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Title: Lords of the World - A story of the fall of Carthage and Corinth
Author: Church, Alfred John, 1829-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note: Italics text is denoted by _underscores_.


LORDS OF THE WORLD



    +-----------------------------------------------------------+
    |                      BY A. J. CHURCH.                     |
    |                                                           |
    |      _In crown 8vo. Cloth elegant. Illustrated. 6s._      |
    |                                                           |
    |                   Two Thousand Years Ago                  |
    |                                                           |
    |                                                           |
    |                                                           |
    | "Adventures well worth the telling. The book is extremely |
    | entertaining as well as useful, and there is a wonderful  |
    | freshness in the Roman scenes and characters."--_Times._  |
    |                                                           |
    | "Entertaining in the highest degree from beginning to     |
    | end, and full of adventure."--_Spectator._                |
    |                                                           |
    | "We know of no book which will do more to make the Romans |
    | of that day live again for the English render."           |
    |                                            --_Guardian._  |
    |                                                           |
    |                                                           |
    |    LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.    |
    +-----------------------------------------------------------+



                         LORDS OF THE WORLD

                             A STORY OF
                  THE FALL OF CARTHAGE AND CORINTH

                               BY THE
                       REV. ALFRED J. CHURCH
    Author of "Two Thousand Years Ago" "Stories from Homer", &c.

            _WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY RALPH PEACOCK_


                               LONDON
            BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
                         GLASGOW AND DUBLIN
                                1898


[Illustration: "FASTEN HIS HANDS, AND FIRMLY TOO; THAT YOUTH MIGHT GIVE
US TROUBLE."]



PREFACE.


The year 146 B.C. was an _annus mirabilis_ in the development of Roman
dominion. Of course it had long been a foregone conclusion that Carthage
and Corinth must fall before her, but the actual time of their overthrow
was made all the more striking by the fact that both cities perished in
the same year, and that both were visited by the same fate. I have
attempted in this story to group some picturesque incidents round the
person of a young Greek who struggles in vain to resist the destiny of
the conquering race. The reader will also find some suggestion of the
thought which the Roman historian had in his mind when he wrote:
"Carthage, the rival of the Roman Empire, perished root and branch, sea
and land everywhere lay open before us, when at last Fortune began to
rage against us and throw everything into confusion". The day when Rome
rid herself of her rivals seemed to some of her more thoughtful sons to
be the first of her corruption and decline.

        A. J. C.

  ASHLEY,
    _April 22, 1897_.



CONTENTS.


      CHAP.                                     Page

         I. THE FATE OF THE _MELCART_,            11

        II. CLEANOR, SON OF LYSIS,                20

       III. THE LAST OF A VETERAN,                26

        IV. SCIPIO,                               41

         V. A GREAT SCHEME,                       48

        VI. THE MISSION,                          61

       VII. THE LAST OF THE GREEKS,               70

      VIII. THE CORINTHIAN ASSEMBLY,              82

        IX. AT THERMOPYLÆ,                        93

         X. A PINCHBECK ALEXANDER,               109

        XI. THE TWO HASDRUBALS,                  125

       XII. SCIPIO SETS TO WORK,                 138

      XIII. IN THE ROMAN CAMP,                   149

       XIV. THE MEGARA,                          155

        XV. THE PRISONERS,                       165

       XVI. BAAL HAMMON,                         179

      XVII. MOVE AND COUNTERMOVE,                198

     XVIII. HELP FROM THE HILLS,                 206

       XIX. THE BATTLE ON THE ISTHMUS,           213

        XX. TREACHERY,                           222

       XXI. POLYBIUS,                            230

      XXII. A PLEASURE TRIP,                     241

     XXIII. DIPLOMACY,                           253

      XXIV. IN SORE NEED,                        266

       XXV. A REFUGE IN THE STORM,               276

      XXVI. THE STORMING OF THE UPPER CITY,      284

     XXVII. A PRECIOUS BOOK,                     297

    XXVIII. THE END OF CARTHAGE,                 309

      XXIX. AT DELOS,                            317

       XXX. CORINTH,                             326

      XXXI. MUMMIUS,                             336

     XXXII. THE SLAVE-DEALER,                    342

    XXXIII. TO ITALY,                            351

     XXXIV. AT MISENUM,                          355

      XXXV. THE WORLD WELL LOST,                 369

     XXXVI. BEYOND THE SUNSET,                   378



ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                 Page
    "FASTEN HIS HANDS, AND FIRMLY TOO; THAT YOUTH MIGHT GIVE
            US TROUBLE,"                        _Frontispiece._    26

