a clamour of encouraging shouts
that brought the elderly Captain of the guard and three others
scurrying down the stone stairway.  They paused, a few feet from
the engagement.  One of the younger guards was for rushing in to
separate them, but the Captain put out an arm and barred the way.
It wasn't every day that you could see a determined fight waged
with daggers.  When angry men met at close range with daggers, it
was rough sport.

Cautious in their cramped quarters, the contestants were dodging
about, taking each other's measure.  The Syrian, four inches
shorter but considerably outweighing the Greek, crouched for a
spring.  One of the younger guards emptied his flat wallet into his
hand.

'Two shekels and nine denarii on the Syrian pig,' he wagered.  The
others shook their heads.  The Greek was at a disadvantage.  The
dagger was the favourite weapon with the Syrians--a dagger with a
long, curving blade.  The Syrian considered it good strategy to
slip up behind an enemy in the dark and let him have it between the
ribs a little below and to the right of the left shoulder.  On such
occasions one needed a long knife.  Demetrius was not unfamiliar
with daggers, but had never practised with one that had been
especially contrived for stabbing a man in the back.

He was finding his borrowed weapon unwieldly in this narrow
corridor.  It was close-in fighting and a decidedly dangerous
business.  The tall Syrian lurked back in the darkness behind his
companion.  The stocky one, facing an appreciative audience of
guards, seemed eager to bring the event to an early conclusion.
They were sparring actively now, their clashing blades striking
sparks in the gloom.  Demetrius was gradually retreating, very much
on the defensive.  The guards backed away to give him a chance.
The pace of the fighting increased, the Syrian forcing the action.

'Ha!' he shouted; and a dark, wet streak showed up on the Greek's
right sleeve, above the elbow.  An instant later, a long gash
appeared across the back of the Syrian's hand.  He gave a quick
fling of his arm to shake off the blood, but not quick enough.  A
cut had opened over his collar-bone, dangerously close to his
throat.  He retreated a step.  Demetrius pursued his advantage, and
added another gash to his antagonist's hand.

'ON GUARD, Greek!' shouted the Captain.  The tall Syrian in the
rear had drawn back his arm to hurl a chunk of the broken water-
jar.  Demetrius dodged, at the warning, and the murderous missile
grazed the side of his head.

'Enough!' yelled the Captain.  Grasping Demetrius's shoulder, he
pushed him aside, the younger guards followed with lances poised to
strike.

'Come out of there, vermin!' the Captain ordered.  The Syrians
sullenly obeyed, the stocky one yielding his bloody dagger as he
squeezed by the guards.  The procession started down the corridor
and up the stairs.  Arriving on the main floor, the Captain led the
way along the spacious hall, and out into the courtyard.  Water was
brought, wounds were laved and crudely bandaged.  Demetrius grabbed
a water-jar, and drank greedily.  The cut on his arm was deep and
painful, and the wide abrasion on his temple burned, but now that
he had had a drink, nothing else mattered much.

The Captain gave a command to proceed and they re-entered the
praetorium, turned to the left at a broad marble staircase, and
ascended to the second floor.  A sentry informed the guard at an
imposing door that Captain Namius wished to see the Legate.  The
guard disappeared, returning presently with a curt nod.  They
advanced through the open door and filed into the sumptuous
courtroom, brightly lighted with great lamps suspended from
beautifully wrought chains.

Demetrius's wounds were throbbing but he was not too badly hurt to
be amused.  Paulus, rattling a leather dice-cup, was facing Sextus
across the ornately carved table that dominated the dais at the far
end of the room.  So Paulus, transferred to the command of the fort
at Capernaum, had brought his old gaming companion along.  The
guards and their quarry, preceded by two sentries, in gay uniforms,
marched forward.  Legate Paulus glanced disinterestedly in their
direction and returned his attention to the more important business
in hand.  Shaking the cup, he poured out the dice on the polished
table, and shrugged.  Sextus grinned, took the cup, shook it
languidly, poured it out--and scowled.  Paulus laughed, and sat
down in the huge chair behind the table.  Centurion Sextus came to
attention.

'What is it, Namius?' yawned Paulus.

'The Syrians were fighting this Greek prisoner, sir.'

'What about?' asked Paulus, impatiently.

Captain Namius didn't know.  The Syrian slaves were feeding the
prisoners, and 'somehow got mixed up with this Greek.'

'Step nearer, Greek.'  Paulus's eyes had narrowed.  He was
searching his memory.  Demetrius stepped forward, scowling to keep
from smiling.  Sextus leaned over and mumbled something.  Paulus's
eyes lighted.  He nodded and grinned dryly.

'Take the Syrians away for the present, Captain,' he said.  'I
would talk with this Greek.'  He waited until the guards and the
Syrians had left the room.

'Are you badly hurt, Demetrius?' asked Paulus, kindly.

'No, sir.'  Demetrius was becoming aware that the room was slowly
revolving and growing dark.  The Legate's ruddy face was blurred.
He heard Paulus bark an order and felt the edge of a chair pushed
up behind him.  He sank down in it weakly.  A sentry handed him a
glass of wine.  He gulped it.  Presently the vertigo cleared.  'I
am sorry, sir,' he said.

'How do you happen to be here, Demetrius?' inquired Paulus.  'But
no, that can wait.  Where is your master?'

Demetrius told him.

'Here? in Capernaum!' exclaimed Paulus.  'And whatever brings the
excellent Tribune Marcellus to this sadly pious city?'

'My master has taken a fancy to Galilean homespun, sir.  He has
been touring about, looking for--such things.'

Paulus frowned darkly and stared into Demetrius's face.

'Is he well--in his head, I mean?'

'Oh, yes, sir,' said Demetrius, 'quite well, sir.'

'There was a rumour--'  Paulus did not finish the sentence, but it
was evident that he expected a rejoinder.  Demetrius, unaccustomed
to sitting in the presence of his betters, rose unsteadily to his
feet.

'The Tribune was ill, sir, for several months.  He was deeply
depressed.  He went to Athens, and recovered.'

'What was he so depressed about, Demetrius?' asked Paulus; and when
the reply was not immediately forthcoming, he added, 'Do I know?'

'Yes, sir,' said Demetrius.

'Something cracked--when he put on that robe--at the Procurator's
banquet.'

'Yes, sir.  It did something to him.'

'I remember.  It affected him strangely.'  Paulus shook himself
loose from an unpleasant recollection.  'Now for your case.  Why
are you here?'

Demetrius explained in a few words, and when Paulus inquired about
the fight, he replied that he had wanted water and the Syrian
wouldn't give it to him.

'Bring Captain Namius in!' commanded Paulus.  A sentry went out and
returned almost immediately with the guards and the Syrians.  The
explanation proceeded swiftly.  Namius gave an account of the duel
in the corridor.

'We stopped it,' he concluded, 'when this Syrian picked up a shard
of the broken water-jar and threw it at the Greek.'

'Take him out and give him thirty-nine lashes with a bull-whip!'
shouted Paulus.  'Lock the other pig up--and don't try to fatten
him.  That will be all, Captain.'

'And the Greek, sir?' asked Namius.

'Put him to bed, and have the physician attend to his injuries.'

Namius gave an order.  The guards made off with the Syrians.

'Shall I go now, sir?' asked Demetrius.

'Yes, with the Captain.  No--wait.  You may go, Namius.  I shall
summon you.'  Paulus watched the retreating figure of the old guard
until he reached the door; then, glancing about the room, he said
quietly, 'You may all go.'  He looked up over his shoulder.  'You,
too, Sextus.  I want a word alone with Demetrius.'

                         * * * * * *

They had almost nothing to say to each other on the way back to the
inn.  Justus, preoccupied and somehow elevated, as if the afternoon
with Bartholomew had reinvigorated his spirit, strode along with
confident steps.

As for Marcellus, the old disciple's story had impressed and
disturbed him.  Had he never known of Jesus until to-day, and
Bartholomew had said, 'I heard this man speak to a storm--and the
storm ceased,' he could have dismissed that statement as utterly
preposterous.  But the testimony about Jesus' peculiar powers had
been cumulative.  It had been coming at him from all directions.

Marcellus's footsteps lagged as his thoughts became more involved.
Justus, appreciating his dilemma, gave him an understanding smile,
lengthened his stride, and moved on alone, leaving his bewildered
patron to follow at his leisure.

The trouble was, once you began to concede that there might be an
element of truth in some of these stories, it was unreasonable to
draw an arbitrary line beyond which your credulity would not go.
It was childish to say, 'Yes--I believe Jesus could have done THIS
extraordinary thing, but I don't believe he could have done THAT!'

Some of the stories permitted a common-sense explanation.  Take
Hariph's nave account of the wedding-feast, for example.  That
wasn't hard to see through.  The porous water-jars had previously
held wine.  Of course you had to concede the astounding effect of
Jesus' personality on the wedding-guests, who loved, admired, and
trusted him.  Not everybody could have made that water taste like
wine.  You were willing to grant that.  Mean and frugal fare could
be made pleasantly palatable when shared with a well-loved friend.
If the water-into-wine episode had been the only example of Jesus'
inexplicable power, it would present no problem at all.  But there
was Miriam's sudden realization that she possessed an inspired
voice; had made this amazing discovery on the same day that the
other thing had happened in the home of Hariph.  If you consented
to Miriam's story (and its truth was self-evident) you might as
well accept Hariph's.  And there was the strange feeding of the
five thousand.  You could explain that without difficulty.  Under
Jesus' persuasive words about human brotherhood, they had shared
their food.  You had to concede nothing here but the tremendous
strength of Jesus' personality, which you were glad enough to do
because you believed in it yourself.  Demosthenes had wrought
wonders with his impassioned appeals to the Greeks.  Such infusions
of courage and honesty required no miracle.

But there was little Jonathan.  The whole town of Sepphoris knew
that Jonathan had been born a cripple.  Of course you could
maintain that Jesus could have manipulated that crooked little foot
and reduced its dislocation; and if that were the only story of
Jesus' surprising deeds, your explanation might suffice.  To be
sure, that leaves the entire population of Sepphoris believing
something that wasn't true; but even that was possible.  There was
no limit to the credulity of unsophisticated people.  Indeed, they
rather liked to believe in the uncanny.

There was Lydia, healed of a long-time disease by touching Jesus'
robe.  Well--you couldn't say that was impossible in the face of
your own experience.  You had impulsively told Justus that you
believed it, and Justus felt that you were ready to hear about the
storm.  If you believed that Jesus' supernormal power could heal
the physical and mental sickness of those who merely touched his
robe, by what reasoning do you disbelieve that he could still a
storm?  Once you impute to him supernormal power, what kind of
impertinence consents to your drawing up a detailed list of the
peculiar things he can and cannot do?  Yet this storm story was
too, too much!  Here you have no human multitude yielding to the
entreating voice.  This is an inanimate, insensible tempest!  No
human being--however persuasive--could still a storm!  Concede
Jesus THAT power, and you admit that he was DIVINE.

                         * * * * * *

'I have taken the liberty of asking Shalum to bake us a fish,'
announced Justus, as Marcellus slowly sauntered toward the tent.
We will have supper at the inn.  It will be a relief from my poor
cooking.

'Very well,' agreed Marcellus, absently.  'Haven't you seen
anything of Demetrius?'

'No, and I inquired at the inn.'

'I had almost forgotten about the poor fellow,' confessed
Marcellus.  'There has been much to think about, this afternoon.'

'If Demetrius has been arrested, he will give an account of
himself,' said Justus, reassuringly.  'You will learn his
whereabouts promptly, I think.  They will surrender him--for a
price--no matter what the indictment is.  Valuable slaves don't
stay long in jail.  Shall we go to supper now, sir?'

The dining-hall had accommodation for only a score of guests, but
it was tastefully appointed.  Because the lighting facilities in
small town hostelries were not good, travellers dined early.  The
three dignified Pharisees, whose commodious tent had been pitched
in the sycamore grove during the afternoon, occupied a table in the
centre of the room.  Two centurions from the fort were enjoying
their wine at a table by a western window while they waited to be
served.  Shalum--grizzled, bow-legged, obsequious--led the way to a
corner table, bowing deeply when Justus introduced his friend.

'Is he a Christian?' asked Marcellus, as Shalum waddled away.

Justus blinked with surprise, and Marcellus grinned.

'Yes,' said Justus, in a barely audible tone that strongly
counselled caution.

'You didn't think I knew that word, did you?' murmured Marcellus.

Justus did not reply, but sat with arms folded, staring out into
the garden.

'Demetrius picked it up in Joppa,' explained Marcellus, quietly.

'We must be careful,' admonished Justus.  'Pharisees have small
hearts, but big ears.'

'Is that a saying?'  Marcellus chuckled.

'Yes, but not a loud saying,' warned Justus, breaking one of the
small brown loaves.  He raised his voice a little and said,
casually, 'Shalum bakes a good bread.  Have some.'

'You come here frequently?'

'This is the first time for a year and a half,' confided Justus.
'Last time I was in this room, it was full.  Shalum gave a dinner
for Jesus.  All the disciples and a few others were here; and there
must have been a hundred outside.  Shalum fed them too.'

'Nothing secret about it, then.'

'No, not at that time.  The priests were already plotting how they
might destroy his influence with the people, but they were not yet
openly hostile.'

'That's strange,' said Marcellus.  'When Jesus was alive and an
active menace to the priests' business, no effort was made to keep
his doings a secret.  Now that he is dead and gone--you must talk
about him in whispers.'

Justus looked Marcellus squarely in the eyes, and smiled.  He
seemed about to make some rejoinder, but refrained.  An old
servitor came with their supper; the baked fish on a large platter,
lentils in cream, stewed figs, and a pitcher of wine.  It was an
attractive meal and they were hungry.

'Did you sit close to Jesus at that dinner?' asked Marcellus, after
some moments devoted to their food.

'No, I sat with Matthias, over yonder by the door.'

'Where did Jesus sit?' inquired Marcellus.

'There,' nodded Justus, 'where you're sitting.'

Marcellus started.

'No one should ever sit here!' he declared.

Justus's eyes mellowed, and he approved Marcellus's sentiment with
a comradely smile.

'You talk like a Christian yourself, my friend,' he murmured;
adding, after a moment, 'Did you enjoy Bartholomew's story?'

'It wasn't meant to be enjoyed!' retorted Marcellus.  'I confess
I'm thoroughly bewildered by it.  Bartholomew is a fine old man.
I'm convinced that he believes his story to be true.'

'But you don't believe it,' said Justus.

'Bartholomew made one statement, Justus, that may throw a little
light on the matter.  Do you remember his saying that he felt at
peace, that he felt calmed, when Jesus spoke to the storm?  Maybe
that's where the storm was stilled, the storm in these men's minds!
Jesus spoke to their fears, and they were reassured.'

'Does that explanation content you?' asked Justus, soberly.

'Of course not!' admitted Marcellus.  'But see here, Justus!  You
can't have Jesus stopping a storm!'

'Why not?' asked Justus, gently.

'Why not!  Don't you realize that he has to be superhuman to do
that?  Can't you see that such an act makes him A GOD?'

'Well, and if it does--'

'Then you're left with a lot more explaining to do.  Suppose you
say that Jesus is divine; a god!  Would he permit himself to be
placed under arrest, and dragged about in the night from one court
to another, whipped and reviled?  Would he--this god!--consent to
be put to death on a cross?  A god, indeed!  Crucified--dead--and
buried!'

Justus sat for a moment, saying nothing, staring steadily into
Marcellus's troubled eyes.  Then he leaned far forward, grasped his
sleeve, and drew him close.  He whispered something into
Marcellus's ear.

'NO, Justus!' declared Marcellus, gruffly.  'I'm not a fool!  I
don't believe that--and neither do you!'

'But--I SAW HIM!' persisted Justus, unruffled.

Marcellus swallowed convulsively, and shook his head.

'Why do you want to say a thing like that to me?' he demanded,
testily.  'I happen to know it isn't true!  You might make some
people believe it--but not me!  I hadn't intended to tell you this
painful thing, Justus, but--I SAW HIM DIE!  I saw a lance thrust
deep into his heart!  I saw them take his limp body down--dead as
ever a dead man was!'

'Everybody knows that,' agreed Justus, calmly.  'He was put to
death and laid away in a tomb.  And on the morning of the third
day, he came to life again, and was seen walking about in a
garden.'

'You're mad, Justus!  Such things don't happen!'

'Careful!' warned Justus.  'We mustn't be overheard.'

Pushing his plate away, Marcellus folded his arms on the table.
His hands were trembling.

'If you think Jesus is alive,' he muttered, 'where is he?'

Justus shook his head, made a hopeless little gesture with both
hands, and gave a long sigh.

'I don't know,' he said, dreamily, 'but I do know he is alive.'
After a quiet moment, Justus brightened a little.  'I am always
looking for him,' he went on.  'Every time a door opens.  At every
turn of the road.  At every street-corner.  At every hill-crest.'

Marcellus's eyes had widened, and he nodded understandingly.

'I knew you were always expecting to meet someone,' he said.  'If
you persist in that habit, you'll lose your wits.'  Neither man
spoke for some moments.  Marcellus looked toward the door.  'Do you
mean to say,' he asked, cautiously, 'that you wouldn't be surprised
if Jesus came in here now--and asked Shalum to serve him his
supper?'

Justus repressed a smile at the sight of Marcellus's almost boyish
expression of complete bafflement.

'No,' he replied, confidently.  'I shouldn't be surprised, at all.
I confess I was badly shaken the first time I saw him.  As you say,
such things don't happen.  They're quite impossible.  Had I been
alone, I should have doubted my senses--and my sanity, too.'

'Where was this?' demanded Marcellus, as seriously as if he
expected to believe the story.

'At Benyosef's house; quite a little company of us; ten days after
Jesus had been put to death.  We had had a simple supper together.
The sun had set, but the lamps had not yet been lighted.  There had
been much talk about Jesus' reappearance.  Several of the disciples
claimed to have seen him.  I, for one, didn't believe it; though I
kept still.  There had been a lot of confusing reports.  On the
morning of the third day, some women had gone to the sepulchre and
found it empty.  One of them said she had seen Jesus, walking in
the garden; said he had spoken to her.'

'Hysterical, I dare say,' put in Marcellus.

'That's what I made of it,' admitted Justus.  'And then there was a
story that two men had seen him on the highway and asked him to
have supper with them at an inn.'

'Reliable people?'

'I didn't know them.  One was a man named Cleopas, a cousin of
Alphaeus.  I never heard the other man's name.'

'Sounds to me like poor testimony.'

'It seemed that way to me also,' said Justus.  'Several of the
disciples declared he had come into the room where they were
sitting, that same night.  But they were terribly wrought up, and I
thought they might have imagined seeing him, what with so many
strange reports flying about--'

'Naturally!' agreed Marcellus.  'Once the stories started, the
hallucinations multiplied.  Well, go on.  You were at Benyosef's
house--'

'John had been telling how he looked and what he said--'

'He's that dreamy young fellow, eh?'

'Yes, that's the one,' Justus went on, undisturbed by the
implications of Marcellus's query.  'And when John had finished his
story, Thomas stood up and spoke his mind--and my mind, too.  "I
don't believe a word of it!" he shouted.  "And I don't intend to
believe it until I have seen him with my own eyes--and touched his
wounds with my hands!"'

'He was a bold fellow,' remarked Marcellus.  'Was John offended?'

'I don't know,' said Justus, absently.  'He didn't have much time
to be offended.  Jesus was standing there, at Thomas's elbow.'

'No, Justus!'

'Yes--with the same compassionate smile we all knew so well.'

'A spectre?'

'Not at all!  He was a little thinner.  You could see the effects
of the bad treatment he had suffered.  There were long scratches on
his forehead.  He held his hands out to Thomas---'

'Did you all gather about him?' asked Marcellus, with a dry throat.

'No, I think we were stunned.  I'm sure I was.  I couldn't have
moved if I had tried.  There was complete silence.  Jesus stood
there, holding out his hands and smiling into Thomas's eyes.  You
could see the deep wounds in his palms.  "Touch them," he said,
gently.  This was too much for Thomas.  He covered his face with
his hands and cried like a child.'

The dining-room had cleared.  Twilight was settling.  Shalum came
over to inquire if there was anything else he could do for them.
Marcellus glanced up bewilderedly at this summons back to reality.

'I have been telling my friend some things about Jesus,' said
Justus.

'Yes, yes,' nodded Shalum.  'Once, when he honoured my poor house,
he was seated there, sir, where you are sitting.'

'Did he rise and speak--at the dinner?' asked Marcellus.

'He did not rise to speak,' remembered Justus.

'He told a story,' said Shalum.  'It seems someone had asked him to
explain what was meant by "my neighbour" as it is written in our
law.  And Jesus told a fable about a man who was travelling from
Jerusalem to Jericho--a dangerous road--and was beset by Bedouins
who stripped, robbed, and wounded him, leaving him half-dead.  A
priest came along and saw him, but passed on.  A Levite, too,
paused--but went his way.  Then a Samaritan came--we do not care
much for Samaritans up here, sir--and tied up the man's wounds, and
took him to an inn.  "Which of these men," he asked, "was a
neighbour to him who fell among thieves?"'

'That was easily answered, I think,' observed Marcellus.  'Had I
been there, I should have asked another question.  I am told that
Jesus did not believe in fighting--regardless of the circumstances.
Now, if the brave Samaritan had arrived while the Bedouins were
beating the life out of this unfortunate fellow, what was he
supposed to do--join in the defence, or wait until the robbers had
completed their work, and fled?'

Shalum and Justus exchanged looks of inquiry, each inviting the
other to reply.

'Jesus was interested in binding up wounds,' said Justus, solemnly,
'not in inflicting them.'

'Does that answer your question, sir?' inquired Shalum.

'No,' said Marcellus.  'Perhaps we should go, Justus.  It is
growing dark.'  They rose.  'The fish was good, Shalum.  Let us
have another for breakfast.'

Taking up the little lantern that Shalum had provided, Justus led
the way across the well-kept grounds to the tent, where he lighted
their larger one and hung it to the centre pole.  Marcellus unlaced
his sandal-thongs, took off his belt, and lounged on his cot, his
eyes following Justus as he made his bed.  He resumed the
conversation, asking:

'And then what happened after Thomas looked at the wounds?'

'Benyosef filled a supper-plate, and offered it to Jesus,' said
Justus, sitting down on the edge of his cot.  'There was a piece of
broiled fish, a small loaf, and some honey in the comb.  And Jesus
took it, and ate.'

'Not just a spirit then,' commented Marcellus.

'I don't know,' mumbled Justus, uncertainly.  'He ate it, or some
of it.  The day was fading fast.  Philip suggested that the lamps
be lighted.  Andrew, who was near the door to an adjoining room,
went out and returned with a taper.  Old Benyosef held up a lamp
and Andrew lighted it.  Jesus was not there.'

'Vanished?'  Marcellus sat up.

'I don't know.  It was getting dark in there.  He might have gone
out through the door.  But nobody heard it open or close.'

'Had he come in through the door?'

'I don't know.  I didn't hear it.  The first I knew, he was
standing there beside Thomas.  And then--when the lamp was lighted--
he wasn't there.'

'What do you suppose became of him?'

'I don't know.'  Justus shook his head.

There was a long silence.

'Ever see him again?' asked Marcellus.

Justus nodded.

'Once more,' he said, 'about a month afterwards.  But in the
meantime, he was seen up here in Galilee.  A very unfortunate thing
happened on the night Jesus was tried.  When they had him before
old Annas, Simon was waiting in the courtyard where the legionaries
had built a fire.  A servant-girl said to Simon, "Aren't you a
friend of this Galilean?"  And Simon said, "No, I don't know him."'

'But I thought Simon was leader among the disciples,' remarked
Marcellus.

'That's what made it so bad,' sighed Justus.  'Ordinarily, Simon is
a bold fellow, with plenty of courage.  But he certainly did
himself no credit that night.  He followed along, at a distance,
when they took Jesus to the Insula, and waited, across the street,
while the trial was held.  I don't know where he went after the
procession started out toward the place of execution, or where he
spent the night and the next day.  I heard him confess it all.  He
was sick with remorse, and hurried back home.'

'So Simon wasn't present on that first occasion when the disciples
thought they saw Jesus.'

'No, but Jesus told them to be sure and tell Simon.'

'Did Jesus know that Simon had denied his friendship?'

'Oh, yes, he knew.  You see that's why he was so anxious to have
Simon know that everything was all right again.  Well, the next
morning, the Zebedee brothers and Thomas decided to take old
Bartholomew home.  He had been sick.  They put him on a donkey and
set out for Galilee, where they found Peter, restless and
heartsore, and told him what had happened.  He was for rushing back
to Jerusalem, but they counselled him to wait; for the news of
Jesus' return was being noised about, and the priests were asking
questions.  And Benyosef's shop was being watched.  So that night,
they all went fishing.  In the early morning, at sunrise, they left
off and sailed toward the east shore.  Bartholomew said that when
they were within about two hundred cubits of the beach, chilled and
drowsy from their long night on the water, they were suddenly
roused by a loud shout and a splash.  Simon had jumped overboard
and was swimming.  They all leaped up to see what had come over
Simon.  And they saw Jesus standing at the water's edge, waiting.
It was a very tender meeting, he said, for Simon had been quite
broken-hearted.'

'And then'--Marcellus's voice was impatient--'did he vanish, as
before?'

'Not at once.  They broiled fish for breakfast on the beach.  He
sat and talked with them for about an hour, showing special
attention to Simon.'

'What did he talk about?'

'Their future duties,' replied Justus, 'to remember and tell the
things he had taught.  He would come back, he said, though he could
not tell them the day or the hour.  They were to be on the alert
for his coming.  After they had eaten, someone suggested that they
return to Capernaum.  They had beached the boat, and all hands--
except Jesus--fell to work, pushing off into the water.
Bartholomew was up in the bow, rigging a sail.  The others
scrambled over the side and shipped the oars.  When they looked
about for Jesus, he was nowhere to be seen.'

'But he appeared again--another time?'

'The last time he was seen,' said Justus, 'I was present.  It was
on a hill top in Judea, a few miles north of Jerusalem.  Perhaps I
should tell you that the disciples and other friends of Jesus were
closely watched, through those days.  Such meetings as we had were
late in the night and held in obscure places.  In Jerusalem, the
Temple people had the legionaries of the Insula patrolling the
streets in search of us.  Up here in Galilee, Herod Antipas and
Julian the Legate had threatened death to anyone who so much as
spoke Jesus' name.'

'They too believed that he had returned to life?'

'Perhaps not.  I don't know.  But they knew they had failed to
dispose of him.  They thought the people would soon forget and
settle down to their old ways; but it soon appeared that Jesus had
set some forces in motion--'

'I don't understand,' broke in Marcellus.  'What forces?'

'Well, for one thing, the Temple revenues were falling off.
Hundreds of people, accustomed to paying tithes, stayed away from
the synagogues whose priests had persecuted Jesus.  There was no
violence; but in the market-places throughout all Judea, Samaria,
and Galilee, merchants who had thought to win favour with the
authorities by denouncing Jesus found that their business was
failing.  The Christians were patronizing one another.  It was
apparent that they were in collusion and had a secret understanding.
An edict was published prohibiting any assembly of Jesus' adherents.
We agreed among ourselves to hold no more meetings until such time
as it might be more prudent.'

'How many Christians were there in Jerusalem, at that time?' asked
Marcellus.  'A score, perhaps?'

'About five hundred that had declared themselves.  One afternoon,
about five weeks after the crucifixion, Alphaeus came to my house
saying that Simon had called a meeting.  A week hence, we were to
assemble shortly after sunrise on a hill, quite off the highway,
where we had often spent a day of rest when Jesus was with us.
Knowing it was dangerous to be seen on the roads in company with
others of our belief, we journeyed singly.  It was a beautiful
morning.  As I came to the well-remembered footpath that led across
the fields toward the hills, I saw, in the early dawn-light,
several men preceding me; though I could identify none but Simon,
who is a tall man.  As the slope grew steeper, I overtook old
Bartholomew leaning on his staff, already tired and labouring for
breath.'

'He had walked all that way from Capernaum?' asked Marcellus.

'And had spent the whole week at it,' said Justus.  'But it seemed
that the hill would be too much for him.  I counselled him not to
try; that his heart might fail him; but he wouldn't listen.  So I
gave him an arm and we trudged along slowly up the winding path
that became more difficult with every turn.  Occasionally we had
glimpses of the others, widely separated, as they climbed the
rugged hill.  We were about halfway up when Bartholomew stopped,
pointed with his staff, and hoarsely shouted, "Look you!  On the
rock!"  I looked up--and there he was!  He was wearing a white
robe.  The sunshine made it appear dazzling.  He was standing on
the big white rock--at the summit--waiting.'

'Were you amazed?'

'No, not amazed; but eager to press on.  Bartholomew urged me to
leave him.  He would manage alone, he said.  But the good old man
was half-dead with weariness, so I supported him the rest of the
way.  When at last we came out on the little plateau in a shady
grove, we saw Jesus.  He was standing, with both arms outstretched
in a gesture of blessing.  The disciples were kneeling about his
feet.  Simon, with his great hands covering his face, had bowed
over until his head nearly touched the ground.  Poor old
Bartholomew, much moved and thoroughly spent, couldn't take another
step.  He fell to his knees.  So did I, though we were at least a
hundred cubits from the others.  We bowed our heads.'

