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Title: Felicitas - A Tale of the German Migrations: A.D. 476
Author: Dahn, Felix, 1834-1912
Language: English
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                               FELICITAS



                               FELICITAS


                   _A TALE OF THE GERMAN MIGRATIONS_
                                A.D. 476



                                   BY
                               FELIX DAHN



                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
                                   BY
                              M. A. C. E.



                                 LONDON
                           MACMILLAN AND CO.
                                  1883
                        [_All rights reserved_]



                       CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS,
                         CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS.



                               FELICITAS.



                             INTRODUCTION.


Some years ago I was at work in Salzburg: in the library among the old
records, and in the Museum of Roman antiquities.

My studies were principally concerned with the fifth century: the time
when the Germanic tribes invaded these regions, the Roman garrisons
retiring with or without resistance, while many settlers remained in
the land. Peasants, trades-people, mechanics, would not forsake their
homes, nor give up their lucrative occupations, would not quit their
valued, long-cherished plots of ground, but stayed under the rule of
the Barbarian; who, when the storm and battle of conquest were over,
and the division of the country completed, did not molest them.

The work of the day over, I wandered in the beautiful, long-familiar
country of the Salzach valley; the warm June evenings permitted long
wanderings up to a late hour. Thought and fancy were filled with the
pictures of the life and the changing fate of the latest Romans in
these lands. My imagination was excited by the inscriptions, coins, and
utensils, by the Roman monuments of every kind which are found in such
rich abundance in and around Salzburg; for this town, with its
prominent fortress, the "Capitolium," on the rocky hill dominating
stream and valley, was for centuries, under the name of "Claudium
Juvavum," a chief bulwark of the Roman rule and the seat of a
flourishing and brilliant development of the Roman culture. The
inscriptions testify to the official rank of many of the citizens, such
as Duumvirs, Decurions, Ædiles of the markets and games; to the
importance of the town as a place of trade, and to the encouragement
given to the arts and manufactures.

That which had occupied me during the labours of the day was pictured
by the play of fancy, when in the evening I wandered out through the
gate of the town: stream and road, hill and valley, were then peopled
for me with forms of the Roman life; and from the distant north-west,
like the driving clouds that often arose from the Bavarian plain,
approached menacingly the invading Germans.

Most frequently, I preferred to saunter along the banks of the stream
in the direction of the great Roman road, which passed the Chiemsee,
and crossing its effluent, the Alz, at Siebruck (Bedaium), and the Inn
(Oenus) at Pfünz (Pons Oeni), led towards the province of Vindelicia
and its splendid capital, Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicorum). Many coins,
fragments of pottery, urns, gravestones, and household utensils of
every kind have been found in the level country which stretches on each
side of the old highroad, and is now for the most part covered with
forest and brushwood, and in some parts overgrown with thick ivy. It is
evident that farms, and also stately villas of the rich citizens, were
thickly scattered beyond the outer wall of the fortified town, thus
filling and adorning the whole valley. I often wandered in the
neighbourhood of this Roman road, the traces of which were still
distinctly visible, watching the setting sun, and wondering what were
the feelings of the inhabitants of these villas, when, instead of the
proud Legions marching by on their way to the Roman town on the Lech,
it was the first weak bands of the Germans from the conquered
Vindelicia who galloped in, carefully reconnoitring; and soon to
be followed by larger masses, more daring, or rather having the
well-grounded confidence that they would find the country only weakly
defended, and would be able to establish themselves as masters over the
defenceless Romans who still remained.

In such fancies, not without the silent wish that I might myself glean
some small memorial of Roman times from this land so rich in
remembrances, I penetrated one evening deeper into the brushwood on the
right of the Roman road, following upwards the course of a small
stream, through a hollow often strewn with broken stones and potsherds,
which moss and ivy had thickly overgrown, and which cracked not seldom,
under my footsteps. I picked up many tiles and bits of pottery. Were
they Roman? No certain evidence could be gathered from _these_.

I determined to-day to follow the rivulet till I should reach its
source, which I imagined to be under the gentle slope of a moderately
high hill; for I knew that the Romans liked to build their quiet villas
as well as their military stations by running water.

It was very hot on that summer day, I was tired in body and mind, and
it was only slowly, and with difficulty, that I could ascend the course
of the brook, forcing my way through the thick and often nearly
impassable bushes by the help of my alpenstock, which I carried with,
me, as I often climbed the mountains in my wanderings.

I could willingly have stretched myself drowsily on the soft inviting
moss; but I resisted the inclination, and determined to press through
and up to the goal I had set myself: the source of the stream.

In half an hour the slope was reached; the height is called by the
people, "the Pagan mound." Along the latter part of the way I had
noticed a striking increase in the number and size of the fragments of
stone; among them also were red and gray marble, like that which had
been quarried in the neighbourhood for unnumbered centuries; and it
was, as I had imagined, close under the crown of the hill the stream
trickled out of the ground.

It appeared to have been once surrounded by masonry; this was in part
still perceptible, carefully polished clear gray marble enclosed it
here and there in a handsome setting, and round about lay scattered
numerous tiles. My heart beat quickly, not only in consequence of the
arduous climb, but also, I confess it, in hopeful expectation, I was
yet very young. Suppose if to-day and here, Mercury, the Roman, or
Wotan, the German god of wishes and discovery, should give into my hand
the long-desired memorial of the Romans of Juvavum; the name "Pagan
mound" gave undoubted evidence of the Roman occupation--for the Roman
road is here called the "Pagan road"--added to this, the source of the
spring, the traces of the marble setting, the many tiles--then the
sun's rays, just before setting, fell across the brushwood and shone
directly on the tile-slab lying before me. Cement! I picked it up and
tested it; it was without doubt that Roman cement which, becoming hard
as stone during the lapse of centuries, so marks out the buildings of
eternal Rome, I turned the piece over; there, O joy! was burnt in the
undoubted motto of the Twenty-second Legion: _Primigenia pia fidelis!_
And as I bend down, highly pleased, to try the next brick, a yet
stronger sunbeam falls on a piece of peculiar light-gray stone. It is
marble, I see now, and on the surface there are three Roman letters
distinctly visible: "hic...." There the stone was broken; but close to
it, the broken edge of a similar piece of gray stone projected from the
moss and ivy. Does the continuation of the inscription lie here buried
under a covering of moss and turf?

I pulled at the stone, but it was too heavy, either from the load of
earth or from its own size.

After some useless efforts, I found that I must clear off the layers of
turf and moss before the marble would entrust me with its secret.

Had it one to narrate? Certainly! I held the commencement in my hand:
"Hic," "here"--_what_ had here taken place, or was here attested?

After I had with my pocket-knife cleared the first piece from earth and
root-fibres, I held its broken surface to that of the still covered
slab; they fitted very well together. Then I set to work; it was not
easy, not soon over; with hand, knife, and the point of my alpenstock,
I had to scrape and tear away fully two feet of turf, earth, moss, and,
toughest of all, the numerous little roots of the clasping ivy;
although the sun was setting and the breeze was cool, the labour made
me very hot; the perspiration fell from my brow on the old Roman stone,
which now showed itself as a tolerably long slab. After the first few
minutes my zeal was sharpened by perceiving more letters. It was at
last so far laid bare that I could take hold of the edges with both
hands, and with some little jerks bring it fully to view. I then held
the broken stone with the deciphered _hic_ against it; this gave me the
direction in which farther to search.

I hastily scraped away earth, stones, and moss from the cutting of the
letters, for it was quickly getting darker, and I wished to make out at
once the long-buried secret. I succeeded; without question, though
certainly with difficulty, I read the inscription, in two lines under
each other:

            Hic habitat Felicit...
            Nihil mali intret.

The two last letters of the third word alone were missing; the stone
was here broken away, and its companion piece was not to be found; but
it was self-evident that the missing letters were--as--the inscription
meant:

            Here dwells happiness;
            May nothing evil enter in.

Clearly the gray marble slab had formed the threshold of the entrance
to the garden or porch of the villa; and the adage expressed the wish
that all evil might be kept far from the door.

I sought in vain for yet farther traces, for remains of household
utensils.

Pleased and satisfied with the discovery of the pretty proverb, I then
rested.

Wiping my heated brow, I sat down on the soft moss by my work, thinking
again and again of the words; I supported my back against an old oak,
which had grown up out of the rubbish of the house, or, perhaps, out of
the good mould of the little garden.

A wondrous quiet reigned over the hill, which was quite separated from
the world by trees and bushes.

Only very, very faintly one heard the trickling of the small, scanty
vein of water which came out of the earth close by me, and only
sometimes, when it found a quicker fall, rippled more strongly. Once,
no doubt, when handsomely enclosed in the clear gray marble, it had
spoken loader.

In the distance, on the summit of a high beech, the golden oriole sang
its flute-like evening song, which told of still deeper forest
loneliness, for the listener seldom hears the notes of the "Pirol,"
except in such a solitude. Bees hummed here and there over the mossy
carpet, coming out of the dark thicket and seeking the warmer light,
sleepy themselves and lulling to sleep with their humming.

I thought, whose "happiness" once dwelt here? And has the wish of the
inscription been fulfilled? Was the proverb powerful enough to keep off
all evil? The stone which bore it is broken--a bad sign. And what kind
of happiness was this? But stay! At that time Felicitas occurs as a
_woman's name_; perhaps the proverb, with a graceful double meaning,
would say: "Here dwells happiness; that is to say, my Felicitas; may
nothing evil come over her, over our threshold!"

But "Felicitas"--who was she? and who was he, whose happiness she had
been, and what had become of them? And this villa, how----?

This was my last waking thought, for with the last question I fell
asleep.

And long did I slumber; for when the song of the nightingale, loudly
exultant, close to my ear, awoke me, it was dark night; a single star
shone through the branches of the oak. I sprang up: "Felicitas!
Fulvius!" I cried, "Liuthari! Felicitas! where are they?"

"Felicitas!" softly repeated the echo from the hill. All else was still
and dark.

So was it a dream?

Now, _this_ dream I will retain.

Felicitas, I hold thee!

Thou shalt not escape me.

Poetical fancy can immortalise thee.

And I hastened home, and the same night noted down the history which I
had dreamt among the ruins of the old Roman villa.



                               CHAPTER I.


It was a beautiful evening in June, The sun threw its golden beams from
the west, from Vindelicia, on the Mercurius Hill, and the modest villa
which crowned it.

Here and there on the great street a two-wheeled cart, drawn by a yoke
of Noric oxen, was returning home at the close of the market-day
through the west gate of Juvavum, the _Porta Vindelica_. The colonists
and peasants had been selling vegetables, fowls, and pigeons in the
Forum of Hercules; but the bustle of the street reached the hill only
as a murmur. Here it was still and quiet; one only heard outside the
low stone wall which surrounded the garden the lively rippling of a
little spring, which at its source was prettily enclosed in marble, and
after it had fed the fountain in the middle, and had wandered through
the garden in artificially winding rivulets, escaped through a gap in
the wall and hurried down the hill in a stone channel. Close by was the
gate entrance, surmounted by a statue of Mercury, but open, without
door or lattice. In the direction of the town, towards the south-east,
there lay at the foot of the hill carefully tended vegetable and fruit
gardens, meadows with the most succulent verdure, and corn-fields with
luxuriant grain, which products the Romans had brought into the land of
the barbarians.

Behind the villa, towards the north, fine beech-woods towered and
rustled, ascending the mountain slopes; and out of their depths sounded
from afar the metallic note of the golden oriole.

It was so beautiful, so peaceful; but from the west--and no less from
the south-east!--threatening storm-clouds were rising.

From the entrance a straight path, strewn with white sand, led through
the wide-spreading garden, between tall ilices and yews, which
according to the long ruling fashion had been cut into all kinds of
geometrical figures--a taste, or rather want of taste, which the Rococo
did not invent, but only newly borrowed from the gardens of the
Imperators.

Statues were placed at regular intervals in the space between the
garden gate and the entrance to the dwelling-house: nymphs, a Flora, a
satyr, a Mercury--bad work in plaster; the stout Crispus made them by
the dozen in his workshop on the Vulcan market-place in Juvavum; and he
sold them cheap: for the times were not good for _men_, and were bad
for gods and demi-gods; but these were all gifts, for Crispus was the
father's brother of the young householder.

From the entrance of the garden, echoing from the stone wall of the
enclosure, there sounded several strokes of a hammer, only lightly, for
they were given carefully by an artist-hand; they seemed to be the last
improving, finishing efforts of a master.

Now the hammerer sprang up; he had been kneeling just within the
entrance, near to which, standing upright against each other, were some
dozen yet unworked marble slabs, which pointed out the dwelling of a
stone-mason. He stuck the little hammer into the leather belt which
fastened the skin apron over his blue tunic, shook from a little
oil-flask a few drops on a woollen cloth, rubbed therewith the marble
till it was smooth as a mirror, turned his head aside, as a bird will
that wishes to look closely at anything, and then, nodding well
pleased, read from the slab at the entrance:

"Yes, yes! here dwells happiness; _my_ happiness, _our_ happiness: so
long as my Felicitas dwells here--happy and making happy. May
misfortune never step over this threshold: banished by the adage, may
every bad spirit Halt! Now is the house beautifully finished by this
inscription. But where is she, then? She must see it and praise me.
Felicitas," cried he, turning towards the house, "come then!"

He wiped the sweat from his brow, and stood upright--a supple, youthful
form, slender, not above the middle height, not unlike the Mercury of
the garden, whose proportions Crispus had formed according to old
tradition; dark-brown hair, in short curls, covered almost like a cap
his round head; under large eyebrows, two dark eyes laughed pleasantly
on the world; the naked feet and arms showed a fine shape, but little
strength; only in the right arm powerful muscles raised themselves; the
brown skin apron was sprinkled white with marble dust, he shook it off,
and cried again louder, "Felicitas!"

Then appeared on the threshold of the house a white figure, who,
drawing back the dark-yellow curtain, which was fastened to rings
running on a bronze rod, was framed like a picture in the two pilasters
of the entrance--a quite young girl--or was it a young wife? Yes, she
must be already a wife, this child of hardly seventeen years, for she
is without doubt the mother of the infant which, with her left arm, she
nestles to her bosom: only the mother holds a child with such
expression in the movements and countenance. Two fingers of the right
hand, the inner surface turned outwards, the young mother laid on her
lips: "Be quiet!" said she, "our child sleeps." And now the hardly
full-ripe form glided down the four stone steps which led from the
house into the garden, with the left arm carefully raising the child
higher and pressing it closer, with the right gently lifting the hem of
her plaited robe as high as her well-formed ankles. It was a spectacle
of perfect grace: young and childlike, like Raphael's Madonna, but not
humble and at the same time mystically glorious, as the mother of the
Christ-child; there was nothing incomprehensible, nothing miraculous,
only a noble simplicity and yet royal loftiness in her unconscious
dignity and innocence. There floated, as it were, a sweet-sounding
music round the figure of this Hebe, every movement being in perfect
harmony; wife and yet maiden; entirely human, perfectly at rest and
contented in the love of her young husband and of the child at her
breast. Lovely, touching, and dignified at the same time, in all the
perfect beauty of her figure, her face and her complexion so modest,
that in her presence, as before a beautiful statue, every wish was
silent.

She wore no ornament; her light-brown hair, shining with a golden
lustre when the sun kissed it, flowed back in natural waves from the
open, well-formed temples, leaving the rather low forehead free, and
was fastened at her neck in a loose knot. A milk-white robe of the
finest wool, fastened on the left shoulder with a beautifully shaped,
but simple silver brooch, hung in folds down to her ankles, showing the
pretty red leather sandals; leaving bare the neck and arms, which were
still childlike, but rather too long. The robe was fastened at the
waist with a wide bronze girdle.

Thus she moved silently down the steps, and approached her husband. The
long narrow face had that wonderful, almost bluish-white, complexion
only possessed by the daughters of Ionia, and which no noon-tide sun of
the south can embrown; the eye-brows, in a half-circle, regular as if
drawn with compasses, might have given to the countenance a lifeless,
statuesque appearance, but under the long, slightly curved, black
eye-lashes, the dark-brown gazelle-like eyes, now directed towards her
beloved, shone with a life full of feeling.

He flew towards her with an elastic step, lifted carefully, tenderly,
the sleeping child from her arm, and taking the flat straw lid from his
tool-basket, he placed the child on it, under the shade of a rose-bush.
The evening breeze threw the scented leaves of a full-blown rose on the
little one: he smiled in his sleep.

Then the master, winding his arm round the waist of his young wife, led
her to the just completed entrance-slab, and said:

"Now is the proverb ready, which I have kept hidden from thee till I
could finish it; now read, and know, and feel"--and he kissed her
tenderly on the mouth: "Thou--thou thyself art the happiness; _Thou_
dwellest here."

The young wife held her hand before her eyes to protect them from the
sun, which now shone in almost horizontal beams through the open
gateway; she read and blushed, the colour rose perceptibly in her
delicate white cheeks, her bosom heaved, her heart beat quickly: "O
Fulvius! thou art good. How thou dost love me! How happy we are!" And
she laid her two hands and arms on his right shoulder, on the other her
beautiful head.

He heartily pressed her to himself. "Yes, overflowing, without shadow
is our happiness--without measure or end."

Quickly, with a slight trembling, as if shivering, she raised herself,
and looked him anxiously in the face: "O, do not provoke the holy ones.
It is whispered," said she, herself whispering, "they are envious." And
she held her hand before his mouth.

But he pressed a loud kiss upon the small fingers, and cried: "I am not
jealous, I, a _man_--why should the holy ones be envious? I do not
believe that. I do not believe it of the holy ones--nor of the heathen
gods, if indeed they still have life and power."

"Speak not of them! They certainly live!--but they are bad spirits, and
he who names them, he calls them near; thus warns the Presbyter of the
Basilica."

"I fear them not. They have protected our ancestors for many
generations."

"Yes, but we have turned away from them! They defend us no longer. Only
the saints are our defenders against the barbarians. Alas! if they came
here, trampled down the flowers in the garden, and carried away our
child."

And she knelt down and kissed the little sleeper.

But the young father laughed. "The Germans, dost thou mean? they steal
no children! They have more than they can feed. But it is true----they
may perhaps one day sound out their war-cry before the gates of
Juvavum."

"Yes, that they may, very soon!" broke in an anxious voice, and the fat
Crispus, breathing heavily after his hot walk, entered the garden.

"Ave, Phidias in plaster," cried Fulvius to him.

"Welcome, uncle," said Felicitas, giving him her hand.

The broad-brimmed felt hat which he had drawn over his brow to protect
his red, fat, shining, good-humoured face, and his stump nose, from the
sun, Crispus threw on his neck, so that it hung by the leather strap on
his broad back. "May Hygeia never leave thee, my daughter; the Graces
never forsake thee, their fourth sister. Yes, the Germans! A horseman
came last night with secret information for the Tribune. But two hours
after we knew it all, we, early guests at the Baths of Amphitrite. The
rider is a Wascon; no Wascon keeps his mouth closed if you pour wine
therein. A battle has been fought at the ford of the Isar: our troops
have fled, the watch-tower of Vada is burnt. The barbarians have
crossed the river."

"Bah!" laughed Fulvius, "that is yet far away. Go, darling, prepare a
cooling drink for our uncle--thou knowest what he likes: not too much
water! And _if_ they come, they will not eat us. They are fierce giants
in battle--children after the victory. Have I not lived months among
them as their prisoner? I fear nothing from them."

"Nothing for thyself--but for this sweet wife?"

Felicitas did not hear this question; she had taken up the child and
gone with it into the house.

Fulvius shook his curly locks. "No! They would do nothing to her, that
is not their custom. Certainly, did I fall, she would not be long left
a widow. But there are people not in the bearskins of the barbarians,
who would willingly tear her from the arms of her husband."

And he seized angrily the hammer in his belt.

"She must not suspect anything of it, the pure heart!" continued he.

"Certainly not. But thou must be on the watch. I met the Tribune lately
in the office of the old money-lender."

"The usurer! the blood-sucker!"

"I was able, fortunately, to pay him my little debt. The slave
announced me. I waited behind the curtain: I then heard a deep voice
mention thy name--and Felicitas. I entered. The Tribune stood with the
money-dealer. They were quickly silent when they perceived me. And just
now, on the way here, whom should I overtake on the highway? Leo the
Tribune, and Zeno the money-dealer! The latter pointed with his staff
to thy house, the flat roof of which, with its little statues,
projected above the trees. I guessed their conversation, and the object
of their journey. Unseen I sprang from the road into the ditch, and
hastened by the shorter way, the steep meadow path, to warn thee. Take
care--they will soon be here."

"Let him only come, the miser! I have earned and carefully put away the
sum that I owe him for marble supplied from Aquileia, and for the town
taxes. My other creditors I have asked to wait, or rather promised them
higher interest, and have put all the money together for this
destroyer. But what does the Tribune want with me? I owe him nothing,
except a knife-thrust for the look with which he devoured my precious
one."

"Be careful! _His_ knife is more powerful: it is the sword; and behind
him stand the wild Mauritanian cavalry, and the Isaurian hirelings,
whom we must pay with precious gold to protect us from the barbarians."

"But who defends us from the defenders? The Emperor in distant Ravenna?
He rejoices if the Germans do not cross the Alps; he troubles himself
no more about this land, which has been so long Roman."

"Except in extortionate taxes, to squeeze out our last blood-drops."

"Bah! The State taxes! It is many years since they were collected. No
Imperial functionary ventures now over the mountains. I stand indeed
here on Imperial soil. But what is the name of the man who is now
Emperor, and to whom this bit of land belongs, of which he has never
heard? Every two years another Emperor is made known to us--but only
through the coinage."

"And that becomes ever worse."

"It _cannot_ get worse; that is a comfort."

"A friend tells me that the taxes get more and more intolerable in
Mediolanum, where there are still bailiffs and soldiers to levy them by
force."

"And it may be the same with us," laughed the young man. "Who knows how
much I am already in debt for these two acres of land?"

"And the roads of the Legions are overgrown with grass and brushwood."

"And the troops receive no wages."

"But they pay themselves by plundering the burghers, whom they should
defend."

"And the walls of Juvavum are falling, the moats are dry, the sluices
destroyed; the rich people go away, there only remain poor wretches
like ourselves, who cannot leave."

"I wonder that the money-lender has not long ago moved with his great
gold-bag over the Alps."

"I would not go, uncle, if I could; and why, indeed, could I not? My
art, my trade will be honoured everywhere, so long as the Romans dwell
in stone, not wooden houses, like the Germans. But I am firmly fixed to
this soil. Many, many generations have my fathers dwelt here; they say
since the founding of the colony by the Emperor Hadrian. They have
cleared the forests, drained the marshes, made roads, raised fords,
laid out house and garden, grafted the rich fruits on the wild apple
and pear-trees; the climate itself has become milder. I know Italy, I
have bought marble in Venetia, but I would rather live here on the old
inheritance of my fathers."

"But if the barbarians come, wilt thou then also?"----

"Stay! I have my own thoughts about that. For us unimportant people it
is better under the barbarians than"----

"Say not, than under the Emperor. Thou art a Roman!"