    "THE OLD KING, THOUGH HIS EYES WERE OPEN, DID NOT SEEM
            TO SEE CLEANOR,"                                       39

    THE ROMAN ENVOYS TO CORINTH ARE COMPELLED TO LEAVE THE
            AMPHITHEATRE,                                          92

    THE MACEDONIAN PRETENDER PERFORMS THE PYRRHIC DANCE,          119

    "DO YOU YIELD?" SAID CLEANOR WHEN THE ROMAN HAD
            REACHED THE SHORE,                                    164

    "THE HIGH PRIEST PLACED THE SACRIFICE ON THE OUTSTRETCHED
            ARMS OF THE GOD,"                                     196

    "I SAW YOU STOOP AND LIFT YOUR COMPANION FROM THE
            GROUND,"                                              226

    "CLEANOR PRODUCED FROM THE PACK WHICH HE CARRIED SOME
            TWICE-BAKED BREAD,"                                   271

    THE LADY SALAMO DEFIES THE ROMANS FROM THE WALLS OF
            CARTHAGE,                                             295

    "SCIPIO, THROWING HIS TOGA OVER HIS FACE, BURST INTO A
            PASSION OF TEARS,"                                    317

    A CORINTHIAN NOBLEMAN BEING SOLD AS A SLAVE IN THE
            MARKET-PLACE,                                         333

    "HALF AN HOUR AFTERWARDS CLEONÉ EMERGED AS A BRILLIANT
            YOUNG BEAUTY,"                                        367



LORDS OF THE WORLD.



CHAPTER I.

THE FATE OF THE _MELCART_.


The _Melcart_, the sacred ship of Carthage, was on its homeward voyage
from Tyre, and had accomplished the greater part of its journey in
safety; in fact, it was only a score or so of miles away from its
destination. It had carried the mission sent, year by year, to the
famous shrine of the god whose name it bore, the great temple which the
Greeks called by the title of the Tyrian Hercules. This was too solemn
and important a function to be dropped on any pretext whatsoever. Never,
even in the time of her deepest distress, had Carthage failed to pay
this dutiful tribute to the patron deity of her mother-city; and,
indeed, she had never been in sorer straits than now. Rome, in the early
days her ally, then her rival, and now her oppressor, was resolved to
destroy her, forcing her into war by demanding impossible terms of
submission. Her old command of the sea had long since departed. It was
only by stealth and subtlety that one of her ships could hope to
traverse unharmed the five hundred leagues of sea that lay between her
harbour and the old capital of Phoenicia. The _Melcart_ had hitherto
been fortunate. She was a first-rate sailer, equally at home with the
light breeze to which she could spread all her canvas and the gale which
reduced her to a single sprit-sail. She had a picked crew, with not
a slave on the rowing benches, for there were always freeborn
Carthaginians ready to pull an oar in the _Melcart_. Hanno, her captain,
namesake and descendant of the great discoverer who had sailed as far
down the African coast as Sierra Leone itself, was famous for his
seamanship from the Pillars of Hercules to the harbours of Syria.

The old man--it was sixty years since he had made his first voyage--was
watching intently a dark speck which had been visible for some time in
the light of early dawn upon the north-western horizon. "Mago," he said
at last, turning to his nephew and lieutenant, "does it seem to you to
become bigger? your eyes are better than mine."

"Not that I can see," answered the young man.

"She hardly would gain upon us if she has no more wind than we have.
Well, I shall go below, and have a bite and a sup."