Justus's voice broke, and for a moment he was overcome with
emotion.  Marcellus waited silently for him to regain his self-
control.

'After a while,' continued Justus, thickly, 'we heard the murmuring
of voices.  We raised our eyes.  He was gone.'

'Where, Justus?  Where do you think he went?' asked Marcellus,
huskily.

'I don't know, my friend.  I only know that he is alive--and I am
always expecting to see him.  Sometimes I feel aware of him, as if
he were close by.'  Justus smiled faintly, his eyes wet with tears.
'It keeps you honest,' he went on.  'You have no temptation to
cheat anyone, or lie to anyone, or hurt anyone--when, for all you
know, Jesus is standing beside you.'

'I'm afraid I should feel very uncomfortable,' remarked Marcellus,
'being perpetually watched by some invisible presence.'

'Not if that presence helped you defend yourself against yourself,
Marcellus.  It is a great satisfaction to have someone standing by--
to keep you up to your best.'  Justus suddenly rose to his feet,
and went to the door of the tent.  A lantern was bobbing through
the trees.

'Someone coming?' inquired Marcellus, sitting up.

'A legionary,' muttered Justus.

'News of Demetrius, perhaps.'  Marcellus joined Justus at the tent-
door.  A tall legionary stood before them.

'I bear a message,' he announced, 'from Legate Paulus to Tribune
Marcellus Lucan Gallio.'

'TRIBUNE!' murmured Justus, in an agitated voice.

'The Legate presents his compliments,' continued the legionary, in
formal tones, 'and desires his excellent friend, Tribune Marcellus,
to be his guest to-night at the fort.  If it is your wish, you may
accompany me, sir, and I shall light your way.'

'Very good,' said Marcellus.  'I shall be ready in a moment.  Tarry
for me at the gate.'

The legionary raised his spear in a salute and marched away.

'Apparently Demetrius is safe!' exclaimed Marcellus, brightly.

'And I have betrayed my people!' moaned Justus, sinking down on his
cot.  'I have delivered my friends into the hands of their
enemies!'

'No, Justus, no!'  Marcellus laid a hand on his shoulder.  'All
this may seem disquieting to you, but I assure you I am not a spy!
It is possible I may befriend you and your people.  Wait for me
here.  I shall return by midday to-morrow.'

Justus made no response; he sat dejectedly, with his face in his
hands, until Marcellus's footsteps faded away.  It was a long night
of agony and remorse.  When the first pale blue light appeared, the
heavy-hearted Galilean gathered up his few belongings; made his way
to the silent street, and trudged along, past the old fort, to the
plaza.  For a long time, he sat on the marble steps of the
synagogue, and when the sun had risen he proceeded to the little
house where he had left Jonathan.

Thomas's mother was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast.

'You are early,' she said.  'I was not expecting you so soon.  I
hope all is well with you,' she added, searching his troubled face.

'I wish to be on the road as soon as may be,' he replied.

'But where is your young Roman, and your little pack-train?'

'They are remaining here,' said Justus.  'Jonathan and I are going
home.'



Chapter XVIII


Paulus had been in command of the fort at Capernaum only a week,
but he already knew he wasn't going to like the place.

For a dozen years he had been hoping to get out of Minoa.  It was a
disgrace to be stationed there, and the Empire meant you to realize
that an appointment to this fort was a degradation.

The buildings were ugly and shabby, the equipment bad, the climate
abominable.  No provision had ever been made for an adequate water-
supply.  On the sun-blistered grounds there wasn't a tree, a
flower, or a blade of grass; not even a weed.  The air was always
foul with yellow, abrasive dust.  You couldn't keep clean if you
wanted to, and after a few months at Minoa you didn't care.

The garrison was lazy, surly, dirty, and tough.  With little to do,
except occasional brief and savage raids on the Bedouins,
discipline was loose and erratic.  There were no decent diversions;
no entertainment.  When you couldn't bear the boredom and
discomfort another minute, you went down to Gaza and got drunk, and
were lucky if you didn't get into a bloody brawl.

As for that vicious old city, was not Gaza known throughout the
world for the squalor of its stinking kennels, where the elderly
riff-raff of a half-dozen quarrelsome races screamed imprecations,
and the young scum swapped unpleasant maladies, and the hapless
stranger was stripped and robbed in broad daylight?  Gaza had her
little imperfections; there was no doubt about that.  But she had
docks and wharves and a spacious harbour.  Little coastal ships
tied up to her piers; bigger ships lay at anchor in her bay.  You
strolled down to watch them come and go, and felt you were still in
contact with the outside world.  Sometimes ships' officers would
come out to the fort for a roistering evening; sometimes military
men you had known in Rome would visit you while their vessel took
on cargo.

Paulus's unexpected appointment to Capernaum had been received with
hilarious joy.  He had never been there, but he had heard something
about its quiet charm.  Old Julian had been envied his post.

For one thing, the fort was within a half-hour's ride of Tiberias,
that ostentatious seat of the enormously wealthy sycophant, Herod
Antipas.  Paulus had no reason for thinking he was going to like
him: he had nothing but contempt for these provincial lickspittles
who would sell their own sisters for a smile from some influential
Roman; but Herod frequently entertained interesting guests who,
though they might despise him, must make a show of honouring his
position as Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.

And Capernaum, everyone said, was beautiful; ringed by green hills,
with snow-capped mountains in the distance.  There was a lovely
inland sea.  The people were docile.  They were reputed to be
melancholy over the execution of their Jesus, but they were not
violently resentful.  Doubtless that problem would solve itself if
you gave it time.  Old Julian's tactics--listening at the keyholes
of cottages for revolutionary talk, the posting of harsh edicts,
floggings and imprisonments--what did they accomplish but to band
these simple, harmless people together for mutual sympathy?  Of
course, if the foolhardy fishermen persisted in making a nuisance
of their cult, you would have to punish them, or get yourself into
trouble with Herod.  That's what you would be there for--to keep
the peace.

Now that you were here, you had much more peace than you had
bargained for.  Had the gods ever ordained such quiet nights?
Paulus had not fully appreciated this oppressive silence for the
first day or two.  There was the novelty of settling into his
immeasurably better quarters.  He proudly inspected the trim
pleasure-craft that Herod had placed at the disposal of the Legate.
He luxuriated in the well-equipped baths, thinking kindly of old
Julian whom he had never had any use for.

The fort buzzed with activity.  A fairly large contingent from
Minoa had accompanied Paulus.  There had been the usual festivities
at the Insula in Jerusalem during Passover Week--though Paulus had
been moody and taciturn, anxious to have done with it, and move on.
His retinue had come along to Capernaum, for his defence on the
journey as well as to dignify his inauguration.  A generous dinner
had been served after the ceremonies, to which Herod (represented
by a deputy) had contributed lavish supplies of potent wine.  It
was a noisy night.  Heads had been cracked, noses flattened, more
urgent arguments had been settled with knives.  Paulus had filled
the courtroom with battered celebrants; had crowded the guardhouse;
had stormed and shouted oaths new to the local legionaries; and,
well pleased with his first day's duties, had gone to bed tight as
a drum.

Next day, the Minoa contingent had left for home--all but Sextus.
At the last minute, Paulus (with a premonition of loneliness) had
told Sextus to remain, at least for a time.  And when the last of
them had disappeared, a strange quietness settled over the fort.
That night, after Sextus had ambled off early to bed, Paulus sat by
his window watching the moonlight on the lake.  Except for Sextus's
snoring, the silence was profound.  Perhaps it had been a mistake
to retain Sextus.  He wasn't very good company, after all.

What did one do for diversion in Capernaum?  The little town was
sound asleep.  The Herod family was away.  Tiberias was dead as a
doornail.  If this was a sample of life at Capernaum, you had been
better off at Minoa.

The days trudged along, scraping their sandal-heels; sitting down,
now and then, for a couple of hours, while Time remained standing.
Paulus, strolling in the courtyard, paused before the sundial, read
its laconic warning, 'Tempus fugit,' and sourly remarked to Sextus,
'It's apparent that old Virgil never visited Capernaum.'

After a week, Paulus was so restless that he even thought of
contriving some errand to Jerusalem, though his recent visit there
had been lacking in interest.  Perhaps that was because the
insufferable young Quintus, who had been sent by the Crown to
reshuffle the Palestinian commands, was too, too much in evidence.
Paulus, who was a good hater, had never despised anybody so
quickly, so earnestly.  Quintus was a vain, overbearing,
patronizing, strutting peacock; he was an insolent, ill-mannered
puppy; he was a pompous ass!  In short, Paulus didn't like him at
all.  But Quintus would have sailed for home by now.  Maybe Quintus
was what had ailed Jerusalem, this time.

                         * * * * * *

It was late afternoon.  The sun was setting.  Paulus and Sextus had
been apathetically shaking the old leather dice-cup on the long
table in the courtroom.  Sextus yawned cavernously and wiped his
eyes.

'If it's bedtime,' yawned Paulus, 'perhaps we'd better light the
lamps.'  He clapped his hands.  A guard scurried up.  Paulus
pointed to the lamps.  The guard saluted and made haste to obey.
'Nine,' mumbled the Legate, handing the dice-cup to his drowsy
friend.

At this juncture, old Namius had come in with three dishevelled
slaves.  Somewhere, Paulus felt, he had seen that tall Greek.
Sextus jogged his memory.  Ah--Demetrius!  He had always liked
Demetrius, in spite of his cool superiority.  Demetrius was a
haughty fellow, but you had respect for him.  Paulus suddenly
recalled having seen an announcement, posted at the Insula in
Jerusalem, offering a reward for the capture of a Greek slave
belonging to Tribune Marcellus Gallio.  The bulletin said that the
Greek had assaulted a Roman citizen in Athens, and was thought to
be in hiding in Jerusalem.  So--here he was.  Somebody had gathered
him in.  But no--a brief examination revealed that Demetrius had
been arrested on suspicion.  He had been loitering; he was shabby;
he had money.  In prison he had fought the rascally Syrians who
denied him water.  So much for that.  Then Paulus had wanted to
know about Marcellus, who had been reported crazy--or the next
thing to it--and was delighted to learn that his friend was in the
neighbourhood.

But before he could release Demetrius, he must learn something
about this charge against him.  If it were true that he had struck
a Roman, and run away, you couldn't dismiss him so easily.  Paulus
put them all out, including Sextus, who didn't like it.

'Demetrius'--Paulus frowned judiciously--'what have you to say
about this report that you are a fugitive; that you struck a Roman
citizen in Athens?  That is very serious, you know!'

'It is true, sir,' replied Demetrius, without hesitation.  'I found
it necessary to punish Tribune Quintus severely.'

'Quintus!' shouted the Legate.  'You mean to say you struck
Quintus?'  He leaned forward over the desk, eyes beaming.  'Tell me
all about it!'

'Well, sir, the Tribune came to the Inn of Eupolis with a message
for my master.  While waiting for the reply, he made himself
grossly offensive to the daughter of the innkeeper.  They are a
highly respected family, sir, and the young woman was not
accustomed to being treated like a common trollop.  Her father was
present, but feared to intervene lest they all be thrown into
prison.'

'So you came to the damsel's rescue, eh?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Don't you know you can be put to death for so much as touching a
Roman Tribune?' demanded Paulus, sternly; and when Demetrius had
slowly and remorsefully nodded his head, the Legate's frown
relaxed, and he asked, in a confidential tone, 'What did you do to
him?'

'I struck him in the face with my fist, sir,' confessed Demetrius.
'And, once I had struck him, I knew I had committed a crime
punishable by death, and couldn't make my position any worse, so--'

'So--you hit him again, I think,' surmised Paulus, with mounting
interest.  'Did he fight back?'

'No, sir.  The Tribune was not expecting that first blow, and was
unprepared for the next one.'

'In the face.'  Paulus's eyes were wide and bright.

'Many times, sir,' admitted Demetrius.

'Knock him down?'

'Oh, yes, sir; and held him up by his helmet-strap, and beat his
eyes shut.  I was very angry, sir.'

'Yes, I can see that you were.'  Paulus put both hands over his
suddenly puffed cheeks and stifled something like a hiccough.  'And
then you ran off?'

'Without a moment's delay, sir.  There was a ship sailing.  The
Captain befriended me.  Tribune Quintus was on board, and would
have had me apprehended, but the Captain let me escape in the small
boat at Gaza.  From there I walked to Jerusalem.'

'Didn't the Captain know he could be punished for that?' growled
Paulus.  'What was his name?'

'I cannot remember, sir,' Demetrius answered regretfully, after
some hesitation.

'That is undoubtedly a lie,' said Paulus, 'but you are to be
commended for your loyalty.  So, then, you went to Jerusalem.
Why?'

'My master expected to come shortly.'

'What did you do there?'

Demetrius told him of the weaver's shop.  Paulus grew interested
again.

'I understand there is a weaver's shop where the leaders of the
Jesus-people meet.  What was the name of your weaver?'

'Benyosef, sir.'

'That was the name!  And how did you happen to be in that company,
Demetrius?  Are you, perhaps, one of these--these--what do they
call them--Christians?'

'Yes, sir,' confessed Demetrius, tardily.  'Not a very good one;
but I believe as they do.'

'You can't!' shouted Paulus.  'You have a good mind!  You don't
mean to tell me that you believe all this nonsense--about Jesus
returning to life, and being seen on various occasions!'

'Yes, sir,' said Demetrius.  'I am sure that is true.'

'But, see here!'  Paulus stood up.  'You were out there, that day,
and saw him die!'

'Yes, sir.  I am sure he died; and I am sure he is alive.'

'Have you seen him?'  Paulus's voice was unsteady.

Demetrius shook his head and the Legate grinned.

'I hadn't thought,' he said, dryly, 'that you could be taken in by
such a story.  Men who die do not return.  Only fools think so!'
Paulus sat down again, relaxing in his chair.  'But you are not a
fool.  What makes you believe that?'

'I heard the story from a man who did see him; a man of sound mind;
a man who does not lie.'  Demetrius broke off, though it was
evident he would have said more.

'Very well; go on!' commanded the Legate.

'It did not surprise me very much,' continued Demetrius.  'There
never was a person like that before.  Surely you, sir, must have
noticed that.  He had something nobody else ever had!  I don't
believe he was an ordinary man, sir.'

'How do you mean--not ordinary?  Are you trying to say that you
think he was something else than a man?  You don't think he was a
god!'

'Yes, sir,' said Demetrius, firmly.  'I think he was--and is--a
god!'

'Nonsense!  Don't you know we are locking up people for saying
things like that about this dead Galilean?'  Paulus rose
impetuously and paced back and forth behind the long table.  'I
mean to let you go, for your master's sake; but'--he stopped
suddenly and shook a warning finger--'you are to clear out of
Galilee, and there's to be no more talk about this Jesus.  And if
you ever tell anyone that you told me about your assault on Quintus--
and I learn of it--I'll have you flogged!  Do you understand?
I'll have you stripped and lashed with a bull-whip!'

'Thank you, sir,' said Demetrius, gratefully.  'I am very sorry
that I struck him.'

'Then you don't deserve your freedom,' growled Paulus.  'That's why
I am turning you loose--and now you're sorry you did it.  And you
believe that dead men come to life.  You're crazy!'  He clapped his
hands, and a guard stalked in.  'Make this Greek comfortable,' he
barked.  'Have the physician attend to his cuts.  Give him a good
supper and a bed.  He is to be released from prison.'

Demetrius wincingly brought his arm up in a salute, and turned to
follow.

'One more thing!' rasped Paulus, to the guard.  'When you have
finished with the Greek, return here.  I want you to carry a
message to Shalum's Inn.  Make haste!'

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus was pleased to observe that Paulus's promotion had not
altered his manner.  The easy informality of their friendship was
effortlessly resumed.

A small table had been laid in the Legate's handsomely furnished
suite; a silver cake-tray, a bowl of fresh fruit, a tall flagon of
wine.  Paulus, clean-shaven, wearing an expensive white toga and a
red silk head-band that accented the whiteness of his close-cropped
hair, was a distinguished figure.  He met his guest in the doorway
and embraced him warmly.

'Welcome, good Marcellus!' he exclaimed.  'And welcome to Galilee;
though, if you have been touring about up here, you may be better
acquainted with this province than I.'

'It is a delight to see you again, Paulus!' rejoined Marcellus.
'All my good wishes for the success and happiness of your new
command!  It was most generous of you to send for me.'

With his arm around Marcellus's shoulders, Paulus guided his friend
to a chair by the table, and sauntered to its mate on the other
side.

'Come; sit down.'  He filled their goblets.  'Let us drink to this
happy meeting.  Now you must tell me what brings you into my quiet
little Galilee.'

Marcellus smiled, raised the goblet to the level of his eyes, and
bowed to his host.

'It would take an hour to explain my errand, Paulus,' he replied,
sipping his wine.  'A long story--and a somewhat fantastic one,
too.  In short, the Emperor ordered me to learn something more
about the Galilean whom we put to death.'

'A painful business for you, I think,' frowned Paulus.  'I still
reproach myself for placing you in such an unhappy position that
night at the Procurator's banquet.  I did not see you again, or I
should have tried to make amends.  If it is not too late to say so,
I am sorry it happened.  I was drunk.'

'We all were,' remembered Marcellus.  'I bore you no ill-will.'

'But it wasn't drunkenness that ailed you, sir, when you groped
your way out of that banquet-hall.  When you put on the dead man's
robe, something happened to you.  Even I, drunk as I was, could see
that.  By the gods!--I thought you must have sighted a ghost!'
Raising his goblet, Paulus drank deeply; then, shrugging his dour
mood aside, he brightened.  'But why revive unpleasant memories?
You were a long time ill.  I heard of it and was sad.  But now you
are quite recovered.  That is well.  You are the picture of health,
Marcellus.  Drink, my friend!  You have hardly tasted your wine;
and it is good.'

'Native?'  Marcellus took another sip.

Paulus grinned; then suddenly stiffened to pantomime an attitude of
cool hauteur.

'My eminent patron,' he declaimed, with elaborate mockery, 'my
exalted lord, the ineffable Herod Antipas--Tetrarch of Galilee and
Peraea, robber of the poor, foot-washer to any titled Roman that
comes within reach--he sent the wine.  And though Herod himself may
be a low form of life, his wine is noble.'  Slipping easily out of
his august role, Paulus added, casually, 'I have had no native wine
yet.  By the way, the country people have a story that our Jesus
once supplied a wedding-party with a rare vintage that he made by
doing some incantations over a water-pot.  There are innumerable
yarns of this order.  Perhaps you have heard them.'

Marcellus nodded, but did not share the Legate's cynical amusement.

'Yes,' he said, soberly.  'I have heard them.  They are very hard
to understand.'

'Understand!' echoed Paulus.  'Don't tell me you have tried to
understand them!  Have we not plenty of such legends in Rome--tales
that no one in his right senses gives a second thought to?'

'Yes, I know, Paulus,' agreed Marcellus, quietly, 'and I should
want to be among the last to believe them, but--'

At the significant pause, Paulus stood up, busying himself with
refilling their goblets.  He offered the silver cake-tray, which
Marcellus declined, and sat down again with a little gesture of
impatience.

'I hope you aren't going to say that these Galilean stories are
credible, Marcellus,' he remarked, coolly.

'This Jesus was a strange man, Paulus.'

'Granted!  By no means an ordinary man!  He had a peculiar kind of
courage, and a sort of majesty, all his own.  But I hope you don't
believe that he changed water into wine!'

'I do not know, Paulus,' replied Marcellus, slowly.  'I saw a child
who had been born with a crippled foot; now as active as any other
little boy.'

'How do you know he was born with a crippled foot?' demanded
Paulus.

'The whole village knew.  There was no reason why they should have
invented the story for my benefit.  They were suspicious of me.  In
fact, the boy's grandfather, my guide, was reluctant to talk about
it.'

'Well, you can be sure there is some reasonable explanation,'
rasped Paulus.  'These people are as superstitious as our Thracian
slaves.  Why, they even believe that this man came to life--and has
been seen!'

Marcellus nodded thoughtfully.

'I heard that story for the first time about an hour ago, Paulus.
It is amazing!'

'It is preposterous!' shouted Paulus.  'These fools should have
contented themselves with tales of water changed to wine and the
magical healing of the sick.'  Paulus drank again, noisily.  His
ruddy face showed annoyance as he watched Marcellus absently toying
with the stem of his goblet, his eyes averted.  'You know well
enough that the Galilean was dead!' he stormed, angrily.  'No one
can tell you or me that he came to life!'  Drawing up the sleeve of
his toga, Paulus tapped his muscular forearm with measuring
fingers, and shrilled, 'I thrust my spear into his chest that
deep!'

Marcellus glanced up, nodded, and dropped his eyes again, without
comment.  Paulus suddenly leaned forward over the table, and
brought his fist down with a thump.

'By the gods!  Marcellus,' he shouted, 'YOU BELIEVE IT!'

There was a tense silence for a long moment.  Marcellus stirred and
slowly raised his eyes, quite unruffled by the Legate's outburst.

'I don't know what to believe, Paulus,' he said, quietly.  'Of
course my natural reaction is the same as yours; but--there is a
great mystery here, my friend.  If this story is a trumped-up lie,
the men who have been telling it at the risk of their lives are
quite mad; yet they do not talk like madmen.  They have nothing to
gain--and everything to lose--by reporting that they saw him.'

'Oh, I'll concede that,' declared Paulus, loftily.  'It's no
uncommon thing for a fanatic to be reckless with his life; but--
look you, Marcellus!--however difficult that is to understand, you
can't have a dead man coming back from his grave!  Why, a man who
could overcome death, could--'

'Exactly!' broke in Marcellus.  'He could do anything!  He could
defy any power on earth!  If he cared to, he might have the whole
world for his kingdom!'

Paulus drank greedily, spilling some of the wine on the table.

'Odd thing to say,' he muttered, thickly.  'There was some talk at
his trial--about his kingdom: remember?  Pilate asked him--absurdly
enough, I thought--if he were a king.'  Paulus chuckled
mirthlessly.  'He said he was, and it shook Pilate a little, too.
Indeed, it stunned everybody, for a minute; just the cool audacity
of it.  I was talking with Vinitius, that night at the banquet, and
he said the Galilean explained that his kingdom was not in the
world; but--that doesn't mean anything.  Or does it?'

'Well, it certainly wouldn't mean anything if _I_ said it,' replied
Marcellus.  'But if a man who had been out of this life were able
to return from--from wherever he had been--he might conceivably
have a kingdom elsewhere.'

'You're talking rubbish, Marcellus,' scoffed Paulus.  'I'll assist
you,' he went on, drunkenly.  'You are my guest, and I must be
polite.  If it's so--that a dead man--with some kind of elsewhere-
kingdom--has come back to life:--mind you, now, I know it isn't so--
but if it's so--I'd rather it were this Jesus than Quintus or
Julian or Pilate--or the half-witted Gaius that old Julia whelped.'
He laughed boisterously at his own absurdity.  'Or old Tiberius!
By the gods!--when crazy old Tiberius dies, I'll wager he stays
dead!  By the way, do you mean to go back and tell the old fool
this story?  He'll believe it, you know, and it will scare the very
liver out of him!'

Marcellus grinned tolerantly, reflecting that the Legate---albeit
pretty drunk--had said something worth thinking about.

'Good idea, Paulus,' he remarked.  'If we're going to have a king
who knows how to outlive all the other kings, it might be a great
thing for the world if he were a person of good deeds and not evil
ones.'

The Legate's face sobered, and Marcellus, noting his serious
interest, enlarged upon his impromptu idea.

'Consider these tales about Jesus, Paulus.  He is reputed to have
made blind men see: there is no story that he made any man blind.
He is said to have changed water into wine; not wine into water.
He made a crippled child walk; he never made any child a cripple.'

'Excellent!' applauded Paulus.  'The kings have been destroyers,
despoilers.  They have made men blind, crippled, broken.'  He
paused, and went on, muttering half to himself, 'Wouldn't the world
be surprised if once it should have a government that came to the
rescue of the blind and sick and lame?  By the gods!  I wish this
absurd tale about the Galilean were true!'

'Do you mean that, Paulus, or are you jesting?' demanded Marcellus,
earnestly.

'Well,' compromised the Legate, 'I'm as serious as the matter
warrants, seeing it hasn't a leg to stand on.'  His forehead
wrinkled in a judicial frown.  'But see here, Marcellus, aren't you
going in for this Jesus business a little too far for your own
good?'

Marcellus made no reply, other than an enigmatic pursing of the
lips.  Paulus grinned, shrugged, and replenished his goblet.  His
manner said they would drop that phase of the subject.

'What else do they say about him, up here in the country?' he
asked, negligently.  'You seem to have been making inquiries.'

'They have a story in Cana,' replied Marcellus, quietly, 'about a
young woman who discovered she could sing.  The people think Jesus
was responsible for it.'

'Taught her to sing?'

'No.  One day she found that she could sing.  They believe he had
something to do with it.  I heard her, Paulus.  There hasn't been
anything quite like it, so far as I know.'

'Indeed!' enthused Paulus.  'I must tell the Tetrarch.  It's part
of my business, you know, to please the old rascal.  He may invite
her to entertain one of his banquets.'

'No, Paulus, please!' protested Marcellus.  'This girl has been
gently bred.  Moreover, she is a cripple; can't stand up; never
leaves the neighbourhood.'

'He gave her a voice, and left her a cripple, eh?'  Paulus grinned.
'How do you explain that?'

'I don't explain it; I just report it.  But I sincerely hope you
will say nothing about her to Herod.  She would feel very much out
of place in his palace, if what I have heard about him is correct.'

'If what you've heard is revolting,' commented Paulus, bitterly,
'it's correct.  But if you are so concerned about these Christians,
it might be to their advantage if one of their daughters sang
acceptably for the lecherous old fox.'

'No!' snapped Marcellus, hotly.  'She and her family are friends of
mine.  I beg of you not to degrade her with an invitation to meet
Herod Antipas or any member of his household!'

Paulus agreed that they were a precious lot of scoundrels,
including Herod's incorrigible daughter Salome.  A dangerous little
vixen, he declared, responsible for a couple of assassinations, and
notoriously unchaste.  He chuckled unpleasantly, and added that she
had come by her talents honestly enough, seeing that her father--if
he was her father--hadn't even the respect of the Sanhedrin, and
her mother was as promiscuous as a cat.  He snorted contemptuously,
and drank to take the taste of them out of his mouth.  Marcellus
scowled, but made no comment.  Presently he became aware that
Paulus was regarding him with a friendly but reproachful
inspection.

'I wonder if you realize, Marcellus,' Paulus was saying, 'that your
keen concern for these Christians might sometime embarrass you.
May I talk to you about that, without giving offence?'

'Why not, Paulus?' replied Marcellus, graciously.

'Why not?  Because it may sound impertinent.  We are of the same
rank.  It does not behove me to give you advice, much less
injunctions.'

'Injunctions?'  Marcellus's brows lifted a little.  'I'm afraid I
don't understand.'

'Let me explain, then.  I assume you know what has been happening
in Palestine during the past year.  For a few weeks, after the
execution of the Galilean, his movement appeared to be a closed
incident.  The leaders of his party scattered, most of them
returning to this neighbourhood.  The influential men of Jerusalem
were satisfied.  There were sporadic rumours that Jesus had been
seen in various places after his death, but nobody with any sense
took these tales seriously.  It was expected that the whole affair
would presently be forgotten.'

'And then it revived,' remarked Marcellus, as Paulus paused to take
another drink.

'Revived is not the word.  It hadn't died.  Secret groups had been
meeting in many cities.  For a few months there were very few
outward signs of it.  The authorities had contempt for it, feeling
that it was a thing of no importance, either as to size or quality.
Then, one day, it began to dawn on the priests that their
synagogues were not being patronized; the tithes were not paid.
Then the merchants observed that their business was increasingly
bad.  In Jericho, more than half of the population now make no
secret of their affiliations.  In Antioch, the Christians are quite
outspoken, and adding daily to their numbers.  Nor is interest in
this party limited to the poor and helpless, as was at first
supposed.  Nobody knows how many there are in Jerusalem, but the
Temple is beside itself with anxiety and anger, prodding the Insula
to do something drastic.  Old Julian is being harassed by the
priests and merchants, who are making it plain that he must act--or
resign.'

'What does he think of doing about it?' inquired Marcellus.

'Well'--Paulus flicked his hands in a baffled gesture--'it's
obvious that the movement cannot be tolerated.  It may look
innocuous to a casual visitor like yourself; but, to the solid
respectables of Jerusalem, it is treason, mutiny, blasphemy, and a
general disintegration of their established ways.  Julian doesn't
want a bloody riot on his hands, and has been playing for time; but
the city fathers are at the end of their patience.'

'But surely they can't find much fault with the things Jesus
taught,' interposed Marcellus.  'He urged kindness, fair dealing,
good will.  Don't the influential men of Palestine believe in
letting the people treat one another decently?'