The stout Crispus said this very gravely, but the other laughed; the
good uncle but little resembled a Roman hero. His neighbours declared
that he modelled his statues of Bacchus from his own figure.

"Half-blood! My mother was a Noric Celt. Induciomara! That does not
sound much of the Quirinal."

"And we do not stand under the Emperor, but under his hangman servants,
Exchequer officials, and under the murderous fist of the Moorish and
Isaurian troops. If I must serve barbarians, I prefer the Germans."

"But they are heathen."

"In part. A hundred and fifty years ago so were we all. My grandfather
sacrificed secretly to Jupiter. And there are also Christians among
them."

"Arians! heretics! worse than heathen, says the Holy Church."

"A few decades past our emperors were also heretics. And the Germans
ask no one what he believes; but how heavily did our fathers suffer, if
their faith did not exactly agree with that of the ruling emperor!"

"You take too lenient a view of the coming of the barbarians. They have
set fire to many towns."

"Yes; but stone does not burn. The Romans quickly fit new timbers in
the undestroyed walls. Then no German settles in a town. They pasture
their herds on the land; it is the peasant in his farm who suffers from
them. They take from him a third of his fields and pasturage. But the
land profits thereby. It is now sadly dispeopled; nowhere is there a
free peasant on a free soil. For the masters, whom they never see, who
carouse in Naples or Byzantium, _slaves_ cultivate the ground, or
rather they do _not_ cultivate it, they only work enough to keep them
from starving. If they gained more the slave-master would take it from
them. But it is different with plough and sickle, when hundreds of
Germans press into the country, each with innumerable white-headed
children. For so many children as _these_ people have, I could not have
imagined over the whole earth!--And in a few years the grown-up son
builds his own wooden house in the cleared forest or the drained swamp.
They swarm over the furrows like ants, and they soon throw away their
old wooden plough-shares and copy the iron shares of the colonists, and
in a few years the land bears so much more than formerly, that it
richly feeds both conquerors and conquered."

"Yes, yes," nodded Crispus, "we have seen all that in the frontier
lands, where they have settled. If the sons become too numerous they
cast lots, and the third part, that draws the lot to migrate, wanders
on wherever hawk or wolf directs; but never back, never towards the
north!" sighed Crispus, "so they press ever nearer to us."----

"But they leave us our laws, our language, our God, our Basilica, and
demand much, much less in tribute than the slave-master of the landlord
or the tax-gatherer of the Emperor."

"It is well that Severus does not hear you, the old _armaturarum
magister_ in Juvavum; he would"----

"Yes, he thinks we have yet the old times, and there are still living
the old Romans as in the days of that tamer of the Germans, the Emperor
Probus, of whose race he counts himself. But by the saints he is
mistaken. Why should I be over zealous for the Emperor? He, this
Emperor, certainly shows no zeal for me; in strong Ravenna he sits and
invents new taxes, and new punishments for those who pay no taxes,
because they have nothing."

"The old Severus has long been drilling volunteers to lead against the
barbarians, in case they should roam this way. I have been there a few
days, painfully carrying spear and shield in this heat. I have never
seen thee, so much younger and stronger, on our '_Campus Martius_,' as
they call it."

Fulvius laughed. "I have no need, uncle; I have learnt to use arms long
enough while a prisoner with the Germans, and if the town and one's own
hearth must be defended I shall not be wanting--for honour's sake! not
that I think we shall do much; for, believe me, if they seriously
intend to come, that is, if they _must_ because they _need_ our acres,
then Severus will not keep them back with his old-fashioned generalship
and his new-fashioned 'Legions of the Capitol of Juvavum,' under the
golden eagle which he has presented to them. Nor the Tribune either
with his cavalry from Africa and his mercenaries from Isauria. But
look! Philemon, the slave, is beckoning; I see the drinking-cup shining
on the seat in the little porch--the table is ready. Now drink of our
rough Räter-wine; Augustus long ago knew how to value it, and it has
been already a year in the cellar since the pack-mule brought it here
from the Tyrol. Let us look at Felicitas and the child at her breast,
and forget emperors and barbarians."



                              CHAPTER II.


Meanwhile, slowly walking up the high-road, the two men whom Crispus
had announced were approaching the villa; they often stood still,
interrupting their progress with an animated conversation.

"No, no," warned the money-dealer, shaking his bald head, which, in
spite of the sun, was uncovered, and striking with his staff on the
hard road, "such haste, such violence, such impetuosity, as thy
passionate longing craves, will not answer, O friend Tribune. Only
leave me alone! We are on the right, the safe way."

"Thy way is a crooked, weary, roundabout way, a snail-pace," cried the
soldier impatiently, and he threw back his proud head so that the black
plume of his helmet rustled on the links of his armour. "To what
purpose are these ceremonies? They do not hasten the time when you
shall add the little property to your vast possessions. And I--I cannot
sleep since the sight of this young woman has inflamed my passions. My
heart beats to breaking. All night I toss on my hot couch. By the
ungirdled Astarte of Tripolis! I _will_ have this slender Felicitas!
And I _must_ have her, or my veins will burst." And his fiery black
eyes flashed.

"Thou shalt have her, only patience."

"No! no patience. A sword-thrust will make the milk-sop of a husband
cold; in these arms will I lift the struggling one on Pluto, my black
horse, and quick to the Capitol, even if all the market-women of
Juvavum raise an outcry behind me."

"Murder and rape! Thou knowest the punishment."

"Bah! Would an accuser come forward? And the Emperor? The Emperor of
_Juvavum_--is myself. Let us see who will climb the walls of my
Capitolium."

"The Cross, my roaring Leo, the Cross and the Presbyter. No, no, it
must not be an open sin crying to heaven. True, the Judge and his
lictors are weak in this land, which is almost given up by Rome. But
the Church is so much the stronger. If the haggard, white-bearded
Johannes thrust thee out, thou art a lost man. No pound of meat, no cup
of wine, will the people of Juvavum again sell to thee."

"I will take what I need with my lancers."

"But thy lancers are Mauritanians: pious Christians, baptised by the
Presbyter. See if they will follow, if the old man have cursed thee."

"I will strike him dead after, or rather, before the curse," cried the
officer, and he made a quick step forwards; his long dark-red mantle
floated in the wind.

But the money-changer again stopped, adjusting with his bony fingers
his yellow tunic.

"How useless! Dost thou not know that _they_ are immortal? If thou
strikest _one_ dead, the Bishop sends another. And they are all
alike--much more than thy soldiers resemble each other. And I--I would
not look at thee across the street if thou wert thrust out from the
Holy Church."

But now the soldier stopped and laughed aloud: "Thou! Zeno of
Byzantium! Thou believest as little in the Holy Church as Leo himself.
And it is my opinion, that thy soul-destroying usury is not regarded
more favourably by the saints, than my trifle of pleasure in love and
murder. What hast thou to do with the Church?"

"I will tell thee, thou rash son of Mars. I _fear_ her! She is the only
power now left in these lands. The Emperor is far away, his officers
are all venal; the barbarians are like the storm, they bluster around
us, we bend to them, and they again bluster away; but the Church is
everywhere, even if only a single priest says mass in a half-ruined
house of prayer. And the priest is not to be bought. The miserable
creature dares not live like a man, so he needs nothing; and all who
hope for heaven follow him, that is to say: all fools. But woe to the
man who has the fools against him--he is lost. No, no! we must not
rouse the Church against us."

"I need him yet, the sneak!" grated Leo through his teeth, with an
angry look at his companion; and he impatiently pushed aside his short,
broad sword in the finely-worked scabbard.

"For that reason truly, I have to serve you," continued the merchant.

"For a good reward," interrupted Leo scornfully.

"But which, alas! I have yet only received in half."

"The other half when I have the gazelle-eyed beauty in my chamber."

"For that reason I have taken all this trouble, woven all these meshes,
and gathered them in my hand; one jerk, and the net closes over the
head of the stone-mason; he and the sweet nymph struggle therein,
defenceless, powerless, and best of all, without a right. Emperor and
Church can look on whilst thou seizest the bird, and I the land. Not
that it is valuable; but it rounds off my fields here. I can then more
easily sell the whole to a great lord in Italy."

"I also do not intend to keep the fragile creature long; only through
the autumn and winter. When the slave-dealers come here in summer from
Antioch, I shall sell her at a high price. This half-bluish white of
the eyes is much sought for. Whence has she it?"

"From Hellas or Ionia. Her parents were slaves of a Greek trader in
purple, who died here on the return journey from Pannonia. They declare
that the old man set them free before his death; they then carried on a
little trade in salt. When they also died, the child became the wife of
their neighbour's son, the stone-mason, who had grown up with her. I am
eager to know if they have preserved the letter of emancipation. If
not, then good-night, Felicitas! We are now at our goal; the foot-path
here turns down, from the main road towards the Mercurius Hill.
Moderate, I beseech thee, the violence and the eagerness in thine eyes,
or thou wilt spoil all."

"I have not been born or trained to wait."

Thereupon the Tribune approached the open entrance of the garden. Zeno
followed slowly. The setting sun threw its beams fully on the
threshold-stone and the newly-cut inscription.

"Hic habitat Felicitas!" read the Tribune. "For yet how long?" asked
he, laughing.

"Nihil mali intret!" concluded the merchant. "It is well that wishes
are not bolts."

"Or _we_ should not come in!" said the other; and he trod scornfully
with a quick step on the neat letters. These were rubbed smooth as a
mirror with fresh oil. Leo's foot slipped, he staggered, tried to
recover himself, stumbled again, and fell with a cry of pain on the
stone slab, helmet and armour loudly rattling.



                              CHAPTER III.


Immediately, before his companion could stretch forth a hand to help
him, the enraged man had tried to rise, but with a wild curse he sank
again to the ground, and repelled vehemently the attempt of the other
to assist him.

"Let me lie; the foot is broken or the ankle is sprained. No, it is the
knee. I do not know. But I cannot stand--I must be carried."

"I will call the people of the house. The stone-mason is coming
already."

"I will strike him dead if he touches me. I will have no help from him.
On the other side of the road to the left I saw some of my people
spear-throwing on the drill-ground. Call them to me, they shall carry
me away."

And this was done.

While the money-changer had gone for the soldiers Fulvius came forward,
but the Tribune turned away from him and would not speak; silent,
suppressing any utterance of pain, he was carried by the strong Moors
into the town, where they soon obtained a litter and took him to the
Capitol.

In the meanwhile Fulvius had stopped the merchant at the entrance. "Not
over the threshold, most excellent man!" said he, pushing him back. "I
am superstitious; thou hast an evil look. As soon as I caught sight of
thee and the Tribune I hastened to meet you, bringing the money which
lies in that bag ready counted for thee. Here"----and he began to count
out the silver money on the broad coping of the low wall. "Here, count
then! It is reckoned correctly: fifty solidi principal, and at thirty
per cent, interest, fifteen solidi more. And here--for I cannot
transact business with thee without a receipt--on this wax tablet I
have written the acquittance. Take the style, put thy name to it, and
go thy way, never to return."

But with his lean hand Zeno pushed back disdainfully the silver pieces,
so that they fell rattling on the stone slab and rolled round about.

"We do not separate so quickly, hospitable landlord and grateful
debtor."

"Grateful! Thirty per cent, is, I think, thanks enough, and one is not
hospitable to harpies and vampires. Take what belongs to thee and go!"

"When I have taken that which belongs to me," answered the Byzantiner
fiercely, "then, not I, but _thou_, wilt go out of this house--out of
this whole property."

"What does that mean?"

"That means, that my business is not merely with the fifty miserable
solidi with interest. Thou art my debtor for more than twenty times
that sum; mine is the house, mine the whole possession, most probably
thyself also, at this moment, with every bone in thy body; mine also
that slave daughter, who peeps anxiously there between the curtains,
with the child at her breast. Mother-sheep and lamb are my own."

So maliciously were these words uttered, at first lightly whispered,
then in rising anger, ever louder and more threatening, that Fulvius,
alarmed, looked back to see if his young wife had perceived this
disaster.

But Felicitas had again disappeared behind the curtain, satisfied that
the wild officer, whom she feared, she knew not why, was no longer
there. She knew well that the money was ready for the usurer.

Smiling, she bade farewell to her guest, who had emptied his beaker and
now took his departure. Not a cloud overshadowed her white brow as she
now sat down on the couch, and with a sweet smile on her maiden-like
countenance raised the waking child, and proceeded to give it
nourishment.

Zeno still delaying, Fulvius in fear and anger pushed him with his
elbow a step farther from the entrance; the muscles of his naked arms
tightened, his hands clenched; threatening but speechless, he stood
before the man who had spoken such fearful words.

Crispus now came forward; he seized his young nephew firmly by the
wrist of his right arm, which he was slowly raising for a blow.

"What means this?" cried the fat uncle, anxiously.

Fulvius spoke not a word.

But Zeno answered: "This means, that I have bought this property from
the Imperial Exchequer, with all the old claims for State taxes, and
seven times the rent due to the Emperor, for which, according to the
accounts, this tenant and his father are many decades in arrear; this
makes, together with the fines, a debt of seven thousand solidi."

Crispus calculated in an instant that if even he gave his whole
possessions to save his nephew, they would not amount to a seventh part
of this sum.

"That means," continued Zeno, "that as there is no doubt about the
inability of the debtor to pay, I claim him as my slave for debt, and
shall to-morrow be installed by the magistrate into the property."

"Oh, Felicitas!" groaned Fulvius.

"Be calm; I will take mother and child home with me till the suit is
decided," comforted the good-natured uncle.

"Law-suit?" laughed Zeno. "A suit that begins with its accomplishment
is quickly decided. My claim is indubitably shown by the Imperial
tax-rolls; they give positive evidence, and that young creature"----

"Wilt thou also claim the wife for the debt of her husband? That is not
Roman justice," cried Crispus.

"Stay with thy ridiculous statues, and do not teach me justice and its
ways. The young wife is a slave-child, the property of the master of
her parents. This man died without a will, without assignable heirs.
His property fell to the Exchequer; to the Exchequer belonged the
parents and belongs the child."

"The old Krates set the parents and the child free before his death."

"Where is the letter of emancipation?"

And when both were silent the usurer continued in a triumphant tone:
"You are silent? It is, then, as I suspected: the papyrus was destroyed
when her parents' house was burnt in the rising of the people against
the tax-collectors. Her birth as a slave is undisputed, the letter of
emancipation is not forthcoming, therefore she and her slave-brood are
mine."

The young husband was overcome with passion and anguish, and a blow
with his fist on the breast of the villain sent him staggering
backwards. "Hast thou, then, thou old sinner, purchased my wife in
advance from the Fiscus, as thou hast also me and my house?"

"No," said he, exasperated, "the beautiful Greek belongs to a handsome
young lord, who suits her better. A lion will soon drag her to his den.
Thou knowest well what kind of suitor the lion is."

"The Tribune!" cried Fulvius. "I will strangle him first with these
fists; and thou, panderer, take"----

But Crispus slung both arms around him, holding him fast.

So Zeno gained time to make his escape. He quickly mounted the path
which led to the main road; when he had gained the height he turned and
looked through the bushes at the villa. He raised his fist menacingly,
and cried to the two men, "Woe to the vanquished!"



                              CHAPTER IV.


Crispus then turned to go towards the house.

"What dost thou wish to do?? asked Fulvius.

"To ask Felicitas if there is no writing, no evidence of
emancipation"----but the young husband stopped him.

"No, no! She must know nothing about it. The poor, tender, helpless,
happy child! It would crush her--this horrid plot!"

"How wilt thou prevent her knowing it, when it will to-morrow be
carried out? For I do not doubt it is all correct what the usurer says
of the tax-dues and of his purchase of the property. And that is not
the worst. Thou canst fly, as so many thousand debtors have already, to
the mountains, to the forests, to the barbarians, for aught I care.
Leave him here the heap of stones."

"The house of my parents! the place where we have been so happy!"

"You can be happy elsewhere, when you come together again. But
Felicitas with the infant--she cannot yet share thy flight. She must
stay, and _can_ stay with me. And that, I hope, can be arranged; for I
have no doubt about the emancipation. The old people did not fabricate
it. It is only the evidence that we want--the evidence!"

"The letter of emancipation is burnt; that is certain; burnt with the
few ornaments and savings of the parents. They often told us about it.
They had put all their valuables in a little box of cedar-wood, under
the cushions of the bed, in their own room. In the night that the
despairing tax-debtors and the peasants, the beasts of burden of the
great landlords, had broken out in riot, the old people had, with the
child, hastened into the street to inquire the cause of the fearful
noise. They ran forward to the corner of the Vulcan market. Another
crowd of fighting peasants and soldiers then poured in from behind,
cutting off their return. The wooden storehouses of the small tradesmen
that lived there, were set on fire. It was two days before they could
return to their house, and then it was almost entirely burnt out; under
the half-carbonised cushions of the bed, they found two melted gold
pieces and the iron mounting of the cedar-box, yet glowing, and round
about ashes:--from the wood of the box and its contents."

"The writing was not to be found?"

"In the house of her parents, certainly not; we searched it thoroughly
before we sold it, after the death of the old people."

"Among the records of the Curies?"

"The freedom was given by letter, not by will. Krates intended to leave
a will, but was overtaken by death before he had carried out his
intention."

"Witnesses?"

"There were none. I tell you the freedom was given by letter."

"There is, then, no evidence. It is fearful."

"It makes one despair."

"But what thoughtlessness to live long years without"----

"Long years? It is not yet one year that I have called her mine.
Before that it was the care of the parents; but these good old
people--strangers here--what could they do? They could not awake the
dead master, that he might repeat the emancipation."

"Had no one else read the letter?"

"Possibly! But these could only witness that they had read it, not that
it was genuine."

"I see no escape but in flight--hasty flight."

"Hasty flight with the infant, and the young mother hardly
convalescent, is impossible. And to fly! it is not my custom. Rather
resistance by force."

"Thou, and I, and the lame Philemon, the force against the lancers of
the Tribune! For he stands behind."

"I believe it! I saw his passionate look rest on her--on her neck--I
could throttle him!"

"You are a dead man before you raise a hand against him."

"It is dark, hopeless night around us. Oh, where shall we find counsel,
where a beam of hope, of light?"

"In the Church," spoke softly, but decidedly, a sweet voice. Felicitas
put her arm round the neck of her beloved.

"Thou!"

"Thou here?"

"Yes, as thou didst not come back, I sought for thee; it is always so
between us. The boy sleeps; I laid him in my bed. I found you both so
deep in conversation, that you did not hear my step on the soft garden
sand."

"What hast thou heard?" cried Fulvius, full of fear.

But the radiant, cheerful face, the smooth brow, the happy smile of his
young wife, soon quieted his anxiety.

"I only heard that you wanted light in the darkness, and there came
into my mind, as always, the word 'Church,' the name 'Johannes.'"

Fulvius was satisfied, almost joyful, because she had heard nothing of
the lurking misfortune. He stroked tenderly her beautifully arched
head, and said:

"And yet thou art not one of those devotees whose piety, or rather
hypocrisy, peeps through the knees of their garments, worn threadbare
by the altar steps."

"No; I am, alas, not pious enough. But it does not help me if I do go
often to confession. Johannes always smiles when I have finished, and
says: 'Thou hast only _one_ sin; that is, Falvius.' But when I hear of
darkness and light, I always think of the Church and Johannes. It is an
experience of my earliest childhood," said she slowly, reflectively.

"What experience?" asked Crispus, becoming attentive.

"I had been obliged for many weeks, on account of a disease in the
eyes, to wear a bandage, to remain in darkness, I know not how long. I
was hardly six years old. I then heard the voice of Krates, the master,
who was skilful in medicine, and had himself treated me. 'Take her with
you this evening into the Basilica,' said he, 'it will not hurt her
eyes; and she must be there, so says the law.'"

"What sayest thou? For what purpose?" asked the two men in breathless
eagerness.

"I know not. You forget I was a child. But this stands yet clear before
me: In the evening father and mother took me between them, each holding
one of my hands; the master was also there; and they led me with
bandaged eyes--for the raw evening air of the late autumn might have
hurt them--into the Basilica. Here they took off the bandage and"----

"And now?"

"What didst thou see? What happened?"

"For the first time for months without pain, did my eyes again see the
bright but gentle light. Before the altar, which was lighted with many
wax candles, stood Johannes in shining white garments; the master
placed us all three at the lowest step of the altar, and then spoke a
number of words that I did not understand: the priest blessed us; my
parents wept--but I noticed it was from emotion, not from pain--and
kissed their master's knees; they then again put the bandage on my
eyes, and we went from the light of the church out into the darkness.
Since then light and Church and Johannes are to me one."

Felicitas could not quite understand what now happened to her.

Her husband warmly kissed her brow and eyes, and her uncle almost
crushed her hand.

"Go thou back to the house," cried at last her husband. "We must go
immediately to the church; thou art right--as always. Thou--thou hast
given to us the best, the saving counsel."

And he led her eagerly, with a last kiss, back into the garden.

"It is quite certain," said Crispus, when Fulvius again appeared, "that
it was not only by letter that they were set free; for greater safety
there was the ceremony in the church, before the priest, according to
all the forms of the law. And the child has all unsuspiciously revealed
it to us in our greatest need!"

"And the priest"----

"Was Johannes himself!"

"He yet lives. Thanks be to the holy ones! He can testify to it."

"And he shall: before this night! Before witnesses, before the Curies
shall he verify it! To the church!"

"To Johannes!"

And the two men hastened as fast as feet could carry them, down the
high-road to the town, towards the Porta Vindelica.

In the meanwhile Felicitas went slowly back to the house, often
stopping to look back at her husband until he had disappeared from
view.

"What may they be doing?" said she quietly, bending her beautiful head.
"Well, they are good: the holy ones are with them. The sun is now set
behind Vindelicia. But in the forest the sweet bird still sings his
evening song: how peaceful! how quiet! I will go to the bed of my
little one. I can wait there most calmly; Fulvius will come back before
night. For he loves us--yes, he loves us much, my little son!"

She then entered the house.



                               CHAPTER V.


But Fulvius did not come back that night.

When he and Crispus had passed through the Porta Vindelica, and had
turned into the Via Augustana, in which stood the church of Saint Peter
and the little house of the priest, they noticed Zeno, who was knocking
at the door of a magnificent building at the other end of the street.
It was the house of the Judge.

"He is using despatch," said Crispus. "It is well that we are already
here." And he touched the knocker, which in shape like a cross hung on
the small door of the priest's house.

"He will manage all through the Judge, who is his son-in-law," said
Fulvius, anxiously.

"And deeply indebted to the usurer. That holds everything together,
like sticky mud."

The door was opened, and a slave led them through a long, narrow
passage, dimly lighted by an oil lamp in a little niche in the wall, to
the room of the priest; drew back the curtain, and ushered in the two
guests.

The half-dark room was almost void of furniture: the lid of a large
chest served as a table, on it stood writing materials; on the walls
one saw a lamb, a fish, a dove, very roughly sketched and painted a red
colour.