He wetted his finger and held it up. "It strikes me," he went on, "that
the wind, if you can call it a wind, has shifted half a point. Tell the
helmsman to put her head a trifle to the north. Perhaps I may have a
short nap. But if anything happens, call me at once."

Something did happen before ten minutes had passed. When Mago had given
his instructions to the helmsman, and had superintended a slight
shifting of the canvas, he looked again at the distant ship. It had
become sensibly larger. The wind had freshened out at sea, and was
rapidly bringing the stranger nearer. Mago hurried below to rouse his
uncle. The old man was soon up on deck.

"I wish we were ten miles nearer home," he muttered, after taking a long
look into the distance. "Get the oars out. If she is an enemy, and wants
to cut us off, half a mile may make all the difference."

The order was promptly obeyed, and the rowers bent to their work with a
will. But all the will in the world could not make the _Melcart_ move
very fast through the water. She was stoutly built, as became a ship
that had to carry a precious burden through all weather, and she was
foul with the long sea-voyage. The goal of the race between her and the
stranger, which could now be seen to be a Roman ship-of-war, was a
headland behind which, as Hanno knew, was the harbour of Chelys. Let her
reach that and she was safe. But it seemed as if this was not to be. The
Roman ship had what wind there was right aft, and, notwithstanding all
the efforts of the _Melcart's_ crew, moved more rapidly through the
water. She would manifestly cut off the _Melcart_ before the headland
was reached. But Hanno was not yet at the end of his resources.

"Call Mutines," he said to his lieutenant.

Mutines was a half-caste Carthaginian, whose thick lips, flat nose, and
woolly hair indicated a negro strain in his blood. "Mutines," said the
old man, "you used to have as good an aim with the catapult as any man
in Carthage. If your hand has not lost its cunning, now is the time to
show your skill. Knock that rascal's steering-gear to pieces, and there
is a quarter-talent for you."

"I will do my best, sir," said Mutines; "but I am out of practice, and
the machine, I take it, is somewhat stiff."

The catapult, which was of unusual size and power, had been built, so to
speak, into the ship's forecastle. It could throw a bolt weighing about
75 lbs., and its range was 300 yards. While Mutines was preparing the
engine, word was passed to the rowers that they were to give six strokes
and no more. That, as Mutines reckoned, would be enough to bring him
well within range of the enemy. The calculation was sufficiently exact.
When the rowers stopped, the two ships, having just rounded the
headland, were divided by about 350 yards. The impetus of the _Melcart_
carried her over about 100 more. When she was almost stationary Mutines
let fly the bolt. He had never made a happier shot. The huge bullet
carried away both the tillers by which the steering-paddles were worked.
The ship fell away immediately, and the _Melcart_, for whose rowers the
fugleman set the liveliest tune in his repertory, shot by, well out of
range of the shower of arrows which the Roman archers discharged at her.
In the course of a few minutes she had reached the harbour of Chelys.

But her adventures were not over. The captain of the Roman ship was
greatly enraged at the escape of his prey. To capture so famous a prize
would mean certain promotion, and he was not prepared to resign his
hopes without an effort to realize them. As soon as the steering-gear
had been temporarily repaired, he called his sailing-master, and
announced his intention of following the Carthaginian into the harbour.

The man ventured on a remonstrance. "It's not safe, sir," he said; "I
don't know the place, but I have heard that the water is shallow
everywhere except in the channel of the stream."

"You have heard my orders," returned the captain, who was a Claudius,
and had all the haughtiness and obstinacy of that famous house. The
sailing-master had no choice but to obey.