'That isn't the point, Marcellus, and you know it,' argued Paulus,
impatiently.  'These Christians are refusing to do business on the
old basis.  More and more they are patronizing one another.  Why,
even here in little Capernaum, if you don't have the outline of a
fish scrawled on the door of your shop, it doesn't pay you to open
up.'  He studied his friend's interested face, and grinned.  'I
suppose you know what that fish stands for.'

Marcellus nodded, and smiled broadly.

'No, it isn't a bit funny!' warned Paulus, grimly.  'And I must
strongly counsel you that the less you see of these Christians, the
better it will be'--he checked himself, and finished lamely in a
tone almost inaudible--'for all of us.'

'But for me in particular, I think you mean,' said Marcellus.

'Have it your own way.'  Paulus waved his arm.  'I'm not having a
good time--saying these things to you.  But I don't want to see you
get into trouble.  And you easily could, you know!  When the
pressure is put on, it's going to get rough!  The fact that you're
a Roman Tribune will not count for much, once the stampede begins!
We are going to make war on the Christians, Marcellus, no matter
who they are!  Why don't you clear out before you get into trouble?
Take your slave--and go!'

'I do not know where he is,' admitted Marcellus.

'Well, I do,' grinned Paulus.  'He is in bed, somewhere here in the
fort.'

'A prisoner?'

'No, but he ought to be.'  The Legate laughingly recounted the
afternoon's revelations.  'By the way,' he ended, 'did you see him
destroy Quintus?'

Marcellus, who had been much amused by the recital, shook his head.

'I saw the Tribune shortly afterwards,' he said.  'The work had
been well done, I assure you.'

'It gratified me to hear about it,' said Paulus, 'as I have no
respect for Quintus and his misfortunes do not annoy me; but'--he
grew suddenly serious--'this was no light offence, and may yet have
to be settled for.  Your Demetrius is free to go, but I hope he
will not linger in this country; at least, not in my jurisdiction.
Nor you, Marcellus!  Consider your predicament: your slave is
wanted for assaulting a Tribune; moreover, he is known to have been
in close association with the Christian party in Jerusalem.  He can
be apprehended on either count.  Now, it may be assumed that you
know all this.  In short, you have been harbouring a criminal and a
Christian; and your own position as a friend of the Christians is
of no advantage to you.  What do you intend to do about it?'

'I had thought of remaining in Palestine for a few weeks, before
proceeding to Rome,' said Marcellus.  'I have no definite plans.'

'Better have some plans!' advised Paulus, sternly.  'Your situation
is more hazardous than you think.  It will do your pious Galilean
friends no good to have you championing their cause.  I tell you
candidly that they are all in imminent danger of arrest.  I advise
you to pack your travel equipment early in the morning, go quietly
across country to Joppa, and take the first ship that heads for
home.'

'Thanks for the counsel, Paulus,' replied Marcellus, non-
committally.  'May I have a word with Demetrius now?'

Paulus frowned darkly and dismissed the request with a gesture of
exasperation.

'The fact that your Greek slave is a superior fellow and your
friend,' he said, crisply, 'does not alter his status in the
opinion of my own retinue.  I suggest that you wait until morning
to see him.'

'As you like,' said Marcellus, unruffled.

Paulus rose unsteadily.

'Let us retire now,' he said, more cordially, 'and meet for
breakfast at sunrise.  Then'--he smiled meaningly--'if you will
insist upon leaving at once, I shall speed you on your way.  I
shall do better than that: I shall order a small detachment of
legionaries, acquainted with the less travelled roads, to see you
safely to Joppa.'

'But I am not going to Joppa, Paulus,' declared Marcellus, firmly.
'I am not leaving Palestine until I have fully satisfied myself
about this story of the Galilean's return to life.'

'And how are you to do that?' demanded Paulus.  'By interviewing a
few deluded fishermen, perhaps?'

'That's one way of putting it,' rejoined Marcellus, unwilling to
take offence.  'I want to talk with some of the leaders.'

'They are not here now,' said Paulus.  'The foremost of them are in
Jerusalem.'

'Then I am going to Jerusalem!'

For a moment, Paulus, with tight lips, deliberated a reply.  A
sardonic grin slowly twisted his mouth.

'If you start to-morrow for Jerusalem,' he predicted ominously,
'you should arrive about the right time to find them all in prison.
Then--unless you are more prudent than you appear to be at present--
you will get into a lot of trouble.'  He clapped his hands for the
guard.  'Show the Tribune to his room,' he ordered.  Offering his
hand, with his accustomed geniality, he smiled and said, 'I hope
you rest well.  We will see each other in the morning.'



Chapter XIX


They entered the city unchallenged two hours before sunset.  The
sentries at the Damascus Gate did not so much as bother to ask
Marcellus his name or what manner of cargo was strapped to the
tired little donkeys.  It was evident that Jerusalem was not on the
alert.

The journey from Capernaum had been made with dispatch, considering
the travellers were on foot.  By rising before dawn and keeping
steadily at it--even through the sultry valleys, where the prudent
rested in the shade while the sun was high--the trip had been
accomplished in three days.

Warned by Paulus's grim forecast of drastic action about to be
taken against the Christians, Marcellus had expected to encounter
arrogant troops and frightened people, but the roads were quiet and
the natives were going about their small affairs with no apparent
feeling of insecurity.  If it were true that a concerted attack on
them had been planned, it was still a well-guarded secret.

Their leave-taking of Capernaum had been almost without incident.
Arriving early at the tent, they found that Justus had disappeared.
Shalum had no explanation to offer.  The mother of little Thomas,
when they stopped at her home to make inquiries, had no more to say
than that Justus and Jonathan had left for Sepphoris an hour ago.
Marcellus had a momentary impulse to follow them and reassure
Justus; but, remembering Paulus's injunction that the Galileans
would now be better served if he gave them no further attention, he
proceeded on his way with many misgivings.  If was no small matter
to have lost Justus's friendship.  He wanted to stop in Cana and
have a farewell word with Miriam, but decided against it.

After supper that first night out (they had camped in a meadow five
miles south-east of Cana) Marcellus had insisted on hearing all
about Demetrius's experiences with the Christians in Jerusalem,
especially with reference to their belief in the reappearance of
Jesus.  The Greek was more than willing to tell everything he knew.
There was no uncertainty in his mind about the truth of the
resurrection story.

'But, Demetrius, that is impossible, you know!' Marcellus had
declared firmly when his slave had finished.

'Yes, I know, sir,' Demetrius had admitted.

'But you believe it!'

'Yes, sir.'

'Well, there's no sense to be made out of that!' grumbled
Marcellus, impatiently.  'To admit a thing's impossible, and in the
next breath confess your belief in it, makes your argument very
unconvincing.'

'If you will pardon me, sir,' ventured Demetrius, 'I was not
arguing.  You asked me: I told you.  I am not trying to persuade
you to believe in it.  And I agree that what I have been saying
doesn't make sense.'

'Then the story is nonsense!' reasoned Marcellus; and after he had
given his slave ample time to reply, he added crisply, 'Isn't it?'

'No, sir,' reiterated Demetrius, 'the story is true.  The thing
couldn't happen; but it did.'

Feeling that this sort of conversation didn't have much to
recommend it, Marcellus had mumbled good night and pretended to
sleep.

On the next day and the day thereafter, the subject had been
discussed on the road, as profitlessly.  Jesus had been seen
after his death.  Such things didn't happen; couldn't happen.
Nevertheless, he had been seen; not once, but many times; not by
one man only, but by a score.  Demetrius was advised that he was
losing his mind.  He conceded the point without debate and offered
to change the subject.  He was told that he had been duped and
deluded, to which accusation he responded with an indulgent nod and
a smile.  Marcellus was thoroughly exasperated.  He wanted to talk
about it; wanted Demetrius to plead his case, if he had one, with
an air of deep conviction.  You couldn't get anywhere with a man
who, when you called him a fool, calmly admitted it.

'I never would have thought, Demetrius,' Marcellus had said, taking
pains to make it sound derisive, 'that a man with as sound a mind
as yours would turn out to be so childishly superstitious!'

'To tell you the truth, sir,' Demetrius had replied, 'I am
surprised at it myself.'

They had been trudging along, with Marcellus a little in advance,
stormily vaunting his indignation over his slave's stubborn
imbecility, when it suddenly occurred to him that he wasn't having
it out with Demetrius--but with himself.  He swung about, in the
middle of an angry sentence, and read--in his companion's comradely
grin--a confirmation of his discovery.  Falling into step, he
walked along in silence for a while.

'Forgive me, Demetrius,' he said, self-reproachfully.  'I have been
very inconsiderate.'

Demetrius smiled broadly.

'I understand fully, sir,' he said.  'I went through all that, hour
after hour, day after day.  It is not easy to accept as the truth
something that one's instinct rejects.'

'Well then,' deliberated Marcellus, 'let us, just for sake of
argument, batter our instincts into silence and accept this, for
the moment, as the truth.  Consider the possibilities of a man with
a divine personality who, if he wants to, can walk up to Emperor
Tiberius, without fear, and demand his throne!'

'He will not want to,' rejoined Demetrius.  'If he were that sort
of person, he would have demanded Pilate's seat.  No, he expects to
come into power another way; not by dethroning the Emperor, but by
inspiring the people.  His rule will not begin at the top.  It will
begin at the bottom, with the common people.'

'Bah!' scoffed Marcellus.  'The common people, indeed!  What makes
you think they have it in them to set up a just government?  Take
this weak-spined little handful of pious fishermen, for example,
how much courage is to be expected of them?  Why, even when their
Jesus was on trial for his life, they were afraid to speak out in
his defence.  Except for two or three of them, they let him go to
his death alone!'

'True, sir,' said Demetrius, 'but that was before they knew he
could overcome death.'

'Yes, but Jesus' ability to overcome death wouldn't make their
lives any more secure than they were before.'

'Oh yes, sir!' exclaimed Demetrius.  'He promised them that they
too would live forever.  He said that he had overcome death--not
only for himself, but for all who had faith in him.'

Marcellus slowed to a stop, thrust his thumbs under his belt, and
surveyed his slave with a frown of utter mystification.

'Do you mean to say that these crazy fishermen think they are going
to live forever?' he demanded.

'Yes, sir--forever, with him,' said Demetrius, quietly.

'Ridiculous!' snorted Marcellus.

'It seems so, sir,' agreed Demetrius.  'But if they sincerely
believe that, whether it is true or not will have no bearing on
their behaviour.  If a man considers himself stronger than death,
he has nothing to fear.'

'Then why are these people in hiding?' asked Marcellus, reasonably
enough, he thought.

'They have their work to do, sir.  They must not be too reckless
with their lives.  It is their duty to tell the story of Jesus to
as many as can be reached.  Every man of them expects to be killed,
sooner or later, but--it won't matter.  They will live on--
somewhere else.'

'Demetrius, do you believe all this nonsense yourself?' asked
Marcellus, pityingly.

'Sometimes,' mumbled Demetrius.  'When I'm with them, I believe
it.'  He tramped on moodily through the dust, his eyes on the road.
'It isn't easy,' he added, half to himself.

'I should say not!' commented Marcellus.

'But, sir,' declared Demetrius, 'the fact that an idea is not easy
to understand need not discredit it.  Are we not surrounded with
facts quite beyond our comprehension?'  He stretched a long arm
toward the hillside, gay with flowers.  'We can't account for all
that diversity of colour and form--and we don't have to.  But they
are facts.'

'Well, that's beside the point,' protested Marcellus.  'Stick to
your business, now, and don't let your mind wander.  We'll agree
that all life's a mystery.  Proceed with your argument.'

'Thank you, sir,' grinned Demetrius.  'Now these disciples of Jesus
honestly believe that the world will eventually be ruled by faith
in his teachings.  There is to be a universal government founded on
good will among men.  Whoever believes and practises this has the
assurance that he will live forever.  It isn't easy to believe that
one may live forever.  I grant you that, sir.'

'And not much easier to believe that the world could be governed by
good will,' put in Marcellus.

'Now the Emperor,' went on Demetrius, 'rules the world by force.
That is not easy.  Thousands of men have to lose their lives to
support this form of government.  Germanicus leads an expedition
into Aquitania, promising his Legates riches in captured goods and
slaves if they follow and obey him at the risk of their lives.
They take that chance.  Many of them are killed and have nothing to
show for their courage.  Jesus promises everlasting life as a
reward for those who follow and obey him in his effort to bring
peace to the world.  His disciples believe him, and--'

'And take that chance,' interposed Marcellus.

'Well, sir, it isn't a more hazardous chance than the legions take
who follow Germanicus,' insisted Demetrius.  'This faith in Jesus
is not easy, but that doesn't make it nonsense--if you will pardon
my speaking so freely.'

'Say on, Demetrius!' approved Marcellus.  'You are doing well,
considering what kind of material you have to work with.  Tell me,
do you, personally, expect to live on here forever, in some
spectral form?'

'No.' Demetrius shook his head.  'Somewhere else.  He has a kingdom--
somewhere else.'

'And you truly believe that!'  Marcellus studied his slave's sober
face as if he had never seen it before.

'Sometimes,' replied Demetrius.

Neither had anything to say for a while.  Then, coming to an abrupt
halt, the Greek faced his master with an expression of self-
confidence.

'This faith,' he declared deliberately, 'is not like a deed to a
house in which one may live with full rights of possession.  It is
more like a kit of tools with which a man may build him a house.
The tools will be worth just what he does with them.  When he lays
them down, they will have no value until he takes them up again.'

                         * * * * * *

It was nearly sundown when Demetrius arrived at the shop of
Benyosef, for much time had been consumed in the congested streets
on the way to the inn where Marcellus had stopped on his previous
visit to Jerusalem.  The travel equipment and Galilean purchases
had to be unloaded and stored.  The man who owned the donkeys had
to be paid off.  Marcellus was eager for a bath and fresh clothing.
Having made his master comfortable and having attended to his own
reconditioning, Demetrius had set off to find Stephanos.

Since his course led directly past Benyosef's, he decided to look
in, for it was possible that his friend was still at work.  The
front door was closed and bolted.  Going around to the side door
which admitted to the family quarters, he knocked; but there was no
response.  This seemed odd, for the aged Sarah never went anywhere,
and would surely be here at supper-time.

Perplexed, Demetrius hastened on to the shabby old house where he
had lodged with Stephanos.  Here, too, the doors were locked and
apparently everyone was gone.  A short distance up the street, a
personable young Jew, John Mark, lived with his widowed mother and
an attractive young cousin, Rhoda.  He decided to call there and
inquire, for Stephanos and Mark were close friends, though he had
often wondered whether it wasn't the girl that Stephanos went to
see.

He found Rhoda locking the high wicket-gate and preparing to leave
with a well-filled basket on her arm.  She greeted him warmly, and
Demetrius noted that she was prettier than ever.  She seemed to
have matured considerably in his absence.

'Where is everybody?' he inquired, after a brief account of the
closed houses he had visited.

'Oh, don't you know?'  Rhoda handed him the basket and they moved
toward the gate.  'We all have supper together now.  You must come
with me.'

'Who have supper together?' wondered Demetrius.

'The Christians.  Simon began it many weeks ago.  They leased the
old building where Nathan had his bazaar.  We all bring food every
evening, and share it.  That is,' she added, with an impatient
little shrug, 'some of us bring food--and all of us share.'

'It doesn't sound as if it was much fun,' observed Demetrius.

'Well'--Rhoda tossed her curly head--'it hasn't turned out as Simon
had expected.'

They were walking rapidly, Demetrius taking long strides to keep
pace with the nimble steps that seemed to be beating time for some
very vigorous reflections.  He decided not to be too inquisitive.

'How is Stephanos?' he asked, with a sly smile that Rhoda tried
unsuccessfully to dodge.

'You will see him presently,' she replied, archly.  'Then you may
judge for yourself.'

'Rhoda'--Demetrius sounded at least sixty--'these pink cheeks tell
me that something has been going on here since I left.  If this
means what I think, I am happy for both of you.'

'You know too much, Uncle Demetrius,' she retorted, with a prim
smile.  'Can't Stephen and I be friends without--'

'No.  I don't think so,' interjected Demetrius.  'When is it going
to be, Rhoda?  Will I have time to weave a tablecloth for you?'

'A little one.'  She flashed him a bright smile.

Promising that he would borrow a loom and begin work early in the
morning, if his master could spare him the time, Demetrius found
his curiosity mounting in regard to these daily suppers.

'How many people come?' he asked.

'You will be surprised!  Three hundred or more.  Many have disposed
of their property in the country and are living here now; quite a
colony of them.  At least a hundred take all their meals at the
Ecclesia.'

'The Ecclesia,' repeated Demetrius.  'Is that what you call it?
That's Greek, you know.  Most of you are Jews, are you not?  How
did you happen to call your headquarters the Ecclesia?'

'It was Stephen,' said Rhoda, proudly.  'He said it was a suitable
name for such an assembly.  Besides, fully a third of the
Christians are Greeks.'

'Well, it's a comfort to see the Jews and Greeks getting together
on something,' remarked Demetrius.  'Just one big, happy family,
eh?' he added, with some private misgivings.

'It's big enough: no question about that!' murmured Rhoda; and
then, making hasty amends for this comment, she continued, 'Most of
them are deeply in earnest, Demetrius.  But there are enough of the
other kind to spoil it.'

'Quarrelling, are they?  I'm afraid they won't get very far with
this new idea that what the world needs is good will.'

'That's what Stephen says,' approved Rhoda.  'He is very
disappointed.  He thinks this whole business--of having all the
Christians live together--is a mistake.  He believes they should
have stayed at home and kept on with their daily work.'

'What's the rumpus about?'  Demetrius couldn't help asking.

'Oh, the same old story,' sighed Rhoda.  'You Greeks are stingy and
suspicious and over-sensitive about your rights, and--'

'And you Jews are greedy and tricky,' broke in Demetrius, with a
grin.

'We're NOT greedy!' exclaimed Rhoda.

'And we Greeks are not stingy!' retorted Demetrius.  They both
laughed.

'That's a good little picture of the rumpus,' said Rhoda.  'Poor
Simon.  He had such high hopes for the Ecclesia.  I was so sorry
for him, last night, I could have cried.  After supper he gave us a
serious talk, repeating some of the words of Jesus about loving one
another, even those who mistreat us; and how we were all the
children of God, equal in his sight, regardless of our race.  And--
if you'll believe it--even while Simon was speaking, an old man
from the country, named Ananias, got up and stamped out!'

Demetrius could think of no appropriate comment.  It gave him a
sickish feeling to learn that so lofty an ideal had fallen into
such disrepute in the hands of weak people.  Rhoda sensed his
disappointment.

'But please don't think that Simon is held lightly,' she went on.
'He has great influence.  The people believe in him!  When he walks
down the street, old men and women sitting at their windows beg him
to stop and talk with them.  Stephen says they even bring out their
sick ones on cots so that he may touch their foreheads as he
passes.  And Demetrius, it's wonderful how they all feel toward
Stephen, too.  Sometimes I think that if anything ever happened to
Simon--'  Rhoda hesitated.

'Stephen might be the leader?' asked Demetrius.

'He is big enough for it!' she declared.  'But don't tell him I
said that,' she added.  'He would think it a great misfortune if
anything happened to Simon.'

They were nearing the old bazaar now.  Several women were entering
with baskets.  A few men loitered about the open door.  No
legionaries were to be seen.  Apparently the Christians were free
to go and come as they pleased.

Rhoda led the way into the large, bare, poorly lighted room,
crowded with men, women, and children, waiting beside the long
tables on which food was being spread.  Stephanos advanced with a
welcoming smile.

'Adelphos Demetrius!' he exclaimed, extending both hands.  'Where
did you find him, Rhoda?'

'He was looking for you.'  Her tone was tenderly possessive.

'Come, then,' he said.  'Simon will want to see you.  You're thin,
my friend.  What have they been doing to you?'

Demetrius flinched involuntarily as Stephanos squeezed his arm.

'A little accident,' he explained.  'It's not quite healed.'

'How did you do it?' asked Rhoda.  'You've a cut on your wrist too;
a bad one!'

Demetrius was spared the necessity of replying, Stephanos coming to
his rescue with a little pantomime of pursed lips and a slight
shake of his head for Rhoda's benefit.

'You were fighting, I think,' she whispered, with a reproving grin.
'Christians don't fight, you know.'  Impishly puckering a
meaningful little smile at Stephanos, she added, 'They don't even
fret about things.'  Preoccupied, Stephanos missed this sally, and
beckoned to Demetrius to follow him.

                         * * * * * *

Conversation on the way back was forced and fragmentary.  John Mark
and his mother walked on ahead.  The tall Greeks followed on either
side of Rhoda, who felt dwarfed and unimportant, for it was
evident, by their taciturnity, that they wanted to be alone with
each other.  She did not resent this.  She was so deeply in love
with Stephanos that anything he did was exactly right, even when he
so plainly excluded her from his comradeship with Demetrius.

After a hasty good night at Mark's gate, the Greeks sauntered down
the street toward their lodgings, silently at first, each waiting
for the other to speak.  Stephanos's steps slowed.

'Well, what did you think of it?' he demanded, bluntly.  'Tell me
truly.'

'I'm not quite sure,' temporized Demetrius.

'But you are!' snapped Stephanos.  'You have seen our Christian
Ecclesia in action.  If you are not quite sure, that means you
think we have taken the wrong road!'

'Very well,' consented Demetrius, with an indulgent chuckle.  'If
that's what I think, why not go on and tell me what YOU think?
You've had a better chance to form an opinion.  I haven't seen your
Ecclesia do anything yet--but eat.  What else is it good for?  I'm
bound to say, Stephanos, that if I were selecting a company of
people to engage in some dangerous tasks requiring endless faith
and courage, I might have skipped a few who were present to-night.'

'There you are!' lamented Stephanos.  'That's what is wrong.  Jesus
commands us to carry on his work, no matter at what cost in
privation, pain, and hazard of life; and all we've accomplished is
a free boarding-house and loafing-place for anybody who will say,
"I believe."'

'Doubtless Simon's intentions were good,' observed Demetrius,
feeling that he was expected to make some comment.

'Excellent!' agreed Stephanos.  'If everybody connected with the
Ecclesia had the bravery and goodness of Simon Peter, the
institution might develop great power.  You see, at the beginning,
what he wanted was a close-knit body of men who would devote their
full time to this work.  He thought they could inspire one another
if they lived together.  You remember how it was at the shop,
Demetrius, the disciples spending hours in conference.  Simon
wanted to increase this circle, draw in other devoted men, and weld
them together in spirit and purpose.'

'And made the circle a little too large?' suggested Demetrius.

Stephanos came to a halt, and moodily shook his head.

'The whole plan was unsound,' he said, disconsolately.  'Simon
announced that any Christian might sell his property and bring the
proceeds to the Ecclesia, with the promise that his living would be
provided for.'

'No matter how much or how little he had?' queried Demetrius.

'Right!  If you owned a farm or a vineyard, you sold it--probably
at a sacrifice--and brought Simon the money.  If you had nothing
but a few chickens, a milk-goat, and a donkey, you came with the
money you'd got from that.  And all would live together in
brotherly love.'

Gloomily Stephanos recited the misadventures of this unhappy
experiment.  The word had quickly spread that any Christian family
could insure its living by joining the Ecclesia.  There was no lack
of applicants.  Simon had rejoiced to see the large number of
people who professed to be Christians.  At an all-night conference
in Benyosef's shop, Simon had been almost beside himself with
happiness.  The kingdom was growing!

'That night,' continued Stephanos, 'it was decided that Simon
should remain to oversee our Ecclesia.  The others were to see how
nearly ready the Christians were to attempt similar projects in
Joppa, Caesarea, Antioch, and other good-sized cities.  So they
scattered; John, James, Philip, Alphaeus, Matthew--'  Stephanos
made an encircling gesture that included all the rest of them.
'Simon is impetuous, you know.  When he captures an idea, he
saddles and bridles it and rides away at a gallop!'

'And the Ecclesia grew!' assisted Demetrius.

'In numbers--yes!  Large families, with next to nothing, moved in
to live in idleness, lustily singing hymns and fervent in prayer,
but hardly knowing what it was all about, except that they had
three meals a day and plenty of good company.'

'And how did the other people like it, the ones who had owned
considerable property?'

'Well, that was another problem.  These people began to feel their
superiority over the indigents.  The more money you had contributed
to the Ecclesia, the more right you thought you had to dictate the
policies of the institution.'  Stephanos smiled unhappily.  'Only
this morning, one arrogant old fellow, who had been impudent and
cross over something Simon had said, was discovered to have cheated
in his dealings with the Ecclesia, and when Simon confronted him
with it, he went into such a mad rage that he had a stroke.  Died
of it!  And Simon will probably get the blame for it.'

'It must be very discouraging,' said Demetrius.

'That isn't all!' sighed Stephanos.  'This daily supper!  Many
merchants are coming to these meetings now--bringing their food
along; I must give them credit for that--but quite clearly
patronizing the Ecclesia to make friends for business reasons.  In
short, the Ecclesia is becoming too, too popular!'

'What's to be done about it?' Demetrius wanted to know.

Stephanos moved on slowly, shaking his head.

'Demetrius, until this Ecclesia began to take in boarders, the
Christian community in Jerusalem was a force to reckon with.  Men
continued their gainful occupations, careful to deal honestly and
charitably, eager to live according to Jesus' commandments, and
talking of his way of life to all who would give heed.  And in the
evening they would assemble to hearten one another.  Simon would
stand up and challenge them to greater efforts.  He would repeat
the words of Jesus, and renew their strength.  He was magnificent!'
Stephanos stopped again and faced his friend sadly.  'You heard him
to-night--squandering his splendid energies in wheedling a lot of
selfish, bickering people to forget their little squabbles and stop
nagging one another.  Did you notice that weak, solicitous smile on
his face as he entreated them to be more generous with their gifts
to the Ecclesia?  Well, that wasn't Simon!  That wasn't the Simon
who fired the hearts of the men who used to meet in the night to
repledge their all to the cause of our Christos!  It is a
disgrace!'  Stephanos clenched both hands in his tousled hair and
shook his head hopelessly.  'Is it for this,' he cried, 'that Jesus
suffered on the cross--and died--and rose again?'

'Have you talked with Simon about it?' asked Demetrius, after a
discreet interval.

'Not lately.  A couple of weeks ago, when it became evident there
was going to be an open ruction between the Jews and Greeks,
several of us inquired whether we could do anything to help him,
and he appointed seven of us to oversee the fair apportioning of
food and clothing; but, Demetrius, my feeling for Jesus and his
worth to the world is a sort of exalted passion that can't bring
itself down to the low level of listening patiently to ill-mannered
quarrels over whether Bennie Issacher was given a better coat than
little Nicolas Timonodes.'

Demetrius snorted his sympathetic disgust and suggested that his
friend would do well to keep away from such annoyances.

'I mean to do just that!' declared Stephanos.  'I made a decision
to-night.  I'm not going back there, any more!'

'It is possible,' said Demetrius, 'that Julian may soon solve the
Ecclesia's difficulties.  Had you heard anything about an attack?
My master thinks the Christians are presently to be set upon by the
Insula.'

Stephanos laughed bitterly.

'If the Procurator waits a little while, the Ecclesia will destroy
itself, and save him the bother.  But, tell me, how does your Roman
master feel about Jesus, now that he has been in Galilee?'

'Much impressed, Stephanos.  He finds it difficult to believe that
Jesus came to life again, but he considers him the greatest man who
ever lived.  He wants to talk with you.  He was deeply touched when
you asked to see the robe, and were so moved by the sight of it.'

'He still has it, I suppose,' murmured Stephanos.  'Do you think he
would let me see it again, Demetrius?  So much has happened,
lately, to depress me.  Do you know, my friend, that when I touched
the robe, that night, it--it did something for me!  I can't explain
it, but--'

'Let us go to the inn!' said Demetrius, impetuously.  'Now!  He
will still be up, and glad to see you.  I think you need to have a
talk with each other.'

'Are you sure he won't think it an intrusion?' asked Stephanos,
anxiously.

'No, he will welcome you.  It will be good for you both.'

Once the decision was made, Stephanos set the pace with long,
determined strides.

'Are you going to tell the Tribune about the Ecclesia?' he asked.

'By no means!' declared Demetrius.  'I believe that Marcellus is on
the way to becoming a Christian.  He is infatuated with the story
of Jesus, and talks of nothing else.  If he decides to be a
Christian, he will be a good one and a brave one; you can depend on
that!  But we mustn't expose him to things that might disgust him.
If he knew that some of his companions in this cause were mere
quarrelsome idlers, he might not want to debase himself.'

'Those are hard words, my friend,' said Stephanos.

'It gave me no pleasure to say them,' rejoined Demetrius.  'But I
know the Tribune very well.  It is true he has been brought up as a
pagan, but he is particular about the company he keeps.'

                         * * * * * *

They found Marcellus alone and reading.  He greeted them warmly,
showing an instant interest in Stephanos, who was ready with an
apology for the untimely call.

'There is no one I would rather see, Stephanos,' he said,
cordially, offering him a chair.  'You sit down too, Demetrius.
You men have had a pleasant reunion, I think.'