Johannes, although in conversation with two priests, immediately turned
towards them; a meagre form, upright, in spite of his seventy years, by
the force of a strong, enthusiastic will; a gray Capuchin dress, tied
round the loins with a cord, was all his attire; a silver ring of white
hair, which shone like a nimbus, encircled his head. A long white beard
fell low on his breast.

"A moment's patience, dear friends," said he. "The business of my
brothers here is urgent; you see, they have the traveller's hat and
staff--but it will soon be concluded. Thou, Timotheus, wilt return
to-night to thy post. It is well that thou hast given the warning; but
only the hireling forsakes his flock, the good shepherd remains
constant to it."

"I go," said the one addressed, a young subdeacon, blushing quite
abashed: "I certainly did not wish to run away from the barbarians--I
only wished"----

"To give a warning, certainly. And then, perhaps, the spirit of
cowardice suggested this to thee--that Johannes would keep thee here
within the safe walls of this fortress. But I say to thee: 'Except the
Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.' And if the
troubles of war come over the poor people out there, thy consolations
will be needed. Go with God, my son, back to thy cell at Isunisca."

"Are the barbarians already so near?" cried Crispus, alarmed.

"Apparently; at least, brother Timotheus heard, three nights ago,
horsemen ride by his cell with unshod steeds. Those were not Romans."

"They were the night-riders, the gods of the heathen, led by Wotan, the
devil chief, whom our fathers named Teutates, but the Romans
Mercurius," said Bojorix, the deacon, an older man, and he trembled for
fear.

"Hardly," said Johannes, with a quiet smile, "for afterwards in clear
day, one of these night-phantoms, with a long flowing gray beard, and
clad in a wolf's skin, dashed into a company of armed merchants at the
bridge across the Inn, seized the largest wine-skin from the waggon,
threw it on his horse, and rode away. Spectres do not drink this year's
Räter wine. This news from the _west_ disturbs me less than the absence
of news from the _east_--from Ovilava and Lentia! There certainly came
from there, through the Porta Latina, a few peasants into the market;
but I did not know them: I was suspicious of them. Well, we stand in
the protection of the Lord, in the rising as in the setting of the sun!
But thou, Stephen"----

But he who was addressed heard not.

Gently rebuking him, the Presbyter took hold of his garment: "Stephen,
Stephen, dost thou still understand only the barbarian name Bojorix?
Thou, my Stephen, say to the children of the widow at Foutes: I will
pledge the silver vessels of the church, keeping back only one for use,
and with the proceeds satisfy the money-lender, and save her from
slavery. I will bring the money to-morrow, or the day following."

"O, sir, they are so anxious. Why not tonight?"

"To-night I must bind afresh the wounds of the poor leprous Jew, whom
the doctors will no more touch, and watch by him. Go now, both of you,
my brethren: and may the Angel of the Lord who led Tobias hover around
your traveller's staff. Fear not, although it is night: you walk in
light."

Reverently saluting, they departed; Johannes refused the kiss that they
wished to press on his hand.

"And now to you, my friends," said he; "what can I do for you?"

With haste and excitement, each supplementing the other, they laid
their anxieties before the priest; he listened gravely, attentively.

"It is," said he then, "as my dear penitent has said. Krates, the
master, set free the parents and the child: before me, in this
Basilica."

"Oh, then we are safe from that base man!" rejoiced Fulvius.

"So long as I live: but I am an old man; this night the Lord may call
me. Haste is necessary against this profligate. Yon knew Galla, the
child of Gaudentius, who lives near to the tax-office. She was
eighteen years old. It was only a few days ago. The villain saw her at
mid-day:--before night she had disappeared:--next morning she lay
shattered at the foot of the rock of the Capitol;--it was said she had
met with an accident while gathering berries--but a fisherman, who was
drawing his nets at daybreak, confided to me that he saw her throw
herself from the tower-window."

"The Tribune lives there!" cried Crispus.

Fulvius, speechless, grasped at the hammer in his tunic.

"Come! The Judge, the Curies will not take any declaration so late.
They are feasting and carousing. We will seek out the elders of the
congregation: I will swear before them my knowledge of the
emancipation. And I will to-night consider with thee if we cannot
protect thy wife's innocence, and also thyself and thy inheritance,
brave stone-mason, against this usurer. Follow me."

They hastened all three into the street. It was still tolerably light;
the twilight of the long Jane evening only very gradually deepened. As
they reached the house of the Judge, the outer door opened: the master
came out escorting the money-dealer.

"I will," said he, "send there early to-morrow. Thy right is undoubted;
and as the flight of the debtor is probable, I will issue the
warrant--but there he stands before us."

Zeno turned towards the street and saw the three men approaching; it
displeased him to see his victim in company with the priest, whom the
burghers loved, whom he feared and hated. He greeted him coldly; there
were other people in the street, it would have injured himself to
refuse one so honoured a greeting, but he wished to pass by him
quickly.

"Halt, Zeno of Byzantium!" cried the priest aloud--and one would not
have credited the old man with this strength of voice--"I have to warn
thee, thee and that voluptuous Tribune. I know too well of your sins:
the measure is full. If you do not repent, I cannot longer suffer you
in the fellowship of the saints." The merchant grew pale. "A usurer
thou art; and he--he is a murderer of body and soul. You will not carry
it out. Know that, if the letter is burnt, the pure wife shall not be
given up to you. She is free--set free before me in the church."

"Thou canst easily say that," said Zeno, with a crafty look.

"I go to swear it before witnesses."

"Then no one knows it except the old man," thought the other.

"But thou who takest thirty and more per cent., I will bring thee to
account before the congregation. And not for that alone. Think of thy
poor Syrian slave! I will also accuse thee, on her account, before the
secular tribunal." The Byzantian trembled. "And thou and that
commander-in-chief of lust and power, if you cannot clear yourselves
from the blood of Galla, I will expel you next Sunday from the Church."

Before Zeno could answer there was a clang of weapons and the sound of
heavy steps, and a company of the Tribune's Isaurians turned the
corner. The centurion hastened to the merchant:

"I seek thee! I was directed from thy house here, to the Judge. Read!
From the Tribune!"

Zeno took the small wax tablet, "Open?" asked he suspiciously.

"Sealed for us," laughed the soldier; "we do not read; we only fight."

Zeno read: "It was only the knee. My Greek slave has by friction
reduced the swelling. I shall to-morrow again mount my horse.
Threefold, if thou gettest the woman to-morrow!"

The Greek exchanged a quick look with the Judge; he then, with the
reverse end of the style, rubbed the tablet smooth, effacing the
writing, turned the style and wrote:

"The priest alone knows that she was set free. On Sunday he denounces
thee publicly. Dead dogs do not bark."

"Take that to thy Tribune," said he to the centurion.

"I cannot. I go on guard at the Vindelician gate. But here, Arsakes, go
back to the Capitol."

He gave the tablet to one of the soldiers, who saluted and disappeared.

"At the Vindelician gate? Wait, then!" And Zeno whispered a word to the
Judge.

"Halt, centurion!" cried the latter, "My Carcerarii are not within
call; in case of necessity I can exercise authority over you warriors,
according to the law of the Emperor Diocletian. Seize that debtor of
the state, whose escape is suspected, and take him to the prison for
tax-debtors; it stands by the Vindelician gate."

Fulvius was in a moment surrounded; the centurion laid hold of his
shoulder, four men seized his arms.

"Oh, Felicitas!" sighed he, utterly helpless.

"I will save her! I will go to her immediately!" cried Crispus, and he
hastened away.

He was about to turn the comer, when there sounded suddenly the
hoof-strokes of a horseman riding along in mad haste, followed by a
tumultuous crowd: soldiers, burghers, women, children--all pell-mell.

"One of our Moorish horsemen!" cried the centurion, as he caught the
horse's bridle. "Jarbas! Comrade in arms! What is the matter?"

The rider, who was dripping with water, raised himself high in the
saddle; he had lost helmet and shield, he held a broken spear in his
right hand, blood streamed over his naked left arm.

"Tell the Tribune," cried he in a hoarse voice, as if making a last
effort. "I can do no more--the arrow in my neck--they are there--close
the gates--the Germans stand before the town!" And dropping the bridle,
he fell backwards from his horse.

He was dead!



                              CHAPTER VI.


Was it actually so? Did the Germans stand indeed before the gates of
Juvavum?

The burghers racked their brains in tormenting uncertainty. They could
learn nothing more at present of what had happened without the walls;
the mouth that might have given farther information was silent for
ever.

The gates were kept carefully shut. When the news first reached the
Capitol, Leo, the Tribune, had sprung from his couch, "To horse!" cried
he; "out, before the walls!" But with a cry of pain he had sunk back in
the arms of his slave; and he did not wish to entrust to another the
dangerous enterprise of a nightly reconnaissance outside the gates,
against an enemy certainly far superior in numbers. Severus, the
commander of the volunteers in the town, had only infantry at his
disposal. With these alone, he could not and would not advance against
the barbarians in the night. He contented himself with occupying the
towers and gates. The strengthened guard on the ramparts watched and
listened attentively in the mild night air; but there was nothing
unusual to be observed, no light in the neighbourhood, no camp-fires in
the distance, which the advancing Germans, with wives and children,
men-servants and maidens, with herds, carts and waggons, certainly
could not dispense with, and which it was not their custom to
extinguish either from prudence or fear. No noise was heard, neither
the clang of arms, nor the hoof-strokes of horses; only the regular,
gentle murmuring of the stream, which hastened through the valley from
south to north, struck on the ears of the watchers. A burgher once
thought he heard a noise in the direction of the river, like the gentle
neighing of a horse, and a splash of the waves, as if a heavy body had
fallen or sprung into the stream; but he convinced himself that he had
been deceived, for everything remained still as before.

The nightingales sang in the bushes around the villas; their
undisturbed song testified, as one rightly judged, that neither
waggons, horses, nor warriors were in movement there.

So to gain information they turned again to the corpse of the horseman,
and to his steed, yet trembling in every limb.

They saw that the horse had swum the stream, man and horse were running
with water. Why had not the fugitive made use of the bridge below the
town? Because he did not know if it were occupied? or because he did
not wish to do so? Because he had striven to bring his news the most
direct road? He had no other wound than that in the neck, caused by the
deadly arrow, from which the blood had flowed over his shoulder and
shieldless left arm. It was undoubtedly a missile like those the
Germans carried; the three-barbed point had entered very deeply, the
shot was given at a close range; the long shaft of alder-wood was
winged with the feathers of the gray heron; the blade of his long
cavalry sword was missing, the leather sheath hung empty at the right
side of his girth; the spear, which the closed right hand still
grasped, was broken at the first iron clasp by which the point was
attached, by a powerful blow from a battle-axe, not from a sword; so
that the rider had lost in close combat, helmet, shield, sword, and
spear, and in flight had received the arrow shot by his pursuer. The
dead man could be questioned no more.

But what had become of his comrades in arms?

Leo, the Tribune, had the day before sent out five of the Moorish
cavalry to take possession of a hill, two hours' journey north-west of
the town, which commanded a view of the country as far as the thick
forest to the north. A half-fallen watch-tower stood there, which had
last been repaired and occupied in the time of the Emperor Valentinian
I., now a hundred years ago.

What had become of the other four Moors?

Nobody knew.



The citizens passed an anxious night. The watch went their rounds on
the ramparts with torches, and small fires burnt at the spots where
broad flagstones covered the surface of the earth and turf.

The fires were extinguished at dawn of the early June morning; the
sentinels looked carefully out into the country in the full morning
light; there was nowhere a trace of the enemy.

Peasants came as usual from all parts into the town to sell or to buy.
They were astonished to find the gates closed. They were allowed to
pass in singly, all being carefully examined to see if they were
trustworthy people or spies, perhaps even barbarians in disguise.

But the inoffensive peasants were terrified at this unusual sharpness
of the gate-watch; to question them was without rhyme or reason. They
evidently knew nothing, and were much more zealous and anxious to
inquire in the town what had taken place.

From the north-west, in the direction of Vindelicia, from which the
approach of the barbarians was expected, the country people had come
in, as usual, in numbers; they had observed nothing suspicious. But
from the south-east hardly anyone came. It excited no remark, few
villas and houses lay that way, and it was only seldom that a
frequenter of the market came from thence. One might have considered
the fright of the previous evening as a dream, only the dead horseman
was a silent witness to its actuality.

The first hours of the day passed away without any threatening
indications; there was no enemy visible even in the far distance; the
bridge over the Ivarus below the town (a second joined the two banks
within the walls) was seen to be unoccupied.

As the Tribune was still kept a prisoner in the Capitol by the accident
to his knee, Severus ordered the Vindelician gate to be opened; he went
with a company to the bridge, caused the end on the left, western bank
to be barricaded with pieces of rock and timber, left there thirty
spearmen and slingers, and then returned to the town quite satisfied
that there was no trace of the enemy. But the old soldier did not relax
his watchfulness; he ordered the gates to be kept closed and the towers
garrisoned, and any occurrence was to be notified immediately to him in
the Bath of Amphitrite, whither he now went, to wash away the cares of
the night and the heat and dust of the march.

After having fully enjoyed the bath, he sat comfortably on the soft
woollen rug covering the marble seat, which formed a semicircle around
the porphyry bath, rubbing now arms, and now legs, from the hip to the
knee.

This man of about fifty-five years was a model of healthy and vigorous
strength; his limbs showed that the practice of the hunt and gymnastics
had developed the power of his strongly-formed body.

He now ceased his movements, and sank gradually into deep thought. His
head fell deeper and deeper on his breast; at last he extended his
right arm and began to draw figures in the clean white sand, which
covered the space between the marble seat and the edge of the bath.

"Must rank our men still deeper against the German wedge," murmured he
to himself. "Ten men--twelve men deep. No, they don't waver yet. And
yet--it must be just a question of arithmetic to defeat these Germans.
It is only a problem of stroke and counter-stroke. Who may solve it? It
would be best"----

"It would be best," broke in gently a melancholy voice, "that we lay in
our last long sleep, where there is no longer either stroke or
counterstroke."

Severus turned; the white woollen curtain of the inner bath was moved
aside; a handsome man in the strength of youth, and fully armed, stood
behind it.

"Thou, Cornelius! What meanest thou?"

"Thou knowest my meaning. The best for man is not to have been born."

"Shame on thee! thirty years old, and already so tired of life."

"Shame on _thee_! Nearly sixty years, and still so foolishly fond of
life."

"What dost thou bring?"

"Advice: evacuate the town, all the citizens to the Capitol. An express
messenger over the Alps for help."

"Thou seest spectres!"

"Ah! If I saw only _them_! But I see the Germans!"

"There is no trace of them far and wide."

"It is exactly that which is mysterious. They must be near, quite near;
and no one knows where they are."

"_Why_ must they be quite near?"

"Because the gray heron does not go southwards in the month of June;
and because he never flies so low."

"What has that to say to it?"

"I will tell you. I was making the midnight round to relieve the guard
at the Porta Latina. From the battlements of the tower I looked out
sharply into the night. Nothing was to be seen, and nothing to be
heard, except the song of the nightingale. Then suddenly I heard the
cry of the gray heron."

"They are not numerous here," said Severus; "but they do appear in the
stagnant waters and in the marshes of the Ivarus."

"Certainly; but the cry did not come from the river; it sounded on this
side of the stream, out of the mountain forest."

"Making an eyrie there, perhaps."

"It was the _migratory call_. And they migrate in August. And after the
first call there was a second, a third, a fourth answer, till the
sounds died away in the distance."

"The echo from the hills!"

"That is conceivable. But the cry did not come from high in the air; it
came from below, from the ground, up to me on the battlements of the
tower. The heron does not fish at night."

The old man smiled pleasantly. "Do, my Cornelius, believe the old
huntsman. It fishes at night when it has a brood to feed. I have myself
caught one in the morning in the fishing-net which I had set the
evening before."

"But that arrow was winged with the feathers of the--gray heron. And as
often as the heron called, there answered still deeper out of the
eastern forest the shrill cry of the black eagle."

"Accident! And how could the Germans come here from the east? From the
west, from Vindelicia only, could the Alemanni come, who are the
nearest Germans to us. How could they have crossed the river unnoticed,
unless they have wings, like the gray heron himself? Foresight is very
praiseworthy, my young friend, and thou seest I am not wanting in
vigilance. But thou art too anxious; youth and age have exchanged their
_rôle_, I know," hastened Severus to add, as an angry look flashed
across the handsome face of the young man, "I know Cornelius Ambiorix
is only anxious for Rome, not for himself."

"Why should I be anxious about a life that has no charm and no value?"
asked the other, again composed, and sitting down by the old man. "The
philosophy of the sceptics has destroyed the old gods for us; and I
cannot believe in the Jew of Nazareth. A blind fate guides the world.
Rome--my pride, my dream--sinks, sinks irretrievably."

"Thou errest there," answered the other, quite composed. "I would
to-day throw myself on this sword"--he grasped the weapon which lay
near him on a cushion--"if I shared thy belief. But this sword--it is
inherited from my imperial ancestor, Probus--gives me always fresh
encouragement. Nine German kings knelt before that hero's tent, when he
drew this sword out of the scabbard, and commanded the trembling ones,
according to their own custom, to swear allegiance by the sword. And
they swore it."

"That is long ago."

"And with this sword is also bequeathed in our family the oracular
promise: 'This sword is conqueror in every battle.' It has been proved
in many generations of our house. I myself, while I was allowed to
serve, had defeated the Germans in twenty battles and fights, with this
sword." And the old man pressed the weapon tenderly to his breast.

"Pardon, if I correct thee," said the young man, smiling sadly; "not
with this sword, but with Isaurians, Moors, Illyrians, and, most of
all, with Germans, hast thou other Germans conquered. Rome, Latium,
Italy has no more men. There are no more Romans. Celtic blood flows in
my veins, Dacian in thine. And why canst thou no longer serve? Because
thou hast often conquered, the mistrustful Emperor has taken the
general's staff from thy hand, and in gratitude for thy services sent
thee here in honourable banishment."

"It was very--undeserved," said Severus, rising; "but no matter! I can
be of use to the Roman state here also."

"Too late!" sighed the other. "_Fuimus Troes!_ It is over with us. Asia
to the Parthians, Europe to the Germans, and to us--destruction. It
seems to me that each people, as each man, lives out its life. Twelve
centuries have gone by since Romulus was suckled by the she-wolf. We
must allow that she had good milk--the venerable beast--and the wolf's
blood in our veins has lasted long. But now it is diseased, and the
baptismal water has utterly ruined it. How can the government of the
world be maintained, when hardly any Roman marries, and the few
children that are born are not suckled by the mothers, while these
broad-hipped German women are filling the land with their numerous
progeny. They literally eat us up, these forest people; they dispossess
us from the earth more through their chaste fruitfulness than by their
deadly courage. Three hundred and forty thousand Goths did the Emperor
Claudius destroy; in four years after there stood four hundred thousand
in the field. They grow like the heads of the Hydra. And we have no
Hercules. I have had enough of it. I shall bring it to an end in the
next battle. One does not suffer long after a blow from a German
battle-axe."

Severus seized the hand of the young man who had spoken so bitterly. "I
honour thy sorrow, Cornelius, but thou shouldest act according to thy
own words: thy Thalamos stands empty; thou must again make Hymen sound
forth under the gray pillars."

"Ha!" laughed the young man fiercely, "that a second Emperor may entice
away from me a second spouse, as a bishop the first bride, an Emperor
the first wife led astray? No! truly there are no more Romans; but
still fewer Roman women. Pleasure, love of ornament, and love of power,
are the three Graces whom they invoke. Have you ever heard that the
priests among these barbarians befool the young girls? or their kings
entice wives from the hearths of their free husbands? I have not. But a
people without gods, without native warriors, without true wives,
without children--such a people can no longer live. A people that has
every reason to tremble before its own slaves, ten times more numerous
than itself! If thou hadst only seen the murderous dark looks with
which the slaves of Zeno, the usurer, threatened their lord and the
slave-master, as they were just now driven in chains through the
street! But I myself? How stands it with me? I have been everywhere,
and held many different offices in Rome, in Ravenna, in Byzantium:
soldier, magistrate, writer--all with success; and yet I found it
all--vain, hollow. I have tried everything, it is all naught. Now,
returned home to the town of my fathers, I find it ruled by a usurer
from Byzantium and a sensualist and brawler from Mauritania; and the
only one who still makes any opposition to this alliance, is not
_thou_, and not _I_; we are only two honourable Romans! no: a Christian
priest, whose fatherland, as he boasts, is not the Roman Empire, but
heaven!--I have had enough of it!--I say it again: a people without
gods, without wives, without mothers, without children--a people whose
battles are fought by levied barbarians--such a people can no longer
live! It must die; and that soon. Come, then, come, ye Alemanni! I
cannot swallow hemlock. I will fall with the clang of the tuba, and
imagine that I am falling under Camillus or Scipio."

Cornelius was wildly excited. Severus seized him by both shoulders:

"Promise me not to seek death until you see the next battle lost, and
that you will be willing to live if we conquer."

Cornelius nodded, sadly smiling, "I think I can boldly promise that.
Thou and thy conquering sword--you will no longer keep back the quickly
approaching ruin."

At this moment a shrill blast from the tuba struck on their ear. The
curtain of the inner bath was torn aside; an armed burgher rushed in
and cried: "Hasten, Severus; now they are coming. German horsemen are
galloping hither out of the western forest on the other side of the
river!"



                              CHAPTER VII.


With the help of the messenger and the bath attendants, Severus was
quickly armed. Accompanied by Cornelius he hastened to the Vindelician
gate, there to mount the high wall, which afforded a prospect far and
wide. The exertion made him very hot, for it was now mid-day; the
burning rays of the sun fell vertically on his heavy helmet.

At the gate he was met by a centurion of the Tribune; Leo had already
seen from the Capitol the horsemen swarming out of the western forest.
He sent word there were only about a hundred Germans: he would himself
immediately lead his cavalry to the gates, for he was able again to
mount his horse.

Severus ordered the soldier to follow him for the moment on to the
walls. With Cornelius he looked intently over the plain, which
stretched from the left farther bank of the river as far as the western
forest.

After long observation he turned. He was about to speak to Cornelius;
but his eyes fell on two country people who were anxiously looking in
the same direction.

"Now," said he, "Geta, how could you be so foolish? You swore by all
the saints that you had seen no trace of the enemy. Your cottages lie
on the other side of the western forest. And now the barbarians lie
hidden between you and the town! Were you blind and deaf?"

"Or did you _wish_ to be so?" interposed Cornelius mistrustfully.
"Consider," warned he, "they have every reason to support the
barbarians; rough and passionate these may be, but they do not press
the last marrow out of the bones of their bondmen, like the imperial
fiscal."

But the elder of the two peasants answered: "No, sir, I am no traitor.
I do not support the barbarians. Have I not served under the great
Aëtius and received an honourable discharge and this little property?
Believe an old legionary; and if you do not believe me, keep me here as
a hostage till it is decided. Only yesterday I and my nephew were
boiling pitch in the west forest--the traders from Ravenna give a high
price for it. The whole forest is not five miles in breadth; if there
had been many barbarians hiding themselves there, we must have seen
them; it cannot be a migrating horde, an army of people; it can only be
adventurers, a few horsemen who are reconnoitring to see how the
country is protected."