Chelys, so called from the fancied resemblance of its site to the shape
of a tortoise, was a small Greek settlement which lay within the region
dominated by Carthage. It was a place of considerable antiquity--older,
its inhabitants were fond of asserting, than Carthage itself. For some
years it had maintained its independence, but as time went by this
position became more and more impossible. Had Chelys possessed any
neighbours of the same race, a league might have given her at least a
chance of preserving her freedom. But she stood absolutely alone,
surrounded by Phoenician settlements, and she had no alternative but
to make her submission to her powerful neighbour. She obtained very
favourable terms. She was free from tribute, no slight privilege, in
view of the enormous sums which the ruling city was accustomed to exact
from her dependencies.[1] She was allowed to elect her own magistrates,
and generally to manage her own affairs. To contribute a small
contingent to the army and navy of the suzerain state was all that was
demanded of her. It was natural, therefore, that Chelys should be loyal
to Carthage--far more loyal, in fact, than most of that city's
dependencies. Rome, which had more than once exacted a heavy sum as the
price of the little town's immunity from ravage, she had no reason to
like.

The incident described above had taken place within full view of the
piers and quays of Chelys. The excited population which crowded them had
hailed with an exulting shout the fortunate shot that had crippled the
Roman vessel, and had warmly welcomed the _Melcart_ as she glided into
the shelter of the harbour. Their delight was turned into rage when it
became evident that the enemy was intending to pursue her. The insolent
audacity of the proceeding excited the spectators beyond all bounds.
Stones and missiles of all kinds were showered upon the intruders. As
the ship was within easy range of the quays on both sides of the
harbour, which was indeed of very small area, the crew suffered heavily.

Claudius perceived that he had made a mistake, and gave orders to the
rowers to back, there not being space enough to turn. It was too late,
and when a huge pebble, aimed with a fatal accuracy, struck down the
steersman from his place, the doom of the _Melicerta_--for this was the
name of the Roman ship--was sealed. A few moments afterwards she
grounded.

This was, of course, the signal for a determined attack. Hundreds of men
waded through the shallow water and climbed over the bulwarks. The crew
made a brave resistance, but they were hopelessly outnumbered and were
cut down where they stood. The magistrates of the city happened to be in
consultation in the town-hall. Disturbed in the midst of their
deliberations by the sudden uproar they hurried down to the water-side,
but were too late to save any but a very few lives. Claudius had stabbed
himself when he saw how fatal a mistake he had made.

Chelys was, of course, in a tumult of delight at its brilliant success
in destroying a Roman ship-of-war. Its responsible rulers, however, were
very far from sharing this feeling. A defenceless city, and Chelys was
practically such, for its walls, never very formidable, had been
suffered to fall into decay, must take no part in the hostilities of a
campaign. So long as it observes this neutrality it is really better off
than a fortified town, but to depart from this policy is sheer madness.

The magistrates did all they could. They sent back the few prisoners
whom they had been able to rescue from the hands of the populace, to the
commander of the squadron to which the _Melicerta_ had belonged. They
offered to pay an indemnity. They went so far as to promise that the
ringleaders of the riot should be handed over for trial. The Roman
admiral, a Flamininus[2], and so belonging to a family that had more
than once made itself notorious for unusual brutality, would not hear of
making any conditions. He determined upon a vengeance which was not the
less pleasing because it would be as lucrative as it was cruel. Chelys
was to be visited with the severest penalty known in warfare--all the
male inhabitants of the military age and over were to be put to death,
the women and children were to be sold as slaves. The slaves from
Chelys, as Flamininus, a shrewd and unscrupulous man of business, well
knew, would fetch a high price. They were Greeks, if not of the purest
blood, and while barbarians in any number could be easily obtained,
Greek slaves were a rare article in the market.

His resolve once taken, Flamininus took every precaution that its
execution should be as complete as possible. The magistrates, who had
come to intercede for their countrymen, were detained; no hint of what
was intended was allowed to reach the doomed city. Landing the half
legion of marines which the squadron carried he occupied in irresistible
force Chelys and all the roads by which it could be approached or left.
His next step was to make what may be called an inventory of the prey
which had fallen into his hands. The census roll of citizens was
seized, and information about their families was purchased from some
prisoners who were willing thus to redeem their lives. A few wealthy men
and women were allowed to ransom themselves at the highest prices that
could be extorted from their fears; and then, when a few days had been
allowed for the assembling of the slave-dealers, who, with other animals
of prey, human and non-human, followed the armies and fleets of Rome,
Flamininus allowed the deputation to return, and proceeded to execute
his sentence.