'Did you have an interesting journey in Galilee, sir?' asked
Stephanos, rather shyly.

'Interesting--and bewildering,' replied Marcellus.  'Justus was a
good guide.  I heard many strange stories.  It is difficult to
believe them--and difficult not to believe them.'  He paused, his
expression inviting a rejoinder; but Stephanos, at a disadvantage
in the presence of this urbane Roman, merely nodded, with averted
eyes.

'I was greatly attracted by old Nathanael Bartholomew,' went on
Marcellus.

'Yes,' said Stephanos, after a tongue-tied interval.

Demetrius, growing restless, thought he would come to his timid
compatriot's rescue.

'I think Stephanos would like to see the robe, sir,' he suggested.

'Gladly!' agreed Marcellus.  'Will you find it for him, Demetrius?'

After some moments in the adjoining room, during which time
Marcellus and Stephanos sat silent, Demetrius returned and laid the
folded robe across his friend's knees.  Stephanos gently smoothed
it with his finger-tips.  His lips were trembling.

'Would you like to be alone for a little while?' asked Marcellus,
softly.  'Demetrius and I can take a walk in the garden.'

Stephanos gave no sign that he had heard.  Gathering the robe up
into his arms, he glanced at Marcellus and then at Demetrius, with
a new light of assurance in his eyes.

'This was my Master's robe!' he announced, in confident tones, as
if delivering a public address.  'He wore it when he healed the
sick and comforted the sorrowing.  He wore it when he spoke to the
multitudes as no man has ever spoken.  He wore it when he went to
the cross to die--for ME, a humble weaver!'  Stephanos boldly
searched Marcellus's astonished face.  'And for YOU--a wealthy
Tribune!'  He turned toward Demetrius.  'And for YOU--a slave!'

Marcellus leaned forward on the arms of his chair, baffled by the
suddenly altered manner of the Greek who had thrown aside his
reticence to declare his faith in such resonant tones.

'You killed my Lord, Tribune Marcellus!' went on Stephanos, boldly.

'Stephanos!  Please!' entreated Demetrius.

Marcellus held up a cautioning hand toward his slave.

'Proceed, Stephanos!' he commanded.

'It was forgivable,' went on Stephanos, rising to his feet, 'for
you did not know what you were doing.  And you are sorry.  The
Temple and the Insula killed him!  And they did not know what they
were doing.  But they are not sorry--and they would do it again, to-
morrow!'  He took a step toward Marcellus, who rose from his chair,
and stood, as one receiving an order.  'You, Tribune Marcellus
Gallio, can make amends for what you have done!  He forgave you!  I
was there!  I heard him forgive you!  Make friends with him!  He is
alive!  I have seen him!'

Demetrius was at his elbow now, murmuring half-articulate
entreaties.  Gently taking the robe from him, he tugged him back to
his chair.  They all sat down, and there was a long moment when no
one spoke.

'Forgive me, sir,' said Stephanos, contritely.  He clumsily rubbed
the back of a nervous hand across his brow.  'I have been talking
too freely.'

'You need not reproach yourself, Stephanos,' replied Marcellus,
huskily.  'You have not offended me.'

There was a long, constrained silence which no one seemed disposed
to break.  Stephanos rose.

'It is late,' he said.  'We should go.'

Marcellus held out his hand.

'I am glad you came, Stephanos,' he said, soberly.  'You are
welcome to come again. . . .  Demetrius, I shall see you here in
the morning.'

                         * * * * * *

Badly shaken and perplexed, Marcellus sat for an hour staring at
the wall.  At length, he was overcome by the day's fatigue.
Stretching out on his bed, he fell asleep.  Shortly before dawn he
was roused by hoarse cries and shrill screams accompanied by savage
commands and thudding blows.  It was not unusual, at an inn, to be
annoyed at almost any hour of the day by loud lamentations
signifying that some hapless kitchen-slave was being flogged; but
this pandemonium, which seemed to emanate from the courtyard below,
sounded as if the whole establishment was in trouble.

Marcellus pushed his long legs over the edge of his bed, walked to
the window, and looked down.  Instantly he knew what was happening.
Julian's threatened day of wrath had arrived.  A dozen legionaries,
in full battle equipment, were clubbing the household slaves into a
corner of the courtyard.  Evidently other troops were inside,
chasing their quarry out.  The entire lower floor was in confusion.
There were blows and protestations, scuffling of feet, splintering
of door-panels.  Presently there was a scurry of sandals on the
stairs.  Marcellus's door was thrown open.

'Who are you?' bawled a brutish voice.

'I am a Roman citizen,' replied Marcellus, coolly.  'And you would
do well, fellow, to show better manners when you enter the room of
a Tribune.'

'We have no manners to-day, sir,' retorted the legionary, with a
brief grin.  'We are searching for Christians.'

'Indeed!' growled Marcellus.  'And does Legate Julian think these
poor, harmless people are important enough to warrant all this
racket at daybreak?'

'The Legate does not tell me what he thinks, sir,' the legionary
retorted, 'and it is not customary for ordinary troops to ask him.
I am obeying orders, sir.  We are rounding up all the Christians in
the city.  You are not a Christian, and I am sorry I have disturbed
you.'  He was retreating into the hall.

'Stay!' shouted Marcellus.  'How do you know I am not a Christian?
Can't a Roman Tribune be a Christian?'

The legionary chuckled, shrugged, tugged off his heavy metal
helmet, and wiped his dripping forehead with a swipe of his rough
sleeve.

'I've no time for jesting, sir, if the Tribune will excuse me.'  He
resumed his helmet, saluted with his spear, and stamped down the
hall.

The cries outside were subsiding now.  Apparently the evacuation
had been completed.  A terrified group of slaves had huddled
against the area wall, nursing their bruises.  Apart from them a
little way stood a few shabbily clad, frightened guests.  The
ageing wife of Levi, the innkeeper, hovered close to them.  She was
pale, and her head kept jerking up involuntarily with some nervous
quirk.  Marcellus wondered whether she did that all the time or
only when she was badly scared.

The tall, handsome Centurion marched forward, faced the victims,
shouted for silence, drew out an impressive scroll to its full
length, and in a dry crackle read an edict.  It was pompously
phrased.  There was to be no further assembling of the blasphemers
who called themselves Christians.  There was to be no further
mention, in public or private, of the name of Jesus the Galilean,
who had been found guilty of treason, blasphemy, and offences
against the peace of Jerusalem.  This edict was to be considered
the first and last official warning.  Disobedience would be
punishable by death.

Rolling up the scroll, the Centurion barked an order, the
detachment stiffened, he stalked toward the street, they fell in
behind him.  After a moment, one old retainer, with blood oozing
through the sparse white hair on his temple and trickling down over
his bare shoulder, quietly crumpled into a shapeless heap.  A slave-
girl of twenty stooped over him and cried aloud.  A bearded Greek
bent down and listened with his ear against the old man's chest.
He rose and shook his head.  Four of them picked up the limp body
and moved off slowly toward the servants' quarters, most of the
others trudging dejectedly after them.  The innkeeper's wife turned
slowly about.  Her head was bobbing violently.  She pointed to a
fallen broom.  A limping slave with a crooked back took up the
broom and began ineffectively sweeping the tiled pavement.  Except
for him, the courtyard was empty now.  Marcellus turned away from
the window, scowling.

'Brave old Julian!' he muttered.  'Brave old Roman Empire!'

He finished his dressing and went below.  Levi met him at the foot
of the stairs with much bowing and fumbling of hands.  He hoped the
Tribune had not been disturbed by all the commotion.  And would he
have his breakfast served at once?  Marcellus nodded.

'We will have less trouble with these Christians now,' declared
Levi, to assure his Roman guest that his sympathies were with the
Insula.

'Had they been causing you trouble?' asked Marcellus, negligently.

Levi hunched his shoulders, spread out his upturned fingers, and
smirked.

'It is enough that their sect is in disfavour with the Government,'
he parried, discreetly.

'That wasn't what I asked you,' growled Marcellus.  'Have these
Christians, who were being knocked about here this morning, given
you any cause for complaint?  Do they steal, lie, fight?  Do they
get drunk?  Are they brawlers?  Tell me--what sort of people are
they?'

'In truth, sir,' admitted Levi, 'I cannot complain of them.  They
are quiet, honest, and faithful.  But, sir, as the Insula has
decreed, we cannot tolerate blasphemy!'

'Blasphemy?  Rubbish!' snarled Marcellus.  'What does the Insula
know or care about blasphemy?  What is it that these people
blaspheme, Levi?'

'They have no respect for the Temple, sir.'

'How could they, when the Temple has no respect for itself?'

Levi shrugged a polite disapproval, though he still smiled weakly.

'The religion of our people must be protected, sir,' he murmured,
piously.

Marcellus made a little grimace and sauntered out into the sunny
arcade where he found, laying his breakfast table, the slave-girl
who had been so deeply grieved over the old man's death in the
courtyard.  Her eyes were red with weeping, but she was going about
her duties competently.  She did not look up when Marcellus took
his seat.

'Was that old man related to you?' he asked, kindly.

She did not reply.  Sudden tears overflowed her eyes and ran down
her cheeks.  In a moment she moved away, obviously to return to the
kitchen for his breakfast.  Levi strolled toward his table.

'How was this girl related to the old man they killed?' asked
Marcellus.

'He was her father,' said Levi, reluctantly.

'And you are making her still serve the table?'

Levi's shoulders, elbows, eyebrows, and palms came up in a
defensive gesture.

'Well--it is her regular task, sir.  It is not my fault that her
father was killed.'

Marcellus rose, and regarded his host with cool contempt.

'And you prate about your religion!  What a mean fellow you are,
Levi!'  He strode toward the door.

'But, please, sir!' begged Levi.  'I myself shall serve you!  I am
sorry to have given offence!'  He toddled off toward the kitchen.
Marcellus, angrily returning to his table, wondered if the
loathsome creature would slap the girl for unwittingly creating an
awkward incident.

                         * * * * * *

Demetrius had risen at daybreak so that he might have time to do an
errand at the Ecclesia before going on to attend his master at the
inn.  He had tried to dress without waking his friend who, he knew,
had spent a restless night; but Stephanos roused and sat up,
rubbing his eyes.

'I'll see you this evening,' whispered Demetrius, as if his
companion were still asleep and shouldn't be wakened.  'Shall I
meet you here?'

'At the Ecclesia,' mumbled Stephanos.

'Thought you weren't going there any more.'

'I can't let good old Simon down, Demetrius.  He is alone, now that
the other disciples are away on missions.'

Tiptoeing out of the house, Demetrius walked rapidly toward the
Ecclesia, where he hoped to have a private word with Simon.  It had
seemed almost disloyal not to take counsel with Stephanos about
this, but Marcellus had insisted upon secrecy.  He wanted an
interview with Simon.  Demetrius was to arrange for it, if he
could.  There had been no opportunity to ask Simon, last night.
Perhaps he would have a better chance to see him alone this morning
before the day's activities began.

The Ecclesia was already astir.  Cots were being folded up and put
away to make room for tables.  Tousled, half-dressed children of
all sizes were racing about, babies were crying, old men were
crouching in out-of-the-way corners, scowling meditatively as they
stroked their patriarchal beards.  The women were bustling back and
forth between the kitchen at the rear and the breakfast tables
which their men were setting up.  Demetrius approached the nearest
group and inquired for Simon.  One of them glanced about, and
pointed.  Simon was standing by a window, quite apart from the
others, brooding over a tattered scroll.  Even in this relaxed
posture there was something majestic about this huge Galilean.  If
only he had a suitable setting and a courageous constituency,
thought Demetrius, Simon would have great weight.  The man was of
immense vitality and arresting personality, a natural leader.  Not
much wonder the people wanted him to lay his hands upon their sick.

Approaching, Demetrius waited to be recognized.  Simon glanced up,
nodded soberly, and beckoned to him.

'Sir, my master, Marcellus Gallio, earnestly desires a conversation
with you, at your convenience,' said Demetrius.

'He that went into Galilee with Justus?' queried Simon.  'To look
for homespun--or so he said.'

'My master did acquire a large quantity of homespun, sir,' said
Demetrius.

'And what else?' asked Simon, in his deep voice.

'He became much interested in the life of Jesus, sir.'

'I think he had that before he went,' rumbled Simon, studying
Demetrius's eyes.  'I think that was why he went.'

'Yes, sir,' conceded Demetrius.  'That was his real object in going
to Galilee.  He is deeply concerned--but full of questions.  At
present he is at Levi's inn.  May I tell him you will talk with
him, in private?'

'I will talk with him, on the morrow, at mid-afternoon,' said
Simon.  'And as he desires privacy, let him come to me in the
refuse-field, north of the city, the place they call Golgotha.
There is a path through the field which leads to a knoll in the
centre of it.'

'I know where it is, sir.'

'Then show him the way.  Bid him come alone.'  Simon rolled up the
scroll; and, inattentive to Demetrius's murmured thanks, walked
toward the tables.  There was a whispered demand for silence, and
the confusion ceased, except for the crying of a baby.  Those who
were seated rose.  In a powerful, resonant voice, Simon began to
read:

'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.  They
that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light shines.  For
unto us a child is born.  Unto us a son is given.  The government
shall be upon his shoulder.'

There was a clamour at the entrance, and all eyes turned
apprehensively.  Crisp commands were being shouted.  The frightened
people did not have long to wait in anxiety.  The doors burst open,
and a whole company of legionaries marched in, deploying fanwise as
they advanced.  With their spears held horizontally, breast-high,
they moved rapidly forward, pushing the terrified Christians before
them.  Some of the older ones fell down in their excitement.  They
were ruthlessly prodded to their feet and shoved on in the wake of
the scurrying pack that was massing against the rear wall.

Demetrius, who had remained near the window quite apart from the
residents, found himself in the position of a spectator.  The
troops swept on relentlessly.  Simon, a towering figure, stood his
ground.  He was alone, now, all the others having huddled at the
wall.  The Centurion shouted an order, and the company halted.  He
strode arrogantly toward Simon and faced him with a sardonic grin.
They were of the same height, both magnificent specimens of
manhood.

'Are you, then, the one they call The Fisherman?' demanded the
Centurion.

'I am!' answered Simon, boldly.  'And why are you here to break up
a peaceful assembly?  Has any one of us committed a crime?  If so,
let him be taken for trial.'

'As you wish,' snapped the Centurion.  'If you want to be tried for
blasphemy and treasonable utterances, the Procurator will
accommodate you. . . .  Take him away!'

Simon turned about and faced his desperate people.  'Be of good
cheer!' he shouted.  'Make no resistance!  I shall come back to
you!'

'That you will not!' broke in the Centurion.  In obedience to a
sharp command and a sweep of his sword, two burly legionaries
leaped forward, caught Simon by the arms, whirled him about, and
started for the door.  The company pressed forward toward the
defenceless crowd.  The Centurion called for silence.  Pale-faced
women nervously cupped their hands over the mouths of their
screaming children.  An edict was read.  By order of the
Procurator, there was to be no further assembling of the
blasphemers who called themselves Christians.

Demetrius began slowly edging his way along the wall in the
direction of the front door.  He caught fragments of the
Centurion's announcement.  This building was to be vacated
immediately.  Anyone found on the premises hereafter would be taken
into custody.  The name of Jesus, the blasphemer and traitor, was
never again to be spoken.

'Away with you now!' yelled the Centurion.  'Back to your homes!
and do not inquire for your Fisherman!  You will not see him any
more!'  As he neared the door, realizing that the speech had ended
and the troops would be promptly moving out, Demetrius speeded his
going, ran to the street and crossed it, dodged into a narrow
alley, pursued it to the next street, slowed to a brisk walk, and
proceeded to Levi's inn.  Everything was quiet there.  He entered
and moved toward the stairway leading to Marcellus's quarters.
Levi, observant, called him back.

'Your master is out,' he said.

'Do you know where he went, sir?' inquired Demetrius, anxiously.

'How should I?' retorted Levi.

Thinking that Marcellus might have left instructions in his room,
Demetrius asked and was granted permission to go upstairs.  A Greek
slave-girl was putting the room to rights.  She recognized him and
smiled shyly.  Informed of his errand, she joined in the search for
a message.

'Did you see my master this morning?' asked Demetrius.

She shook her head.

'We had much trouble here, a little while ago,' she said.

Demetrius pressed her for particulars, and she told him what had
occurred.  He went to the window and stood for a long moment,
looking out, trying to imagine what might be Marcellus's reaction
to this cruel business.  He would be very angry, no doubt.  He
would want to do something about it, perhaps.  It was not
inconceivable that Marcellus might go to Julian and remonstrate.
The more Demetrius deliberated on this possibility, the more
reasonable it seemed.  It would be an audacious thing to do, but
Marcellus was impetuous enough to attempt it.  After all, the word
of a Tribune should have some weight.

He turned about and met the Greek girl's eyes.  They were friendly
but serious.  Glancing cautiously toward the open door, she moved
closer to him and whispered, 'Are you one of us?'

Demetrius nodded soberly, and she gave him an approving smile.
With a sudden burst of interest in her duties, she began folding
and patting the blankets on the bed, as if suspicious that she
might be found idling.

'Better stay off the streets to-day,' she said, softly, out of the
corner of a pretty mouth.  'Go down to the kitchen.  You'll be safe
there.'

'Thanks,' said Demetrius.  'That's not a bad idea.  Besides, I'm
hungry.'  He was crossing the room.  The girl laid her hand on his
sleeve as he passed her.

'Does your master know you are one of us?' she whispered.

Demetrius was not sure how this question should be answered, so he
gave her an enigmatic smile which she was free to interpret as she
chose, and left the room.  The ever-present Levi met him at the
foot of the stairs and unexpectedly informed him that it was a fine
morning.

'Beautiful!' agreed Demetrius, aware that the Jew was sparring for
news.

'Had your master left instructions for you?' asked Levi, amiably.

'I am to have my breakfast, sir, and await his return.'

'Very good,' said Levi.  'Go to the kitchen.  They will serve you.
He followed as far as the door.  'I suppose everything was quiet on
the streets this morning.'

'It was still quite early, sir, when I left my lodgings,' replied
Demetrius, unhelpfully.

After his breakfast of bread, milk and sun-cured figs, he paced
restlessly up and down the small area bounded by the servants'
quarters.  Nobody seemed inclined to talk.  The girl who had served
him was crying.  He resolved to stroll over to the Insula and wait
outside.  Something told him that Marcellus was there.  Where else
could he be?

                         * * * * * *

Having finished his breakfast, which Levi himself had served with a
disgusting show of servility, Marcellus began to be apprehensive
about the safety of Demetrius, who, he felt, should have arrived by
this time unless he had encountered some trouble.

He did not know where Stephanos lived, but they could tell him at
Benyosef's shop.  Then it occurred to him that Benyosef's might
have been visited by the legionaries.  Doubtless they knew it was a
meeting-place of the disciples of Jesus, and might be expected to
deal severely with anyone found there.  Prudence suggested that he
keep out of that storm-centre.  If Demetrius had been arrested, it
would be sensible to wait until order had been restored.  Then he
could learn where his slave was, and make an effort to have him
released.

The obsequious Levi helped him to a decision.  Marcellus was
stalking up and down in the courtyard, feverishly debating what to
do, when the Jew appeared in the doorway, obviously much interested
in his guest's perturbation.  Levi did not say anything; just stood
there slowly blinking his brightly inquisitive eyes.  Then he
retreated into the little foyer and emerged a moment later carrying
a chair, as to say that if the Tribune knew what was good for him
to-day, he would stay where he was and avoid getting into trouble.
Marcellus scowled, lengthened his stride, and, without a backward
glance, marched down the steps to the street.

To reach Benyosef's shop, it was necessary to traverse a few blocks
on the rim of the congested market district where the shabby hovels
of the very poor huddled close to the reeking alleys.  Here there
was much excitement, frantic chatter, and gesticulations.
Marcellus slowed his steps near one vociferous group of slatternly
people and learned that the Christians' meeting-place had been
invaded, emptied, and locked up.  The leaders had been dragged off
to prison.  Simon the Fisherman was to be beheaded.

Marcellus quickened his pace.  A little way down the street, in the
vicinity of Benyosef's shop, a crowd had gathered.  At the edge of
it, apparently waiting for orders, ranged a company of legionaries,
negligently leaning on their spears.  Someone in the middle of the
crowd was making an impassioned speech.  In a moment Marcellus had
drawn close enough to recognize the voice.

It was Stephanos.  Bareheaded, and in the brown tunic he wore at
his loom, he had evidently been dragged out for questioning; and
from the sullen silence of the throng, it was to be inferred that
these people were willing to wait patiently until the reckless
Greek had incriminated himself.

Taller than most, Marcellus surveyed the spectators with curiosity
to discover what manner of men they were.  Instantly he divined the
nature of this audience.  They were well dressed, for the most
part, representing the more substantial element from the business
district.  There was a sprinkling of younger priests, too.  The
face of the crowd was surly, but everybody was listening in a tense
silence.

Stephanos was not mincing his words.  He stood there boldly, in the
open circle they had formed about him, his long arms stretched out
in an appeal to reason--but by no means an appeal for mercy.  He
was not defiant, but he was unafraid.

It was no rabble-rousing speech addressed to the emotions of
ignorant men, but a scathing indictment of Jerusalem's leaders who,
Stephanos declared, had been unwilling to recognize a cure for the
city's distresses.

'You have considered yourselves the Chosen People!' he went on,
audaciously.  'Your ancestors struggled out of one bondage into
another, century after century, ever looking for a Deliverer, and
never heeding your great teachers when they appeared with words of
wisdom!  Again and again, inspired leaders have risen among your
people, only to be thwarted and reviled--not by the poor and needy,
but by such as YOU!'

A concerted growl rumbled through the angry crowd.

'Which of the prophets,' demanded Stephanos, 'did your fathers not
persecute?  And now you have become the betrayers--and murderers--
of the Just One!'

'Blasphemer!' shouted an imperious voice.

'You!' exclaimed Stephanos, sweeping the throng with an accusing
hand, 'you, who claim to have received your law at the hands of
angels--how have YOU kept it?'

There was an infuriated roar, but no one moved to attack him.
Marcellus wondered how much longer the suppressed fury of these
maddened men would tolerate this rash excoriation.

From far back on the fringe of the crowd, someone hurled a
cobblestone.  It was accurately thrown and struck Stephanos on the
cheekbone, staggering him.  Instinctively he reached up a hand to
wipe away the blood.  Another stone, savagely hurled by a practised
hand, crashed against his elbow.  A loud clamour rose.  For an
instant, Marcellus hoped it might be a protest against this lawless
violence, but it was quickly evident that the hoarse shouts were in
denunciation of the speech, and not the stoning.  A vengeful yell
gave sinister applause to the good aim of another stone as it
struck the Greek full in the face.  Two more, not so well thrown,
went over Stephanos's head and drove into the crowd.  Trampling
upon one another, the dignitaries on the other side of the open
circle scurried for cover against the walls and fences.  Stephanos,
shielding his bleeding head with his arms, backed away slowly from
the hostile crowd, but the stones kept coming.

The Centurion barked an order now and the legionaries sprang into
action, ploughing roughly through the pack, tossing men right and
left, with utter disregard of their importance.  Marcellus, who had
been standing beside a tall soldier, followed him through, and was
surprised to see him jab his elbow into the face of a stocky priest
whose ponderous dignity hadn't permitted him to move swiftly
enough.  Now the legionaries were lined up inside the semicircle of
spectators.  They had made a fence of their spears.  The stones
were coming faster now, and with telling effect.  Marcellus began
to realize that this was no impulsive, impromptu incident.  The
better citizens were not throwing stones, but without doubt they
had planned that the stones should be thrown.  The men who were
doing it were expert.

Stephanos was down now, on his elbows and knees, trying to protect
his head with one bleeding hand.  The other arm hung limp.  The
crowd roared.  Marcellus recognized that bestial cry.  He had heard
it many a time in the Circus Maximus.  He pushed his way on to the
side of the tall legionary who, after a glance in his direction,
made room for him.

Several of the younger men in the shouting multitude now decided to
take a hand in the punishment.  The Centurion pretended not to
notice when they dodged under the barricade of spears.  Their faces
were deeply flushed and contorted with rage.  There was nothing
more they could do to Stephanos, who had crumpled on the ground,
but perhaps the stones they threw were to be merely tokens of their
willingness to share the responsibility for this crime.

Marcellus's heart ached.  There had been nothing he could do.  Had
Julian been there, he might have protested, but to have denounced
the Centurion would have done no good.  The fellow was obeying his
orders.  Poor Stephanos lay dead, or at least unconscious, but the
dignitaries continued to stone him.

Immediately in front of Marcellus, on the other side of the
barrier, stood a young, bookish man, wearing a distinctive skull-
cap with a tassel, evidently a student.  He was of diminutive
stature, but sturdily built.  His hands were clenched and his
rugged face was twisted with anger.  Every thudding stone that beat
upon the limp body had his approval.  Marcellus studied his livid
face, amazed that a man of his seeming intelligence could be so
viciously pleased by such an exhibition of inhuman brutality.

Presently a fat man in an expensive black robe, ducked through the
line, took off his robe, and tossed it to the short one, bidding
him hold it.  Another man of lofty dignity followed his friend in;
and, handing his robe also to the bow-legged scholar, began clawing
up a stone from the pavement.

Marcellus, towering over the short-legged fellow, leaned forward
and demanded, sternly, 'What harm had he done to YOU?'

The little man turned about and glanced up impudently into
Marcellus's eyes.  He was a malicious creature, but no fool.  It
was a face to be remembered.

'He is a blasphemer!' he shouted.

'How does the crime of blasphemy compare with murder?' growled
Marcellus.  'You seem to be a learned man.  Perhaps you know.'

'If you will come to the Rabbinical School to-morrow, my friend,'
replied the little man, suddenly cooled by the prospect of airing
his theology, 'I shall enlighten you.  Ask for Saul, of Tarsus,' he
added, proudly.  'I am a Roman citizen, like yourself, sir.'

There were no stones flying now.  The crowd was growing restless.
The young theologian handed back the robes he had held and was
shouldering out through the loosening throng.  The legionaries were
still maintaining their barricade, but were shifting their weight
uneasily as if impatient to be off.  The Centurion was soberly
talking, out of the corner of his mouth, to a long-bearded Jew in
an impressive black robe.  The multitude was rapidly dispersing.

Marcellus, with brooding eyes fixed on the broken body of the
gallant Greek, thought he saw a feeble movement there.  Stephanos
was slowly raising himself on one elbow.  A hush fell over the
people as they watched him rise to his knees.  The blood-smeared
face looked up, and the bruised lips were parted in a rapturous
smile.  Suddenly Stephanos raised his arm aloft as if to clutch a
friendly hand.

'I see him!' he shouted, triumphantly.  'I see him!  My Lord Jesus--
take me!'  The eyes closed, the head dropped, and Stephanos
crumpled down among the stones.

The spectators, momentarily stunned, turned to go.  Men did not
pause to ask questions.  They scurried away as if frightened.
Marcellus's heart was pounding and his mouth was dry.  But he found
himself possessed of a curious exaltation.  His eyes were swimming,
but his face trembled with an involuntary smile.

He turned about and looked into the bewildered eyes of the tall
legionary.

'That was a strange thing, sir!' muttered the soldier.

'More strange than you think!' exclaimed Marcellus.

'I would have sworn the Greek was dead!  He thought he saw someone
coming to rescue him!'

'He DID see someone coming to rescue him!' shouted Marcellus,
ecstatically.

'That dead Galilean, maybe?' queried the legionary, nervously.

'That Galilean is not dead, my friend!' declared Marcellus.  'He is
more alive than any man here!'

Thoroughly shaken, his lips twitching with emotion, Marcellus moved
away with the scattering crowd.  His mind was in a tumult.  At the
first corner, he turned abruptly and retraced his steps.  Nobody
was interested in Stephanos now.  The troops from the Insula, four
abreast, were disappearing down the street.  None of the friends of
the intrepid Greek had yet ventured to put in an appearance.  It
was too soon to expect any of them to take the risk.

Dropping to one knee beside the battered corpse, Marcellus gently
drew aside the matted hair and gazed into the impassive face.  The
lips were still parted in a smile.

After a long time, old Benyosef hobbled out of the shop.  His eyes
were red and swollen with weeping.  He approached diffidently,
halting a few steps away.  Marcellus looked up and beckoned to him
and he came, pale with fright.  Stooping over, with his wrinkled
hands bracing his feeble knees, he peered into the quiet face.
Then he searched Marcellus's eyes inquisitively, but without
recognition.

'It was a cruel death, sir,' he whimpered.

'Stephanos is not dead!' declared Marcellus.  'He went away with
Jesus!'

'I beg of you, do not mock our faith, sir!' pleaded Benyosef.
'This has been a sad day for us who believe in Jesus!'

'But did he not promise you that if you believe in him, you will
never die?'

Benyosef slowly nodded his head, staring into Marcellus's eyes
incredulously.

'Yes, but YOU do not believe that, sir!' he mumbled.

Marcellus rose and laid his hand on the old man's thin arm.