"We will show them how it is protected," cried Severus, and he raised
his right hand menacingly. "The veteran is right, Cornelius. I believe
him. It is only that handful of riders over by the river that is
capering towards us. We will drench them for their insolence. Himilco,
back to the Tribune. I decline the help of his Moors--hearest thou? I
decline it altogether; it is a case of honour, to show these robbers
that the burghers of Juvavum alone are men enough to chastise them."

"I fully agree with you," said Cornelius. "It can only be a party of
scouts."

"I shall, notwithstanding, be cautious, and make the attack with an
overpowering force; this time I _must_ conquer--on account of thy vow,
my Cornelius."

He struck him on the shoulder with fatherly kindness, and descended the
narrow flight of steps from the walls. Having reached the gate, he
commanded the tuba-blower to hasten through all the quarters of the
town, and summon the burghers to the Vindelician gate: in a quarter of
an hour would the attack be made. Loud sounded the imperative tones in
all parts of the town, and from every street the armed volunteers
streamed forth to the north-western gate. One of the first was the fat
Crispus, who came panting from his workshop hard by. He toiled along
under an immense spear and shield. It was hot, and Crispus was old and
corpulent. On his head, instead of a helmet, he carried a cooking
utensil, in which, in peaceful times, the old Ancilla was accustomed to
bake the--only too greasy--festival cakes! It was certainly now scoured
quite bright, but it was somewhat too large, and at each step rattled
about his ears. He did not present a very warlike appearance.

Severus observed him with a shake of the head. "Now the will is
good"----

"And the flesh is not weak!" mocked Cornelius.

"But," continued Severus, "I would rather see thy slim nephew, the
stone-mason. Why does he deny his arm to the Fatherland? Always with
his young wife? Where is he?"

"Here he is!" cried an entreating voice high above their heads.

Crispus had not had time to answer--had only pointed towards the tower
at the gate; and behind the barred window of the second story, Fulvius
was to be seen eagerly stretching forth both hands.

"Let me out, O general! Help me down, and with the spear I will thank
thee!"

"Severus," said Crispus eagerly to the astonished general, "order the
gaoler--there he stands, in the doorway--to release him; Zeno the
usurer has caused him to be imprisoned."

"Bring the man out, Carcerarius!" commanded Severus. "I need such a
strong youthful arm. Let him pay first his debt to the Fatherland.
Should he fall, he will be free from every debt; should he survive, he
will return to the tower."

The gaoler hesitated; but a blow in the ribs which Cornelius
impatiently dealt him altered his opinion.

"I yield to force!" cried he, rubbing the assaulted spot.

"What an iron, strictly obedient Roman soul!" exclaimed Cornelius.

Immediately afterwards Fulvius sprang over the threshold, seized the
shield and spear which were brought to him from the store of arms on
the ramparts, and cried:

"Out! out before the gate!"

Well pleased, the eye of the general rested on him.

"I praise such zeal! Thou longest for the battle?"

"Ah, no, sir," answered the young man ingenuously, "only for
Felicitas."

While Severus turned away vexed, Crispus comforted his nephew.

"I have been watching thy house from the wall. Compose thyself, no
barbarian has yet crossed the river."

"And the Tribune?" whispered the young husband.

"Has not yet left the Capitol"

"And Zeno?"

"Is fully occupied in bringing his treasures into the town and hiding
them."

Then the tuba-blowers returned from their rounds the last citizens from
the most distant houses arrived.

Severus and Cornelius drew them up in two companies, each of about
three hundred men. Then the old hero stood before them and said:

"Romans! Men of Juvavum! Follow me! Out before the gate, and woe to the
barbarians!"

He expected loud applause, but all were silent.

One man alone stepped from the ranks, and said anxiously:

"May I ask a question?"

"Ask!" answered Severus, displeased.

"How many barbarians may there be out there?"

"Hardly one hundred."

"And we are six hundred!" said this bold one, smiling comfortably and
turning to his fellow-citizens. "To the gate!" cried he suddenly,
striking his sword on the shield. "To the gate! And woe to the
barbarians!"

"Woe to the barbarians!" cried now the whole troop.

The gate was drawn up, and over the drawbridge, which at the same time
fell across the moat, the men hastened out of the town.

Very few guards were left on the walls. Women and children now hurried
from their houses, mounted the ramparts, and looked after their dear
ones, who at a quick march were advancing towards the bridge below the
town, the west end of which, as we have seen, had been in the morning
barricaded and occupied by a small troop.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


At mid-day, when the Alemannian horsemen had first become visible, Leo
the Tribune was lying in his richly-furnished chamber in the high tower
of the Capitol, on a soft couch over which was spread a lion's skin. He
felt in his best mood.

His knee pained and hindered him no longer.

He comfortably stroked the rich black beard which encircled a
face--bronze-brown, small, originally nobly formed, but long since
become terrible by passions.

Before him, on a table of citron-wood, there stood, half-emptied, a
large jug of fiery Siculer wine, and a silver drinking-cup.

Two Greek slaves, father and son, were in attendance on him.

The elder slave, raising his finger in warning, brought the mixing-cup.
But, laughing, his master put it aside. "North of the Alps," said he,
"nature herself mixes too much coldness in our blood; we do not need to
dilute the wine. Is it not so, my demure Antinoüs? There, drink!" And
he offered the cup to a third servant, a handsome boy of some fifteen
years, who was crouching on the ground in the extreme corner of the
room, as far as possible from Leo, and turning his back to his master.
He wore only a purple petticoat round his loins. His other garments the
Tribune had stripped off, that he might gaze on his splendid limbs.
Without turning his beautiful, sad face, the prisoner shook his head,
round which flowed long golden hair.

Defiantly, threateningly, he then spoke: "My name is not Antinoüs; my
name is Hortari. Set me free! let me go back to my own people in the
rustling forests of the Danube! or else kill me! For know this,
shameful man, never will I comply with thy orders."

Leo angrily threw at him the heavy fortress-key, which lay on an
ottoman near. "Depart hence, stubborn dog! Davus!" cried he to the
younger slave, who was engaged in putting ready the armour of the
Tribune, "drag him to the stable, and hang him there in chains! If the
brat will not be his master's plaything, away with him to the beasts!"

The boy sprang up and threw his woollen mantle around him.

Davus dragged him away. The look, full of deadly hate, which the young
German threw back, quickly turning as he passed out of the room, Leo
did not observe. He soon recovered his good-humour.

"To-morrow I shall have better company here in the Thalamos," said he,
again stroking his dark beard, "than an untamable young bear.
Felicitas! I drink to our first embrace!" And he emptied the cup.

Then he stood up. "I need a support no longer!" He thereupon motioned
away the elder slave, stepped to the window of the tower, and looked
out.

"There is not a hundred of them, these daring barbarians! What
insolence! Only a few wear defensive armour; and their weapons of
attack are pitiable. How many of their arrows, spears, battle-axes have
already splintered harmlessly on my helmet and armour! They are coming
straight towards me. I long for battle and victory! There is life down
there in the streets of the town. Severus is gathering his cobblers and
tinkers. But they will not get the better of the impetuous enemy. When
the old man, who is playing the general, is in the greatest distress--I
will let him struggle a good while as a punishment--then will I ride
out with my cavalry like the storm of the desert, and sweep them before
me. But first to the priest. No one in the town is now thinking of
anything but the barbarians outside the gates. So I can accomplish it
unnoticed. The danger from that priest must be very threatening, when
the cowardly gold-sack himself counsels bloody means. He has ever
menaced me, the psalm-whiner. First security and revenge, then the
pleasure of victory, and for a reward--Felicitas. Let Pluto be
saddled," commanded he the old slave, "and help me to arm."

The old man took the order to the court below, and then returned to the
tower. Leo had already put on the tall helmet with its flowing plume,
and the splendid greaves, and the slave now helped his master to clasp
and buckle over the dark-red tunic the magnificent breast-armour, which
was adorned with many orders and distinctions. When Leo had girded on
the sword, and was going to take the bronze shield, with the long,
sharp spike in the centre, the old man took carefully from a small
ivory box, which stood in the corner near the couch, a narrow leather
strap with two diminutive appendages, and with an entreating, silent,
impressively eloquent look, offered the charm to his master. It was a
small, ugly idol in amber, and a tiny silver case.

"Take it, my lord!" entreated the Greek, as Leo contemptuously pushed
it away.

"What shall I do with that? What sort of"----

"Do not revile them," implored the old man; "or they will be malicious
and protect no longer. Dost thou not know them, the guarding jewels?
The one is the Egyptian god, Phtha, and the capsule encloses a hair of
the beard of the Apostle Paul. If the first does not help, the second
will. Wear to-day both. I had last night a bad dream."

"_Thou_ wear them, then!"

"The dream did not concern me, but thee, my lord. I saw thee
celebrating a marriage!"

"Oh, that thou seest often! This time with Felicitas?"

"No, with Persephone, the queen of shades."

"She is no doubt very beautiful," laughed the Tribune, spreading out
his powerful arms; "let her only approach, she is welcome!"

"May the omen be far distant!" cried the slave.

"Thou art very anxious about me! Does my life concern thee? Why? Say,
for what reason?"

"Oh, sir, thou wast never so angry with Chrysos as"----

"With all the others, wilt thou say?" laughed the Moor. "Only
self-interest, old man; I need thee; that is, thy healing knowledge and
fingers."

"If thou wouldst only pray! And some one creature on the earth,
love--some one name honour! It would be better for thee!"

But the soldier gave a shrill laugh: "Love? Do I not every month love
another woman?"

"Thou destroyest what thou lovest!"

"And pray? To which god shall I pray? With the same fervour and with
the same results, have I seen prayer offered to Astarte and Artemis, to
Osiris and Jupiter, to Christ and Jehovah. But honour? What can be
sacred to me? Hardly so old as that German youth, I was stolen by
Vandal horsemen. Then lost I home, parents for ever! Sold as a
slave to the Romans, I suffered and enjoyed, even as a boy, things
unspeakable--pampered, kissed, fed, whipped. I slew my last master,
escaped into the forests of Calabria, became robber, robber-chief; was
taken, condemned to the sports in the circus, pardoned by the Emperor
when even my blood reddened the arena, placed among the mercenaries,
soon by wild courage centurion and Tribune. To which god shall I pray?
They all forsook me when I believed in them. But since I scorn them
all, Fortune serves me like a beloved maid. And what shall I love and
honour? My palm-rustling home? That is occupied by Vandalic barbarians!
Rome? Rome at first ill-treated me like a captive beast of prey, and
now hunts me like a tamed lion against her enemies. Very well; the
nature as well as the name of this my terrible countryman have I
chosen;" and he patted the proudly-maned head of the desert-king on his
couch. "Booty, enjoyment, battle! Wine, war, women! And at last--no
awakening--eternal night in the silent waste of death!" With that he
seized both amulets, threw them from the tower window, grasped his
spear, which was resting against the wall, and went clanging down the
steep tower staircase.

The Greek followed sadly.

Having reached the wide court-yard, the Tribune commanded his troops to
mount; he ordered the squadron to follow him into the town, and station
themselves in the Forum of Hercules, there to wait till, he should lead
them to the attack. The centurion Himilco, in command of the Isaurian
foot-soldiers, was placed at the look-out post at the entrance of the
Capitol, to watch the progress of the battle and any possible events in
the town; and if his presence was required in the town or outside the
walls, he must first close the strong gate of the citadel, and leave
two guards there. The Tribune quietly ordered his two slaves, the old
Greek and his son, to the foot of the Capitol with a closed litter:
"under any circumstances," added he. "To drag on horseback a struggling
woman up the steep path--that might oblige me seriously to hurt her--as
in Galla's case," said he to himself. And now, having given all his
commands, he placed his foot in the stirrup, to swing himself on Pluto,
his magnificent black Spanish steed, which had, with the front hoof,
been impatiently striking sparks from the granite pavement. He was
hardly in the saddle when, through the open stable-door, his eye fell
on the boy Hortari, who, with outstretched arms, was chained to the
wall between two iron horse-racks. In a corner of the stable lay a
round blue German shield, a spear, and a battle-axe, the weapons that
had been taken from the boy at his seizure.

"Ha! the future Antinoüs!" laughed he, fixing his spear at his side.
"Unchain him! He shall go on the walls, and see the destruction of his
German heroes. At night we will chain him with a whole pack of such
bears."

And he gave his steed the spurs, so that he started loudly neighing.
"Beware of the bears of the forest," cried Hortari, now unchained, and
stepping to the door of the stable with flashing eyes; "their claws
will tear you in pieces."

But the Tribune, with a laugh, shouted: "Up! to the gate! and woe to
the barbarians!"

And, following their powerful leader, the glittering cavalcade galloped
off, rushing and clashing down the valley.



                              CHAPTER IX.


With less cheerfulness than the Tribune, had his confederate Zeno
received the news of the appearance of the Germans before the town.

He owned many estates outside the gates, managed by slaves and
slave-women, who might take this opportunity, as the oppressed often do
in such cases, to run away to the barbarians, and with them make good
their escape.

Although he was no patron of art, and was too prudent to leave
treasures outside the fortress, yet his villas contained much valuable
furniture and other household goods. There were also herds of cattle,
sheep, and swine, which he would very unwillingly have bestowed on the
robbers.

Therefore, in the early hours of the morning, when Severus went out to
reconnoitre and to take possession of the bridge over the Ivarus, Zeno
sent out, under the protection of this troop, his slave-master, himself
an emancipated slave, with a gang of armed men, to bring in from the
houses which lay, at all events, on this side of the river, the most
valuable effects. The slaves especially belonging to those properties
were to be led into the town--if necessary by force. These peasants and
herdsmen, always rougher, wilder, more insubordinate than the town
servants, had only obeyed with reluctance; on two estates the unhappy
creatures had resisted, but were overpowered by superior numbers and
bound with chains to each other. The slave-master swung incessantly
over them the many-lashed leather scourge, urging them to haste, and to
burden themselves with still heavier loads, which they balanced on
their heads.

In a long train, those that were chained in the centre, cattle and
sheep forward, armed slaves at each side, the overseers at the head and
end of the line, they now came back through the Vindelician gate, which
was immediately closed behind them.

"Forward, Thrax, thou old dog!" cried Calvus, the overseer--he was
considered Zeno's son by a slave-woman--to a white-haired old man who
staggered under a load of bronze vessels; and as from feebleness he
could not hasten his steps, Calvus struck him a severe blow on the back
with the flat of his sword-blade.

The old man cried aloud and stumbled to the ground.

A gigantic neatherd, who was very heavily chained--he had resisted
furiously, and still bled from several wounds--then halted; he thereby
stopped the progress of all who were chained to him.

"I pray thee, Calvus, spare my father! Give his basket to me."

"Wait, Këix, thou cursed Thracian, I will give thee that which is thy
due," cried Calvus, and struck him with the edge of the sword over head
and shoulder, so that the blood spouted out. He was silent; not a cry
of pain escaped his tightly-pressed lips. But Calvus continued: "Thou
hast risen in open rebellion; we might have thee quartered for it. But
it would be losing too much capital to kill such a beast, that we have
fed for thirty years. Patience, my little son! I shall try on thee the
new torture instrument which the master has procured from Byzantium.
That shall be my refreshing evening's amusement."

The strong Thracian grew pale; but with anger, not fear. He only cast a
look at his persecutor, and again strode forwards.

While some of the servants distributed the herds in the town stabling,
the chained slaves were taken by Calvus to the court of the master's
house in the Via Augustana, to receive their punishment.

"Do with them as thou wilt," said Zeno in his writing-chamber, reading
through the list of the rescued property, "only take care that the life
and value, that means the power to work of these wretches, does not
suffer thereby. Previous to mutilation, we must, according to the law
of the pious Constantine, obtain the sentence of the Judge. I will ask
my son-in-law. Mucius," and he smiled; "but, with a slight modification
of the law, _afterwards_. Now I shall go to the Bath of Amphitrite to
inquire the news."

While he, accompanied by Calvus, was passing through the court, his
eyes fell on old Thrax, who lay in the comer on some straw; quite
exhausted, he had sunk into a deep sleep; by him, leaning against the
wall, was his giant son, heavily chained; blood still trickled from his
wounds. Zeno thrust at the sleeper with his staff; the old man opened
his tired eyes:

"Ah, am I still alive? I dreamt that the Lord had called me! I walked
in Paradise! But on the earth also I belong to the Lord Christ!"

"Then thy Lord Christ shall feed thee," mocked Zeno. "Calvus, that old
man is good for nothing. Withdraw from him the wine and bacon. It is
useless to feed him." His look then met the eye of the son, who grasped
his chains in rage.

Zeno was alarmed.

"Listen, Calvus," whispered he; "that one there, after he has been
tortured, let him be sold. He makes me uneasy. He has the look of our
black bull immediately before it went mad. Away with him to the mines
of the Fiscus! They need there such strong scoundrels, and the lead
soon poisons. Now to the bath!"

With that he went out of the court. He had hardly crossed the threshold
of his house, when a lame slave hobbled in, who very much resembled the
powerful-limbed Këix; it was his elder brother. But he did not seem to
notice either the old father or the brother streaming with blood; he
limped towards Calvus, and said, deeply bending:

"My master, Mucius the Judge, sends you this writing. Zeno and thou,
you are accused before him, by Johannes the priest, of having scourged
the Syrian woman, so that the unborn child died. He says he can this
time only with difficulty acquit you."

The writing was long; while Calvus read it with a knitted brow, the
lame man glided silently to his brother and pressed a file into his
hand; it was wrapped in a strip of papyrus. Këix read: "After the
mid-day meal." With his chained hand he lifted the small strip to his
mouth and swallowed it.

The lame man stood again behind Calvus. "What answer, sir?"

Highly displeased, Calvus gave him back the indictment. "May Orkus
swallow up this priest! He knows everything that does not concern him.
I must myself speak with thy master. Go on! Thou limpest horribly,
Kottys," laughed he. "But the expedient has been successful. We sold
thee to the Judge as incorrigible. But since thy new master has cut thy
sinews for thee, thou hast not again attempted to escape, and art
become tame, quite tame." They then both left the court.



In an hour Zeno returned from the bath. As he crossed the courtyard,
all the slaves, chained and unchained, were sitting at their scanty
meal, consisting of small pieces of coarse barley-bread, onions, and
bad wine, sour as vinegar. He went into his writing-room to his
accounts.

There, as was well known, no one dared disturb him.

This room--alone in the house--had instead of curtains a strong wooden
door, which could be locked.

The low window looked on a narrow lane, not on the principal street.

He soon noticed an unusual noise, as of the screaming and running of
many men in the distance. The door then opened gently. Astonished,
displeased at the intrusion, Zeno turned.

He was still more astonished to see old Thrax standing upon the
threshold, who shut the door carefully, turned the key, and laid his
finger on his lips, warning silence, for his master had angrily given a
cry of displeasure.

"Flee, master! Quick! Through the window! Thou art a dead man if they
seize thee."

"Who? Are the barbarians in the town?"

"Thy slaves; they are in revolt; all, in the whole town. They will be
here immediately."

Horror seized the Byzantian. He was well aware what vengeance he had
heaped up against himself. From the courtyard the wild cry already rang
in his ears. He seized a large bag of gold pieces, and a little purse
full of precious stones which lay before him on the counter of slate;
he had been in the act of counting them. The old man pushed a stool to
the window to help him to mount. Zeno started; it was with astonishment
that he saw the old man actively engaged about his escape. "Why doest
thou this for me?"

The slave answered solemnly: "I do it for the sake of the Saviour;
Johannes has taught me that my Lord Christ has said: 'Reward evil with
good.'"

"But whither, whither shall I flee?"

"To the church! There is safety. Johannes will protect thee."

"Johannes!"

Zeno wondered if the Tribune had already carried out his bloody
counsel. His knees shook. He was not able to climb the low breastwork
of the window.

Nearer and nearer sounded the uproar.

He heard the voice of Calvus. "Mercy! mercy!" he cried.

Immediately afterwards was heard a heavy fall.

"Alas!" groaned Zeno, now at last lifted up by the slave to the window.
"If they guess my hiding-place!"

"Master, no one knows it but myself, and I"----

"Thou shalt never betray me!" cried the Byzantian, and he seized the
dagger in his tunic, thrust it to the haft in the neck of the old man,
and swung himself into the street.



                               CHAPTER X.


Meanwhile the straggle outside the gates was being decided.

The barbarians some eighty horsemen, had several times approached the
river, but never within bow-shot; they had also trotted towards the
blockaded bridge, but had made no attack on that strong position. The
eyes of the people on the ramparts and of the attacking party were
directed intently towards this enemy in the _west_.

When the bridge was reached Severus ordered a small opening to be made
in the barricade, through which only two men at a time could gain the
left bank, and now, as the two last of the long train of burghers
passed through--the bridge was still occupied by its original
garrison--there sounded from the hills of the eastern forest, from the
_right_ bank, the piercing cry of the black eagle.

Cornelius quickly turned and looked towards the east. "Heardest thou
the cry of the eagle?"

Severus nodded. "A good omen for Roman warriors! Seest thou how our
golden eagle on the standard seems to raise its wings?"

But Cornelius did not look at the standard-bearer; he looked only
towards the eastern forest. "A column of smoke rises up from the
chamois rock."

"A charcoal-burner! Turn thy face! In the _west_ stands the enemy.
Lower the spears! Forward!"

In two extended lines near each other, each three men deep, they now
advanced towards the agile horsemen, who had quickly ridden back from
the river as this mass of footmen passed over; they had halted half-way
between the stream and the western forest, and had formed in two
parallel lines. Only a spear's throw separated the enemies.

Then as Severus and Cornelius, slowly advancing their columns, were
just going to raise their spears, two Germans rode slowly towards them,
ceremoniously turning the points of their lances downwards.

"Halt!" cried Severus to his troops. "They wish to parley. Let us
listen to them!"

The two horsemen came now quite close to Severus and Cornelius. The
combatants on each side stood back in anxious expectation.

One of the two Germans, a youthful, towering, splendid figure, on a
milk-white steed, was by the ornaments and splendour of his arms
characterised as a leader; he might be more than ten years younger than
Cornelius, who noticed with envy the muscular strength of the naked
right arm of the young barbarian, adorned and at the same time
strengthened by broad golden armlets; the left arm was covered by a
small round shield, painted red, embellished in the centre with a
spokeless wheel, a Rune or a picture of the sun. His breast was
protected by splendidly-worked armour--ah! with feelings of anger
Severus recognised, by the badges of honour appended thereto, that it
had been the panoply of a distinguished Roman officer, a legate or
_magister militum_;--he wore short leather breeches; from the ankle
upwards the calf of the leg was bound round with neat leather straps;
the left only of the two closely-fitting wooden shoes bore a spur; the
rider scorned saddle and stirrups; a short double axe was stuck in his
girdle, a white woollen mantle, fastened together so that it hindered
no movement, hung at his back; it was the hand of the mother--for this
youth was certainly yet unwedded--who had worked the handsome, broad,
bright red stripe on its border; splendid light golden hair floated on
his shoulders in natural curls, and surrounded the dazzlingly
beautiful, maidenlike white face; and on the proudly arched Roman
helmet, also obtained by plunder, towered, instead of the Latin black
horse-tail, the pinion of the gray heron.