    FOOTNOTES:

    1: One paid a talent (£215) per day, making an annual amount,
    allowing for the difference in the value of money, of not less
    than a quarter of a million.

    2: C. Flamininus was degraded from the Senate for killing a
    captive in cold blood to entertain his company at dinner.



CHAPTER II.

CLEANOR, SON OF LYSIS.


The wealthiest, best-born, and generally most influential citizen in
Chelys was Lysis, son of Cleanor, father himself of another Cleanor, so
named, according to a custom common in Greek families, after his
grandfather. He was descended in a direct line from the original founder
of the settlement, an Ephesian Greek, and was also distinguished by the
possession of the hereditary priesthood of Apollo. The family prided
itself on the purity of its descent. The sons sought their brides among
four or five of the noblest Ephesian families. The general population
of Chelys, though still mainly Hellenic in speech and habits of life,
had a large admixture of Phoenician blood, but the house of Lysis
could not be reproached with a single barbarian _mésalliance_.

Lysis had been the leader and spokesman of the deputation which had
vainly approached the Roman commander. His house, in common with all the
principal dwellings in the town, had been occupied by the Roman marines.
But a _douceur_, judiciously administered to the sub-officer in command,
had procured for him the privilege of a brief period of privacy. He
found that his wife and children were still in ignorance of the Roman
admiral's decision. They did not, indeed, expect any very lenient
terms--they looked for a fine, that would seriously cripple their means;
but they were not prepared for the brutal reality. Lysis tasted for the
first time the full bitterness of death when he had to dash to the
ground the hope to which they had clung.

"Yes," he said in answer to a question from his wife, unable or
unwilling to believe her ears; "yes, it is too true--death or slavery."

Dioné--this was the wife's name--grew pale for a moment, but she
summoned to her aid the courage of her house--she claimed to be
descended from the great Ion himself, the legendary head of the Ionic
race--and recovered her calmness. Stepping forward, she threw her arms
round her husband's neck. Her first thought was for him; her second,
scarcely a moment later, for her children.

"And these?" she said.

Recovering himself with a stupendous effort of self-control, Lysis
spoke.

"Listen; the time is short, and there are grave matters to be settled.
It was hinted to me, and more than hinted, that I might purchase your
life, Dioné, and my own. These Romans are almost as greedy for money as
for blood. What say you?"

"And these?" said the woman, pointing to her children, while her cheek
flushed and her eyes brightened with the glow of reviving hope. "Can
they also be ransomed?"

"That is impossible," said Lysis.

"Then we will die."

"That is what I knew you would say, and I gave the fellow--it was the
admiral's freedman who spoke to me about the matter--the answer, 'No',
without waiting to ask you. Our way is clear enough. My father learnt
from the great Hannibal the secret of his poison-ring,[3] and he handed
it on to me. You and I can easily escape from these greedy butchers, but
our children--"

He struggled in vain to keep his self-command. Throwing himself on a
couch hard by, he covered his face with his cloak.

The children were twins, very much alike, as indeed twins very commonly
are, and yet curiously different. Apart, they might easily have been
mistaken for each other, supposing, of course, that they were dressed
alike; seen together, any one would have said that such a mistake would
hardly be possible, so great was the difference in colour and
complexion--a difference that impresses the eye much more than it
impresses the memory. But whatever dissimilarity there was was
accidental rather than natural. Cleanor had been seized at a critical
period of his growth with a serious illness, the result of exposure in a
hunting expedition. This had checked, or more probably, postponed his
development. His frame had less of the vigour, his cheek less of the
glow of health than could be seen in his sister's, of whom, indeed, he
was a somewhat paler and feebler image.

"We will die with you," said the twins in one breath. They often spoke,
as, indeed, they often thought, with a single impulse.