'Jesus may never come for me, Benyosef,' he said, quietly, 'and he
may never come for you--but he came for Stephanos!  Go, now, and
find a younger man to help me.  We will carry the body into your
shop.'

Still pale with fright, the neighbours gathered about the mangled
form of Stephanos as it lay on the long table in Benyosef's
workroom.  All were crying.  Rhoda's grief was inconsolable.  Some
of the men regarded Marcellus with suspicion that he might be there
to spy upon them.  It was no time to explain that he felt himself
one of them.  Presently he was aware of Demetrius at his elbow, and
importuned him to stay and be of service.

Taking Benyosef by the arm, he led the tearful old man into the
corner behind his loom.

'There is nothing I can do here,' he said, laying some gold coins
in the weaver's hands.  'But I have a request of you.  When Justus
comes again to Jerusalem, tell him I saw Stephanos welcomed into
Jesus' kingdom, and am persuaded that everything he told me, in
Galilee, is the truth.'

                         * * * * * *

It had been a long day for Simon, sitting there heavily manacled in
the darkness.  At noon they had brought him some mouldy bread and a
pitcher of water, but he had not eaten; he was too heartsick for
that.

For the first hour after his incarceration, derisive voices from
adjoining cells had demanded to know his name, his crime, and when
he was to die.  With noisy bravado, they jested obscenely about
their impending executions, and taunted him for being too scared to
speak.  He had not answered them, and at length they had wearied of
reviling him.

The wooden bench on which he sat served also as a bed.  It was
wider than the seat of a chair, and Simon could not rest his back
against the wall.  This unsupported posture was fatiguing.
Sometimes he stretched his huge frame out on the bench, but with
little ease.  The wall was damp, as was the floor.  Huge rats
nibbled at his sandals.  The heavy handcuffs cut his wrists.

He thought that he could have born these discomforts and the threat
of a death sentence with a better fortitude had he been able to
leave behind him a determined organization to carry on the work
that had been entrusted to him.  Obviously he had blundered.
Perhaps it had been a mistake to establish the Ecclesia.  Maybe the
time had not come for such a movement.  He had been too impatient.
He should have let it grow, quietly, unobtrusively, like yeast in
meal, as Jesus had said.

What, he wondered, would become of the Christian cause now, with
all of them scattered and in hiding?  Who would rise up as their
leader?  Philip?  No; Philip was a brave and loyal fellow, but he
lacked boldness.  The leader would have to be audacious.  John?
No.  James?  No.  They had the heart for it, but not the voice.
There was Stephen.  Stephen might do it--but not in Jerusalem.  The
Jews would insist on an Israelite, as perhaps they should; for the
Christian heritage was of the Hebrew people.

Why had the Master permitted this dreadful catastrophe?  Had he
changed his plans for the prosecution of his work?  Had he lost
confidence in the leader he had appointed?  Simon's memory
reconstructed the eventful day when Jesus had said to him, 'Simon--
I shall call you Peter, Peter the Rock!  I shall build on this
Rock!'  Simon closed his eyes and shook his head as he compared the
exultation of that moment with the utter hopelessness of his
present plight.

When night fell, a guard with a flickering torch noisily unlocked
each cell in turn and another replenished the water-pitcher.
Noting that his bread had not been eaten, the guard did not give
him any more; nor did he offer any comment.  Perhaps it was not
unusual for men, awaiting death, to take but little interest in
food.

At feeding time there had been much rattling of chains and
scuffling of feet, but everything was quiet now.  Simon grew
drowsy, sank back uncomfortably with his head and shoulders against
the old wall, and slept.  After a while, he found himself
experiencing a peculiar dream, peculiar in that it didn't seem like
a dream, though he knew it was, for it couldn't be real.  In his
dream, he roused, amazed to find that the manacles had slipped from
his hands and were lying open on the bench.  He lifted his foot.
The weight was gone.  He drew himself up and listened.  Everything
was quiet but the rhythmic breathing of his fellow prisoners.  He
had never had a dream of such keen vividness.

Simon stood up and stretched his long arms.  He took three or four
short steps toward the cell-door, slipping his sandals along the
stone floor as he felt his way in the darkness.  There was no sound
of the scuffing of his sandals on the flagging.  Except for this,
the dream was incredibly real.  He put out his hand and touched the
heavy, nail-studded door.  It noiselessly retreated.  He advanced
his hand to touch the door again.  It moved forward.  He took
another step--and another.  There had never been such a dream!
Simon was awake and could feel his heart pounding, and the rapid
pulse-beat in his neck; but he knew he was still asleep on the
bench.

He put his hand against the damp wall and moved on with cautious
steps that made no sound.  At the end of the long corridor, a
feeble light showed through the iron bars of a door.  As he neared
it the door swung open so slowly and noiselessly that Simon knew
the thing was unreal!  He walked through with firmer steps.  In the
dim light he saw two guards sitting on the floor, with their arms
around their knees and their heads bent forward in sleep.  They did
not stir.  He proceeded toward the massive entrance gates,
recognizing the ponderous lock that united them.  He expected his
dream to swing them open, but they had not moved.  He put his hand
on the cold metal, and pushed, but the heavy gates remained firm.

By this he knew that the dream was over, and he would rouse to find
himself manacled in his cell.  He was chilly.  He wrapped his robe
more tightly about him, surprised that he still had the unimpeded
use of his hands.  He glanced about, completely bewildered over his
strange mental condition.  Suddenly his eye lighted on a narrow
gate, set within one of the greater gates.  It was open.  Simon
stepped through, and it closed behind him without a sound.  He was
on the street.  He started to walk briskly.  At a crossing, he
stumbled against a kerb in the darkness.  Surely this rough jar
would waken him.  Simon stood still, looked up at the stars, and
laughed softly for joy.  He was awake!  He had been delivered from
prison!

What to do now?  Where to go?  With lengthened steps, he made his
way to Benyosef's, where all was dark.  He moved on to the home of
John Mark.  A frail light showed from an upstairs window.  He
tapped at the high wicket gate.  After a little delay, the small
window in the gate was opened and he saw the frightened face of
Rhoda.

She screamed and fled to the open house-door.

'It is Simon!' he heard her shout.  'Simon has returned from the
dead!'

Rushing back to the gate, she unbolted it and drew it open.  Her
eyes were swollen with weeping, but her face was enraptured.  She
threw her arms around Simon, hugging him fiercely.

'Simon!' she cried.  'Jesus has brought you back from death!  Did
you see Stephen?  Is he coming too?'

'Is Stephen dead, Rhoda?' asked Simon, sadly.

Her grip relaxed, and she collapsed into a dejected little figure
of hopeless grief.  Simon raised her up tenderly and handed her
over to Mark's mother.

'We heard they had killed you,' said Mark.

'No,' said Simon.  'I was delivered from prison.'

They moved slowly into the house, Rhoda weeping inconsolably.  The
place was crowded with Christians.  Their grieving eyes widened and
their drawn faces paled as Simon entered, for they had thought him
dead.  They made way for him in silence.  He paused in the midst of
them.  Some great experience had come to Simon.  He had taken on a
new dignity, a new power.  Slowly he raised his hand and they bowed
their heads.

'Let us pray,' said Peter the Rock.  'Blessed be God who has
revived our hope.  Though in great heaviness for a season, let us
rejoice that this trial of our faith--more precious than gold--will
make us worthy of honour when our Lord returns.'

                         * * * * * *

After walking up and down on the other side of the street facing
the Insula for an hour or more, Demetrius's anxiety overwhelmed his
patience.  He must have been mistaken in his surmise that Marcellus
would visit Julian himself on behalf of the persecuted Christians.

Abandoning his vigil, he made off rapidly for Benyosef's shop.
While still a long way off, he began meeting well-dressed, sullen-
faced men, apparently returning from some annoying experience.
When he saw the sunshine glinting on the shields of an approaching
military force, Demetrius dodged into an alley, and continued the
journey by a circuitous route.

In spite of the edict prohibiting any further assembly of
Christians, fully a score were crowded into the shop, silently
gathered about a dead body.  To his amazement, Demetrius saw his
master in the midst of the people, almost as if he were in charge.
He shouldered his way through the sorrowing group.  Rhoda was down
on her knees before the body, sobbing piteously.  It seemed very
unreal to find Stephanos, with whom he had talked only a few hours
ago, lying here broken and dead.

Marcellus had taken him aside, when he had regained his composure.

'You remain with them, Demetrius,' he had said.  'Assist them with
the burial.  My presence here is an embarrassment.  They cannot
account for my interest, and are suspicious.  I am going back to
the inn.'

'Did you see this happen, sir?' Demetrius had asked.

'Yes.'  Marcellus drew closer and said confidentially, 'And much
more happened than appears here!  I shall tell you--later.'

After they had put poor Stephanos away--and no one had molested
them while on their errand--Demetrius had returned home with John
Mark, thinking he would be free presently to rejoin Marcellus at
the inn.  But Mark's mother, Mary, and Rhoda, too, had insisted so
urgently on his remaining with them that he dared not refuse.  When
their unwanted supper had been disposed of and darkness had fallen,
friends of the family began to arrive singly and by twos and threes
until the lower rooms were filled.  No one acted as spokesman for
the pensive party.  There was much low-voiced conversation about a
vision that appeared to Stephen before he died, but none of them
had been close enough to know exactly what had happened.  Demetrius
had not attached much significance to the rumours.  The only one
who felt confident was Rhoda.

And then, to the astonishment of everyone, Simon had arrived; a
more important, more impressive figure than he had been before.  He
seemed reluctant to tell the details of his release from prison;
but, by whatever process that had come to pass, the experience had
fortified Simon.  He even seemed taller.  They all felt it, and
were shy about initiating conversation with him; hesitant about
asking questions.  Oddly enough, he had quietly announced that
henceforth they should call him Peter.

Beckoning John Mark apart, Demetrius had suggested that they ask
Simon Peter to lodge there.  As for himself, he would cheerfully
surrender his room and return to the inn.  So it had been arranged
that way and Demetrius had slipped out unobtrusively.  It was
nearing midnight when he tapped at Marcellus's door, finding him
awake and reading.  They had talked in whispers until daybreak,
their master-slave relationship completely ignored in their earnest
discussion of the day's bewildering experiences.

'I too am a Christian!' Marcellus had declared, when he had
finished his account of the stoning of Stephanos, and it seemed to
Demetrius that the assertion had been made with more pride than he
had ever put into 'I am a Roman!'  It was very strange, indeed,
this complete capitulation of Marcellus Gallio to a way of belief
and behaviour so foreign from his training and temperament.

Early in the afternoon, Demetrius accompanied him to the edge of
the disreputable field that was called Golgotha.  They were quiet
as they approached it.  Acrid smoke curled lazily from winnows of
charred refuse.  In the distance a grass-covered knoll appeared as
a green oasis in a desert.

'Do you remember the place, sir?' asked Demetrius, halting.

'Vaguely,' murmured Marcellus.  'I'm sure I couldn't have found it.
Is it clear in your memory, Demetrius?'

'Quite so.  I came late.  I could see the crosses from here, and
the crowd.'

'What was I doing when you arrived?' asked Marcellus.

'You and the other officers were casting dice.'

'For the robe?'

'Yes, sir.'

Neither spoke for a little while.

'I did not see the nailing, Demetrius,' said Marcellus, thickly.
'Paulus pushed me away.  I was glad enough to escape the sight.  I
walked to the other side of the knoll.  It has been a bitter
memory, I can tell you.'

'Well, sir,' said Demetrius, 'here is the path.  I shall wait for
you at the inn.  I hope you will not be disappointed, but it seems
unlikely that Simon Peter would try to keep his appointment.'

'He will come, I think,' predicted Marcellus.  'Simon Peter is
safer from arrest to-day than he was yesterday.  Both the Insula
and the Temple have tried to convince the public that the
Christians have no legal or moral sanction for their beliefs.
Having captured their leader, with the expectation of making a
tragic example of him, they are now stunned by the discovery that
their victim has walked out of prison.  Neither Julian nor Herod
will want to undertake an explanation of that event.  I think they
will decide that the less said or done now, in the case of The Big
Fisherman, the better it will be for everybody concerned.  I fully
expect Simon Peter will meet me here--unless, in all the confusion,
he has forgotten about it.'

                         * * * * * *

Peter had not forgotten.  Marcellus saw him coming, a long way off,
marching militantly with head up and a swinging stride that
betokened a confident mind.  The man had leadership, reflected the
admiring watcher.

As The Big Fisherman neared the grassy knoll, however, his steps
slowed and his shoulders slumped.  He stopped and passed an
unsteady hand over his massive forehead.  Marcellus rose and
advanced to meet him as he mounted the slight elevation with
plodding feet.  Peter extended his huge hand, but did not speak.
They sat down on the grass near the deep pits where the crosses had
stood, and for a long time they remained in silence.

At length, Peter roused from his painful meditation and glanced at
Marcellus with heavy eyes, which drifted back to the ground.

'I was not here that day,' rumbled the deep, throaty voice.  'I did
not stand by him in the hour of his anguish.'  Peter drew a deep
sigh.

Marcellus did not know what to say, or whether he was expected to
say anything.  The big Galilean sat ruefully studying the palms of
his hands with a dejection so profound that any attempt to relieve
it would have been an impertinence.  Now he regarded Marcellus with
critical interest, as if noting him for the first time.

'Your Greek slave told me you were interested in the story of
Jesus,' he said, soberly.  'And it has come to me that you were of
friendly service, yesterday, when our brave Stephen was taken away.
Benyosef thought he heard you profess the faith of a Christian.  Is
that true, Marcellus Gallio?'

'I am convinced, sir,' said Marcellus, 'that Jesus is divine.  I
believe that he is alive, and of great power.  But I have much to
learn about him.'

'You have already gone far with your faith, my friend!' said Peter,
warmly.  'As a Roman, your manner of living has been quite remote
from the way of life that Jesus taught.  Doubtless you have done
much evil, for which you should repent if you would know the
fullness of his grace.  But I could not ask you to repent until I
had told you of the wrongs which I have done.  Whatever sins you
may have committed, they cannot compare to the disloyalty for which
I have been forgiven.  He was my dearest friend--and, on the day
that he needed me, I swore that I had never known him.'

Peter put his huge hands over his eyes and bowed his head.  After a
long moment he looked up.

'Now,' he said, 'tell me how much you know about Jesus.'

Marcellus did not immediately reply, and when he did so, his words
were barely audible.  He heard himself saying, as if someone else
were speaking:

'I crucified him.'

                         * * * * * *

The sun was low when they rose to return to the city.  In those two
hours, Marcellus had heard the stirring details of a story that had
come to him previously in fragments and on occasions when his mind
was unprepared to appreciate them.

They had found a strange kinship in their remorse, but Peter, fired
by his inspiring recollections of the Master-man, had declared it
was the future that must concern them now.  He had daring plans for
his own activities.  He was going to Caesarea, to Joppa--perhaps to
Rome!

'And what will you do, Marcellus?' he asked, in a tone of
challenge.

'I am going home, sir.'

'To make your report to the Emperor?'

'Yes, sir.'

Peter laid his big hand heavily on Marcellus's knee and earnestly
studied his eyes.

'How much are you going to tell him--about Jesus?' he demanded.

'I am going to tell the Emperor that Jesus, whom we thought dead,
is alive, and that he is here to establish a new kingdom.'

'It will take courage to do that, my young brother!  The Emperor
will not like to hear that a new kingdom is coming.  You may be
punished for your boldness.'

'Be that as it may,' said Marcellus, 'I shall have told him the
truth.'

'He will ask you how you know that Jesus lives.  What will you
say?'

'I shall tell him of the death of Stephanos, and the vision that he
had.  I am convinced that he saw Jesus!'

'Emperor Tiberius will want better proof than that.'

Marcellus was silently thoughtful.  It was true, as Peter had said,
such testimony would have very little weight with anyone
disinclined to believe.  Tiberius would scoff at such evidence, as
who would not?  Senator Gallio would say, 'You saw a dying man
looking at Jesus.  How do you know that is what he saw?  Is this
your best ground of belief that your Galilean is alive?  You say he
worked miracles; but you, personally, didn't see any.'

'Come,' said Peter, getting to his feet.  'Let us go back to the
city.'

They strode along with very little to say, each immersed in his
thoughts.  Presently they were in the thick of city traffic.  Peter
had said he was going back to John Mark's house.  Marcellus would
return to the inn.  Now they were passing the Temple.  The sun was
setting and the marble steps, throughout the day swarming with
beggars, were almost deserted.

One pitiful cripple, his limbs twisted and shrunken, sat dejectedly
on the lowest step, waggling his basin and hoarsely croaking for
alms.  Peter slowed to a stop.  Marcellus had moved on, a little
way, but drifted back when he observed that Peter and the beggar
were talking.

'How long have you been this way, friend?' Peter was saying.

'Since my birth, sir,' whined the beggar.  'For God's sake, an
alms!'

'I have no money,' confessed Peter; then, impulsively, he went on,
'but such as I have I give you!'  Stretching out both hands to the
bewildered, cripple, he commanded, 'In the name of Jesus, stand up,
and walk!'  Grasping his thin arms, he tugged the beggar to his
feet--and he stood!  Amazed--and with pathetic little whimpers,
half-laughing, half-crying, he slipped his sandals along the
pavement; short, uncertain, experimental steps--but he was walking.
Now he was shouting!

A crowd began to gather.  Men of the neighbourhood who recognized
the beggar were pushing in to ask excited questions.  Peter took
Marcellus by the arm and they moved on, walking for some distance
in silence.  At length Marcellus found his voice, but it was shaky.

'Peter!  How did you do that?'

'By the power of Jesus' spirit.'

'But the thing's impossible!  The fellow was born crippled!  He had
never taken a step in his life!'

'Well, he will walk now,' said Peter, solemnly.

'Tell me, Peter!' entreated Marcellus.  'Did you know you had this
power?  Have you ever done anything like this before?'

'No, not like this,' said Peter.  'I am more and more conscious of
his presence.  He dwells in me.  This power--it is not mine,
Marcellus.  It is his spirit.'

'Perhaps he will not appear again--except in men's hearts,' said
Marcellus.

'Yes!' declared Peter.  'He will dwell in men's hearts--and give
them the power of his spirit.  But--that is not all!  HE WILL COME
AGAIN!'



Chapter XX


It was common knowledge that Rome had the noisiest nights of any
city in the world, but one needed a quiet year abroad to appreciate
this fully.

Except for the two celebrated avenues intersecting at the Forum--
the Via Sacra and the Via Novo--which were grandly laid with smooth
blocks of Numidian marble, all the principal thoroughfares were
paved with cobblestones ranging in size from plums to pomegranates.

To relieve the congestion in these cramped, crooked streets and
their still narrower tributaries, an ordinance (a century old)
prohibited the movement of market-carts, delivery waggons, or any
other vehicular traffic from sunrise to sunset, except imperial
equipages and officially sanctioned parades on festal occasions.

Throughout the daylight hours, the business streets were gorged
with jostling crowds on foot, into which the more privileged
ruthlessly rode their horses or were borne on litters and portable
chairs; but when twilight fell, the harsh rasp and clatter of heavy
iron wheels grinding the cobblestones set up a nerve-racking
cacophony, accompanied by the agonized squawk of dry axles, the
cracking of whips, and the shrill quarrels of contenders for the
right of way; nor did this maddening racket cease until another day
had dawned.  This was every night, the whole year round.

But the time to see and hear Rome at her utmost was during the full
of a summer moon when much building construction was in progress,
and everybody who had anything to haul took advantage of the light.
Unable to sleep, thousands turned out in the middle of the hideous
night to add their jostling and clamour to the other jams and
confusions.  Shopkeepers opened up to serve the meandering
insomniacs with sweets and beverages.  Hawkers barked their
catchpenny wares; minstrels twanged their lyres and banged their
drums; bulging camel-trains doggedly plodded through the protesting
throng, trampling toes and tearing tunics; great waggons loaded
with lumber and hewn stone ploughed up the multitude, pitching the
furrows against the walls and into open doorways.  All nights in
Rome were dreadful, and the more beautiful nights were dangerous.

Long before their galley from Ostia had rounded the bend that
brought the city into full view on that bright June midnight of
their home-coming, Marcellus heard the infernal din as he had never
heard it before; heard it as no one could hear it without the
preparation of a month's sailing on a placid summer sea.

The noise had a new significance.  It symbolized the confounded
outcry of a competitive world that had always done everything the
hard way, the mean way, and had very little to show for its sweat
and passion.  It knew no peace, had never known peace, and
apparently didn't want any peace.

Expertly the galley slipped into its snug berth, to be met by a
swarm of yelling porters.  Demetrius, one of the first passengers
over the rail, returned in a moment with a half-dozen swarthy
Thracians who made off with their abundant luggage.  Engaging
another port-waggon for themselves, the travellers were soon
swallowed up in a bedlam of tangled traffic through which they
crept along until Marcellus, weary of the delay, suggested that
they should pay off the driver and continue on foot.

He had forgotten how insufferably rude and cruel the public could
be.  Massed into a solid pack, it had no intelligence.  It had no
capacity to understand how, if everyone calmly took his turn, some
progress might be made.  Even the wild animals around a water-hole
in the jungle had more sense than this surly, selfish, shoving mob.

Marcellus's own words, spoken with such bland assurance to the
cynical Paulus, flashed across his mind and mocked him.  The
kingdom of good will, he had declared, would not come into being at
the top of society.  It would not be handed down from a throne.  It
would begin with the common people.  Well, here were your common
people!  Climb up on a cart, Marcellus, and tell the common people
about good will.  Admonish them to love one another, aid one
another, defer to one another; and so fulfil the law of Christ.
But look out! or they will pelt you with filth from the gutters,
for the common people are in no mood to be trifled with.

                         * * * * * *

The reunion of the Gallio family, an hour later, was one of the
happiest experiences of their lives.  When Marcellus had left home
a year ago, shaky, emaciated, and mentally upset, the three who
remained mourned for him almost as if he were dead.  True, there
had been occasional brief letters assuring them that he was well,
but there was a conspicuous absence of details concerning his
experiences and only vague intimations of a desire to come home.
Between the lines they read, with forebodings, that Marcellus was
still in a state of mental upheaval.  He had seemed very far away,
not only in miles but in mind.  The last letter they had received
from him, a month ago, had said, in closing, 'I am trailing an
elusive mystery for the Emperor.  Mysteries are his recreation.
This one may turn out to be something more serious than a mere
pastime.'  The Senator had sighed and shaken his head as he slowly
rolled up the scroll.

But now Marcellus had come back as physically fit as a gladiator,
mentally alert, free of his despondency, in possession of his
natural zest and enthusiasm.

And something else had been added, something not easy to define, a
curious radiance of personality.  There was a new strength in
Marcellus, a contagious energy that vitalized the house.  It was in
his voice, in his eyes, in his hands.  His family did not at first
ask him what this new thing was, nor did they let him know that it
was noticeable; neither did they discuss it immediately with one
another.  But Marcellus had acquired something that gave him
distinction.

The Senator had been working late in his library.  He had finished
his task, had put away his writing materials, and had risen from
his desk-chair, when he heard confident footsteps.

Leaving Demetrius in the driveway to await the arrival of their
luggage, Marcellus--joyfully recognized by the two old slaves on
guard at the front door--had walked swiftly through to the spacious
atrium.  His father's door was partly open.  Bursting in on him
unceremoniously, he threw his arms around him and hugged him
breathless.  Although the Senator was tall and remarkably virile
for his years, the Tribune's overwhelming vitality completely
engulfed him.

'My son!  My son!' Gallio quavered, fervently.  'You are well
again!  Strong again!  Alive again!  The gods be praised!'

Marcellus pressed his cheek against his father's and patted him on
the back.

'Yes, sir!' he exclaimed.  'More alive than ever!  And you, sir,
grow more handsome every day!  How proud I am to be your son!'

Lucia, in her room, suddenly stirred in her sleep, sat up wide-
awake, listened, tossed aside the silk covers, listened again with
an open mouth and a pounding heart.

'Oh!' she called.  'Tertia!  My robe!  Tertia!  Wake up!  Hurry!
My sandals!  Marcellus is here!'  Racing down to the library, she
threw herself into her brother's arms, and when he had lifted her
off her feet and kissed her, she cried, 'Dear Marcellus--you are
well!'

'And you, my sweet, are beautiful!  You have grown up, haven't
you?'  He lightly touched her high coronet of glossy black hair
with caressing fingers.  'Lovely!'

The Senator put his arms around both of them, to their happy
surprise, for it was not his custom to be demonstrative with his
affection.

'Come,' he said gently.  'Let us go to your mother.'

'It is very late,' said Marcellus.  'Should we waken her?'

'Of course!' insisted Lucia.

They crowded through the doorway, arm in arm.  In the dimly lit
atrium, a little group of the older servants had assembled, tousled
and sleepy, their anxious eyes wondering what to expect of the son
and heir who, on his last visit home, had been in such a
distressing state of mind.

'Ho!  Marcipor!' shouted Marcellus, grasping the outstretched hand.
'Hi!  Decimus!'  It wasn't often that the stiff and taciturn butler
unbent, but he beamed with smiles as he thrust out his hand.  'How
are you, Tertia!' called Marcellus to the tall, graceful girl
descending the stairs.  They all drew in closer.  Old Servius was
patted on the shoulder, and the wrinkled, toothless mouth chopped
tremulously while the tears ran unchecked.

'Welcome!  Welcome!' the old man shrilled.  'The gods bless you,
sir!'

'Ah, Lentius!' hailed Marcellus.  'How are my horses?'  And when
Lentius had made bold to reply that Ishtar had a filly, three
months old--which made them all laugh merrily as if this were a
good joke on somebody--Marcellus sent them into another gale of
laughter by demanding, 'Bring in the colt, Lentius!  I must see her
at once!'

There were more than a score of slaves gathered in the atrium now,
all of them full of happy excitement.  There had never been such an
utter collapse of discipline in the Gallio household.  Long-time
servants, accustomed to moving about soberly and on tiptoe, heard
themselves laughing hilariously--laughing here in the atrium!
laughing in the presence of the Senator!  And the Senator was
smiling too!

Marcellus was brightening their eyes with his ready recognition,
calling most of them by name.  A pair of pretty Macedonian twins
arrived, hand in hand, dressed exactly alike; practically
indistinguishable.  He remembered having had a glimpse of them, two
years ago, but had forgotten their names.  He looked their way, and
so did everyone else, to their considerable embarrassment.

'Are you girls sisters?' he inquired.

This was by far the merriest thing that anyone had said, and the
atrium resounded with full-throated appreciation.

'Decimus!' shouted the Senator, and the laughter ceased.  'You will
serve supper!  In an hour!  In the banquet-room!  With the gold
service!  Marcipor! let all the lamps be lighted!  Throughout the
villa!  And the gardens!'

Marcellus brushed through the scattering crowd and bounded up the
stairs.  Cornelia met him in the corridor, outside her door, and he
gathered her hungrily into his arms.  They had no adequate words
for each other; just stood there, clinging together, Cornelia
smoothing his close-cropped hair with her soft palm and sobbing
like a child, while the Senator, with misty eyes, waited a little
way apart, fumbling with the silk tassels on his broad sash.

Her intuition suggesting that Marcellus and their emotional mother
might need a quiet moment alone together, Lucia had tarried at the
foot of the staircase for a word with Decimus about the supper.
All the other servants had scurried away to their duties, their
very sandal-straps confiding in excited whispers that this was a
happy night and that it was good to be there.

'Not too much food, Decimus,' Lucia was saying.  'Some fresh fruit
and cold meats and wine--and a nut-cake if there is one.  But don't
cook anything.  It is late, and the Senator will be tired and
sleepy before you have time to prepare an elaborate dinner.  Serve
it in the big dining-room, as he said, and use the gold plate.  And
tell Rhesus to cut an armful of roses--red ones.  And let the twins
serve my brother.  And--'

With suddenly widened eyes, she sighted Demetrius--tall, tanned,
serious, and handsome--entering the atrium.  Dismissing the butler
with a brief nod, Lucia held her arm high and waved a welcome, her
flowing sleeve baring a shapely elbow.  Decimus, keenly observant,
scowled his displeasure and stalked stiffly away.

Advancing with long strides, Demetrius came to a military halt
before her, bowed deferentially, and was slowly bringing up his
spear-shaft to his forehead in the conventional salute when Lucia
stepped forward impulsively, laying both hands on his bronzed arms.

'All thanks, good Demetrius,' she said, softly.  'You have brought
Marcellus home, well and strong as ever.  Better than ever!'

'No thanks are due me for that,' he rejoined.  'The Tribune needed
no one to bring him home.  He is fully master of himself now.'
Demetrius raised his eyes and regarded her with frank admiration.
'May I tell the Tribune's sister how very--how very well she is
looking?'

'Why not, if you think so?'  Lucia, toying with her amber beads,
gave him a smile that was meant to be non-committal.  'There is no
need to ask how you are, Demetrius.  Have you and the Tribune had
some exciting experiences?'  Her eyes were wincingly exploring a
long, new scar on his upper arm.  He glanced down at it with a
droll grin.  'How did you get that awful cut?' she asked,
squeamishly.