The second horseman, a gigantic, gray-haired man of about sixty years,
with a gray beard falling low on his breast and waving in the wind,
seemed to be the leader o£ the retinue of his chief. He was simply
dressed and armed; the mane and tail of his powerful war-horse, a brown
stallion, were prettily interwoven with red and yellow ribbons; on his
shoulders he wore the skin of a wolf, whose open jaws yawned at the
enemy from the top of his helmet; his shield was painted in red and
yellow circles; at his unarmed breast he carried a mighty horn of the
bison of the primeval forest.

The commander now raised his lowered spear, threw it into the
bridle-hand, and offered the right to Severus, who took it with
hesitation, and immediately let it fall.

"First a grasp of the hand," cried the German, with a soft,
richly-toned voice, in very good Vulgate Latin--"first a grasp of the
hand, then, if you so wish it, a stroke with the sword. I know thee;
thou art the brave Severus, formerly the _Magister Militum_. Thou art
gallantly continuing the struggle at a lost post, for a lost cause. I
pride myself in being the son of the hero Liutbert, king of the
Alemanni. My name is Liuthari, and no man has yet conquered me."

Severus frowned darkly. "I have heard of thy father's name, and of
thine, you have stormed Augusta Vindelicorum."

"But not retained possession of it," cried the king's son; and his
clear gray eyes shone pleasantly. "Who would wish to live in walled
graves? Also in your Juvavum we shall not settle."

"That is provided against," muttered Severus.

But Liuthari threw back his locks, laughing.

"Wait a little! But say first, for whom leadest thou these burghers
into the field? In whose name dost thou defend Juvavum?"

"For the Imperator of Ravenna, who, as a good omen, unites the names of
the first king and the first emperor; for Romulus Augustulus, the lord
of the whole earth."

Then the German drew a papyrus roll from his girdle, and threw it to
Cornelius.

"I thought so," said he. "You know less than we barbarians what is
happening in your own Italy--in your own imperial chief city. Read what
is written to me by one who knows it well. There is no longer an
Emperor of the West! Romulus Augustulus--the boy's name is certainly a
good omen _for us_!--is deposed. He lives henceforth on an island, and
feeds peacocks; and on his throne sits my brother-in-law, the husband
of my beautiful sister--Odoacer the brave. He has himself written it to
us."

Cornelius had glanced through the composition. He tamed pale and
silently gave it to Severus, who read it trembling.

"There is no doubt!" said he, almost voiceless. "I know the man; he has
served under me. Odoacer does not lie."

"And we do not lie!" cried the gray-bearded companion of Liuthari. He
urged on his horse and took the letter from the hand of Severus. "To
split shields, not to falsify Runes, have I taught King Liutbert's
son."

One could well believe that of the old man. Before he put the roll into
his girdle he looked into it with an important air; it did not disturb
him that the letters were upside down.

Severus supported himself on his spear. Cornelius looked darkly before
him. "I knew it," he then said. "I had almost wished for it when I saw
it was unavoidable; and now it is come it crushes me."

"No longer an Imperator in Rome!" groaned Severus.

"Italy in the hands of the barbarians!" sighed Cornelius.

"You awake my deepest pity, gallant heroes," said the king's son, in a
grave tone. "But now you see well: the battle must come to an end
before it begins. For whom, for what will you yet fight?"

"For the future!" cried Severus.

"For the past--for honour!" cried Cornelius.

"For immortal Rome!" said both.

"Byzantium yet rules--soon will Byzantium send another Emperor,"
threatened Severus.

"Perhaps!" said Liuthari, shrugging his shoulders. "But in the meantime
we want a settling-place, fields, and pasturage, we Germans. And
therefore I bring you a message in my father's name: 'So speaks
Liutbert, the King of the Alemanni, in his own name and in that of his
allies'"----

"Who are these allies?" interrupted Cornelius.

"You will find out quicker than you will like," answered gruffly
Liuthari's companion.

Liuthari continued: "'Let him stay in the land who will do so
peaceably; he who will not stay let him peaceably retire. The
fortresses to be vacated; they must be destroyed. Two-thirds of the
land remain to you; one-third is for us.' That is a reasonable
division."

But Severus started up angrily, raising his spear. "Bold barbarian!
Darest thou thus to speak, with eighty barbarians against the host of
Juvavum's burghers? Thou hast learnt to speak as a Latin, but not to
think as a Roman!"

"I should think," interposed Cornelius, "that your country was large
enough for you, ye Alemanni, when you can only send eighty horsemen to
conquer Juvavum. Do you think I can yield to _you_?"

A peculiar smile played around the young German's handsome mouth, about
which the first downy beard charmingly curled. "Take care, Roman! Are
we too few for thee? Soon may we seem too many. Out of a few the
wonder-working Wotan wakes many! For the last time--evacuate the
fortress; divide peaceably the country!"

"Never! Back, barbarian!" cried the two Romans at once.

Liuthari turned his horse suddenly round. "It is your wish. You are,
then, lost. Wotan has you all!"

The two horsemen then galloped back to their men.

"Haduwalt, sound the horn!"

The old master-in-arms put the horn to his mouth, and a load roaring
tone struck on the ear of the Romans; and before they could obey the
command of their leaders and advance against the enemy, there sounded
behind them, _in the east_, from the river, from the town, now quite
near, the loud cry of the black eagle; and immediately afterwards such
a fearful noise of whoops, cries of anguish, and the clashing of
weapons, that all the six hundred men, and both commanders, turned in
dismay. Horror and despair seized them. Germans--Germans innumerable,
as it appeared to the alarmed Romans rushed forth from the eastern
forest, and from all the slopes of the mountains and brushwood of the
hills. A strong detachment hurried towards the bridge; others, on horse
and on foot, threw themselves into the river above and below the
bridge; but the greater part, laden with ladders and trunks of trees on
which the horizontal branches had been left, approached the town; and
with fierce rage the shut-out citizens saw how whole masses of the
stormers, crowding together like ants, helped to raise each other,
supported themselves on the ladders, beams, and trees, climbed up, and,
in many places almost without resistance from the few sentinels, at
once gained the crown of the ramparts.

Juvavum, the town, was conquered before its defenders had been able to
strike a blow.

The garrison had been enticed out, with the exception of the soldiers
of the Tribune. Were _they_ still in the Capitol? The leaders looked
anxiously towards the tower: the imperial _Vexillum_ was still
fluttering at its summit.

But the cry of joy with which the Alemannian horsemen greeted the
success of their heroic confederates recalled the Romans to the
threatening danger from this near enemy. Severus ordered Cornelius,
with about a hundred men, to engage the Alemannian troopers, while he
himself, with the greater part of the deeply discouraged burghers,
turned back to the bridge, to assist its garrison, which was now being
attacked from the unprotected open east side.

He again heard the sound of Haduwalt's horn. Severus turned.

"Yield!" cried the king's son. "You are lost!"

"Never!" cried Cornelius, and threw his spear as Liuthari was galloping
towards him.

Liuthari turned the stroke aside with his shield arm: the next instant
Cornelius fell backwards, pierced to the heart through shield and
armour by the lance of the German hurled while at full speed.

"I will avenge thee!" cried Severus, and was turning towards the king's
son; but at the same moment a cry of distress again called him
eastwards.

The enemy had overpowered the garrison of the bridge; already many of
the swimmers, horsemen and footmen intermixed, had reached the troops
of Severus. Active youths, whose yellow hair floated in the wind from
their uncovered heads, ran, holding on to the manes of the horses; and
thus attacked at once by horse and foot, the citizens of Juvavum,
knowing their town, their relatives, were already in the power of the
conqueror, threw away their arms, and fled on all sides. At the same
time the Alemanni from the west rode down the hundred men of Cornelius.

Severus stood alone: his spear fell from his hand.

The leader of the enemy that had come so suddenly from the east then
approached him. He had galloped in advance of his followers on to the
bridge, where his horse was pierced and fell. He then advanced on foot,
a giant in stature. The mighty pinion of the black eagle bristled
menacingly on his helm; his red hair, combed towards the crown, and
drawn together behind, fell below his helmet; an enormous bear-skin
hung on his shoulders: he raised his stone battle-axe.

"Throw down thy sword, old man, and live," cried this giant, in Latin.

"Throw down this sword?" said Severus. "I will not live!"

"Then die!" cried the other, and hurled his stone axe.

Severus fell: his breast-plate was rent in twain, it fell in two pieces
from his body.

He supported himself painfully on his left arm: the conquering sword he
had not yet let fall.

The victor bent over him, picking up his axe.

"Tell me, before I die," said Severus, with a weak voice, "in whose
hands is Juvavum fallen? Of what race are you? Are you Alemanni?"

"No, Roman; we have been summoned by the Alemanni. We do not come from
the west. We come from the east, up the Danube. We have taken all the
Roman towns from Carnuntum hither; the last legion this side of the
Alps have we defeated at Vindobona. We share the land with our comrades
the Alemanni--the Licus is the boundary. Look here; already from the
mountains of the east our people stream down into the country--women
and children, waggons and herds--that is the advanced guard; tomorrow
will come the great horde."

"And what is your name?"

"We were called formerly Marcomanni; but now, 'the men of Bajuhemum,'
the Bajuvaren, all this land is ours for ever, as far as one can see to
the north from the Alpine ridge. Yield, then, gray-head! there yet
remains to thee"----

"This sword," said Severus, and he thrust into his heart the conquering
sword of the Emperor Probus.

The giant drew it out and a stream of blood rushed forth.

"Ah!" said the Bajuvaren. "The old man is dead. It would be a pity,"
continued he slowly, looking at the sword, "if this good blade were
lost. Come, brave weapon; serve henceforth the new lord of the land.
But now must I thank Liuthari; everything hit together admirably. Yes;
these Alemanni! They are almost wiser than we! Hojo, Sigo, Heilo!"
cried he, holding his two hands hollowed before his mouth. "Liuthari!
beloved, where tarriest thou? Garibrand calls, the Bajuvaren duke.
Hojoho! Sigo! Heiloho! Now let us share the booty and the land!"

Liuthari galloped forward and offered his hand to the duke. "Welcome in
our new home! Welcome in victory!" cried he, with a joyous voice.

But then sounded from the town fresh noise of arms and tumult of
battle.

"The victory is not yet complete," said Garibrand, pointing with his
axe to the Capitol.

There was now heard, through the battle-cries of the Bajuvaren in the
town, the clear warlike call of the tuba. "That is the Roman general
and his host!" cried the duke. "He is coming from the fortress down
into the town on my men! Quick! bring me another horse! Into the town!
To the help of my heroes!"



                              CHAPTER XI.


With the exception of the two leaders, very few Romans had fallen in
the short hand-to-hand combat; for the Bajuvaren duke had before the
attack given the order: "To-day--prisoners! No slain! Consider, ye men;
every man slain is a loss, every prisoner a servant gained for the new
masters of the land!"

Fulvius and Crispus had been among the troops turned by Severus against
the Bajuvaren. When their ranks were broken, the nephew cried to the
uncle: "To Felicitas! Through the ford!" and as they had stood
together, so they now ran together towards the river below the bridge,
for that was held by the enemy.

But the stout Crispus, although he had quickly thrown away spear and
shield, was soon left far behind the agile stone-mason.

An Alemannian horseman, with a youth running at his side, followed
both.

Crispus was soon overtaken.

His ridiculous appearance challenged the rider to give him a blow on
the casserole covering his head in the place of a helmet, it fell over
his eyes and nose, from which poured a stream of blood, he gave a loud
cry and fell to the ground; he thought he was dead.

But he soon came back to the agreeable certainty of life, when the
foot-soldier, who had remained by him, roughly tore the casserole from
his head. Crispus sprang up, gasping for breath, the German laughed in
his big, fat, highly-astonished face.

"Ha! this Roman hero has had good provender. And this nose is not red
with its own blood or with water either. Ho, friend, I will set thee
free, if thou wilt reveal to me where in Juvavum the best wine can be
got. It seems to me thou art the man to know it."

Crispus, so pleasantly spoken to, recovered himself quickly, now that
he was quite convinced that he was not dead, and would not have to die
for the fatherland.

He drew a deep breath and spoke, raising his hand as an oath:

"I swear as a Roman burgher, Jaffa, the good Jew, near the Basilica,
has the sweetest. He is not baptized--but neither is his Falernian.

"Excellent!" cried the Alemannian. "Come, ye friends!"--a whole crowd
of Alemanni and Bajuvaren were shaking hands close about him--"to Jaffa
the Jew, to drink our gratitude to the god Ziu for our pleasant
victory! Thou, fat fellow, lead on, and if, contrary to thine oath, it
is sour, this Jew's wine, we will drown thee therein."

But Crispus was not alarmed; he rejoiced, on the contrary, that he
would now be able to drink gratis, as much as he wished, of the
choicest long-stored Cyprus wine, which hitherto had been quite beyond
his means. That it was to be drunk to the honour of the god Ziu did not
make the wine worse. "And," said he to himself, "it is at all events
better pleasing to God that we empty the Jew's wine-skins than those of
a good Christian."

He did not trouble about his house. "They will not interfere with my
old Ancilla; her wrinkles will protect her better than many shields.
The bit of money is buried; they will not carry away the plaster
statues, they will only cut off their noses with great zeal and an
incomprehensible liking for the business: it does not matter, one can
stick them on again," But he was anxious about Fulvius, about
Felicitas.

He looked about for the fugitive, but could not see him either lying
dead, or brought in a prisoner; he seemed to be swallowed up by the
earth: the rider who had pursued him had turned his horse in another
direction, and was pursuing other flying Romans. Crispus hoped that the
young husband had escaped. He (Crispus) was quite unable to help
Felicitas, for his conqueror held him firmly by the shoulder and pushed
him towards the bridge.

"Forward! Thou canst not imagine, Roman, how Alemannian thirst burns.
And near the Basilica, sayest thou? That is right! There we shall find,
besides, gold and silver cups for the liquor."

And in front of the whole noisy, laughing, shouting swarm, the fat
Crispus, an involuntary pot-companion, stumped along as fast as his
short legs could carry him, towards the gate through which he had
shortly before marched, a proud helmeted legionary. He had left the
casserole where it fell, but he was still reminded of it by the
smarting of his nose.

In the meantime Fulvius had actually disappeared. He had not thrown
away shield and spear, like his corpulent companion; he was young,
strong, he had no fear, and he thought of the promise which he had
given at his release to the gallant Severus. He had now reached the
river and stood firmly on the marshy bank. He heard the hoof-strokes of
the galloping horse coming nearer and nearer, and he resolutely turned,
looked at the enemy fiercely, raised his spear, took good aim and threw
it with all the strength of his arm against the face of the German.

"Well aimed!" cried he, as he dropped the reins, and with his left hand
caught the whizzing spear.

The shield of Fulvius would now have availed him little, for the
galloping horseman aimed at the same time with both spears, his own and
the one he had caught, at the Roman's head and abdomen. But before the
deadly lances reached him, Fulvius had suddenly disappeared; in
stepping backwards from the snorting horse, that must the next instant
have prostrated him, he lost his balance, slipped on the smooth grass,
and fell backwards into the stream, the waters of which, dashing up,
closed over him. The Alemannian bent down from his steed and looked
after him laughing as he was carried away.

"Greet the Danube for me" cried he, "when thou hast reached it;" then
turned his horse and galloped across the fields.



                              CHAPTER XII.


Zeno hastily pursuing his way, had reached the corner of the narrow
street.

Loud cries sounded behind him; he looked round; the flames broke
crackling through the roof of a house close by; it was that of the
Judge, his son-in-law. Full of fresh anxiety he hurried forwards.

After a few steps he came to the door of the priest's small house,
which stood open.

He sprang across the threshold, flew along the narrow,
imperfectly-lighted passage. No Ostiarius, no sub-deacon showed
himself. He hurried into the priest's room, the same into which we have
already been.

It was empty.

The door which led into the adjoining church was ajar.

The fugitive entered and hastened across the dimly-lighted space to the
altar, which, dividing apse and nave, furnished the most sacred asylum
in the church. Here on the steps lay Johannes, stretched out
motionless, with both arms clasping the relic-shrine on the altar.

In his anguish new horror seized the hard Byzantian.

Was he murdered?--He, who might perhaps have been able to protect him?

"Woe is me!" groaned he.

His horror increased when he, who lay as dead, slowly raised himself
and silently turned his pale, venerable face.

"Ha! do the dead rise again?" cried Zeno, shrinking back.

"Why dost thou think me dead?" asked Johannes, regarding his disturbed
countenance with a soul-piercing look.

"Not I--not I--but the Tribune wished"----

"I imagined so! What seekest thou here?"

"Safety! safety!" stammered the usurer; he again thought only of the
danger that was following his steps. "My slaves! All the slaves have
revolted. The Judge's house is in flames."

Then a bright light as of fire shone through the open windows of the
church, and arms clashed in the distance.

"Hearest thou? They are seeking me! They come! Save me! Cover me with
thy body. Here, all this gold"--he threw the heavy bag on the altar, it
burst and single gold pieces ran clinking over the steps on to the
marble pavement. "Alas! it escapes from me faithlessly! All this
gold--or the half--no--all, the whole will I give thee--no, not to
_thee_. I know thou wilt devote it to St. Peter, to thy church, to the
poor--only save me!"

And he threw himself at the priest's feet, carefully concealing the
little purse of jewels in his bosom.

Johannes raised him.

"I _will_ save thee!--for Christ's sake, not for the sake of the gold."

"Thou wilt stay with me," cried Zeno with rising hope.

"That I cannot do. My place at this hour is on the battle-field, to
attend on the wounded. My brethren I have already sent out. I was only
deriving strength from a last prayer."

"No, no, I will not let thee go!" cried Zeno, clinging to him.

But, with unlooked-for strength, Johannes freed himself.

"I must, I tell thee. The Lord calls me. Perhaps I may even check the
slaughter. But thou--thy cruelty has so enraged the unhappy creatures,
that some of them would not be restrained by the altar--by my
intercession"----

"Yes, yes!" agreed Zeno.

He thought of Këix, the mad bull.

"Thou shalt be hidden where no one but God the Lord can find thee. See
here!"

With these words he stooped down and raised a slab of the marble
flooring near the altar; a short ladder was visible, which led into a
dark, tolerably spacious vault.

"Go down there. No one but myself knows of this old cave. Wait till I
fetch thee out; I will come as soon as the danger is over."

"But if--and if"----

"Thou meanest if I lose my life? See, thus can the roof-stone be lifted
from below. Hasten!"

"It horrifies me--to be buried alive! Are the bones of the
dead--skeletons----Pardon; are there relics in the vault?"

"Fear thou henceforth the living God, not dead men. Here, take the
oil-lamp; and now away! Hearest thou? The tumult presses nearer."

Then Zeno sprang down, lamp in hand. Johannes seized the money-bag, and
threw it in after him; the miser noticed with agony that the priest had
first taken out a handful of solidi. He replaced the stone, and then
strewed the gold pieces from the principal door, of the church (which
he bolted on the inside) up to the altar, and from there as far as, and
over, the threshold of the door which led from the church into his own
house. He then hastened through this door, and out of his house into
the open air.

After a few minutes, Zeno heard, with a despairing heart, furious
axe-blows thundering on the great door of the church.

It burst open and a great crowd of men--to judge from the voices and
footsteps--crushed in. Zeno held his breath in an agony of fear; he
pressed his ear to the slab, in order to hear better. He perceived
first the voice of a woman.

"Do not kill him in the church!--in the sanctuary of the saints! He
scourged me almost to death, and killed my child. But do not kill him
in the church. Honour the house of the eternal God!"

"Rather in the house of God than in the house of the good Johannes!"
said another voice.

"It is sanctuary only on the altar, not in the whole church!" cried a
third. But then Zeno heard the terrible Këix scream out:

"At the feet of the Father in heaven would I strangle him! He has at
the last murdered my old father, who had entreated me to spare the
monster. When I would not yield, he stole from my side. I found him
again when we had broken open the villain's door, and his dagger was in
my father's neck. I could murder him seven times."

"Once is enough," said Kottys, "if we murder him as slowly as we have
killed my master. Mucius the Judge we have burnt alive in the flames of
his own house."

"Halt! Look here, brother Kottys; this is the track of the fugitive.
The wounded hyena sweats blood; the fleeing miser sweats gold. See
here! at the portal it begins: then he is inside--has drawn the bolt
behind him--here, past the altar has he run; and there--through that
door into the priest's house! There he must be hidden. After him!"

"After him! Down with him!" roared the whole mob, and ran with rambling
steps across the slab over Zeno's head, away into the adjoining house.

The miser, senseless with fright, had crept back into the farthest
corner; long cowered he there; cold sweat ran from his brow.

But all remained quiet, the last sound died away; the pursuers had,
after searching the priest's house, poured out into the street.

He said to himself: "The Tribune will soon observe the conflagration,
and the uproar in the town. He has already repeatedly subdued such
riots. With his lancers he will in a few hours re-establish order."
Thus presence of mind and a certain courage slowly returned to him.

By the light of the oil-lamp, he now looked around him in the
cellar-like vault.

He stumbled against a chest. A strange curiosity, mixed with dread,
impelled him irresistibly to open it; perhaps here the sly old fellow
hid the treasures of his church! He lifted up the lid; the chest
contained nothing but papyrus rolls and parchments; spread over them
was a white, priestly garment with a hood, exactly like that which
Johannes had worn.

An idea struck the fugitive. He hastily drew the wide robe over his own
garments.

"I shall not stay long in this place, and I am now safely
disguised--better than in armour."

After a time, as all remained still, he became uncomfortable in the
damp air of the vault; he carefully half-raised the slab, mounted the
ladder and looked into the empty church.

His eye fell on the glittering gold pieces, which shone in the light of
the altar-lamp.

A few had been picked up by his pursuers, but they thirsted more for
blood than gold. Already the miser repented having promised the priest
so much.

"He, moreover, rejected the gold; so I am no longer bound to give it.
And these scattered pieces--they shall not fall to the scoundrels."

He now lifted the slab quite up, and listened again anxiously. All was
silent.

Then he deliberately placed money-bag and purse of jewels in the chest,
closed the lid, climbed quickly out and picked up the solidi--at first
those that lay nearest, then those by the altar; he then saw to the
right of the altar a whole heap lying together, as they had fallen out
of the burst bag.

He went now from the left of the altar towards the right, stooped
down--oh, horror! he heard steps approaching from the priest's house!
Only one man, certainly, but that was not Johannes--there was the clang
of metal!

He quickly attempted to regain his hiding-place, but before he could
pass the altar, a black shadow fell across his path. Zeno could not,
unnoticed, spring into the vault.