"Impossible again!" said Lysis. "The priesthood which, as you know, I
inherited from my fathers, I am bound, under curses which I dare not
incur, to hand on to my son. If the gods had made me childless--and,
for the first time in my life, I wish that they had--I must have adopted
a successor. This, indeed, I have done, to provide for the chances of
human life; but you, Cleanor, must not abdicate your functions if it is
in any way possible for you to perform them. And then there is
vengeance; that is a second duty scarcely less sacred. If you can live,
you must, and I see a way in which you can."

"And I see it too," cried the girl, with sparkling eyes. "Cleanor, you
and I must change places. You have sometimes told me that I ought to
have been the boy; now I am going to be."

"Cleoné!" cried the lad, looking with wide eyes of astonishment at his
sister; "I do not know what you mean."

"Briefly," replied the girl, "what I mean is this. You masquerade as a
girl, and are sold; I masquerade as a man, and am killed."

"Impossible!" cried the lad; "I cannot let you die for me."

"Die for you, indeed!" and there was a touch of scorn in her voice.
"Which is better--to die, or be a slave? Which is better for a man? You
do not doubt; no one of our blood could. Which is better for a woman? It
does not want one of our blood to know that. The meanest free woman
knows it. By Castor! Cleanor, this is the one thing you can do for me.
Die for you, indeed! You will be doing more, ten thousand times more,
than dying for me!"

"She is right, my son," cried Lysis. "This was my very thought.
Phoebus, the inspirer, must have put it into her heart. Cleanor, it
must be so. This is your father's last command to you. The gods, if gods
there are--and this day's work might make me doubt it--will reward you
for it. But the time is short. Hasten, and make such change as you
need."

The twins left the chamber. When they returned, no one could have known
what had been done, so complete was the disguise which Cleoné's skilful
fingers had effected. The girl's flowing locks, which had reached far
below her waist, now fell over her shoulders, just at the length at
which it was the fashion of the Greek youth to wear them, till he had
crossed the threshold of manhood. His were rolled up, maiden-fashion, in
a knot upon his head. She had dulled her brilliant complexion by some
pigment skilfully applied. His face, pale with misery, needed no
counterfeit of art.

Lysis and his wife had gone. By a supreme effort of self-sacrifice they
had denied themselves the last miserable solace of a farewell, and were
lying side by side, safe for ever from the conqueror's brutality. While
Cleanor and his sister waited in the expectation of seeing them, a
party of marines entered the room.

"Fasten his hands, Caius," said the sub-officer to one of his men, "and
firmly too, for he looks as if he might give us trouble. By Jupiter! a
handsome youth! What a gladiator he would make! Why do they kill him in
this useless fashion? The girl is your business, Sextus. Be gentle with
her, but still be on your guard, for they will sometimes turn. But she
looks a poor, spiritless creature."


    FOOTNOTE:

    3: Hannibal carried about with him in the cavity of a ring a
    poison so deadly that it would destroy life in a few seconds.
    When about to be delivered up to the Romans by the petty
    sovereign--Prusias, King of Bithynia--with whom he had taken
    refuge, he killed himself in this way.



CHAPTER III.

THE LAST OF A VETERAN.


The fate of Chelys caused wide-spread indignation and disgust even among
the enemies of Carthage. No one was more indignant than Mastanabal, King
Masinissa's second son. The prince had tastes and habits very uncommon
in the nation of hunters and fighters to which he belonged. He was a
lover of books, and disposed to be a patron of learning, if he could
only find learning to patronize. The Greek population of Chelys had
always preserved some traces of culture, and the Numidian prince was on
terms of friendship with the settlement. He was an occasional visitor at
its festivals, had received the compliment of a crown of honour, voted
to him in a public assembly, and had shown his appreciation of the
distinction by building for the community a new town-hall.

His intercession had been implored by the magistrates when they found
themselves repulsed by the Roman commander. Unfortunately he was absent
from home when their messenger arrived. Immediately on his return he
hurried to the spot. Too late, even if it had in any case been possible,
to hinder the brutal vengeance of Flamininus, he was yet able to
mitigate the lot of the survivors. By pledging his credit to the
slave-dealers, themselves disposed to accommodate so powerful a
personage, he was able to secure the freedom of all the captives.