'I met a Syrian,' said Demetrius.  'They are not a very polite
people.'

'I hope you taught him some of the gentle manners of the Greeks,'
drawled Lucia.  'Tell me--did you kill him?'

'You can't kill a Syrian,' said Demetrius, lightly.  'They die only
of old age.'

Lucia's little shrug said they had had enough of this banter and
her face slowly sobered to a thoughtful frown.

'What has happened to my brother?' she asked.  'He seems in such
extraordinarily high spirits.'

'He may want to tell you--if you give him time.'

'You're different, too, Demetrius.'

'For the better, I hope,' he parried.

'Something has expanded you both,' declared Lucia.  'What is it?
Has Marcellus been elevated to a more responsible command?'

Demetrius nodded enthusiastically.

'Will his new assignment take him into danger?' she asked, suddenly
apprehensive.

'Oh, yes, indeed!' he answered, proudly.

'He doesn't appear to be worrying much about it.  I never saw him
so happy.  He has already turned the whole villa upside-down with
his gaiety.'

'I know.  I heard them.'  Demetrius grinned.

'I hope it won't spoil them,' she said, with dignity.  'They aren't
used to taking such liberties; though perhaps it will not hurt--to
have it happen--this once.'

'Perhaps not,' said Demetrius, dryly.  'It may not hurt them--to be
really happy--this once.'

Lucia raised her brows.

'I am afraid you don't understand,' she remarked, coolly.

'I'm afraid I do,' he sighed.  'Had you forgotten that I too am a
slave?'

'No.'  She gave a little toss of her head.  'But I think YOU have.'

'I did not mean to be impudent,' he said, contritely.  'But what we
are talking about is very serious, you know; discipline, slavery,
mastery, human relations--and who has a right to tell others when
they may be happy.'

Lucia searched his face with a frown.

'Well, I hope my brother's genial attitude towards our servants is
not going to make us lose our control of this house!' she snapped,
indignantly.

'It need not,' said Demetrius.  'He believes in a little different
kind of control, that is all.  It is much more effective, I think,
than controlling by sharp commands.  More pleasant for everybody,
and, besides, you get better service.'

Marcellus was calling to her from the head of the stairs.

'I am sorry I spoke impatiently, Demetrius,' she said, as she moved
away.  'We are so glad you are home again.'

He met her level eyes and they smiled.  He raised his spear-shaft
to salute.  She pursed her lips, shook her head, and made a
negligent gesture.

'Never mind the salute,' she said, 'for once.'

Marcipor, who had been lingering impatiently in the alcove, waiting
for this conversation to end, came forward as Lucia disappeared up
the stairway.  He fell into step with Demetrius and they strolled
out through the peristyle into the moonlight.

'It is amazing--how he has recovered!' said Marcipor.  'What
happened to him?'

'I shall tell you fully when there is an opportunity; later to-
night, if possible.  Marcellus has become an ardent believer.  He
toured through Galilee--'

'And you?' asked Marcipor.  'Were you not with him?'

'Only part of the time.  I spent many weeks in Jerusalem.  I have
much to tell you about that.  Marcipor, the Galilean is alive!'

'Yes, we have heard that.'

'"We"? and who are "we"?'  Demetrius took hold of Marcipor's arm
and drew him to a sudden halt.

'The Christians in Rome,' replied Marcipor, smiling at his friend's
astonishment.

'Has it then come to Rome--so soon?'

'Many months ago--brought by merchants from Antioch.'

'And how did you find out?'

'It was being whispered about in the markets.  Decimus, who is
forever deriding the Greeks, was pleased to inform me that certain
superstitious traders from Antioch had brought the report of a
Jewish carpenter who had risen from the dead.  Remembering what you
had told me about this man, I was devoured with curiosity to hear
more of it.'

'And you found the men from Antioch?' encouraged Demetrius.

'The next day.  They were quite free to talk, and their story
sounded convincing.  They had had it from an eye-witness of many
astounding miracles--one Philip.  Seeking to confirm it, several of
them went to Jerusalem, where they talked with other men who had
seen this Jesus after his death--men whose word they trusted.  All
that--added to what you had reported--gave me cause to believe.'

'So you are a Christian!'  Demetrius's eyes shone.  'You must tell
the Tribune.  He will be delighted!'

Marcipor's face grew suddenly grave.

'Not yet, Demetrius.  My course is not clear.  Decimus made it his
business to inform the Senator of this new movement, describing it
as a revolution against lawful authority.'

'Has the Senator done anything about it?'

'Not that I know of, but is it not natural that his feeling toward
the Christians should be far from complacent?  He associates all
this with his son's misfortunes.  Now, if Marcellus is told that we
have a large body of believers here in Rome, he might impetuously
throw himself into it.  That would be dangerous.  The Christians
are keeping under cover.  Already the patrols are beginning to make
inquiries about their secret meetings.  We must not cause a breach
between Marcellus and his father.'

'Very well, Marcipor,' agreed Demetrius.  'We will not tell the
Tribune, but he will find it out; you may be sure of that.  And as
for estrangement, it is inevitable.  Marcellus will not give up his
belief, and it is quite unlikely that the Senator could be
persuaded of its truth.  Old men do not readily change their
opinions.  However, this new cause cannot wait, Marcipor, until all
the opinionated old men have approved of it.  This story of Jesus
is our only hope that freedom and justice may come.  And if it is
to come, at all, it must begin now!'

'I believe that,' said Marcipor, 'but still, I shouldn't like to
see Marcellus offend his father.  The Senator is not going to live
long.'

'There was just such a case reported to Jesus,' said Demetrius.  'I
had this from a Galilean who heard the conversation.  A young man,
very much impressed that it was his duty to come out openly for
this new way of life, said to Jesus, "My father is an old man, sir,
with old views.  This new religion is an offence to him.  Let me
first bury my father, and then I shall come--and follow."'

'That sounds reasonable,' put in Marcipor, who was sixty-seven.

'Jesus didn't think so,' went on Demetrius.  'It was high time for
a drastic change in men's belief and behaviour.  The new message
couldn't wait for the departure of old men with old views.  Indeed,
these old men were already dead.  Let them be buried by other dead
ones.'

'Did he say that?' queried Marcipor.

'Well, something like that.'

'Sounds rather rough to me, coming from so gentle a person.'

Demetrius slipped his hand affectionately through the older
Corinthian's arm.

'Marcipor, let us not make the mistake of thinking that, because
this message of Jesus concerns peace and good will, it is a soft
and timid thing that will wait on every man's convenience, and
scurry off the road, to hide in the bushes, until all other things
go by!  The people who carry this torch are going to get into
plenty of trouble.  They are already being whipped and imprisoned!
Many have been slain!'

'I know, I know,' murmured Marcipor.  'One of the traders from
Antioch told me of seeing a young Greek stoned to death by a mob in
Jerusalem.  Stephanos was his name.  Did you, by any chance, know
him?'

'Stephanos,' said Demetrius, sadly, 'was my closest friend.'

                         * * * * * *

Marcellus had not finished his breakfast when Marcipor came in to
say that Senator Gallio was in his library and would be pleased to
have a talk with the Tribune at his early convenience.

'You may tell the Senator that I shall be down in a few minutes,'
said Marcellus.

He would have preferred to postpone, for a few days, this serious
interview with his father.  It would be very difficult for the
Senator to listen to his strange story with patience or respect.
For some moments Marcellus sat staring out of the open window,
while he absently peeled an orange that he didn't intend to eat,
and tried to decide how best to present the case of Jesus the
Galilean; for, in this instance, he would be more than an advocate.
Marcellus would be on trial, too.

Marcus Lucan Gallio was not a contentious man.  His renown as a
debater in the Senate had been earned by diplomacy; by his knowing
when and how much to concede, where and whom to appease, and the
fine art of conciliation.  He never doggedly pursued an argument
for vanity's sake.  But he was proud of his mental morality.

If, for example, he became firmly convinced that at all times and
everywhere water seeks a level, there would be no use in coming to
him with the tale that on a certain day, in a certain country, at
the behest of a certain man, water was observed to run uphill.  He
had no time for reports of events which disregarded natural laws.
As for 'miracles,' the very word was offensive.  He had no
tolerance for such stories and not much more tolerance for persons
who believed in them.  And because, in his opinion, all religions
were built on faith in supernatural beings and supernatural doings,
the Senator was not only contemptuous of religion, but admitted a
candid distaste for religious people.  Anybody who went in for such
beliefs was either ignorant or unscrupulous.  If a man, who had any
sense at all, became a religious propagandist, he needed watching;
for, obviously, he meant to take advantage of the feeble-minded,
who would trust him because of his piety.  Some people, according
to Senator Gallio, seemed to think that a pious man was inevitably
honest, whereas the facts would show that piety and integrity were
categorically irrelevant.  It was quite proper for old Servius to
importune his gods.  One could even forgive old Tiberius for his
consuming interest in religion, seeing that he was half crazy.  But
there was no excuse for such nonsense in a healthy, educated man.

Marcellus had been treated with deep sympathy when he had come home
a year ago.  He had suffered a great shock and his mind was
temporarily unbalanced.  He couldn't have said anything too
preposterous for his father's patience.  But now he was sound in
body and mind.  He would tell the Senator this morning an amazing
story of a man who had healed all manner of diseases; a man who,
having been put to death on a cross, rose from his grave to be seen
of many witnesses.  And this would undoubtedly make the Senator
very angry--and disgusted.  'Bah!' he would shout.  'Nonsense!'

                         * * * * * *

This forecast of his father's probable attitude had been
appallingly accurate.  It turned out to be a very unhappy
interview.  From almost the first moment, Marcellus sensed strong
opposition.  He had decided to begin his narrative with Jesus'
unjust trials and crucifixion, hoping thus to enlist the Senator's
sympathy for the persecuted Galilean, but he was not permitted to
build up his case from that point.

'I have heard all that, my son,' said Gallio, crisply.  'You need
not review it.  Tell me of the journey you made into the country
where this man lived.'

So, Marcellus had told of his tour with Justus; of little Jonathan,
whose crippled foot had been made strong; of Miriam, who had been
given a voice; of Lydia, who had found healing by a touch of his
robe; of old Nathanael Bartholomew, and the storm at sea--while his
father gazed steadily at him from under shaggy, frowning brows,
offering no comments and asking no questions.

At length he had arrived at the phase of the story where he must
talk of Jesus' return to life.  With dramatic earnestness he
repeated everything that they had told him of these reappearances,
while the lines about the Senator's mouth deepened into a scowl.

'It all sounds incredible, sir,' he conceded, 'but I am convinced
that it is true.'  For a moment, he debated the advisability of
telling his father about the miracle he had seen with his own eyes--
Peter's healing of the cripple.  But no, that would be too much.
His father would tell him he had been imposed upon by these miracle
stories reported to him by other men.  But there would be nothing
left for the Senator to say except 'You lie!' if he told him that
he himself had seen one of these wonders wrought.

'On the testimony of a few superstitious fishermen!' growled
Gallio, derisively.

'It was not easy for me to accept, sir,' admitted Marcellus, 'and I
am not trying to persuade you of it.  You asked me to tell you what
I had learned about Jesus, and I have told you truly.  It is my
belief that this Galilean is still alive.  I think he is an eternal
person, a divine person with powers that no king or emperor has
ever possessed, and I further believe that he will eventually rule
the world!'

Gallio chuckled bitterly.

'Had you thought of telling Tiberius that this Jesus intends to
rule the world?'

'I may not need to say that to Tiberius.  I shall tell him that
Jesus, who was put to death, is alive again.  The Emperor can draw
his own conclusions.'

'You had better be careful what you say to that crazy old man',
warned Gallio.  'He is insane enough to believe you, and this will
not be pleasant news.  Don't you know he is quite capable of having
you punished for bringing him a tale like that?'

'He can do no more than kill me,' said Marcellus, quietly.

'Perhaps not,' retorted Gallio; 'but even so light a punishment as
death--for an aspiring young man--might be quite an inconvenience.'

Marcellus humoured his father's grim jest with a smile.

'In sober truth, sir, I do not fear death.  There is a life to
come.'

'Well, that is an ancient hope, my son,' conceded Gallio, with a
vague gesture.  'Men have been scrawling that on their tombs for
three thousand years.  The only trouble with that dream is that it
lacks proof.  Nobody has ever signalled us from out there.  Nobody
has ever come back to report.'

'Jesus did!' declared Marcellus.

Gallio sighed deeply and shook his head.  After a moody silence, he
pushed back his chair and walked slowly around the big desk, as
Marcellus rose to meet his approach.

'My son,' he said, entreatingly, laying his hands on the broad
shoulders, 'go to the Emperor and tell him what you have learned of
this Galilean prophet.  Quote Jesus' words of wisdom.  They are
sensible and should do Tiberius much good if he would heed them.
Tell him, if you must, about the feats of magic.  The old man will
believe them, and the more improbable they are the better they--and
you--will please him.  That, in my opinion, should be sufficient.'

'Nothing about Jesus' return to life?' inquired Marcellus,
respectfully.

'Why should you?' demanded Gallio.  'Take a common-sense view of
your predicament.  Through no fault of yours, you have had an
unusual experience, and are now obliged to report on it to the
Emperor.  He has been mad for a dozen years or more and everybody
in Rome knows it.  He has surrounded himself with scores of scatter-
brained philosophers, astrologers, soothsayers, and diviners of
oracles.  Some of them are downright impostors and the rest of them
are mentally unhinged.  If you tell Tiberius what you have told me,
you will be just one more monkey added to his menagerie.'

It was strong medicine, but Marcellus grinned; and his father,
feeling that his argument was gaining ground, went on, pleadingly:

'You have a bright future before you, my son, if you will it so;
but not if you pursue this course.  I wonder if you realize what a
tragedy maybe in the making for you--and for all of us!  It will be
a bitter experience for your mother, and your sister, and your
father, to know that our friends are telling one another you have
lost your mind; that you are one of the Emperor's wise fools.  And
what will Diana say?' he continued, earnestly.  'That beautiful
creature is in love with you!  Don't you care?'

'I do care, sir!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'And I realize that she may
be sadly disappointed in me, but I have no alternative.  I have put
my hand to this plough--and I am not turning back!'

Gallio retreated a step and lounged against his desk, with a sly
smile.

'Wait until you see her before you decide to give her up.'

'I am indeed anxious to see her, sir.'

'Will you try to meet her, down there, before you talk to
Tiberius?'

'If possible, yes, sir.'

'You have made your arrangements for the voyage?'

'Yes, sir.  Demetrius has seen to it.  We leave this evening.
Galley to Ostia.  To Capri on the Cleo.'

'Very good,' approved Gallio, much encouraged.  He slapped
Marcellus on the back.  'Let us take a walk in the gardens.  And
you haven't been to the stables yet.'

'A moment, please, sir, before we go.'  Marcellus's face was
serious.  'I know you have a feeling that everything is settled
now, according to your wish, and I would be happy to follow your
counsel if I were free to do so.'

'Free?'  Gallio stared into his son's eyes.  'What do you mean?'

'I feel obliged, sir, to tell the Emperor of Jesus' return to
life.'

'Well, well, then,' consented Gallio, brusquely, 'if you must talk
about that, let it be as a local rumour among the country people.
You don't have to tell Tiberius that YOU believe it!  If you want
to say that a few fishermen thought they saw him, that should
discharge your obligation.  You have no personal knowledge of it.
YOU didn't see him!'

'But I saw a man who did see him, sir!' declared Marcellus.  'I SAW
THIS MAN LOOKING AT HIM!'

'And that constitutes proof, in your opinion?' scoffed Gallio.

'In this instance, yes, sir!  I saw a Greek stoned for his
Christian belief.  He was a brave man, ready to risk his life for
his faith.  I knew him, and trusted him.  When everyone thought him
dead, he raised himself up, smiled, and shouted, "I SEE HIM!"  And--
I KNOW THAT HE SAW HIM!'

'But you don't have to tell that to Tiberius!' said Gallio,
testily.

'Yes, sir!  Having heard and seen that, I should be a coward if I
did not testify to it!  For I, too, am a Christian, sir!  I cannot
do otherwise!'

Gallio made no reply.  With bent head, he turned away slowly and
left the room, without a backward glance.

Lamenting his father's disappointment, Marcellus sauntered out to
the pergola, feeling sure that Lucia would be waiting for him.  She
saw him coming and ran to meet him.  Linking their arms, she tugged
him along gaily toward their favourite rendezvous.

'What's the matter?' she insisted, shaking his arm.  'Had a row
with the Senator?'

'I hurt his feelings,' muttered Marcellus.

'I hope you weren't talking to him about that awful business up
there in Jerusalem that made you sick!'

'No, dear; but I was telling him about that man--and I would be
glad to tell you, too.'

'Thanks, my little brother!' chaffed Lucia.  'I don't want to hear
a word of it!  High time you forgot all about it! . . .  Here,
Bambo! . . .  Make a fuss over him, Marcellus.  He hardly knows
you.'  Her lips pouted.  'Neither do I,' she murmured.  'Aren't you
ever going to be happy any more?  Last night we all thought you
were well again.  I was so glad, I lay awake for hours, hugging
myself for joy!  Now you're glum and moody.'  Big tears stood in
her eyes.  'Please, Marcellus!'

'Sorry, sister.'  He put his arm around her.  'Let us go and look
at the roses. . . .  Here, Bambo!'

Bambo strolled up and consented to have his head patted.

                         * * * * * *

The Emperor had not been well for many weeks.  Early in April,
while rashly demonstrating how tough he was, the old man had ambled
down to the uncompleted villa on the easternmost end of the mall in
a drenching rain and had taken a severe cold, the effects of which
had depleted his not too abundant vitality.

In normal circumstances Tiberius, customarily careful of his
health, would have taken no such risk; or, having taken it, would
have gone at once to bed, fuming and snorting, to be packed in hot
fomentations and doctored with everything that the court physicians
could devise.

But on this occasion the Emperor, having renewed his youth--or at
least having attained his second childhood--had sat about with
Diana in the dampness of the new villa, wet to the skin, after
which he had sauntered back to the Jovis pretending to have enjoyed
the rain and refusing to permit anyone to aid him, though it was
clear enough that he was having a bad chill: he had sneezed
violently in the Chamberlain's face while hoarsely protesting that
he was sound as a nut.

That the young daughter of Gallus had been innocently but
unmistakably responsible for this dangerous imprudence--and many
another hazardous folly on the part of the ageing Emperor--was now
the unanimous opinion of the household staff.

The beauteous Diana was becoming a problem.  For the first few
weeks after her arrival, more than a year ago, the entire
population of Capri--with the exception of the Empress Julia, whose
Jealousy of her was deep and desperate--had rejoiced in the girl's
invigorating influence on Tiberius.  His infatuation for Diana had
done wonders for him.  Boyishly eager to please her, he was living
more temperately, not only in what he ate and drank, but in what he
said and did.  Not often now was the Emperor noticeably
intoxicated.  His notorious tantrums were staged less frequently
and with less violence.  When annoyed, he still threw things at his
ministers, but it had been a long time since he had barked at or
bitten anyone.  And whereas he had frequently humiliated them all
by slogging about the grounds looking like the veriest ragamuffin,
now he insisted on being shaved almost every morning and was keenly
interested in his costumes.

This had met the enthusiastic approval of everybody whose tenure of
office was in any way related to his own--and that included almost
everyone on Capri, ministers, minstrels, physicians, dancers,
gardeners, vintners, tailors, astrologers, historians, poets,
cooks, guards, carpenters, stonemasons, sculptors, priests, and at
least three hundred servants, bond and free.  The longer they could
keep the Emperor alive, the better for their own careers; and the
more contented he was, the less arduous their task of caring for
him.

It was quite natural, therefore, that Diana should be popular.  The
poets in residence composed extravagant odes appropriately
extolling her beauty, and--with somewhat less warrant--her sweet
and gentle disposition, for she was of uncertain temper and not at
all reticent about expressing her feelings when displeased.

But, as time went on, it began to be whispered about that the
infirm Emperor, in trying to show off for Diana, was wearing
himself out.  He was at her nimble heels from sunrise to sunset, in
all weathers, fiercely gouging the gravelled paths with his cane as
they toured the island, and wheezing up and down stairs in her
lavish new villa, which seemed almost as far from completion as it
had been six months previously, though a hundred skilled workmen
had been hard at it every day.  Nothing was ever quite fine enough.
Mantels had to be taken down and rebuilt, again and again.  Mosaic
floors and walls were ripped out and reconstructed.  One day the
old man had testily remarked that he didn't believe the villa would
ever be completed, an impromptu forecast which, albeit spoken
lightly, turned out to be a sound prediction.

For some time considerable sympathy was felt for Diana.  Though no
one knew certainly--for she was far too wise to confide fully in
anyone connected with this university of gossip, intrigue, and
treachery--it was generally believed that the brilliant and
beautiful girl was being detained at Capri against her personal
wishes.  This seemed to be confirmed by the fact that on the
occasions of her mother's visits, every few weeks, Diana would weep
piteously when the time came for Paula's departure.  There might be
certain advantages in being the sole object of the Emperor's
devotion; but, considered as a permanent occupation, it left a good
deal to be desired.

A legend had gradually taken form and size concerning Diana's
prospects.  The Chamberlain, in his cups, had confided to the
Captain of the Guard that the comely daughter of Legate Gallus was
in love with the son of Senator Gallio, a probably hopeless
attachment, seeing that the young Tribune was sick in the head and
had been spirited out of the country.  This information was soon
common knowledge.

No one was more interested in Diana's aspirations than old Julia,
who contrived to inspect every letter she sent and received.  And
it was believed that Julia relayed copies of all such correspondence
to Gaius; for, on each occasion of having spied upon Diana's
letters, she had dispatched a scroll to the Prince by special
messenger.

During the winter, Gaius had not visited Capri, but, advised of the
Emperor's indisposition, he had come in latter April, attended by a
foppish retinue, and had spent a week, pretending to be much
concerned over the old man's ill-health, but fully enjoying the
nightly banquets which Tiberius had ordered.

On these occasions the Emperor--barely able to hold his weary head
up--drowsed and roused and grinned like a skull and drowsed again,
a ludicrous caricature of imperial power.  On his right, but paying
no attention to him, reclined old Julia, wigged, painted, ablaze
with jewels and shockingly cadaverous, smirking and fawning over
Gaius who lounged beside her.

None of the fifty dissolute sycophants who sprawled about the
overloaded tables dared risk exchanging a wink or a smile; but it
was an amusing pantomime, with the Emperor half-asleep and the
Empress disgustingly pawing at the gold-embroidered sleeve of the
Prince, while he, disdainfully indifferent to her caresses, leaned
far forward to make amorous grimaces at Diana, on the other side of
Tiberius, stripping her with his experienced, froglike eyes, while
she regarded him with the cool detachment of one reading an epitaph
on an ancient monument.

This had been privately enjoyed by almost everybody but Celia, the
beautiful but feather-headed wife of Quintus and niece of Sejanus,
long-time friend and adviser of Tiberius.  Celia was beside herself
with an anxiety she could not disguise.  She would have been ready
to kill Diana had the girl shown Gaius the slightest encouragement,
but she was also much annoyed over Diana's frosty disinterest in
the Prince's attentions.  Who, indeed, did this young Gallus think
she was--to be so haughty?  She had better mend her manners!

The crazy old man she was leading about--like a dog on a leash--
would be dying one of these fine days--and then where would she be?

It had been a depressing week for Celia.  Ever since Quintus had
been sent abroad on some state mission of high importance, she had
been the centre of interest at the Prince's social functions,
serving as hostess and enjoying his candid and clumsy preferment.
At first it had been believed that Gaius was showing her special
favours to ingratiate himself with old Sejanus, who held a strong
hand on the imperial purse-strings.  But as time went on, and the
Prince's visits at Celia's villa were of daily occurrence, this
flattery had gone to her head and she had made the mistake of
snubbing many friends who, though they had endured her snobberies
for diplomacy's sake, were carefully preparing to avenge themselves
when an opportune moment arrived.  It had been Celia's hope that
the Prince would find further business for her husband in foreign
parts, but now it had been announced that Quintus was returning
presently.  As if that were not dismaying enough, Gaius was giving
his full attention to Diana.

On the last day of this visit to the Emperor, Celia had arranged
what she thought was a private moment with the Prince (though there
were few conversations on Capri which the whole island didn't know
by nightfall) and tearfully took him to task for his recent
indifference.

'I thought you liked me,' she whimpered.

'Not when your nose is red,' he grumbled.  'You'd better stop
making yourself ridiculous.'

'Can't you send Quintus away again?' she wheedled.

'That braying ass?' retorted Gaius.  'We trust him with an
ambassadorial errand, and he gets himself slapped all over the
campus of a Greek inn by an unarmed slave!'

'I don't believe it!' shrilled Celia.  'It's a story someone
invented to discredit him!  I thought you were Quintus's friend.'

'Bah!  Quintus's only friend is his mirror!  Had I cared for your
husband, would I have made a cuckold of him?'

Celia had wept hysterically.

'You liked me well enough,' she cried, 'until you came here and
noticed the charms of this Gallus girl!  And it's plain to see she
despises you!  What an impudent creature she is!'

'Mind you don't plan to do her some injury!' growled Gaius,
clutching her arm roughly.  'You would better forget all about her
now, and be contented with your husband when he comes.'  He
chuckled infuriatingly.  'You and Quintus are admirably suited to
each other.'

'You can't treat me like that!' she shouted, reckless with rage.
'Where will you stand with Sejanus when I tell him you have treated
me like an ordinary trollop?'

Gaius shrugged.

'Where will YOU stand--when you tell him that?' he sneered.

Whereupon Celia had sought comfort in a call on the Empress,
suddenly remembering a social duty which most of the rest forgot in
the confusion of departure.

Julia had been surprisingly effusive; and Celia, red-eyed and
outraged, was a ready victim to the Empress's sympathetic queries.

'Poor Gaius!' sighed old Julia.  'So impressionable!  So lonesome!
And so beset with cares!  You must make allowances for him, my
dear.  And he really is in love, I think, with the daughter of
Gallus.  It would not be a bad alliance.  Gallus is a great
favourite with the army, at home and abroad.  Indeed--Gallus IS the
army!  And if my son is to succeed to the throne, he needs the good
will of our legions.  Furthermore, as you have seen for yourself,
the Emperor is so foolishly fond of Diana that her marriage with
Gaius would practically insure my son's future.'

'But Diana hates him!' cried Celia.  'Anyone can see that!'

'Well, that is because she thinks she is in love with the half-
crazy son of Gallio.'  Julia's thin lips puckered in an omniscient
smile.  'She will get over that.  Perhaps, if you would like to
square accounts with the luscious Diana, you might give yourself no
bother to deny the reports that Marcellus is insane.'  And with
that, the Empress had kissed Celia and waved her out.

Wiping her lips vigorously, Celia returned to the Villa Jovis where
the party was assembling for conveyance down the mountain to the
imperial barge.  She was still hopeful that Gaius, on the return
trip, would repent of his discourtesies and restore her to his
favour.

'Where is the Prince?' she inquired, with forced brightness, of her
cousin Lavilla Sejanus, as the slave-borne chairs were being
filled.

'He isn't going back to the city with us,' Lavilla had had
malicious pleasure in replying.  'I daresay he wants to have a
quiet visit with Diana.'

'Well, he can have her!' retorted Celia, hotly.

'Don't be too sure of that!' shrilled Minia, Lavilla's younger
sister, who was thought to have been wholly occupied with the
conversation she was having with Olivia Varus, in the chair beside
her.

'Diana is waiting for Marcellus Gallio to come back,' put in
Olivia.

'Much good that will do her,' sniffed Celia.  'Marcellus has lost
his mind.  That's why they sent him away.'

'Nonsense!' scoffed Lavilla.  'The Emperor sent him away to make
some sort of investigation--in Athens, or somewhere.  Think he
would have sent a crazy man?'

'Why not?' giggled Minia.

'Who told you that, Celia?' demanded Olivia.

'The Empress!' declared Celia, impressively.  'I don't think it's a
secret.'

'Neither do I,' drawled Lavilla.  'It may have been--but it isn't
now.'

'Why should you care?' inquired Minia, languidly.

'Well, I rather like Marcellus,' said Lavilla, 'and Diana, too.
It's unfortunate to have such a story spread about.  Besides, I
don't believe it!'

'But the Empress told me!' snapped Celia, indignantly.

Lavilla arched her brows, pursed her lips and shrugged.

'I wonder why,' she said.

                         * * * * * *

It was mid-afternoon when the Cleo sighted the island and another
hour had passed before she tied up at the wharf.  It had been a
perfect day.  Marcellus had never seen the Bay of Neapolis so blue.
Demetrius was left at the docks to oversee the conveyance of their
luggage to the Villa Jovis.

Engaging a waiting chair, Marcellus was borne up the long flight of
marble steps, and the sinuous path, and more steps, and another
path, luxuriating in the ruinously expensive beauty with which the
Emperor had surrounded himself.  The old man might be crazy, but he
was an artist.