His knees failed him; so, drawing the hood quickly over his head, he
threw himself into the position in which he had found Johannes, with
his arms encircling the relic shrine on the altar. At the same moment
cold steel penetrated his neck. He was dead before he had heard the
words, "Die, priest!"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


But the murderer now thought it was not the high-towering form of the
Presbyter. He bent down so that the black horse-tail of his high helmet
fell forwards, and drew back the hood, and with it the head of the
murdered man.

With a short scream he let it again fall.

"Irony of fate! The usurer! How comes he here? How in this disguise?
Where is the priest?"

But before the Tribune could think about these questions, his whole
attention was drawn towards the chief entrance of the church, by a
noise of the most startling kind.

Leo had stationed his troops in the Forum of Hercules; had left them
with the command there to await his return. He had dismounted, and put
his horse in charge of one of the troopers. He wished to reach the
priest's house on foot, by a circuitous route through narrow streets,
where he would be less observed.

He had been startled when half-way by seeing the flames rise, and
hearing in the distance the tumult of the revolted slaves. He stood
still.

A fleeing woman then hurried towards him, with covered head, he stopped
her.

"It is thou, Tribune!" cried the fugitive.

"What? Thou, Zoë! The Judge's wife! What has happened?"

"The slaves! Our house is burning! Save! help!"

"My troops are standing in the Forum of Hercules. I will return myself
immediately. Then will I help."

He had then hurried into the empty house of the priest, rushing through
it with sword drawn, he reached the Basilica, and instead of him he
sought, had struck dead his own confederate. He had hardly discovered
this, when there sounded in the direction of the portal the bugles and
trumpets of his horsemen, calling to the attack.

"They are in conflict with the rioters," thought the Tribune, and he
was going out through the doorway. "Rascals of slaves! while the
barbarians stand before the gates!"

But on the threshold he suddenly stopped: for quite a different sound
struck on his terrified ear--not the raging howl of frantic slaves; no,
a cry well known to him--the watch-cry, the war-cry, the cry of victory
of the Germans, and--it was close at hand.

"Germans in the town? Impossible!"

But, stepping carefully out from the door of the Basilica, he saw at
the corner of the great square whole swarms, yes, hundreds of Germans,
on foot--not the few horsemen whom they had so long observed--and they
were advancing straight towards the church.

"To fight one's way through! Impossible! Back! through the priest's
house!"

He fled through the nave of the church, past the still raised stone
slab into the house of Johannes. But the noise came towards him in that
direction also, loud laughing and shouting, and he saw approaching a
crowd of Germans with a stout Roman at their head, whom they had
heavily laden with wine-skins.

As quickly as his heavy armour would allow him, he turned back into the
Basilica, sprang--this seemed the only possible place of safety--into
the open vault, pulled down the stone slab, and immediately heard the
Germans pouring into the church through both entrances. Shouting and
exulting the conquerors greeted each other over the head of the
imprisoned commandant of Juvavum.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


We will join the drinking Germans above, rather than the Tribune raging
in impotent wrath below the marble floor.

"Welcome in victory, ye brave Bajuvaren!"

"For that we thank you, ye clever Alemanni!"

"Did we not entice them out well?" said another comrade in arms. "First
of all we--that is, Liuthari, our famous king's famous son, and two of
his followers--surprised a post of five Moorish horsemen, whom the
Tribune of the Capitol had sent out against us as spies. But we know
the forests better than those brown Africans. Four were dead, or
prisoners, before they were aware of it. One escaped--alas! But it
seems he was not able to tell much. Then a little company of us slipped
across the river--an Alemannian horse can swim like a swan--and
galloped to you Bajuvaren in the eastern mountains, in order that at
the right time the call of the heron should be answered by the cry of
the eagle."

"And this time you also, ye heavy-stepping Bajuvaren, contrary to your
manner and custom, actually came at the right time," teased Suomar,
another Alemannian.

Fiercely the Bajuvaren put his hand to the battle-axe in his girdle.
"What does that mean, thou Suevian blockhead? It is my opinion we have
come early enough to cut you down--you as well as all others who wait
long enough! Although you are so quick in thought and hasty in words,
many times already you have not had limbs quick enough for flight, to
escape from us, if we are slow."

Provoked thus, the other was going to answer angrily, but Vestralp, the
first Alemannian, interposed soothingly: "Never mind, both of you;
thou, my Suomar! and thou, brave Marcoman! Once there, the Bajuvaren
fight so splendidly that they make up for lost time."

"They have often shown that!" cried Rando, a third Alemannian.

"The last time," continued Suomar, "just now, in the market-place, and
on the steep path up to the citadel, against the cavalry of the
Tribune."

"Listen! What was that?"

"Yes! did not a groan come out of the ground?"

"There!--at the left by the altar."

"Look! behind the altar! Perhaps some one wounded."

Two warriors hastened to the spot and looked behind the altar, but they
found nothing.

"But what lies there in front--on the steps?"

"A dead man."

"A Roman?"

"A priest, as it seems."

"The slaves must have done that; the rioters who joined themselves to
us when we had climbed the walls," said Helmbert, an aged leader of the
Bajuvaren. "They are now the guides to the richest booty."

"Take the corpse away! On the stone steps is the best place to sit and
drink," said Helmdag, his son.

"Dare to do it, thou blasphemer! That is the table of the most exalted
Lord of Heaven," threatened Rando.

"It is not true," cried Helmdag. "Thou art a Catholic. This is a
heretic church, more harmful than any abominations of heathenism. So my
Gothic godfather, the Bishop of Novi, teaches me."

"Thou stinking Arian!" answered Rando. "Thou denier of Christ! I will
teach thee to give to the Lord Christ equal honour with the Father. I
will fill thy mouth with my fist, and with thine own teeth as well!"

"With us the son always stands behind the father," growled Helmdag.

"Peace! both of you," commanded Vestralp, "fill your mouths with Roman
wine. Bring the skin, Crispus, thou Roman hero! Do not untie it! A
stroke with the sword. So! It spouts like red blood out of wounds! Now
the helmets and hollow shields, until the noble Roman in the buck's
skin is exhausted. And as concerns the strife about the two stone
steps, I think that a good man honours everything that is sacred to
another. Therefore, brothers, we will all draw back from those steps."

"But the gold and silver on the walls, on the pillars and stone
coffers?" said Helmdag, the Arian.

"Perhaps that is to stay for the plundering slaves?" said Rando the
Catholic.

"No!" cried the enlightened pagan, who had spoken for peace--it was
Vestralp, the vanquisher of the helmeted Crispus--"that would be a
pity. We will divide it amongst us all: for the God Ziu, for the Romish
Bishops, and for the followers of Arius."

And they immediately set to work with the bronze helmet, or deer-skin
cap, full of red wine in the left hand, the battle-axe in the right.
Drinking heartily during their work, they broke away from the
sarcophagi, holy shrines, and even from the columns, all that was
valuable of the metal ornaments and jewels, and also the stones that
pleased the eye by their variegated colours.

Garizo, a young, slim, tall Bajuvaren, lifted from the neck of a Saint
Anne her necklace of heavy gold and sapphires, giving at the same time
a deep bow, and saying:

"With thy permission, holy goddess, or whatever else thou mayest be;
but thou art horribly ugly, and of dead stone. What one sees of thy
bosom is yellow; but my bride Albrun is alive and young, and
wonderfully beautiful; and very pretty will these stones look on her
white neck."

"Yes, but where are they then, your women and children, and unarmed
folk?" asked Vestralp of the busy bridegroom.

"They will come to-morrow down the eastern mountains," answered Garizo.
"For this we have at last found out, 'slow-moving' as we are, as thy
hasty-tongued comrade just now said--this we have now learnt: to send
the men forwards into the battle, and let the unarmed come afterwards
when the victory and land is won."

"There must be something in it," laughed Vestralp, "in this name
'slow-moving,' because it vexes you so. If one called you a coward, you
would only laugh and strike him down. You are a strange people! No
other race so calm, and at the same time so terrible in anger."

"I will tell thee," spoke thoughtfully Helmbert, the white-bearded. "We
are like the mountains; they stand quiet, whatever goes on round about
them. But if the tumult within gets too vexatious, they overturn in
rocks and fire."

"You have shown this time that you also can be cunning and crafty,"
cried Suomar. "With what artful care did you prevent the enemy getting
scent of your approach! So sharply did you watch all the roads, and
even the mule-tracks and the paths of the chamois-hunters, that no
intelligence from the east could reach Juvavum."

"And not to make the Romans suspicious at the absence of all news,"
added Helmbert, "we sent our own Roman settlers disguised like peasants
and workmen, as if they were the people from Ovilava and Laureacum,
into the town, there to buy and sell."

"And if these had revealed all?" asked Suomar.

"Their relatives left behind would have been put to death. That was
said plainly enough to them. But besides this, the poor people would
rather support us than their Roman tormentors."

"The burghers of the town soon gave up the contest; they find
themselves under a new rule; as they see, we do not eat them," said
Helmdag, laughing.

"Yes; _only_ the cavalry and foot-soldiers of the Tribune fought
bravely, and with exasperation," said Rando.

"Tell us about it," urged Vestralp. "We, who fought on the other side
of the river, do not know yet exactly what happened within the walls,
or how the citadel fell so quickly."

"By the sword of Ziu, it was wonderful!" began Rando. "There, on the
great square, where the Christian saint stands with lion's skin and
club"----

"_That_ a saint! That is a heathen god!"

"No; a demi-god."

"All the same to me," continued Rando; "he did not help the Romans,
whether saint, or god, or demi-god. But we were surprised on that
market-place. After we, some twenty Alemanni, with the Bajuvaren--they
can climb like cats, these mountain huntsmen of Bajuhemum--had
clambered over the walls, we thought all was over. But when we came to
the open market, there came galloping towards us, in close order, with
the crashing sounds of the tuba, the cavalry of the Tribune. He himself
was not to be seen; it was said, he lay ill in the citadel; but he was
not taken prisoner there. We were at first very few, and it was only
with difficulty that we could stand against them. But we gradually
pressed them back; step by step they were forced upwards towards the
Capitol. But then came the Isaurian infantry to their help, and it was
now a fearful struggle--man against man. Ah! I have again seen them
fight with their Wotan's fury, these Bajuvaren."

"Say, rather, lion's courage," interposed proud Helmdag the Bajuvaren,
"for we carry the lion on our standard, and lion's courage in our
hearts."

"How come you with the southern beast? I think the bear stands nearer,
and more resembles you."

"Thou thinkest that, forsooth, thou sharp-witted Suevian!" said old
Helmbert, coming to his son's help, "because you know so much more than
we; but you do not know everything. Three hundred years ago one had not
heard the name of the Alemanni; but our ancestors, the Marcomanni, had
already long fiercely fought with the Romans. And at that time victory
cradled itself on the wings of the golden eagle. There was, in the
golden house of Nero on the Tiber, a great, wise Emperor skilled in
magic. He had found out, by his magical arts, that if he made two lions
swim across the Danube, the bravest people on the earth would conquer
in the impending battle. But our fathers, the Marcomanni, said: 'What
yellow dogs are these?'--killed the lions with clubs, and afterwards
slew the army of the Emperor and his general: twenty thousand Romans
lay dead on their shields. The clever Emperor in Rome knew then which
was the bravest people on the earth. And since then we carry two lions
on our colours. So sing and tell our bards. Now, continue, Suevian."

"That I will, to your glory! Like cats--or if thou, Helmdag, wouldst
rather hear it, like lions--sprang the Bajuvaren on to the necks of the
Moorish horses, and allowed themselves to be dragged along rather than
let go. 'Give to Loge his due,' says a proverb that I have heard among
the Anglo-Saxons: the Moors and Isaurians fought desperately, man by
man covering the narrow, steep path which only offered space for two
horses. At last the Duke came to our help; he brought fresh troops, and
now in a sudden attack with levelled spears, pushing our way between
the horses, we scattered the whole entangled mass. The Bajuvaren now
used their short knives in a hand-to-hand conflict. They ran under the
long lances of the Isaurians, sprang on to the saddle of the fully
armed Moorish horsemen, and in face and throat--the only vulnerable
part--thrust the blade of their daggers; on both sides, now right, now
left, fell the enemy, horse and man, over the low breastwork of the
Roman wall on to the jagged rocks in the depths below. Nevertheless the
battle might have lasted long around the citadel; indeed, hunger alone
would have subdued those rock walls if the rest of the enemy, who now
at last fled, had gained the gate. But they did _not_ succeed in
getting within it. A great deed was done by the hand of a Bajuvarian
boy; I saw it plainly: having been overtaken by the Bajuvaren, I was,
at last, no longer fighting, but was watching the gate of the fortress,
which, high above me, was distinctly visible. I then saw that one of
the two Isaurians who there stood on guard, ran towards his fleeing
comrades; his movements plainly indicated that he was urging them to
still hastier flight into the fortress, before the barbarians should
press in with them. The other Isaurian stood on the threshold, holding
the iron bolt in his hand, ready to close the half-door from the inside
and draw the bolt as soon as the fugitives had poured in. Then,
suddenly, as if struck by lightning, the man fell forward on his face:
he stood up no more. Immediately afterwards appeared a boy with fair
hair on the tower above the gateway; he cut down with a battle-axe the
imperial purple standard, and in place of the fallen banner planted, on
a tall spear, which shone afar, a blue shield.

"'My Hortari,' then cried Garibrand, the Duke, 'my brother's son,
stolen many weeks ago, and thought dead! _His_ shield, the victorious
blue shield of our house, of our family. Forward, ye Bajuvaren! Now to
cut our way to Hortari!'

"But there was nothing more through which to cut our way; the Tribune
was not there; the slaves of the Tribune were also not to be found in
the fortress: the brave child was the only human being inside the
Capitol. The fight before the gate was over immediately; the enemy shut
out, powerless, one man springing on the back of another trying to
climb the high walls, pressed still harder by us, soon threw down their
arms and yielded. A few certainly, despairing of grace, or despising
it, spurred their horses from the steep path into the abyss below. The
gate of the citadel of Juvavum flew open from the inside, and young
Hortari sprang into his uncle's arms; this youth of the Bajuvaren had
won for his people the Capitol of Juvavum."

"Hail to the youth Hortari! The minstrels will have him in
remembrance!"

"Hail to the youth Hortari!" sounded loud through the wide halls of the
Basilica.

When the joyous cry had died away, quarrelling words were heard at the
farther end of the building.

In the apse behind the altar, two, flushed with wine, were in loud
strife.

In a chest containing Roman memorials, which the zealous Johannes had
taken away from his flock, in order to wean them from their pagan
superstitions, the two men had found a small, beautifully-carved marble
relief, representing the three Graces tenderly clasping each other.
They had seized the piece of sculpture; and screaming and shouting, now
dragged and pulled each other through the church till they stood before
Vestralp and Helmbert.

Then one of the disputants let fall the marble and flashed his short
knife against his opponent, who immediately dropped the plunder and
seized the hand-axe in his girdle.

"Halt, Agilo!" cried Vestralp, seizing the arm of his fellow tribesman.

"Stab _Romans_, if thou wilt, not Alemanni," shouted Helmbert, and
struck down the knife of his countryman.

"Well! You shall decide," cried both disputants with one breath.

"I saw it first," cried the Alemannian. "I wished to hang it on my
favourite horse as a breast-plate."

"But I took it first," retorted the other. "They are the three
fate-spinning sisters. I should hang it up over my child's cradle."

"The strife is easily settled," said Vestralp, picked up the three
Graces from the floor, took the axe from the hand of the Alemannian,
aimed well, and cut the relief exactly through the middle.

Helmbert seized the two pieces and said:

"Forasitzo, Wotan's son, who is the judge in Heligoland, could not have
divided it more evenly; there, each of you has a goddess and a half.
Now go and drink reconciliation."

"We thank you very much," said the combatants, again unanimous and
highly satisfied.

"But there is no more wine," complained the Alemannian.

"Or I should have drunk it long ago," sighed the Bajuvaren.

"Heigh, Crispe, son of Mars and Bellona," cried Vestralp, "where is
there wine--more wine?"

Crispus came panting. "Oh, sir, it is incredible! But they have
actually drunk it all! The prudent Jaffa," whispered he, "has still a
very small skin of the very best; but that is for thee alone, because
thou hast saved my life." He continued aloud: "There is a large stone
jug full of water; if we mix that with the last dregs in the wine-skins
there will still be abundance of drink."

But Vestralp raised his spear-shaft and shattered the great jug so that
the water ran in a stream. "Let the man be cut off from the race of the
Alemanni," cried he, "who at any time mixes water with his wine! That
special wine," continued he quietly to Crispus, "the poor Jew himself
shall keep. Let him drink it himself, after all his fright."

Then there sounded from outside the call of the great ox-horn. And
immediately afterwards the door of the church was thrown open. A
gigantic Bajuvaren stood on the threshold, and cried with a loud voice:
"You are sitting there and drinking in blissful indolence, as if all
was over; and yet the battle is again raging in the streets. The slaves
of the Romans! They are burning and destroying, while the town is
_ours_! Protect your Juvavum, men of Bajuhemum! So commands Garibrand,
the Duke."

In an instant all the Germans had seized their arms, and with the loud
cry, "Defend the Juvavum of the Bajuvaren!" they rushed out of the
church.



When the last footstep had long died away, the marble slab was
carefully raised; the Tribune climbed out. The man so brave, so fond of
war, had suffered the bitterest torments of humiliation during this
long time. Was he not a Roman, and did he not know his duty? It stung
his honour as a soldier that he, blindly following his own passions,
pursuing only his _own_ object, had made the victory so easy for the
barbarians. His looks were sullen; he bit his lips. "My cavalry! the
Capitol! Juvavum! vengeance on the priest! victory! all is lost--except
Felicitas! I will fetch her; and away, away with her over the
Alps!--Where may my Pluto be?"

Leo crept through the priest's house into the narrow street, and
carefully sought the shadow of the houses. It was beginning to get
dark, so long had the drinking bout above his head detained him a
prisoner. Like a slinking beast of prey, stooping at every corner, and
with a spring quickly gaining the side of the opposite street, he
avoided the large open squares and crowded streets. He then heard, in
the distance, the roaring noise of confused voices. He looked back;
flames were rising into the heavens, already darkened with smoke.

The Tribune hastened to gain the north side of the ramparts; to find
the Porta Vindelica unoccupied he could not hope, even from German
recklessness; but he knew the secret mechanism by which, without key, a
small sortie-gate could be opened which led into the high road to
Vindelicia. This doorway he now endeavoured to reach. Unchallenged,
unseen, he mounted the wall, avoiding the steps; opened the door;
closed it again carefully; slid down the steep slope, and gained the
moat, which, formerly filled with water, had now--the sluices were all
destroyed--lain dry for tens of years. Weeds and bushes above a man's
height grew therein.

He had hardly reached the bottom of the moat when a loud neighing
greeted him out of a willow-plot; his faithful horse trotted towards
him, nodding its head.

Two other horses answered out of the bushes.

Immediately afterwards two men crept out of the thicket, crawling along
the ground on all-fours. It was Himilco the centurion, and another
Moor.

They beckoned to him silently to follow them into the hiding-place.
They had escaped into the moat after the dispersion of their troops by
the Bajuvaren. The black steed had followed the two other horses, the
man in charge of him having fallen.

Since then they had remained hidden among the thick bushes of the moat.

"The first gleam of light on this black day," said the Tribune. "We
three will fly! Come! There to the left the river approaches the moat.
The horses can easily reach it with a leap, and then swim across. I
must go to the Mercurius hill, down the Vindelician road; then--over
the mountains!"

"Sir," implored Himilco, "wait till night. Twice already have we tried
to escape by that way. Each time we were observed by the Alemannian
horsemen, who incessantly march before the gates to seize fugitives;
each time it was only with the greatest difficulty that we regained our
shelter. Only in the darkness of the night can we venture."

The Tribune was reluctantly obliged to acknowledge this counsel as
well-grounded. "At night," said he to himself, "I shall be better able
to carry off Felicitas." So, impatient enough, he determined to await
the darkness in this hiding-place.



                              CHAPTER XV.


Far away from the hidden fugitives, in the south-east side of the town,
strife and tumult were meanwhile raging.

Many of the revolted slaves, after revenging themselves on their
masters, had thrown down their arms; but the _wildest_ spirits,
restrained by the Germans from further incendiarism, murder, and
robbery, and driven by them from street to street, had now crowded
together for a last resistance.

Here lay the large imperial magazines for the building of boats and
rafts for the traffic of the Ivarus, especially the salt-trade: also
immense stores of well-dried wood, sail-cloth, pitch, and tar. These
favourites of the fire-god the mad creatures wished to set on fire.
They hoped, in their blind destructive fury, that the conflagration
would from there spread its red and black wings over the whole city.

But the magazines were covered with slates on the flat roofs, were
protected by high stone walls, and shut in with strong oak doors; the
few guards round about had, certainly, long since fled, but, even
undefended, stone and iron-bound wood would for some time resist the
fury of the assailants.

But now came Këix, the leader of the host, from the bath of Amphitrite,
close by, which was in flames, swinging in one hand a blue and in the
other a green pitch torch, such as were used in the illumination of the
ornamental gardens.

"Ha!" cried he; "now see! We will have to-day the richest fire-works!
The Christian emperors have indeed forbidden the Saturnalia, but we
will introduce them again, but this time to the honour of Vulcan and
Chaos!"

And he propped both torches against the oak panels of the door, which
immediately began to smoulder. But now the pursuing Bajuvaren had
reached the spot.

The barricades in the streets they had, after a short, wild conflict
with their defenders, thrown down; and they now rushed forward in a
close wedge with Duke Garibrand at their head.

"We have you, incendiaries! Down with your arms! Extinguish those
flames instantly; or, by the spear of Wotan, no man among you shall
remain alive."

Instead of answering, Kottys lifted up the heavy iron rod--the long
bolt which he had torn from his own slave prison--and screamed:

"Dost thou think we wish to change our masters? We will be free, and
masters ourselves. And all shall be destroyed on this whole earthly
ball that reminds us of the time of our slavery. Come on, ye
barbarians, if you want to fight with desperate men."

And now a furious rage threatened to break forth.

Suddenly a loud, powerful voice cried: "Stop. Peace be with you all!"
Between the combatants stepped the venerable form of Johannes; behind
him appeared his ecclesiastical brethren; they, assisted by some of the
burghers of Juvavum, were carrying on barrows and litters, wounded
slaves, Moors, Isaurians, and also some Germans.

"Make way for us! Let us take these wounded--they belong to you all who
are here fighting--to my church."

The words, the look, had immediately a silencing, an appeasing effect.
At the sign of their Duke, the Bajuvaren lowered their lifted weapons;
most of the slaves did the same. Fearlessly Johannes walked into the
thickest part of the crowd; all reverently shrunk back. The women--for
there were many women amongst the mob--knelt down and kissed the hem of
his garment. He stepped straight towards the door which had now caught
fire.

Kottys alone tried to turn him away.

"Back, priest!" he cried, and threw the iron bar; and as Johannes
quietly walked on, the iron struck him on the shoulder. He sank--his
blood flowed on the ground.

"Woe to thee, brother!" cried Këix. "Thou hast murdered the only
protector of the poor and miserable--our father's best friend!"