Now that they had come up to the plateau, Tiberius's wonder city,
dominated by the massive Jovis, gleamed white in the June sunshine.
Lean old philosophers and fat old priests lounged in the arbours,
and on the gravelled paths that bounded the pools other wise men
strolled with their heads bent and their hands clasped behind them.
Were all of the Emperor's counsellors old men?  Naturally they
would be.  It aged Marcellus to face the prospect of joining forces
with these doddering ancients.

It surprised and gratified him that he had so little explaining to
do in accounting for his presence.  He spoke his name to the patrol
and they passed him without examination.  He told the porter who he
was and the porter sent another with a message to the Captain of
the Guard, who came without delay and led him through the vasty
peristyle into the cool, high-ceilinged atrium where, presently,
the Chamberlain entered to greet him with much deference.

The Emperor, who was resting, would be made aware of Tribune
Marcellus's arrival.  Meantime, would the Tribune be pleased to go
to the apartment which had been prepared for him?

'I was expected, then?' asked Marcellus.

'Oh, yes, sir,' replied Nevius.  'His Majesty had learned of
Tribune Marcellus's arrival in Rome.'

It was a sumptuous suite that they showed him, with a small,
exquisitely appointed peristyle of its own, looking out upon a
colourful garden.  Half a dozen Nubians were preparing his bath.  A
tall Macedonian slave came with a flagon of wine, followed by
another bearing a silver salver filled with choice fruits.

Marcellus stepped out into the peristyle, frowning thoughtfully.
It was an unexpectedly lavish reception he was having at the hands
of the Emperor.  His rank entitled him to certain courtesies, but
the attention he was receiving needed a better explanation.  It was
flattering enough, but perplexing.  Demetrius had arrived now, and
the porters had brought the luggage.  The Chamberlain came out to
announce that the Tribune's bath was ready.

'And at your convenience, sir,' added Nevius, 'the daughter of
Gallus will receive you--in the garden at her villa.'

                         * * * * * *

They had offered to conduct him, but Marcellus preferred to go
alone after receiving general directions.  Diana's villa!  And what
did Diana want with a villa--at Capri?  Or did she want a villa?
Or was it the old man's idea?

He was approaching it now, involuntarily slowing his steps as he
marvelled at its grace and symmetry.  It was a large house, but
conveyed no impression of massiveness.  The Doric columns of the
portico were not ponderous; the carving on the lintel was light and
lacy.  It was an immense doll's house, suggestive of something an
ingenious confectioner might have made of white sugar.

A guard met him on the tessellated pavement and led the way in and
through the unfurnished atrium, ceiled with blue in which gold
stars were set; and on to the peristyle where many workmen glanced
down from the scaffoldings with casual interest in the guest.
Beyond lay the indications of a terraced garden.  Pointing to the
pergola that was on the southern rim of the plateau, the guard
retraced his steps and Marcellus proceeded with lengthened stride,
full of happy anticipation.

Diana was leaning against the marble balustrade, looking out upon
the sea.  Sensitive to his coming, perhaps hearing his footsteps,
she slowly turned about; and, resting her elbows on the broad stone
railing, waited his approach with a sober, wide-eyed stare which
Marcellus easily interpreted.  She was wondering--and with deep
apprehension--whether he had fully recovered from his mental
sickness; whether there would be constraint in their meeting.  Her
eyes were a little frightened, and she involuntarily pressed the
back of her hand against her lips.

Marcellus had no time to regard the attractive costume she wore,
the gracefully draped white silk stola with the deep crimson border
at the throat, the slashed sleeves loosely clasped with gold
buttons, the wide, tightly bound girdle about the hips, the pearl-
beaded crimson coronet that left a fringe of black curls on her
white forehead--but Diana was an enchanting picture.  She had
developed into a mature woman in his absence.  In his recollections
of her, Diana was a beautiful girl.  Sometimes he had wondered,
when abroad, whether he might have idealized her too extravagantly;
but now she was far more lovely than he had remembered.  His
happiness shone in his face.

Slowly she advanced to meet him, tall and regal in the caressing
lines of the white stola, her full lips parting in a tentative
smile that was gaining confidence with every step.  She extended
her hands, as he neared her, still studying him with a yearning
hope.

'Diana!' he exclaimed hopefully.  'Dearest Diana!'  Grasping her
hands, he smiled ecstatically into her uplifted eyes.

'Have you really come back to me, Marcellus?' she murmured.

He drew her closer and she came confidently into his arms, reached
up her hand and laid her palm gently on his cheek.  Her long lashes
slowly closed and Marcellus tenderly kissed her eyes.  Her hand
moved softly around his neck, suddenly tightening, almost fiercely,
as his lips touched hers.  She drew a quick, involuntary breath,
and raced his heart with her unrestrained answer to his kiss.  For
a long moment they clung to each other, deeply stirred.

'You are adorable!' whispered Marcellus, fervently.

With a contented sigh, Diana childishly snuggled her face against
his breast while he held her tightly to him.  She was trembling.
Then, slowly disengaging herself from his arms, she looked up into
his face with misty, smiling eyes.

'Come, let us sit down,' she said softly.  'We have much to talk
about.'  The timbre of her voice had altered too.  It had deepened
and matured.

Marcellus followed her graceful figure to the marble lectus that
gave an entrancing view of the sea, and they sat, Diana facing him
with a brooding concern.

'Have you seen the Emperor?' she asked; and when he shook his head
absently--as if seeing the Emperor was a matter of small importance--
she said, soberly, 'Somehow I wish you didn't have to talk with
him.  You know how eccentric he has been; his curiosity about magic
and miracles and stars and spirits--and such things.  Lately he has
been completely obsessed.  His health is failing.  He doesn't want
to talk about anything else but metaphysical things.'

'That's not surprising,' commented Marcellus, reaching for her
hand.

'Sometimes, all day long and far into the night,' she went on, in
that new, deep register that made every word sound confidential,
'he tortures his poor old head with these matters, while his queer
sages sit in a circle about his bed, delivering long harangues to
which he tries to listen--as if it were his duty.'

'Perhaps he is preparing his mind for death,' surmised Marcellus.

Diana nodded with cloudy eyes.

'He has been impatient for your return, Marcellus.  He seems to
think that you may tell him something new.  These old men!'  She
flung them away with a scornful gesture.  'They exhaust him; they
exasperate him; and they impose upon him--cruelly!  That horrible
old Dodinius, who reads oracles, is the worst of the lot.  Always,
at the Feast of the New Moon, he slaughters a sheep, and performs
some silly ceremonies, and pretends he has had a revelation.  I
don't know how.'

'They count the warts on the sheep's underpinning, I think,'
recalled Marcellus, 'and they examine the entrails.  If a certain
kink in an intestine points east, the answer is "Yes"--and the fee
is five hundred sesterces.'

'Well'--Diana dismissed the details with a slim hand--'however it
is accomplished, dirty old Dodinius does it; and they say he has
occasionally made a true prediction.  If the weather is going to be
stormy, he always knows it before anyone else.'

'Perhaps he feels the change in his creaking hinges,' suggested
Marcellus.

'You're a confirmed sceptic, Marcellus.'  She gave him a sidelong
glance that played at rebuking him.  'There should be no frivolous
comments about these holy men.  Dodinius's best forecast was when
he discovered that Annaeus Seneca was still living, next day after
the report had come that the old poet was dead.  How he divined
that, the gods only know; but it was true that Seneca had drifted
into a deathlike coma from which he recovered--as you know.'

'You don't suppose he hired Seneca to play dead?' ventured
Marcellus, with a chuckle.

'My dear, if Annaeus Seneca wanted to connive with somebody, it
wouldn't be an old dolt like Dodinius,' Diana said with conviction.
Dropping the badinage, she grew serious.  'About ten days ago, it
was revealed to him--so he insists--that the Emperor is going to
live forever.  He hasn't found it easy to convince the Emperor, for
there is quite a lot of precedent to overcome; but you will find
His Majesty immensely curious about this subject.  He wants to
believe Dodinius; sends for him, first thing in the morning, to
come and tell him again all about the revelation, and Dodinius, the
unscrupulous old reptile, reassures him that there can be no doubt
of it.  Isn't that a dreadful way to torment the Emperor in his
last days when he should be allowed to die in peace?'

Marcellus, with eyes averted, nodded non-committally.

'Sometimes, my dear'--Diana impulsively leaned forward, shaking her
head in despair--'it makes me hot with shame and loathing that I
have to live here surrounded by these tiresome men who fatten on
frauds!  All one ever hears, on this mad island, is a jumble of
atrocious nonsense that no healthy person, in his right mind, would
give a second thought to!  And now--as if the poor old Emperor
hadn't heard enough of such stupid prattle--Dodinius is trying to
persuade him to live forever.'

Marcellus made no comment on that; sat frowningly gazing out on the
sea.  Presently he stirred, returned, and put his arm about her
shoulders.

'I don't know what you have come to tell the Emperor, Marcellus,'
continued Diana, yielding to his caress, 'but I do know it will be
honest.  He will want to know what you think of this crazy notion
that Dodinius has put into his head.  This may call for some tact.'

'Have you any suggestion?' asked Marcellus.

'You will know what to say, I think.  Tiberius is a worn-out old
man.  And he certainly doesn't look very heroic.  But there was a
time when he was brave and strong.  Perhaps, if you remind him, he
will be able to remember.  He wasn't afraid to die when he was
vigorous and had something to live for.'  Diana lightly traced a
pattern on Marcellus's forearm with her finger-tips.  'Why should
that weary old man want to live forever?  One would think he should
be glad enough to put his burden down, and leave all these scheming
courtiers and half-witted prophets, and find his peace in
oblivion.'

Marcellus bent over her and kissed her lips, and was thrilled by
her warm response.

'I love you, dear!' he declared, passionately.

'Then take me away from here,' she whispered.  'Take me somewhere
where nobody is insane--and nobody talks metaphysical rubbish--and
nobody cares about the future--or the past--or anything but just
now!'  She hugged him closer to her.  'Will you, Marcellus?  The
Emperor wants us to live here.  That's what this horrible villa is
about.'  Diana's voice trembled.  'I can't stay here!  I can't!  I
shall go mad!'  She put her lips close to his ear.  'Let us try to
slip away.  Can't we bribe a boat?'

'No, darling,' protested Marcellus.  'I shall take you away, but
not as a fugitive.  We must bide our time.  We don't want to be
exiles.'

'Why not?' demanded Diana.  'Let us go to some place, far, far
away, and have a little house--and a little garden, close by a
stream--and live in peace.'

'It is a beautiful picture, dear,' he agreed, 'but you would soon
be lonely and restless; and besides, I have some important work to
do that can't be done--in a peaceful garden.  And then, too, there
are our families to consider.'

Diana relaxed in his arms, earnestly thinking.

'I'll be patient,' she promised, 'but don't let it be too long.  I
am not safe here.'

'Not safe!' exclaimed Marcellus.  'What are you afraid of?'

Before she could reply, they both started, and drew apart, at the
sound of footsteps.  Glancing towards the villa, Marcellus saw the
guard approaching who had directed him to the pergola.

'Tiberius is too feeble and preoccupied to be of any protection to
me,' said Diana, in a low voice.  'The Empress is having more and
more to say about our life here on this dreadful island.  Gaius
comes frequently to confer with her--'

'Has that swine been annoying you?' broke in Marcellus.

'I have managed to avoid being alone with him,' said Diana, 'but
old Julia is doing her utmost to--'

The guard had halted, a little distance away.

'Yes, Acteus?' inquired Diana, turning toward him.

'The Emperor is ready to receive Tribune Marcellus Gallio,' said
the guard deferentially.

'Very well,' nodded Marcellus.  'I shall come at once.'

The guard saluted and marched stiffly away.

'When and where do we meet, dear?' asked Marcellus, rising
reluctantly.  'At dinner, perhaps?'

'Not likely.  The Emperor will want to have you all to himself this
evening.  Send me a message--to my suite at the Jovis--when you are
at liberty.  If it is not too late, I may join you in the atrium.
Otherwise, let us meet here in the pergola, early in the morning.'
Diana held out her hand and Marcellus kissed it tenderly.

'Does this Acteus belong to you?' he asked.

Diana shook her head.

'I brought only two maids from home,' she said.  'All the others
who attend me belong here.  Acteus is a member of the guard at the
Jovis.  He follows me about wherever I go.'

'Is he to be trusted?' asked Marcellus, anxiously.

Diana shrugged--and smiled doubtfully.

'How can one tell who is to be trusted in this hotbed of
conspiracy?  Acteus is respectful and obliging.  Whether he would
take any risks in my behalf, I don't know.  Whether he is now on
his way to tell old Julia that he saw you kiss me, I don't know.  I
shouldn't care to bet much on it, either way.'  Diana rose, and
slipped her arm through his.  'Go, now,' she whispered.  'The poor
old man will be waiting, and he is not patient.  Come to me--when
you can.'

Marcellus took her in his arms and kissed her.

'I shall be thinking of nothing else,' he murmured, 'but you!'

                         * * * * * *

The last time Marcellus had seen the Emperor--and that at a
considerable distance--was on the opening day of the Ludi Florales,
eleven years ago.  Indeed, it was the last time that anyone had
seen him at a public celebration.

His recollection was of an austere, greying man, of rugged features
and massive frame, who paid but scant attention to the notables
surrounding him in the imperial box, and even less to the
spectacles in the arena.

Marcellus had not been surprised at the glum detachment of this
dour-faced man; for it was generally known that Tiberius, who had
always detested crowds and the extravagance of festivals, was
growing alarmingly morose.  Elderly men, like Senator Gallio, who
could remember the wanton profligacy of Augustus, and had rejoiced
in the Tiberian economies which had brought an unprecedented
prosperity to Rome, viewed the Emperor's increasing moodiness with
sympathetic regret.  The younger generation, not quite so
appreciative of the monarch's solid virtures, had begun to think
him a sour and stingy old spoil-sport, and earnestly wished he
would die.

Tiberius had not fully accommodated them in this respect, but he
had done the next thing to it; for, not long afterwards, he had
taken up his residence on Capri, where his subsequent remoteness
from the active affairs of government was almost equivalent to an
abdication.

That had been a long time ago; and as Marcellus, in full uniform,
sat in the spacious, gloomy atrium, waiting to be summoned into the
imperial bedchamber, he prepared his mind for the sight of a very
old man.  But nobody could prepare himself for an interview with
this old man who, on first sight, seemed to have so little of life
left in him; but, when stirred, was able to mobilize some
surprisingly powerful reserves of mental and physical vigour.

The Emperor was propped up on his pillows, an indistinct figure,
for the sun was setting and the huge room was full of shadows.
Nothing appeared to be alive in the massive bed but the cavernous
eyes that had met Marcellus at the door and accompanied him through
the room to the straight-backed chair.  The face in the pillows was
a scaffolding of bulging bones thinly covered with wrinkled
parchment.  The neck was scrawny and yellow.  Under the sparse
white hair at Tiberius's sunken temple a dogged artery beat slow
but hard, like the tug of an exhausted oar at the finish of a long
race.  The bony hand that pointed to the chair--which had been
drawn up uncomfortably close to the bedside--resembled the claw of
an old eagle.

'Your Majesty!' murmured Marcellus, bowing deeply.

'Sit down!' rumbled Tiberius, testily.  'We hope you have learned
something about that haunted robe!'  He paused to wheeze
asthmatically.  'You have been gone long enough to have found the
river Styx--and the Jews' Garden of Eden!  Perhaps you rode home on
the Trojan Horse, with the Golden Fleece for a saddle-blanket!'

The old man turned his head to note the effects of his acidulous
drollery, and Marcellus--thinking that the Emperor might want his
dry humour appreciated--risked a smile.

'Funny, is it?' grumbled Tiberius.

'Not if Your Majesty is serious,' replied Marcellus, soberly.

'We are always serious, young man!'  Digging a sharp elbow into his
pillow, the Emperor drew himself closer to the edge of the bed.
'Your father had a long tale about the crucifixion of a mad
Galilean in Jerusalem.  That fellow Pilate--who forever gets
himself into trouble with the Jews--ordered you to crucify this
fanatic, and it went to your head.'  The old man licked his dry
lips.  'By the way--how is your head now?'

'Quite well, Your Majesty,' responded Marcellus, brightly.

'Humph!  That's what every crazy man thinks.  The crazier he is,
the better he feels.'  Tiberius grinned unpleasantly, as one fool
to another, and added, 'Perhaps you think your Emperor is crazy.'

'Crazy men do not jest, sire,' parried Marcellus.

Tiberius screwed up a mouth that looked like the neck of an old,
empty coin-purse, and frowningly cogitated on this comforting
thought.

'How do you know they don't?' he demanded.  'You haven't seen all
of them--and there are no two alike.  But'--suddenly irritable--
'why do you waste the Emperor's time with such prattle?  Be on with
your story!  But wait!  It has come to our ears that your Greek
slave assaulted the son of old Tuscus with his bare hands.  Is this
true?'

'Yes, Your Majesty,' admitted Marcellus, 'it is true.  There was
great provocation; but that does not exonerate my slave, and I
deeply regret the incident.'

'You're a liar!' muttered Tiberius.  'Now we shall believe nothing
you say!  But tell us that story first.'

The malicious old eyes grew brighter as Marcellus obediently
reported the extraordinary episode under the trees at the House of
Eupolis, and by the time Quintus had been unrecognizably disfigured
by the Greek's infuriated fists the Emperor was up on one elbow,
his face beaming.

'And you still have this slave?' barked Tiberius.  'He should have
been put to death!  What will you take for him?'

'I should not like to sell him, sir; but I shall gladly lend him to
Your Majesty, for as long as--'

'Long as we live, eh?' rasped the old man.  'A few weeks, eh?
Perhaps we may live longer!  Perhaps your Emperor may never die!'
The lean chin jutted forward challengingly.  'Is that silly?'

'It is possible for a man to live forever,' declared Marcellus.

'Rubbish!' grunted Tiberius.  'What do you know about it?'

'This Galilean, sire,' said Marcellus, quietly.  'He will live
forever.'

'The man you killed?  He will live forever?  How do you make that
out?'

'The Galilean came to life, sire.'

'Nonsense!  You probably bungled the crucifixion.  Your father said
you were drunk.  Did you stay until it was over--or can't you
remember?'

Yes, Marcellus had stayed.  A Centurion had driven his spear deep
into the dead man's heart, to make doubly sure.  There was no
question about his death.  The third day afterwards, he had come to
life, and had been seen on many occasions by different groups of
people.

'Impossible!' yelled Tiberius.  'Where is he now?'

Marcellus didn't know.  But he did know that this Jesus was alive;
had eaten breakfast with friends on a lake-shore in Galilee; had
appeared in people's houses.  Tiberius propped himself up on both
elbows and stared, his chin working convulsively.

'Leaves footprints when he walks,' resumed Marcellus.  'Appears
unexpectedly.  Talks, eats, shows his wounds which--for some
curious reason--do not heal.  Doesn't bother to open the door when
he enters.  People have a queer feeling of a presence beside them;
they look about, and there he is.'

Tiberius glanced toward the door and clapped his dry old hands.
The Chamberlain slipped in noiselessly and instantly, as if, upon
being summoned, he hadn't had far to come.

'Lights, stupid one!' shouted the old man, shrilly.  He snuggled
down, shivered, and drew the covers up over his emaciated shoulder.
'Proceed,' he muttered.  'Doesn't open the door, eh?'

'Two men are walking along the highway, late afternoon, discussing
him,' went on Marcellus, relentlessly.  'Presently he falls into
step with them.  They invite him to supper at an inn, some twelve
miles from Jerusalem.'

'Not a ghost, then!' put in Tiberius.

'Not a ghost; but this time he does not eat.  Breaks the bread,
murmurs thanks to his God, and disappears.  Enters a house in
Jerusalem, a few minutes later; finds friends at supper--and eats.'

'Might reappear almost anywhere, eh?' speculated Tiberius, adding,
half to himself, 'Probably not if the place were well guarded.'
And when Marcellus had let this observation pass without hazarding
an opinion, the old man growled, 'What do you think?'

'I think it wouldn't make any difference,' ventured Marcellus.  'He
will go where he pleases.  He opens the eyes of the blind and the
ears of the deaf; heals lepers, paralytics, lunatics.  I did not
believe any of these things, Your Majesty, until it was impossible
not to believe them.  He can do anything!'

'Why, then, did he let them put him to death?' demanded Tiberius.

'Your Majesty, well versed in the various religions, will remember
that among the Jews it is customary to make a blood offering for
crimes.  It is believed that the Galilean offered himself as an
atonement gift.'

'What crimes had HE committed?' asked Tiberius.

'None, sire!  He was atoning for the sins of the world.'

'Humph!  That's an ingenious idea.'  Tiberius pondered it gravely,
his eyes on the ceiling.  'All the sins; everybody's sins!  And,
having attended to that, he comes alive again, and goes about.
Well, if he can make atonement for the sins of the whole world,
it's presumable that he knows what they are and who has committed
them.  Cosmic person, eh?  Knows all about the whole world, eh?
Are you fool enough to believe all that?'

'I believe, Your Majesty'--Marcellus was proceeding carefully,
spacing his words--'that this Jesus--can do whatever he wills to
do, whenever--wherever--and to whomever he pleases.'

'Including the Emperor of Rome?'  Tiberius's tone recommended
prudence.

'It is conceivable, sire, that Jesus might visit the Emperor, at
any time; but, if he did, it would surely be in kindness.  Your
Majesty might be greatly comforted.'

There was a long, thoughtful moment before Tiberius wanted more
information about the strange appearances and disappearances.
'Quite absurd, making himself visible or invisible at will.  What
became of him, while invisible?  Did he--did he blot himself out?'

'The stars do not blot themselves out, sire,' said Marcellus.

'Your reasoning is, then, that this person might be in the room
NOW, and we unable to see him.'

'But Your Majesty would have nothing to fear,' said Marcellus.
'Jesus would have no interest in the Emperor's throne.'

'Well, that's a cool way to put it, young man!' growled Tiberius.
'No interest in the throne, eh?  Who does this fellow think he is?'

'He thinks he is the Son of God!' said Marcellus, quietly.

'And you!'  Tiberius stared into his eyes.  'What do you think?'

'I think, sire, that he is divine; that he will eventually claim
the whole world for his kingdom; and that this kingdom will have no
end.'

'Fool!  Do you think he will demolish the Roman Empire?' shouted
the old man.

'There will be no Roman Empire, Your Majesty, when Jesus takes
command.  The empires will have destroyed one another--and
themselves.  He has predicted it.  When the world has arrived at
complete exhaustion, by wars and slaveries, hatreds and betrayals,
he will establish his kingdom of good will.'

'Nonsense!' yelled Tiberius.  'The world can't be ruled by good
will!'

'Has it ever been tried, Your Majesty?' asked Marcellus.

'Of course not!  You're crazy!  And you're too young to be as crazy
as all that!'  The Emperor forced a laugh.  'Never has so much
drivel been spoken in our presence.  We are surrounded by wise old
fools who spend their days inventing strange tales; but you have
outdone them all.  We will hear no more of it!'

'Shall I go, then, Your Majesty?' inquired Marcellus, moving to the
edge of his chair.  The Emperor put out a detaining hand.

'Have you seen the daughter of Gallus?' he asked.

'Yes, Your Majesty.'

'You are aware that she loves you, and has waited these past two
years for your return?'

'Yes, Your Majesty.'

'She was deeply grieved when you came back to Rome, a year ago, and
were ashamed to see her because of the sickness in your head.  But,
hopeful of your recovery, she has had eyes for no one else.  And
now, you return to her polluted with preposterous nonsense!  You,
who are so infatuated with kindness and good will--what does Diana
think of you now?  Or have you informed her how cracked you are?'

'We have not talked about the Galilean, sire,' said Marcellus,
moodily.

'This young woman's happiness may mean nothing to you--but it means
everything to us!'  The Emperor's tones were almost tender.  'It is
high time, we think, that you take some steps to deal fairly with
her.  Let there be no more of this folly!'

Marcellus sat with clouded eyes, making no reply when Tiberius
paused to search his face.

'We now offer you your choice!'  The old voice was shrill with
anger.  'You will give up all this Jesus talk, and take your
rightful place as a Roman Tribune and the son of an honoured Roman
Senator--or you will give up the daughter of Gallus!  We will not
consent to her marriage with a fool!  What say you?'

'Will Your Majesty permit me to consider?' asked Marcellus, in an
unsteady voice.

'For how long?' demanded Tiberius.

'Until noon to-morrow.'

'So be it, then!  Noon to-morrow!  Meanwhile, you are not to see
Diana.  A woman in love has no mind.  You might glibly persuade
her to marry you.  She would repent of it later.  This decision is
not for the daughter of Gallus to make.  It is all yours, young
man! . . .  That will do!  You may go!'

Stunned by the sudden turn of affairs and the peremptory dismissal,
Marcellus rose slowly, bowed, and moved toward the door where the
old man testily halted him.

'Stay!  You have talked of everything but the haunted robe.  Let us
hear about that before you go.  We may not see you again.'

Returning to his chair, Marcellus deliberately reported his own
strange restoration, traceable to the robe; told also of Lydia's
marvellous recovery.  Having secured the Emperor's attention, he
recited tales of other mysterious occurrences in and about
Capernaum; spoke of the aged Nathanael Bartholomew; and Tiberius--
with an old man's interest in another old man's story--showed
enough curiosity about the storm on the lake to warrant the telling
of it--all of it.  When they wakened Jesus at the crest of the
tempest, Tiberius sat up.  When Jesus, wading through the flooded
boat, mounted the little deck and stilled the storm as a man
soothes a frightened horse--

'That's a lie!' yelled the Emperor, sinking back into his pillows;
and when Marcellus had no more to say, the old man snorted:  'Well!--
go on!  Go on!  It's a lie--but a new lie!  We will say that for
it!  Plenty of gods know how to stir up storms: this one knows how
to stop them! . . .  By the way, what became of that haunted robe?'

'I still have it, sire.'

'You have it here with you?  We would like to see it.'

'I shall send for it, Your Majesty.'

The Chamberlain was instructed to send for Demetrius.  In a few
moments, he appeared: tall, handsome, grave.  Marcellus was proud
of him; a bit apprehensive, too, for it was easy to see that the
Emperor was instantly interested in him.

'Is this the Greek who slaughters Roman Tribunes with his bare
hands?' growled Tiberius.  'Nay, let him answer for himself!' he
warned Marcellus, who had begun to stammer a reply.

'I prefer to fight with weapons, Your Majesty,' said Demetrius,
soberly.

'And what is your favourite weapon?' barked Tiberius.  'The
broadsword?  The dagger?'

'The truth, Your Majesty,' replied Demetrius.

The Emperor frowned, grinned, and turned to Marcellus.

'Why, this fellow's as crazy as you are!' he drawled; then, to
Demetrius, 'We had thought of keeping you as one of our bodyguard,
but--'  He chuckled.  'Not a bad idea!  The truth, eh?  Nobody else
on this island knows how to use that weapon.  You shall stay!'

Demetrius's expression did not change.  Tiberius nodded to
Marcellus, who said, 'Go, and fetch the Galilean robe.'  Demetrius
saluted deeply and made off.

'What manner of miracle will be wrought upon the Emperor, do you
think?' inquired Tiberius, with an intimation of dry bravado.

'I do not know, sire,' replied Marcellus, gravely.

'Perhaps you think we would better not experiment with it.'
Tiberius's tone made a brave show of indifference, but he cleared
his throat huskily after he had spoken.

'I should not presume to advise Your Majesty,' said Marcellus.

'If you were in our place--'  Tiberius's voice was troubled.

'I should hesitate,' said Marcellus.

'You're a superstitious fool!' growled the Emperor.

Demetrius was re-entering with the brown robe folded over his arm.
Tiberius's sunken eyes narrowed.  Marcellus rose; and, taking the
robe from Demetrius, offered it to the old man.

The Emperor reached out his hand, tentatively.  Then, slowly
recoiling, he thrust his hand under the covers.  He swallowed
noisily.

'Take it away!' he muttered.



Chapter XXI


Many a Roman of high distinction would have been overwhelmed with
joy and pride by a summons to have breakfast at the bedside of the
Emperor, but Diana's invitation distressed her.

Since late yesterday afternoon she had been dreamily counting the
hours until she could keep her early morning engagement with
Marcellus.  She was so deeply in love with him that nothing else
mattered.  Now the happy meeting would have to be postponed;
perhaps abandoned altogether, if last night's prolonged interview
in the imperial bedchamber had turned out badly.

Until after midnight, Diana--disinterestedly jabbing uneven
stitches into an embroidery pattern--had listened to every footfall
in the corridors, alert for a message.  At length she had persuaded
herself that Marcellus thought it too late to disturb her.  After a
restless night, she had welcomed the dawn; had stood at the window,
impatient, ecstatic, waiting for the moment when, with any degree
of prudence, she might slip out of the Villa Jovis and speed to her
enchanted pergola.