And the wild man knelt by the priest, holding him in his arms.

To do this he was obliged to throw away his weapon, an iron trident,
which he had torn from the hand of a Neptune at the fountain. Nearly
all his comrades followed this example. Kottys threw the rod on the
ground, and entreated:

"Pardon me, Father Johannes!"

The priest raised himself. "Thou hast repented, therefore God has
forgiven thee. Who am I--a sinner--that _I_ should forgive?"

He now stepped unhindered to the door, threw down the torches, picked
up one of the broad shields, pressed it with the right hand against the
burning door, raised imploringly the left towards heaven, and said:

"Fire! thou also art a creature and a servant of God the Lord! I
command thee--I adjure thee, thou hellish demon of flame, retire hence
into hell."

The fire was then extinguished. Johannes let the shield fall, and
turned again to the crowd; his face was radiant with the glory of the
deepest conviction.

"A wonder! A miracle of the Lord by the hand of the devout Johannes!"
sounded out from the whole host of slaves. The most defiant now threw
away their weapons and sank on their knees, crossing themselves. Among
the Germans many also made the sign of the cross and bent the knee; but
Këix and Kottys raised their hands towards Johannes as if in worship.
Duke Gariband then advanced to the Presbyter, and spoke slowly:

"Thou hast well done, old man. Here, my hand. But say," continued he,
and a sly smile flashed across his lips, "if thou hadst full confidence
in the magic of the Runic words that thou didst utter to the fire, why
didst thou also use the shield?"

The priest so addressed stood erect and said: "Because we should not
tempt God. Not that the Lord needed my arm or the shield to extinguish
the fire."

"It has never yet happened," said the Duke, thoughtfully nodding his
head, "that one of you Christian priests was at a loss for an answer.
You have--and thou especially hast--power over souls, more than my
sword over the conquered, use it ever as at this time. I know well how
powerful you are, ye men of the cross, on the Danube there rules one,
Severinus by name; he has more authority by his word than Rome and the
barbarians. We shall be good friends; I shall respect thee. But hear
this. I shall allow you to worship Christ as you will; take thou care
not to hinder my people from sacrificing as they will. No, no, old man,
do not shake thy head; I suffer no contradiction!" And he lifted his
finger threateningly.

But undaunted, Johannes said:

"If the Lord will call the wanderers to Himself through my mouth, fear
of thee will not close it. Thy duchess is already won to the Lord.
Verily, I tell thee--thou, and thy people--you will not escape Him. But
you, rise," said he, turning to the slaves. "I will entreat for you
with the victors, who are now the rulers of this land. I will teach
them, that ye also, created in the image of God, are also their
brethren, and that your immortal souls are redeemed by the death of
Christ. I will teach them, that he who sets his slaves free wins the
warmest place in the heart of the Father of heaven."

"But he who has still to remain in servitude," interrupted the Duke,
"let him know, that we Germans are noble-minded masters; we do not
burden and punish the slave according to the caprice and temper of the
master; as our free people are judged by the free, so the bond people
are judged by their fellows--in the court of justice, according to the
law. You stand henceforth under the protection of the strongest
judicial fortress--the law, and the tribunal of your own comrades! So
be comforted: you serve noble masters."



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Soon after the slave insurrection had been quelled in the manner above
described, two Germans walked through the Porta Vindelica on to the
great military road, in the direction of the Mercurius Hill.

"See, the evening twilight is fading and the stars are already
appearing," said the one, and, balancing his spear on his shoulder, he
raised both hands to heaven. "I greet you, ye watchers of Asgard, ye
all-seeing eyes. Send me happiness! I divine that _you_ know," added he
in low tones, "what happiness my heart desires. It aches, this heart--I
think because it is empty."

He then again seized his spear and stepped forwards, his eyes directed
into the mist-veiled distance, as if searching and longing: his white
mantle floating in the wind. He was very handsome, the young son of the
king; and this dreaming manner gave to his noble, serious features a
heart-winning charm.

"If the stars wish to show _me_ what is most pleasing," grumbled his
companion, throwing back his wolfs skin, "let them show me quickly a
wine-shop. It is long, long since I had what I wanted. My throat
smarts, because it is empty, I think. Vestralp and his men, they hit it
off well. Some Christians were in their troop, and, I suppose as a
reward for their faith, the brave Christian Baldur took them into his
church; there, or close by, they found and drank a whole flood of wine,
as if they had been in the halls of Thor. But I have only swallowed a
few drops in a deserted house, where the meal had just been served as
the Bajuvaren forced their way into the town. Listen, their Duke is
right: it is too strict, the way thou dost carry out thy vow."

"Can one interpret a vow, a duty, too strictly, old man? Thou thyself
hast taught me better."

"Truly, thy father made thee swear never to sleep a night in a Roman
town, snaring-pits spread over with nets for noble game the king calls
them--but Juvavum, as Garibrand justly said, is now a town of the
Bajuvaren."

"King Liutbert himself can alone permit me so to interpret the vow. But
be comforted: thou shalt soon drink wine, as much as thou wilt."

"Where?"

"In the house where we will now seek hospitality."

"But in which?"

"For my sake in the nearest, in order to quench thy thirst. Look there,
on the right of the road stands a hill with a house upon it; one can
see the white statues of the gods on the roof, gleaming through the
bushes."

"But down there, to the left of the road, lies another; it seems
larger, more stately, more promising."

"It is all one to me."

"Then we will choose the larger--that on the left."

"But look, there shot a star from heaven! and it fell immediately on
the roof of the house to the right, on the hill. That is a hint from
the gods. I will gladly follow the star. We will go to the house on the
right."

He thereupon sprang from the high road on to the little foot-path that
led to the stonemason's house.

"We shall also come short at the division of the booty, because of thy
foolish strictness," grumbled the old man, following him.

"No," cried Liuthari, "Duke Garibrand will summon me thereto early in
the morning; he promised me that, when he bade us farewell at the
Vindelician gate. Besides, the chief gain of this victory to us is not
a few gold vessels or a tract of land, but that henceforth we have for
our trusty frontier neighbours on the east, instead of the Romans, the
faithful Bajuvaren. It has become too narrow and shut in for them in
Bajuhemum and along the Danube, since the East-Goths increased so
powerfully, so they have spread out towards the north and west.
Agilolf, another of their dukes, related to Garibrand, set out, when
the latter started for Juvavum, through the Bojer forest against Regina
Castra, the strong Roman fortress on the Danube, where it reaches the
most northern point of its course. I wonder if he has yet taken it?"

"The news of victory cannot be delayed much longer; and with this
message comes also another, which closely concerns thee, Liuthari." The
young man blushed, and silently drooped his head. "Duke Agilolf's
daughter Adalagardis is the most beautiful young woman I have ever
seen," continued the old man eagerly. "Her father and King Liutbert
have long thought to unite you; but it seems that the proud Bajuvaren
will not ally himself by marriage with a king's house till he can do so
as an equal. Therefore he sent me home from my wooing journey with the
words: 'From the conquered Roman fortress I will send an answer.' And I
think it is time for thee, my boy! Thou standest in the fulness of thy
youth, and thou hast blood, not water, in thy veins."

"I often think fire burns therein," said the young man quietly, as if
ashamed.

"Dost thou think that I did not see, in the conquered Juvavum, with
what eyes thou didst gaze at every Roman maiden who looked at thee?
Many of them, I think, would not have struggled much in thy arms."

"What, Haduwalt! Force! Force towards a woman!"

"Eh! by Berahta and Holda! it would not need _much_ force. But these
black-haired, yellow-skinned, lean cats are nothing to my king's son;
they would ruin the whole race. But, Adalagardis! prosperity to thee
and to us if she becomes thy wife. I should imagine the shield-maidens
of Wotan to be like her! Hardly a finger's breadth shorter than thou,
fair hair floating around her to the ankles, like a king's golden
mantle, arms round, full and white as Alpine snow, joyful, sparkling
eyes, clear as the sky in spring, and a proudly-arched, heaving bosom.
By Fulla, the exuberantly strong and beautiful! that is the right
king's wife for the Alemanni! Why didst thou not go long ere this and
woo her?"

"Thou forgettest; I have never seen her. Her father said: 'I will
invite thee when I hold my court at Regina Castra.' Yet she may be the
happiness, uncertain and yet ardently longed for, the Sälde that I
seek. Stop! Here we are at our goal. This is the entrance.--But what is
this? This house seems inhospitable. The entrance is barricaded with
slabs of stone."

"Ha, now," laughed the old man. "I cannot blame them, the house-folk,
for shutting out such guests as Haduwalt and his thirst. But they are
not to be kept back so easily. Not Haduwalt, Hadumar's son--and still
less his thirst. Down with the stones!"

And he had already seized with a strong hand one of the piled-up marble
slabs, to throw them inwards.

"Stay!" cried Liuthari, "look!--on the topmost slab of the barricade
there is something written; perhaps the name of the house. I think I
can yet see to read it."

"I could not read it," laughed the other, "even if the sun stood high
at noon. What do the Runes say?"

And Liuthari read--slowly, laboriously, deciphering letter by letter:

"Hic--habitat--felicitas--nihil--mali intret."

Struck with surprise, motionless, the young man was silent for a while.
His heart beat--the blood rose throbbing in his temples.

"How strange!" said he then to himself. "Here dwells happiness--the
happiness that I am seeking? And the shooting star--did it on that
account guide here my steps?"

"Now, by the wondering Wotan," said Haduwalt, "have the Runes enchanted
thee?"

"Why, yes; this may indeed have been engraved to direct me to a
blessing, protecting enchantment."

The old man hastily seized the king's son by the shoulder and wished to
draw him away.

"Then let us retire," whispered he anxiously. "I would rather force my
way through two lines of Romans than through a magic spell. See,
already thou seemest spell-bound before the entrance. What is the
meaning of the Runes?"

"How can I explain it to thee? Now, something like this: 'The
wishing-god and Sälde herself live here. May malicious beings never
approach!' This Lady Sälde who lives here, I will see," said Liuthari
with decision; and, with the help of shield and knee, he pushed the
middle slabs inwards, so that the whole erection of stone fell with a
loud crash into the garden.

The young man stepped quickly across the threshold.

"This is no spell that scares away; it invites and entices in. Here
dwells happiness. The god of wishes himself has led me here. And _we
dare_ to approach--for we certainly are not malicious creatures."

"Who knows whether the master of the house may not think us so?" said
the old man thoughtfully, shouldering his spear, and following his
young friend, who impetuously, as if driven by a god, stepped towards
the inner door of the house, behind which--it was only closed by a dark
yellow curtain which fluttered in the wind--a faint glimmer of red
light seemed to beckon one in. Yet, in spite of all his haste, Liuthari
noticed a rose-bush, which, loosened from its support, lay helpless on
the sanded path. He carefully put it back in its place, remarking, "it
would be a pity if it were trodden down."



                             CHAPTER XVII.


Liuthari sprang up the four steps in one bound and pushed back the
curtain. But farther went he not: he stood as if spell-bound, as if
rooted to the ground at the sight which presented itself to him.

He indeed drew back a step as if alarmed; in his astonishment, his
spear struck the ground and threatened to escape from his right hand.
For towards the king's son, with a noble step, as an alabaster Hebe
might have stepped down from her marble pedestal, advanced Felicitas.

She carried her slumbering child tenderly on the left arm, pressing it
to her bosom; her wondrously beautiful face was yet paler in the
agitation of the moment; in the right hand she carried a flat silver
vessel, filled with red wine.

"I bid you welcome, O strangers, as our guests, at the hearth of my
husband. He is absent. I am quite alone in the house. Protect me and my
child."

Liuthari found no words; with wide-opened eyes and a beating heart he
looked at the beautiful woman before him.

But old Haduwalt, stepping to his side, saw with anxiety this look of
his young master. He spoke with great seriousness:

"Be of good cheer and rest assured, Roman matron. I swear to thee by
the renown of the honour of King Liutbert and of his son Liuthari, who
stands here and is strangely silent, I will protect thee as if thou
wert my own daughter, and he shall honour thee as if thou wert his
sister. Now drink, Liuthari, what is so hospitably offered thee," cried
he, turning and taking the spear from Liuthari's hand, who still stood
as if entranced.

The young man took the bowl, put it to his mouth, sipped the wine and
gave it back, without moving his eyes from her face.

"What is thy name?" asked he with a faint, trembling voice.

"Felicitas."

He quickly stepped forward.

"Happiness! Sälde! that is thy _name_: that _art_ thou."

"I do not understand thee."

"It is not necessary," muttered Haduwalt. "Give me also something to
drink."

He took the bowl from her and emptied it at a draught.

"Truly," continued he, "the wonderful wishing-god seems to live here;
how else couldst thou have come directly towards us, towards my thirst,
with a bowl of wine?"

"I saw you coming, startled by the crashing of the stone slabs;
Philemon, our old gray-headed slave, built them up. How could he
protect me, the lame, half-blind old man?"

"And didst thou imagine thyself protected by a heap of stones, without
defenders?"

"No, indeed! I know that I am protected by the good God in heaven, and
by my protecting angel. But, when I sent out the old man (the second
time) to look for my husband,--he did not wish to leave me alone, and I
was obliged repeatedly to bid him go:--he thought I should be in some
measure hidden if he blocked up the entrance."

Following the example of the hostess, Liuthari sat down. "Thy husband!"
said he, with knitted brows. "He has forsaken thee?--in this danger?"

"Oh, no," answered the young wife, "Yesterday evening, before, there
was any appearance of danger, he went into the town, since then he has
not returned, a few hours ago he was still living and active. Philemon
saw him in the street as he was going with spear and shield towards the
bridge across the Ivarus."

"Comfort thyself," interposed the old soldier cheerfully; "very few on
thy side fell in the battle down there."

"I know certainly that he is alive. If otherwise, do you think you
would see me so calm? The gracious God in heaven cannot allow that the
best, the most excellent man on this earth, should meet, with
undeserved suffering. I trust firmly in God and am comforted."

Haduwalt thought to himself: "I have already seen many an innocent
brave man fall;" but he reserved this wisdom of experience and
answered: "Certainly! he is at most taken prisoner. And, if so, be of
good cheer. The powerful son of our king here," continued he, with a
significant look at Liuthari, "will beg for this prisoner and release
him as a reward for thy hospitality."

Liuthari drew a deep breath.

"How long have you been married?"

"It is now eleven months."

"Eleven months--of perfect happiness!" said Liuthari slowly.

"Yes: of unspeakable happiness! Since thou understandest it--art thou
also married?"

"I! No! But I--I can imagine it."

Frankly and peacefully Felicitas returned the wondering look that
rested reverentially upon her. She felt that he marvelled at her
beauty; but it did not disturb her--his look was pure. The contrast
made her involuntarily think of the disquieting flame in the black
eyes of the Tribune, which had so often alarmed her. But she could
look with pleasure on this noble, serious countenance, into these
deeply-penetrating gray eyes.

She now rose slowly.

"I have always," said she, with a smile which made her look still more
charming, "been very much alarmed at--at--at you, whom we call
'Barbarians.' And how terrified I was at hearing the stones falling one
over the other! I anxiously looked out. But when I saw how carefully
you came up the narrow way, did not trample down the flowers, when even
he in the white mantle carefully raised a rose-bush that had fallen on
the gravel path, then I said to my little son on my arm: 'Fear not,
thou apple of mine eye, _they_ will do us no harm.' And I fearlessly
filled the wine-cup. And now that I have looked into your kind eyes,
now I feel myself perfectly safe just because you are both here. And I
know certainly you will bring me my husband to-morrow morning. I will
go and place the child there in our sleeping-room."

She pointed with the finger to a small doorway in the centre, before
which hung a red woollen curtain. "Then I will bring the provisions I
have in the house."

"Do not forget the wine," called out Haduwalt.

As she glided away like a softly rustling wave, Liuthari sprang up
impetuously.

"Stay, oh, stay!" cried he hastily, following her a step or two.

But Haduwalt held him firmly by the mantle.

"She did not hear it; thanks be to the gods."

Liuthari violently set himself free.

"She _must_ hear that I"----Then he calmed himself, and pressed his
right hand to his brow.

"Now--now--now--_now!_" said the old man slowly, with long pauses. "Has
young Liuthari now for the first time seen the thing called woman, who,
instead of a man's breastplate, carries a child at her breast? I truly
feared that the Runic spell had quite bewitched thee; for in the wine
there was no magic. _I_ feel nothing peculiar in _me_. The witchcraft
began as soon as thou didst see that white face. What? thou wilt follow
her? Halt there! How vexed I am that I have forgotten all the furious,
loud-sounding, bad names with which Hadumar, my father, scolded me when
he caught me as I was climbing into the neighbour's garden to steal the
sweet pears that the Romans had grafted on to the wild pears of the
Illara forest. He thrashed me soundly; but the caressing words have
escaped me--it is so long ago. 'Thou pilferer! thou pear-stealer! thou
sluggard! thou sneak!' These were some of the most tender. And now I
could use them all admirably. Why starest thou thus speechless,
senseless, after another man's wife? Is it such behaviour that the Lady
Lindgardis, thy glorious mother, has taught thee? Dost thou not
remember Adalagardis, thy bride?"

"Old giant! blustering, growling bear! that is enough of thine abuse; I
have had quite enough of it. Adalagardis my bride? She is but a name--a
wish of my father. Can I embrace, and clasp, and kiss a name? But this
woman is living flesh and blood. I felt the sweet warmth of her arm as
I touched it. Heat flashed through me. She is so beautiful--so
wonderfully, enchantingly beautiful! It is an elfin beauty. No, no;
words cannot express it. The goddesses of Walhalla are not so beautiful
as she. Where have I seen her equal?" continued he dreamily. "It was, I
think, under a warmer, fairer sky! Ah, yes; now I see it clearly. In
the service of the Emperor, I was sailing from Byzantium through the
blue Grecian seas. There, on an island covered with myrtle and laurel,
stood the white form of a Grecian goddess. I was affected then almost
as much as now by this woman." He was silent and laid his hand on his
beating heart.

"I have nothing to say against it, Liuthari, if thou admirest her as
thou wouldst a stone statue; even if thy taste does go so far astray.
Mine seeks something different. Commend me to Adala--yes, I will be
silent! But this small-waisted little one, straight as an arrow, and
not much taller, with her thin child's arms, she looks so fragile that
she would certainly be crushed the first time thou didst heartily touch
her."

"What can the bear know about touching the harp-strings?" said Liuthari
roughly.

"It may well be, O son of my king, that I do not understand much about
dolls made in white Grecian stone-work, for the amusement of boys. But
this I know, it is much more like the son of the lady Lindgardis, to
put other men's wives out of his burning thoughts. If thou hadst known
each other _before_, and thou now didst find her in the power of
another, and she still cared for thee secretly in her heart, then I
might say, Use the superior strength with which Wotan has gifted thee.
But thus----Here she comes again, innocent, unsuspecting, trustful! She
builds on _thy_ protection, the dear child. I cannot feel vexed with
her, because she is so harmless and innocent. I say to thee, if thou,
either by look or word, dost disturb her peace, I shall take care that
father and mother give thee a very bad reception when thou dost return
home after this expedition, and dost wish to sit at the honourable
hearth of the lady thy mother."

But Liuthari was now quite angry.

"Very much I shall fear thy chattering! And the lady Lindgardis's rod
does not any longer reach to _my_ back. What art thou chattering about
there, thou senseless being? As a conqueror I stand in this house; it
is all mine; all that I wish for; the house and the mistress. Her
husband is dead, or an imprisoned thrall; she herself widow, or my
servant as soon as I call her so."

"Thy thoughts are very nicely occupied with thy Grecian goddess! Wert
thou now _my_ boy, instead of my king's, very quickly, but not quietly,
wouldst thou flee from this house. But I will watch--I, Haduwalt, heir
of Hadamar--that a son of the king of the Alemanni does not trespass
like a honey-stealing boy."

The hostess then appeared, placed on the table a prettily-woven basket,
full of white, fragrant bread, then butter, fresh goat's cheese, and a
ham.

"Directly, directly!" answered she to the silent question of Haduwalt's
thirsty eyes, and appeared again immediately, bearing on her head an
immense amphora full of wine.

Demeanour and movements were full of grace: the left arm resting on her
hip, the right raised to the handle of the pitcher, perfectly upright,
advancing slowly because of the heavy burden, thus she stepped across
the threshold.

Liuthari sprang up hastily to take the burden from her. But Haduwalt
held his arm. "Let her alone, my son! _Alone_ she certainly will not
spill the wine; what might happen if thou didst help, I should not like
to see."

Liuthari drew a deep breath; he unbuckled the heavy armour and laid it
aside, as also the large Roman helmet from his burning head. He
mechanically took the food; but he ate very little, and did not take
his eyes from her beautiful face.

But soon Felicitas rose from the repast. "I am very tired," said she.
"Since Fulvius left I have not slept, I must now go to our child; if I
hear his gentle breathing I am quite composed. I will bring you pillows
and coverlets; you must be contented here; we have no other room worthy
of such guests."

"Never mind, as far as I am concerned," cried Liuthari, springing up.
"I cannot sleep; or I can sleep in the garden, on the soft turf, my
head resting on my shield. Come with me, old man."

"No, I should rather sleep _here_, exactly here," replied he, slily
smiling to himself. "But my wolf's skin is sufficient, friendly
hostess. Thou hast shut the back-door, which, as thou saidst, led from
the garden into thy sleeping-room?"

"Yes; Philemon will not return from the town before morning."

"Certainly not earlier. The gates will be shut at night-fall. I shall
lie here quite comfortably, seest thou, here on the threshold, before
the curtain which closes thy room. Sleep well and be quite at rest,"
cried he to her through the curtain, as she was putting away the
provisions. "Not even a little mouse could reach thee without waking
me. Seest thou, I fill the whole width of the entrance, thus! Now the
wine-pitcher near me. Hurrah! it is again quite full! And very
excellent the old wine tastes. Thy husband is a connoisseur therein. I
shall drink it all. I shall not sleep. Oh no!"

"Rest well, ye guests," said she, and disappeared.

Liuthari threw a peculiar, scornful look on the old soldier cowering in
the doorway, and on the immense pitcher of wine at his side. Then he
sprang laughing down the steps into the garden.

"What?" said he to himself, half-pleased and half-defiant, "the
growling bear thinks to keep me back if I am determined to step across
that threshold? _He_ keep guard! Before he has drunk half the heavy
wine he will snore like Thor in the hall of the giants. I might,
perhaps, have given it up; but now that he presumes to coerce me--well!
what I will do when I stand before the glorious sleeper--I know not
yet; but to her couch I will go, in spite of his upbraidings."

The ardent emotion of the youth relieved itself in his defiant anger
against his old friend, who looked after him with blinking eyes.

When the quick steps sounded in the far distance, he called gently:

"Young woman!"

"What wilt thou, then?"

"Hast thou not a ball of thread in the house?"

"Certainly; here is one."

"Very well. Give me the end through the curtain. So! Dost thou see? I
will fasten the thread here at my sword-belt. And thou--thou take the
ball in thy hand and hold it firmly during sleep. Dost thou understand?
And if thou shouldst have any bad dreams, pull quickly."