And now the message had come from the Emperor.  Concealing her
disappointment from the servants, Diana made ready to obey the
summons.  While her maids fluttered about, helping her into the gay
colours which usually brightened the old man's dour mood, she tried
to imagine what might have happened.  Perhaps Tiberius had proposed
some project for Marcellus which would amount to his imprisonment
on this wretched island.  Knowing how anxious she was to leave
Capri, Marcellus might have tried to decline such an offer.  In
that case, Diana, under deep obligation to the Emperor, would be
asked to use her influence.  Her intuition warned her that this
breakfast with Tiberius might be a very unhappy occasion.

Dispatching Acteus to inform Marcellus that she could not keep her
engagement, Diana practised a few bright smiles before her mirror;
and, resolutely holding on to one of them, marched into the
imperial presence.

'How very good of Your Majesty!' she exclaimed.  'I hope I have not
kept you waiting.  Are you famished?'

'We have had our breakfast,' sulked Tiberius, 'an hour ago.'  He
jabbed a sharp brown thumbnail into the ribs of the Chamberlain who
was fussing with the pillows.  'Pour a goblet of orange juice for
the daughter of Gallus--and then get out!  All of you!'

'Not feeling so well?' purred Diana.

'Don't try to joke with us, young woman!' snorted the old man.
'That will do now!' he yelled, at the Chamberlain.  'Stop pottering--
and be gone!  And close the door!'

'I wish I could do something,' sympathized Diana, when they were
alone.

'Well, perhaps you can!  That's why we sent for you!'

'I'll do my best, Your Majesty.'  Diana held her big goblet in both
hands to keep it from trembling.

'We had a long talk with your handsome fool.'  Tiberius hoisted his
tired bones over to the edge of the big bed, and scowled into
Diana's anxious eyes.  'You said that old Dodinius was crazy.
Compared to this Marcellus, Dodinius is a ray of light!'

'I'm sorry,' murmured Diana.  'I was with him for an hour,
yesterday afternoon, and he talked sensibly enough.'

'Perhaps you did not discuss the one thing that touches him.  Do
you know he has become convinced that this Jesus is divine, and has
intentions to rule the whole world?'

'Oh, no, please!' entreated Diana, suddenly sickened.

'You ask him!  You won't have to ask him!  You just say, "Jesus"--
and see what happens to you!'

'But, naturally,' stammered Diana, loyally, 'Marcellus would want
to tell Your Majesty everything about this poor dead Jew, seeing
that's why he was sent abroad.'

'Poor dead Jew, indeed!' shrilled Tiberius.  'This Galilean came to
life again!  Went about the country!  Walked, talked, ate with
people!  Still going about, they think!  Likely to turn up
anywhere!'

'Perhaps they didn't kill him,' suggested Diana.

'Of course they killed him!' snarled Tiberius.

'And Marcellus thinks he came to life; did he see him?'

'No, but he believes it.  And he has it that this Jesus is a god,
who will take command of the world and rule it without armies.'

Diana winced and shook her head.

'I thought he was fully recovered,' she said, dismally.  'This
sounds as if he were worse than ever.  What are we to do?'

'Well, if there is anything to be done, you will have to do it
yourself.  May we remind you that our interest in this mad young
Tribune is solely on your account?  It was for your sake that we
brought him back from that fort at Minoa.  For your sake, again, we
found an errand for him outside the country to give him time to
recover his mind.  We see now that we sent him to the wrong place--
but it is too late to correct that mistake.  He knows that he is
under a heavy obligation to you.  Besides, he loves you.  Perhaps
you can prevail upon him to abandon his interest in this Galilean.'
The old man paused, shook his head slowly, and added, 'We doubt
whether you can do anything.  You see, my child, he really believes
it!'

'Then, why not let him believe it?' insisted Diana.  'I love him,
no matter what he believes about that--or anything!  He won't
pester me with this crazy idea; not if I tell him I have no
interest in it.'

'Ah, but there's more to it than that, young woman!' declared
Tiberius, sternly.  'It isn't as if Marcellus, as a casual
traveller in Galilee, had happened upon this strange story and had
become convinced of its truth.  In that case, he might regard it as
a seven-day wonder--and let it go at that.  As the matter stands,
he probably considers himself bound to do something about it.  He
crucified this Jesus!  He has a debt to pay!  It's a bigger debt,
by far, than the one he owes you!'

'Did he say that, Your Majesty?' asked Diana, deeply hurt.

'No, he did not say that.  But your Marcellus, unfortunately, is a
young man of strong will and high integrity.  This is going to
cause him a great deal of trouble--and you, too, we surmise.  He
will feel obliged to take part in this Jesus movement.'

'Movement?' echoed Diana, mystified.

'Nothing less, and it has in it the seeds of revolution.  Already,
throughout our Palestinian provinces, thousands are professing that
this Jesus is the Christos, the Anointed One, and are calling
themselves Christians.  The thing is moving rapidly, up through
Macedonia, down through Mesopotamia; moving quietly, but gathering
strength.'

Diana listened with wide, incredulous eyes.

'You mean--they might try to overthrow the Empire?'

'Not by force.  If some foolhardy fellow were to stand up on a cart
and yell at these captive people to take up arms against their
masters, they would know that was hopeless.  But--here comes a man
without an army; doesn't want an army; has no political
aspirations; doesn't want a throne; has no offices to distribute;
never fought a battle; never owned a sword; hasn't a thing to
recommend him as a leader, except'--Tiberius lowered his voice to a
throaty rumble--'except that he knows how to make blind men see,
and cripples walk; and, having been killed for creating so much
excitement, returns from the dead, saying, "Follow me--and I will
set you free!"  Well, why shouldn't they follow him, if they
believe all that?'  The old man chuckled mirthlessly.  'There's
more than one kind of courage, my child,' he soliloquized, 'and the
most potent of all is the reckless bravery of people who have
nothing to lose.'

'And you think Marcellus is one of these Christians?' queried
Diana.

'Of course he is!  Makes no bones about it!  He had the audacity to
tell us, to our face, that the Roman Empire is doomed!'

'Why, what an awful thing to say!' exclaimed Diana.

'Well, at least it's a dangerous thing to say,' mumbled Tiberius;
'and if he is fool enough to blurt that out in the presence of the
Emperor, he is not likely to be prudent in his remarks to other
people.'

'He might be tried for treason!'

'Yes, but he wouldn't care.  That's the trouble with this new
Galilean idea.  The people who believe it are utterly possessed!
This Jesus was tried for treason, and convicted, and crucified.
But he rose from the dead, and he will care for all who give up
their lives as his followers.  They have no fear.  Now, you set a
thing like that in motion and there'd be no end to it!'

'But what has Marcellus to gain by predicting doom for the Empire?'
wondered Diana.  'That's quite absurd, I think.'

'Had you thought the Roman Empire might last forever?' rasped
Tiberius.

'I never thought much about it,' admitted Diana.

'No, probably not,' mumbled the old man, absently.  He lay for
some time staring at the high-vaulted ceiling.  'It might be
interesting,' he went on, talking to himself, 'it might be
interesting to watch this strange thing develop.  If it could go on
the way it seems to be going now, nothing could stop it.  But it
won't go on--not like that.  It will come to grief, after a while--
as soon as it gets into a strong position and is able to dictate
terms.  Then it will squabble over its offices and spoils, and grow
heady with power and territory.  The Christian afoot is a
formidable fellow, but when he becomes prosperous enough to ride a
horse--'  Tiberius suddenly broke out in a startling guffaw.  'He!
he! he! when he gets a horse!  Ho! ho! ho! a Christian on horseback
will be just like any other man on horseback!  This Jesus army will
have to travel on foot--if it expects to accomplish anything!'

Diana's eyes widened as she listened, with mingled pity and
revulsion, to the mad old Emperor's prattle.  He had talked quite
rationally for a while.  Now he was off again.  By experience she
knew that his grim amusement would promptly be followed by an
unreasonable irascibleness.  She moved to the edge of her chair, as
to inquire whether she might go now.  The old man motioned her
back.

'Your Marcellus has another audience with us at noon,' he said,
soberly.  'We told him we had no intention of permitting you to
throw yourself away by marrying a man who has anything to do with
this dangerous Jesus business.  If he goes in for it seriously--and
we have no doubt he intends to--he will lose his friends, and his
life, too.  Let him do it if he likes; but he shall not drag you
with him!  We told him he must choose.  We told him if he did not
abandon this Christian movement at once, we would give you in
marriage to Gaius.'

'Oh, please, no!' begged Diana.

'We admit,' chuckled Tiberius, 'that Gaius has his little faults;
but he can make a Princess of you!  You may not think it an ideal
alliance, but you will be happier as a Princess than as the wife of
a crazy man in love with a ghost!'

'What did he say,' Diana whispered, 'when you told him you would
give me to Gaius?'

'He wanted until noon to-day, to consider.'  The old man raised
himself on his elbow to note the effect of this shocking
announcement.  His grin slowly faded when he saw how painfully she
had been wounded.

'He wanted time to consider,' she reflected, brokenly, 'to consider--
whether he would let me be handed over--to Gaius!'

'Yes, and our opinion is that he will let that happen!  Regardless
of his love for you, my child, he will not give up his Jesus!'
Tiberius shook a long bony finger directly in her face.  'That's
what we meant when we told you that this Christian movement is no
small thing!  Men who believe in it will give up everything!  With
Marcellus, nothing else matters.  NOT EVEN YOU!'

'Then perhaps there is no reason why I should talk to him,' said
Diana, hopelessly.  'It would only hurt us both.'

'Oh, it's worth a trial.  We pledged him not to talk with you until
he had come to a decision, but we shall send him word that he is
released from his promise.  Perhaps you can help him decide.'

Diana rose and moved toward the door.

'Better not confront him with our threat to give you to Gaius,'
called the old man.  'You are not supposed to know that!'

                         * * * * * *

They sat close together on the marble lectus in the sequestered
pergola, silently gazing out upon a calm summer sea.  It lacked
less than half an hour of noon now and Marcellus would have to be
going; for he had an urgent appointment with an old man, and old
men--whatever their faults--had a high regard for punctuality.

Everything, it seemed, had been said.  Diana, emotionally
exhausted, leaned her head against Marcellus's shoulder.  Sometimes
an involuntary sob tore into her breathing, and his arm would
tighten about her protectingly.

When they had met there, three hours ago, Diana thought she had
reason to hope that their love would solve the problem.  Marcellus,
strong but tender, had disclosed a depth of passion that had shaken
them both.  Nothing could tear them apart now; nothing!  Diana was
ecstatic.  There could be no trouble for them now.  So long as they
had each other, let the world do what it liked.  Let the Empire
stand or fall.  Let this Jesus go about forever doing good and
ruling men by good will, or let him fail of it, and the world go on
fighting and starving as it had always been fighting and starving;
they had each other, and nothing could separate them!  She hungrily
raised her face to meet his kisses.  He felt her heart pounding.
They were one!

'Come, now,' Diana had whispered, breathlessly, 'let us sit down,
and make some plans.'

They sat, very close together, and very much aware of each other,
until Diana drew a little apart and shook her head.  Her eyes were
radiant, but her lips were trying to be resolute.

'Please, Marcellus!' she murmured, unsteadily.  'Talk to me!  Let
us decide what we will say to the Emperor.  He wants me to be
happy, and he knows I love you.  Why not ask him to give you
something to do in Rome?'

'But he expects you to live here,' Marcellus reminded her.

'Perhaps we can talk him out of that,' hoped Diana.  'My villa is
not finished.  Ill as he is, Tiberius knows he cannot supervise it.
I think it worries him.  He may be glad enough to have done with
it.  Let us tell him we want to go back to Rome, at least for a
while, and visit our people, and be married.  Maybe he will
consent.'

'He might,' agreed Marcellus, from a considerable distance.
'There's no telling what the Emperor will think--about anything.'

'And then,' Diana went on, with girlish enthusiasm, 'you could do
all the things you liked to do, and renew your old friendships, and
go to the Tribunes' Club--'

Marcellus frowned.

'Well, what's the matter with the Tribunes' Club?' demanded Diana.
'You used to spend half your time there, in the gymnasium and the
baths.'

Marcellus leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and stared
moodily at his interlaced fingers.

'That was before I knew what it had cost to erect that marble
clubhouse,' he said, soberly.

'Oh, my dear, why can't you leave off fretting over things you
can't help?' implored Diana.  'It distresses you that the marble
was quarried by slaves.  Well, and so was this marble we're sitting
on--and the marble that went into your villa at home.  Let's agree
it's too bad that some people are slaves; but what are you going to
do about it, all by yourself?'

Marcellus sighed deeply and shook his head.  Then, suddenly
straightening, he faced her with a surprisingly altered mood, his
eyes alight.

'Diana, I am bursting to tell you a story--about a man--about a
remarkable man!'

'If he's the man I think you mean'--Diana's face had lost its
animation--'I'd really rather you didn't.  He has caused you so
much unhappiness, and I think it is time you put him out of your
mind.  I don't believe he has been good for you.'

'Very well,' consented Marcellus, the smile fading from his eyes.
'As you like.'  He fell silent.

Impetuously, Diana moved closer to him, repentant.

'I shouldn't have said that,' she whispered.  'Tell me about him.'

Marcellus was well prepared for this opportunity.  He had given
much thought to what he would say when the time came for him to
tell Diana about Jesus.  It would not be easy to make her
understand.  All her instincts would be in revolt.  She would be
deeply prejudiced against the story.  He had carefully planned the
speech he would make to her, in which he must explain Jesus as a
divine liberator of the world's oppressed.  But now, with Diana's
warm and supple form snuggled close against him, he decided to
abandon this larger appraisal and deal more simply with his story.
He began by telling her about Jonathan and the donkey.

'What a shamefully mean thing to do to that little boy!' she
exclaimed, when Jonathan sorrowfully gave up his donkey to Thomas.

'It was a severe test,' admitted Marcellus, 'but it made a little
man of Jonathan.'

'And why did they want Jonathan to be a little man?' demanded
Diana, making it clear that if she were obliged to listen to this
Galilean story, she reserved the right to make comments and ask
questions.  'I should have thought,' she went on, innocently, 'that
Jonathan would have been ever so much more attractive as a little
boy.'

Conceding that the phrase, 'little man,' had not been skilfully
chosen.  Marcellus thought he should tell her how children felt
toward Jesus; how, according to Justus, they swarmed about him in
his carpenter shop; how, when Jesus went home in the evening, a
crowd of little ones accompanied him.  And dogs.

'Well, I'm glad about the dogs,' drawled Diana.  'From what I had
heard of his goodness, I had supposed that dogs might feel rather
embarrassed in his company.'  Instantly she realized that this
flippancy had stung.  Marcellus recoiled as if she had slapped him.

'His goodness was not negative, Diana, and it was not smug, and it
was not weak,' declared Marcellus.  'May I reconstruct your picture
of him?'

'Please do,' murmured Diana, absently.  She caressingly retied the
heavy silk cord at the throat of his tunic, and smiled into his
sober eyes from under her long lashes, her full lips offering a
frank invitation.  Marcellus swallowed hard, and gave her a
fraternal pat on the cheek.  She sighed and shouldered back under
his arm.

Then he told her all about Miriam; all about the wedding-feast--and
Miriam's voice.

'And she never could sing before?'

'No, she had never wanted to sing before.'

'And you talked with her, and heard her sing?  You liked her, I
think.  Was she pretty?'

'Very!'

'A Jewess?'

'Yes.'

'They are very pretty, sometimes,' conceded Diana.  'It's too bad
she was a cripple.'

'She didn't mind being lame.  This other gift was so very
important.'

'Why didn't Jesus let her walk?'

'Sounds as if you thought he could,' commented Marcellus,
encouraged.

'Well,' Diana replied, defensively, 'you think he could, don't you?
I'm taking your word for it.'

'Miriam thinks she can do more good to the unfortunate in her town
if she, too, has a disability--'

'And yet can sing, in spite of her affliction,' interposed Diana.
'She must be a fine person.'

'She hadn't been a fine person,' said Marcellus, 'not until this
strange thing happened to her.'

'Was she in love with Jesus?'

'Yes, everybody was.'

'You know what I mean.'

'No, I don't think she was.  Not that way.'

Diana thoughtfully rubbed her cheek against Marcellus's sleeve.

'Wasn't Jesus in love with anyone?' she murmured.

'Everyone,' said Marcellus.

'Perhaps he thought it was wrong, to love just one person, above
all others.'

'I think that might have been wrong--for him.  You see, Diana,
Jesus was not an ordinary person.  He had unusual powers, and felt
that his life belonged to the people.'

'What other things did he do?'  Diana's curiosity seemed to be more
serious.  'There was little Jonathan's foot, and Miriam's voice--'

'I must tell you about Lydia.'

But before he went into the story of Lydia's touching the robe,
Marcellus thought he should review his own peculiar experiences
with it.  Diana grew indignant as he relived that tragic night at
the Insula in Jerusalem when Paulus had forced him to put on the
Galilean's robe.

'This poor Jesus had suffered enough!' she exclaimed.  'They had no
right to make a mockery of his clothes!  And he had been so brave--
and had done no wrong!'

Heartened by her sympathy, Marcellus had gone on to tell her all
about that afternoon in Athens when, desperate over his mental
condition, he had decided to destroy himself.

'You may find it hard to understand, dear, how a person could come
to a decision to take his own life.'

'Oh, no!'  Diana shook her head.  'I can understand that,
Marcellus.  I could easily come to that decision--in certain
circumstances.'

'It is a lonely business--suicide,' muttered Marcellus.

'Perhaps that is why I can understand it,' said Diana.  'I am well
acquainted with loneliness.'

Then Marcellus proceeded to tell her about his finding of the robe,
and the peculiar effect it had on him.  Diana looked up into his
face, her eyes swimming with tears.

'There's no use trying to explain,' he went on.  'I gathered up the
robe in my hands--and it healed my mind.'

'Maybe that was because you knew it had belonged to another lonely
man,' suggested Diana.

'Curiously enough,' said Marcellus, 'that was the sensation I had
when I held the robe in my arms.  Some strange friendship--a new,
invigorating friendship--had come to my rescue.  The painful
tension was relaxed.  Life was again worth living.'  He gravely
studied her brooding eyes.  'I wonder if you believe what I am
saying?'

'Yes, dear, I believe it; and, considering your earlier experience
with his robe, I am not very much surprised.'  She was silent for a
moment, and then said, 'Tell me now about this Lydia.'

It was quite a lengthy story, with many unforeseen excursions.
Diana had remarked that it must almost have killed Lydia when she
had to force her way into that huge crowd of strangers in the
street.  And that had led Marcellus to interrupt himself long
enough to describe those crowds; how the poor people had dropped
their sickles and left their looms and followed for days, sleeping
on the ground, going hungry and footsore--if only they might stay
close to Jesus.

Diana listened with rapt attention, narrowed eyes, parted lips, as
the Galilean story went on, and on, towards its close.

'And you honestly think he is alive, now?' she asked, earnestly.

Marcellus nodded his head, and after a moment continued with an
account of the reappearances.

'And you really think Stephanos saw him?' asked Diana, in an awed
voice.

'Do you find that so hard to believe, dear, after the other things
I have told you?'

'I want to believe what you believe, Marcellus.'

He had drawn her into his arms and kissed her.

'It meant much to me, my darling, to have shared this story with
you,' he said, tenderly.  'Knowing how you felt about the
supernatural, I hardly expected you to be so understanding.'

'Well, this is different!'  Diana suddenly released herself and sat
up to face him.  'What I feared was that it might somehow affect
your life--and mine, too.  It is a beautiful story, Marcellus, a
beautiful mystery.  Let it remain so.  We don't have to understand
it.  And we don't have to do anything about it, do we?  Let us plan
to live, each for the other, just as if this hadn't happened.'

She waited a long time for his reply.  His face was drawn, and his
eyes were transfixed to the far horizon.  Diana's slim fingers
traced a light pattern on the back of his hand.

'But it HAS affected my life, darling!' said Marcellus, firmly.  'I
CAN'T go on as if it hadn't happened.'

'What had you thought of doing?'  Diana's voice was unsteady.

'I don't know, yet,' he replied, half to himself.  'But I know I
have a duty to perform.  It is not clear--what I am to do.  But I
couldn't go back to living as I did, not even if I tried.  I
COULDN'T!'

Then, with a depth of earnestness that stilled her breathing,
Marcellus poured out his pent-up convictions about this strange
thing that had come to pass.  It wasn't just a brief phenomenon
that had mystified the country people of little Galilee.  It was
nothing less than a world-shaking event!  For thousands of years,
the common people of the whole earth had lived without hope of
anything better than drudgery, slavery, and starvation.  Always the
rapacious rulers of some empire were murdering and pillaging the
helpless.

'Look at our record!' he exclaimed, with mounting indignation.
'The Roman Empire has enslaved half the population of the world!
And we have thought it brave to subdue these little, undefended
states!  Look at the heroic sculpture and the bronze tablets
dedicated to Emperors and Princes, Knights and Prefects, Legates
and Tribunes who have butchered thousands whose only crime was
their inability to protect themselves and their lands!  This, we
thought, was a great credit to the Empire; a gallant thing to do!
"I sing of men and of arms!" chants old Publius Vergilius.  Sounds
brave, doesn't it?

'Diana, dear,' he went on, gravely, 'while on the ship coming home
I fell to thinking about the Roman splendours, the monuments in the
Forum, the marble palaces; and then I remembered that all these
beautiful and impressive things have either been stolen from other
people of better talents than our own, or built with tribute money
extorted from the ragged and hungry!  And I hated these things'.
And I hated what we had called Heroism!'

'But you can't do anything about that, Marcellus,' protested Diana,
weakly.

Marcellus's storm was subsiding to a mutter.  With bitter irony he
growled:  'Invincible old Rome--that lives in sloth and luxury--
paid for by people up in Aquitania, Anglia, Hispania, Gaul--and
down in Crete--and over in Cappadocia, Pontus, and Thrace--where
little children cry for food!  Ah, yes, our brave ones will sneer,
no doubt, at the unarmed Jesus.  They will revile him as a
weakling, because the only blood he ever shed was his own!  But the
time will come, my dear, WHEN THIS JESUS WILL HAVE HIS WAY!'

'So, then, what will you do?' Diana asked, with a weary sigh.

'For the present, I'm sure only of what I will NOT do!' declared
Marcellus, passionately.  'I shall not be going back to lounge
about in the Tribunes' Club, pretending to have forgotten I know a
man who can save the world!  I am done with this iniquity!  I am
free of this shame!'

'But, do you mean to cut yourself off from all your old friends--
and--and go about with these poor slaves?' asked Diana.

'It is WE who are the poor slaves, my dear,' deplored Marcellus.
'These ragged ones, who follow the divine Galilean, are on their
way to freedom!'

'You mean--they will band together--and revolt?'

'They may still wear chains on their wrists, Diana, but not on
their souls!'

'You're not thinking of joining them!'  Diana's cheeks were pale.

'I HAVE joined them!' muttered Marcellus.

Impetuously springing to her feet, Diana gave way to a surprising
outburst of desperate disappointment.

'Then you can leave me out of it!' she cried.  Burying her face in
her arms, and weeping inconsolably, she went on, half-incoherently,
'If you're going to ruin yourself--and make an outcast of yourself--
and become an object of ridicule--that's for you to decide--but--'

As impulsively as she had torn away from him, Diana sank down
dejectedly on the lectus, and threw her arms tightly around his
neck.

'You are dreaming, Marcellus!' she sobbed.  'You are making a new
world out of people and things that don't exist!  And you know it!
IF men would stop fighting--IF men would live as your Jesus wants
them to--IF men would be honest and merciful--then there would be a
new world!  Nobody would be killed!  Little children would have
enough to eat!  Yes--but men are not made that way.  Maybe there
will come a time when people will stop mistreating one another--and
weeds will stop growing--and lions will stop biting--but not in our
time!  Why shall we make ourselves wretched?  Why not accept things
as they are?  Why throw your life away?'  Diana pressed her wet
face hard against his shoulder.  'Marcellus,' she moaned piteously,
'don't you know you are breaking my heart?  Don't you care?'

'My darling,' said Marcellus, huskily, 'I care--so much--that I
would rather die than see you in sorrow.  I am not choosing--which
way I shall go.  I am not permitted a choice.'

There seemed nothing to say, after that.  It was nearing noon and
Marcellus would have to go to the Emperor.  Diana raised her face
and glanced at the sundial.  Her eyes were heavy with weeping and
the tight little curls on her forehead were damp.  Marcellus's
throat ached in pity as he looked down into her flushed face.  She
smiled pensively.

'I must be a dreadful sight,' she sighed.

Marcellus kissed her eyes.

'You must not keep him waiting,' she murmured, lifelessly.  'Come
back to me--this afternoon--soon as you can--and tell me about it.'

He drew her tightly to him.  Her lips trembled as he kissed her.

'Our happiness was too sweet to last, Marcellus.  Go, now, dear.  I
shall try to understand.  I know this has been as hard for you as
for me.  I shall always love you.'  Her voice fell to a whisper.
'I hope your Jesus will take care of you.'

'Do you believe what I told you about him?' asked Marcellus,
gently.

'Yes, dear, I believe it.'

'Then--I think he will take care of you, too.'

                         * * * * * *

The Chamberlain was waiting for him in the atrium and led him
directly to the imperial suite.  Opening the door, he stood aside
deferentially, and when Marcellus had passed in, he noiselessly
closed the door behind him.

Tiberius, propped up high on his pillows, regarded him with a
penetrating scowl as he crossed the room and approached the massive
bed.

Marcellus, bowing deeply, came to attention and waited the
Emperor's pleasure.  For a long time the old man stared silently
into his grave face.

'It is plain to see,' he said, soberly, 'that you have decided to
cast your lot with your Jesus.  We were sure you would take that
course.'

Marcellus inclined his head, but made no audible reply.

There was another long, strained silence.

'That will be all, then,' growled Tiberius.  'You may go!'

Marcellus hesitated for a moment.

'Go!' shouted the Emperor.  'You are a fool!'  The shrill old voice
rose to a scream.  'You are a fool!'

Dazed and speechless in the face of the old man's clamorous anger,
Marcellus retreated unsteadily toward the door, which had swung
open.

'You are a fool!' shrieked Tiberius.  'You will die for your
folly!'  The cracked voice deepened to a hoarse bellow.  'YOU ARE A
BRAVE, BRAVE FOOL!'

                         * * * * * *

Stunned by the encounter, Marcellus walked slowly and indecisively
into the atrium where the Chamberlain, bowing obsequiously,
directed him out toward the high-vaulted peristyle.

'If you are ready, sir,' he said, 'the chair is waiting to take you
down to the wharf.  Your luggage has preceded you, and is on the
barge.'

'I am not ready to go,' declared Marcellus, crisply.  'I have
another appointment here before I leave.'

The Chamberlain smiled frostily and shook his head.

'It is His Majesty's command, sir.  You are to go--immediately.'

'May I not have a word with my slave?' protested Marcellus.  'Where
is he?'

'Your Greek, sir, is temporarily in confinement.  He objected so
violently to seeing your effects packed and carried off that it was
necessary to restrain him.'

'He fought?'

'One of the Nubians, sir, was slow about regaining consciousness.
Your slave is rough--very rough.  But the Nubians will teach him
better manners.'  The Chamberlain bowed again, with exaggerated
deference, and pointed toward the luxurious chair.  Four brawny
Thracians stood at attention beside it, waiting for their
passenger.  He hesitated.  A file of palace guards quietly drew up
behind him.

'Farewell, sir,' said the Chamberlain.  'A pleasant voyage to you.'



Chapter XXII


Apparently the word had been circulated on the spacious deck that
as soon as this belated passenger arrived the barge would put off,
for much interest was shown at the rail when the chair drew up
beside the gangway.  There was some annoyance, too, especially on
the patrician faces of a group of Senators unaccustomed to waiting
the convenience of a tardy Tribune.

The beautiful barge moved quietly away from the wharf, and the
passengers--a score or more--disposed themselves in the luxurious
chairs grouped under the gay awning.  A light and lazy breeze
ruffled the blue bay.  The two banks of long oars swung
rhythmically, gracefully, to the metallic beat of the boatswain's
hammers.  Click!  Clack!  A crimson sail slowly climbed the forward
mast; and, after a few indecisive flutters, resolved to aid the
slaves below.

Marcellus found a seat quite apart from the others and moodily
surveyed the distant wharves of Puteoli, on the mainland.  After a
while, a dozen sleek and nearly naked Nubians came up from the
hold, bearing silver trays high above their shaved brown heads, and
spread fanwise among the passengers.  The Emperor's midday
hospitality was generous, but Marcellus was not hungry.

The Augusta, at her present speed, should be able to reach Rome by
late afternoon of the day after to-morrow.  For the first time in
his life, Marcellus had no desire to go home.  There would be
endless explanations to make.  His father would be disappointed,
hurt, exasperated; his mother would resort to tears; Lucia would
try to be sympathetic, but it would be sheer pity.  He attempted to
imagine a conversation with Tullus.  They had been very close and
confidential.  What had they to talk about, were they to meet now?
Tullus would inquire, rather gingerly, what on earth he had been
doing these past two years.  Was there any conceivable answer to
that question?

As the afternoon wore on, Marcellus's disinclination to return to
Rome was crystallizing to a definite decision, and he began to
consider alternatives.  At sunset, he sauntered to the Captain's
qua