"Why so? I can call thee."

"You had better not trust to that," said the old man, rubbing his tired
eyes. "They say if I once get into a wine sleep, the battle-cry of all
the Alemanni would not wake me; but if pulled by the girdle I notice it
directly. Then I shall awake, if by chance I might have gone to sleep,
and will spring to thy help."

"As thou wilt, but it is unnecessary; thy companion keeps watch there
in the garden."

"Oh, do not believe that! he is as sleepy as a marmot, on him there is
no reliance, therefore, hold the ball fast, and now goodnight, sweet
creature. I am pleased with her myself," muttered he. "Very much she
pleases me. But I must speak against her to the boy. He has never yet
caressed the cheek of any woman but his mother, and he is overflowing
with passion and strength, like a noble young stag; and now he meets
this tender white doe! Shame! if her unsuspecting soul suffered even a
little fright. I must protect _her_--and _him_. One more draught, and
then: Haduwalt, fasting and watchful."

Dimly shone the little lamp in the sleeping-room, only a faint gleam
penetrated the red curtain.

In the front room the lamp went out.

Stillness reigned over the whole house, one heard only from the garden
the lulling murmur of the spring.

From the inner room the old man soon heard the deep, regular
respirations of the sleeping young wife. Haduwalt counted them. He
counted bravely up to a hundred. He then laid his hand, groping
uncertainly, on the thread at his girdle. "All right," thought he; "and
I shall not sleep. Certainly not! Hundred and one!"

Then he counted no more.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


Over the silent garden lay the enchantment of a warm, glorious summer
night.

The innumerable stars shone magnificently in the cloudless heavens. And
now in the east, above the walls of Juvavum, which had till now hidden
her from view, rose the full moon, pouring forth a flood of glory,
showing in her fantastic light, so bright and yet so different from
day, the white house, the dark bushes, and the tall trees.

Numerous night-loving flowers in the gardens of the villas, and in the
meadows around, whose cups were closed by day, now opened and exhaled
their scent into the soft air.

The young German traversed the garden with agitated steps.

In the rose-bushes of the neighbouring gardens sang the nightingale, so
loud, so quavering, so ardent, so impassioned, Liuthari would rather
not have heard it; and yet he could not help listening to the fervid
tones.

The night wind played in his flowing locks, for, besides the
breast-plate, he had also left his helmet in the room, only taking with
him his spear, which served as a staff, and the round shield, on which
to lay his head, if he wished to rest.

But he found no rest.

With strong determination he went away from the house, which so
powerfully attracted him, towards the entrance where the stone slabs
lay about in confusion. As the store of stones had not been sufficient
to fill up the entrance, the old slave had with the pick-axe taken up
two slabs from the threshold, one of which bore the inscription. On
this heap of stones Liuthari now sat in a deep reverie, just within the
entrance, and looked at the stars and the soft light of the moon. He
forced himself to think of his parents at home, of the past day and its
victory, of the daughter of Agilolf with the fine-sounding name--what
might she be like?

All! it was of no use; he only deceived himself: through all the
pictures of his thoughts, pushing them aside, so that they melted away
as mist, appeared that noble, pale face, the rhythmic symmetry of that
figure.

"Felicitas!" breathed he lightly to himself.

Long, long sat he thus.

Suddenly the nightingale was silent.

Liuthari was quickly awakened out of his thoughts and dreams: in hot
haste, their iron hoofs resounding on the hard pavement of the road,
several horses came galloping from Juvavum; the practised ear of the
German clearly distinguished two, perhaps three horses.

The young man sprang up, and seized the spear which was lying near him.

"Those are not Alemannian horsemen," said he. "Who else can it
be?--Fugitive Romans? or even--her husband?"

He stepped behind the pier of the entrance to the right, where his form
and also his shadow was hidden, while the moonlight revealed clearly to
him the road and the footpath which led to the villa.

The hoof-strokes were now silent.

The watcher plainly saw how, at the turn o£ the footpath, three riders
sprang from their horses, and fastened them to a milestone.

The one, the tallest, wore a Roman helm, with a dark flowing plume, the
two others the close-fitting headgear of the Moorish cavalry; their
white mantles floated in the night wind.

"That is scarcely her husband, and those are not slaves of this villa.
And yet they are coming here. What may they be seeking? Shall I call
Haduwalt? Bah! King Liutbert's son has often already stood against
three enemies at once."

At this moment the one in the helmet reached the entrance.

"Wait here," he commanded, raising his short spear, "I alone will fetch
the woman; if I need you, I will call. But I think"----

"Halt! stand, Roman!" cried Liuthari, with levelled spear, springing
into the gateway in the full moonlight. "What seek you here?"

"A German! Down with him!" cried the three voices at once. But at the
same moment the leader stumbled two steps backwards, struck on the
breast by the spear of Liuthari.

If the armour-factory of Lorch had not supplied such excellent work,
the point would have gone through and through the man. But it rebounded
and--broke.

The German angrily dropped the now useless shaft.

"By Tartarus, that was a murderous blow!" cried Leo fiercely. "Prudence
is necessary. Raise the spears; we will throw together."

The three lances flew at once--all three the Alemannian stopped with
his shield. One, hurled with especial momentum and fury, penetrated the
threefold ox-hide and ash-wood of the shield, and wounded his arm near
the shoulder.

The young man, full of strength, hardly felt the slight wound; but the
shield, encumbered with three spear-shafts, he could no longer
dexterously use.

"Haduwalt!" cried he now with a loud voice, "Waffenâ! Feindô! Help!"

At the same time he seized one of the lances in his shield, tore it
out, and threw. The Moor at the right of the Tribune cried out and fell
dead to the ground.

"I will throw him down; thou, sir, stab him!" cried the other. It was
Himilco, the centurion.

"With the leap of the panther of his native deserts, he now sprang at
the throat of the German; but, quick as lightning, Liuthari had drawn
the short knife from his shoulder-belt. He thrust it into the brow
between the eyes of his assailant. The brown, muscular arms which had
seized the German's two shoulders as with the claws o£ a beast of prey,
loosened; without a sound the African fell backwards. But Liuthari had
not time to draw out the deeply imbedded dagger-blade.

"Haduwalt! Help!" cried he loudly.

For already the third enemy, a most formidable opponent, had rushed
upon him.

With a powerful sword-stroke he cleaved Liuthari's shield so that it
split into two halves, and, with the clinging spears, fell right and
left from his arm.

And the Roman had, at the same time, stuck the sharp iron spike in the
centre of his convex shield, deep into the naked right arm of the
king's son: the blood spurted out. He recoiled several steps from the
weight of the blow, nearly stumbling over the stone slabs.

The furious enemy, well armed both for defence and offence, now stepped
victoriously into the entrance, pushing aside with his foot the two
halves of the shield, that his adversary should not draw out the
spears.

With a keen look the Roman measured his adversary, who now drew his
last weapon, the short-handled battle-axe, from his girdle, and raised
it to strike. The towering stature of the young German must have seemed
fearful to the Roman, in spite of the superiority of his arms.

"Why should we tear each other to pieces, barbarian? Why dost thou
protect this house so grimly? I will not contest it with thee; I will
leave it to thee as soon as I have taken out one single thing."

"What thing? something belonging to thee? Thou art not the master of
the house."

"I will leave thee the house. I come only for--a woman."

"_Thy_ wife? Felicitas? No! she is not thine"

Furiously the other cried: "What? Thou art already so intimate in the
house! But neither is Felicitas _thy_ wife; and shall not become so.
Felicitas shall be _mine_!"

"Never!" cried Liuthari, and he sprang forward and dashed his stone
battle-axe against the magnificent bronze helmet, so that it split
asunder where the plume was attached, and fell in pieces from the head
of the wearer.

But alas! that head remained uninjured, while the axe, descending with
such force on the metal, broke off at the handle. For a moment the
Tribune stood as if stupefied by the blow. But he saw immediately how
his opponent, now quite defenceless, did not turn his face for flight,
but still stood before him.

With a wild, yelling, tiger-like shriek, in which thirst for blood and
joy of revenge sounded harshly together, he let his shield slip down,
raised the short, broad Roman sword for a blow, and with the cry,
"Felicitas is mine!" sprang on the German.

At that first outcry, Liuthari quickly bent forward, slightly raising
the heel of his left foot, and seized one of the marble slabs lying
before him; and now, first swinging it high above his head, with the
cry "Felicitas!" he hurled it with a good aim against the helmetless
forehead of the Tribune, as he sprang towards him.

Hoarsely groaning, clashing in his armour, the assailant fell
backwards; the sword escaped from his hand.

Already Liuthari knelt on his breast, seized the blade, and raised it
to force it into his throat.

But he breathed no more--he was dead. Liuthari rising, threw the sword
aside, and looked proudly on the three slain enemies.

"For Felicitas!" said he. "Now to her. I think--I have deserved it."

He knelt down by the running stream, washed the smarting, still
bleeding wound of his right arm, tore some broad strips from the linen
mantle of the dead centurion, bound them firmly around the wound, and
then trod with a light, elastic step the long path through the garden,
back to the house.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


Having reached it he pushed carefully aside the yellow curtain of the
outer door, letting the moonlight fall into the dark room.

At the entrance to the sleeping-room, before its red curtain, lay
Haduwalt, snoring; by him, lying on its side, empty, was the amphora.
Lightly, on tip-toe and with a beating heart, the young man advanced
and cautiously divided the two halves of the red curtain. He then
perceived, with a smile, the cunning arrangement of the thread; it was
still fastened to the leathern belt of the guard; but the hand of the
sleeper had opened; the ball lay on a stool by her couch. With a wide
stride Liuthari stepped across the old man into the sleeping-room.

Above the head of the bed, in a niche in the wall, stood the little
earthen lamp; it threw its mild light over the pillow. By its red
glimmer, he perceived the infant near the bed of the mother in a wicker
cradle.

The beautiful sleeper had loosened her abundant light-brown hair; it
flowed over her naked shoulders and splendidly curved, though delicate
bosom, from which the woollen covering had half slipped.

The dazzlingly white left arm she had placed behind her head and neck;
the right hand covered, as if protecting, the left breast. The intruder
stepped quite close. So ravishingly beautiful he had not seen her, when
awake; and the serious eyes now closed no longer maintained a strict
watch.

The full lips were half opened; he inhaled the sweet breath of her
mouth. The young man trembled from head to foot.

"Only one kiss," thought he, "and it shall not awake her."

He was already bending softly over her face. The beautiful lips then
moved, and in her sleep she said tenderly:

"Come, O my Fulvius; kiss me!"

With the speed of lightning, Liuthari turned, sprang lightly across
Haduwalt on the threshold, then down the steps into the garden, clasped
his two hands before his eyes, and murmured:

"Oh, what wickedness might I not have done!"

He fell on his knees, and hid his feverish head in the dewy grass.
Repentance, pain, unstilled longing, surged together within him, and
were at length dissolved in a salutary stream of tears. Long lay he
thus. At last the youth of the exhausted, wounded man asserted itself
beneficially; he sank into a deep, dreamless sleep.



                              CHAPTER XX.


When the next morning the summer sun rose magnificently over Juvavum,
and the golden oriole began its flute-like song, young Liuthari sprang
up, a healed and a wiser man.

The wound in his arm no longer pained, and his imagination, which had
been much more excited than his heart, was stilled.

No longer dissatisfied with himself, joyful and composed, he first
cooled his face in the spring, and then, carefully hiding the wounded
arm under his mantle, he walked up the steps into the outer room.
Haduwalt, yawning and stretching up both his arms, received him with
the words:

"But thou hast long slept. And I--I think I have not closed my eyes the
whole night."

"But perhaps the ears!" laughed Liuthari. "Where is the mistress? I am
hungry."

"Here am I," cried Felicitas. "I will bring you directly fresh-laid
eggs, and milk, and honey. Philemon is now milking the cow in the
meadow behind the house."

"Only think," said she, now stepping from behind the curtain and
offering a hand to each guest: "very early, as soon as the gates were
again opened, the old slave came back from the town by the meadow-path,
and awoke me knocking at the outer door. I had slept so firmly."

"And very sweetly dreamt?" said Liuthari, smiling.

"Yes--as always, _if_ I dream: of Fulvius. Certainly Philemon has not
found his master; but still I am of good cheer. The good Johannes had
caused the dead and the wounded to be brought together--the former in
front of, and the latter into the church. Philemon carefully inspected
them. Thanks to the God of heaven, the saints and the good Genii, my
Fulvius is not among them." And she sat down with her guests.

Philemon brought an immense jug fall of foaming warm milk. He threw a
wondering look on the two Germans, whom his mistress had represented to
him as protectors, not enemies, and he went again to the back of the
house. Felicitas followed him to fetch the child, which seemed to be
waking.

"Tell me now, grim teacher and armour-master," began Liuthari, "wilt
thou in thine old age learn woman's handiwork, and the art of using
thread? What hast thou there trailing at thy girdle?"

Quite taken aback the old giant looked down at his portly person, and
at the long, long thread which was entangled about his clumsy feet.

"That? Oh, that is only something between the mistress and myself. She
has become so fond of me--much more so than of thee--and that I should
not escape her, she bound me fast to her couch."

"Thou wouldest complain of me to my mother----!"

"Yes; if I had not kept watch, who knows----!"

"Now I will accuse _thee_ to thy wife, the strict Grimmtrud, that thou
didst bind thyself to the couch of a young beauty."

The young man stooped down, picked up the ball, and put it in his vest.

"I shall keep the thread," continued he gravely, "as a remembrance of
the hour when Haduwalt slept, the thread lay loose on the ground, but
Liuthari watched--for three."

Felicitas after a while again came in, the child on her arm.

"The day advances," sighed she, "and I begin to be very anxious. My
Fulvius, where mayest thou be?"

"Here I am," cried a joyous, clear voice, and the longed-for husband
rushed in through the open doorway.

With a cry of happiness Felicitas sprang up. He folded mother and child
tenderly in his arms.

Liuthari rose. He looked at them without pain, and regarded the husband
with a frank, happy look, who, however, astonished, drew back a step,
and measured the handsome young man with his eyes. Hot fear flashed
through him in an instant; but the alarm disappeared, fleeing like a
cloud-shadow, when he looked into His wife's face, so peaceful, so
radiantly happy.

"What has happened to me, my darling? The day before yesterday shut up
in the debtor's tower, early yesterday set free by Severus, taken by
him to the battle--we were defeated--I fled, was pursued, fell into the
river, was carried away by the stream--half stupefied I at last reached
the bank--was taken prisoner by other horsemen, led into the town, and
this morning--saved by a miracle of the Lord or the holy Saint Peter, I
know not which."

"A miracle! Oh, thank the mercy of the God of heaven! He heard my
prayer! But what miracle?"

"Johannes, who never wearies in the care of his people, had already
yesterday evening besought the barbarian Duke to release all the
citizens of Juvavum who were prisoners of war. The powerful prince
answered that he would willingly set free all that fell to his share of
the booty, but those that fell to his warriors he had not the power to
release, only to redeem--quite a different law prevails with the
Germans than with us--and he could not exhaust his treasure to do that.
So last night many of us were set at liberty, but the larger
proportion, and amongst them myself, remained in bondage. Then in the
early morning Johannes appeared again in the Capitol, where the Duke
had fixed his abode, and--redeemed us all! Thou art astonished. Thou
mayest well ask whence the man, who possesses nothing but his robe and
staff, procured so much money! Yes, that is the miracle! When, sad at
the fate of the prisoners, he returned to his Basilica, he found, in an
old vault under the church-floor, a bag full of gold pieces, and also a
little purse of precious stones, abundantly sufficient to ransom us
all. But whence came this treasure? Nobody knows. The angel of the Lord
manifestly heard the prayer of Johannes, and brought the treasure. The
whole of Juvavum is amazed at the miracle. And I vow to thee, thou
godly one, I will henceforth listen more devoutly to the words of
Johannes. But thee, my beloved! what alarm has threatened thee!"

"But has not reached me, thanks be to God, and also to our guests; and
perhaps," added she smiling, "to the inscription on the entrance-slab,
that kept back misfortune."

"Dost thou know _who_ wished to step across it?"

"How should I? I have not left the house."

"Then thou hast no idea how truly thou didst speak! Listen and breathe
again. As I just now was hastening here from the town, on approaching
the hill, I saw fastened to the milestone three horses, and among
them--I know him too well--the black steed of the Tribune! Full of
alarm, I sprang to our gate; there lay--oh, horrible!--two slain Moors,
and, directly across the threshold, stretched on his back, the terrible
Tribune, with a shattered skull! His face was half covered with the
inscription-slab, and the corner-piece, broken off, was deeply embedded
in his skull. _This_ stone has felled him who was never conquered. But
what arm hurled it?"

The old Haduwalt, who at the first mention of conflict had
instinctively looked into the averted face of his young master, now
drew the white mantle from his shoulder, showed the bloody bandage, and
said: "This arm--And I!--Oh, Liuthari, my darling!--I meanwhile lay and
slept!"

"Tolerably firmly," said the young man smiling, and continued, turning
to the master of the house: "Yes, I slew him, that very bold man; he
wished to force his way in, and"----

"Steal Felicitas!" cried the husband, pressing his wife, now terribly
alarmed, to his breast. "Oh, sir, how can we thank thee?" he exclaimed.

But Felicitas could not utter a word; she could only direct her eyes,
swimming in tears, towards her preserver. She had not appeared so
beautiful even in the night.

"Thanks!" laughed Liuthari, "I fought for my life. But listen! who
comes here?"

The steps of armed men were heard in the garden, and there entered,
accompanied by five followers, Garibrand the Duke.

"A good piece of work have you two done out there before the entrance.
The Tribune, whom we have sought everywhere, he fell certainly by thy
hand. I have found thee at last, young hero! Welcome news I bring thee.
A messenger from thy father is seeking thee. The Roman fortress on the
Regan stream has fallen. My cousin, Duke Agilolf, and thy father, have
settled the betrothal: Agilolf invites thee to his halls. Adalagardis,
the most beautiful princely daughter of the Germans, is awaiting thee."

"Hail to thee, thou son of my king! this is thy reward for this night,"
cried Haduwalt.

"Betrothal! I have never seen her!" cried Liuthari, hesitating.

"Betrothal! yes, if you please each other," said the Duke.

"_He_ will certainly please _her_." said Haduwalt, clapping the
blushing youth on the shoulder; "and I hope," whispered he quietly in
his ear, "that _she_, the beauty whom thou _mayest_ love, will right
well please _thee_."

"Choose now," continued the Duke, "what thou wilt of the booty. To you
Alemanni, to thee above all, do we owe the victory."

"I will follow thee," said Liuthari, rising hastily. "Help me, old
friend!"

The armour-master helped him to buckle on his breastplate; the young
man raised the beautifully-shaped Roman helmet with the towering
heron's plume to his head. Magnificent stood the king's son, his joyful
countenance radiant with the noblest sentiments.

"Oh, now all is well," rejoiced Fulvius. "The Tribune is slain; Zeno
the usurer is dead, murdered by an unknown hand, without doubt by his
slaves, so Johannes tells me. There is no longer an Emperor in Ravenna;
we were assured of this yesterday morning by this young hero. Now am I
free from all debts to the Fiscus."

"And no less do I assure thee," laughed Liuthari, "that this powerful
Duke here has stepped into the Emperor's place--_his_ debtor art thou
now."

Fulvius anxiously put his hand to his right ear, and looked dismayed at
the mighty man.

"Fear not," continued Liuthari. "I ask, Duke Garibrand, as a part of my
share of the booty, this villa and the land belonging to it. And free
from all debt."

"It shall be as thou hast said," answered the Bajuvaren.

"And to you both, Fulvius and Felicitas, I give this free property,
before these seven free men as witnesses. Their oath will be of service
to you if anyone should contest your right and warrant."

"Thanks, sir; thanks."

"Thou art, then, Fulvius the stone-mason?" interposed the Duke. "The
priest Johannes commended thee to me as faithful and brave; if thou
dost prove thyself so, I will place thee as steward over my lands
outside this gate."

Felicitas, after a short whispering with her husband, now stepped
towards Liuthari, with the child on her arm. She blushed faintly, and
said:

"Sir, he who gives so much as thou--must give still more. Our little
son has not yet a name. Next Sunday I shall take him to Johannes, to
the font. How shall the boy be named?"

"Felix Fulvius," said the king's son, deeply moved, laying his hand
on the tiny head, "and--_Liuthari_, in order that my name may yet
strike many times on your ear. But he who gives a name, gives also a
present--that is German custom. Here, young housewife, take this ring.
I stripped it from the finger of a patrician some years ago, whom I
slew in battle. In Augusta Vindelicorum the dealers say it is worth as
much as half their town. That is a bit of treasure in case of need. And
now, both of you, farewell!"

"Stop!" here cried Haduwalt; "we do not thus bid farewell--farewell for
life! Thou didst ask, stone-mason, how thou couldst thank the hero. Let
thy young wife give him one kiss; believe me, he has deserved it--he is
a gallant youth!"

Fulvius led his blushing wife towards him.

Liuthari pressed a kiss on the white brow, and cried: "Farewell, thou
lovely one, for ever!"

And already he was gone: the curtain rustled behind him. The other
Germans followed; at the garden entrance they mounted their horses and
galloped quickly back towards the Porta Vindelica.

The first thing that Fulvius did, after he had with Philemon removed
the dead bodies, was carefully to reset the stone with the inscription,
into the pavement of the entrance; the broken-off corner he left unset.

"It shall," said he, "for ever be to us a proof how effectual the adage
has been."

And the adage, it proved itself true to the wedded pair through their
whole life.

No misfortune crossed that threshold while they dwelt there. Blooming
sons and daughters grew up after Felix Fulvius Liuthari. Sickness never
befell them, parents or children, although the pestilence might be
raging in Juvavum and in the villas round about.

The Ivarus often overflowed, spreading its waves and destruction over
men, animals, horses, and grain. Before this gate, before the Mercurius
Hill, it each time stopped.

A landslip overwhelmed the neighbours' gardens right and left. An
immense piece of rock rebounded from the inscription stone, and was
shattered into a thousand fragments. Fulvius became "Villicus" of all
the ducal property in Juvavum, and stood, on account of his prudence
and fidelity, high in the favour of Duke Garibrand.

When he and Felicitas had become quite old people, fully eighty years
of age, but active and vigorous, they were sitting one June evening
hand in hand in the garden. They had had a seat made just within the
entrance, so that their feet rested on the adage-stone.

Thus they sat, and thought of past times. Sweetly sang the golden
oriole in the neighbouring beech forest. But it gradually became
silent, for the air had become very sultry; a storm was approaching.

There was a vivid flash of lightning, and a tremendous peal of thunder.
The children hastened to bring their old parents into the house.

But when Felix Fulvius Liuthari, hurrying in advance of the others,
reached them, he found them both dead.

A flash of lightning had killed them both.

They still held each other hand in hand, and smiled, as if to say:
"Death, which comes thus, is no misfortune, but a blessing."



                                THE END.



            CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS, CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS.





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