He made special inquiries about the family of Lysis, whose hospitality
he had always enjoyed during his visits to the town, and learnt enough
to induce him to make a personal inspection of the captives. As the
melancholy procession passed before him, his keen eyes discovered
Cleanor under his disguise. He had, of course, too much delicacy and
good taste to inflict upon him the pain of a public recognition. The
young man was transported in a closed litter to a hunting-lodge that
belonged to the prince. Here he found himself an honoured guest. His
personal wants were amply supplied; a library of some extent was at his
disposal; and the chief huntsman waited upon him every morning to learn
his pleasure in case he should be disposed for an expedition.

In the course of a few days a letter from the prince was put into his
hands. Beginning with a tactful and sympathetic reference to his
misfortunes, it went on thus:

    _Use my home as if it were your own for as long as you will. You
    cannot please me better than by pleasing yourself. But if you
    are minded to find solace for your sorrows in action--and to
    this I would myself advise you--proceed to Cirta, and deliver
    the letter which I inclose herewith to the king, my father. My
    steward will provide you with a guide and an escort, and will
    also furnish such matters of dress and other equipment as you
    may need. Farewell!_

Cleanor's resolution was taken at once. In the course of a few hours he
was in the saddle. Two days of easy travel brought him to Cirta, and he
lost no time in presenting himself at the palace of King Masinissa. His
letter of introduction, bearing as it did the seal of Prince Mastanabal,
procured for him instant admission. The major-domo of the palace
conducted him to a guest-chamber, and shortly afterwards one of the
king's body-guard brought him a message that Masinissa desired to see
him as soon as he had refreshed himself after his journey.

The chamber into which the young Greek was ushered was curiously bare to
be the audience-room of a powerful king. The walls were of mud roughly
washed with yellow; it was lighted by two large openings in the walls,
unglazed, but furnished with lattices which could be closed at will by
cords suspended from them; the pavement was of stone, not too carefully
smoothed; for furniture it had a sideboard, with some cups, flagons, and
lamps upon it, a table, two or three chairs for the use of visitors who
were accustomed to these comfortless refinements, and a divan piled up
with bright-coloured mats and blankets. Near the divan was a brazier in
which logs were smouldering.

Masinissa, king of Numidia[4], was a man whose intellect and physical
powers were alike remarkable. He had consolidated the wandering tribes
of Northern Africa into a kingdom, which he had kept together and
aggrandized with a politic firmness which never blundered or wavered.
His stature, though now somewhat bowed with years, was exceptional. His
face, seamed with a thousand wrinkles, and burnt to a dark red by
unnumbered suns, the snowy whiteness of hair and beard, and the
absolute emaciation of his form, on which not a trace of flesh seemed to
be left, spoke of extreme old age. And indeed he had more than completed
his ninetieth year, an age not phenomenally rare among us, where the
climate and the habits of life are less exhausting, but almost unheard
of in a race whose fervid temperament seems to match their burning sky.

The old man's strength was now failing him. Two years before, he had
commanded an army in the field, and commanded it with brilliant success,
routing the best troops and the most skilled generals that Carthage
could send against him. He was not one of the veterans who content
themselves with counsel, while they leave action to the young. That day
he had remained in the saddle from sunrise to sunset, managing without
difficulty a fiery steed, whose saddle was no seat of ease. He had
showed that on occasion he could deal as shrewd a blow with the sword,
and throw as straight a javelin, as many men of half his age. But at
ninety years of age two or three years may make a great difference.
Masinissa had fought his last battle. His senses were as keen as ever,
the eyes flashed with their old fire, but his breathing was heavy and
laboured, and his hands shook with the palsy of age.

"Welcome, Cleanor!" he said with a full resonant voice that years had
not touched, "my son commends you to me. Can you be content to wait on
an old man for a month or so? I shall hardly trouble you longer. I have
never been a whole day within doors save once for a spear wound in the
throat, and once when they tried to poison me; and those who have lived
in such fashion don't take long about dying."

Cleanor found his task an easy one. The old king suffered little, except
from the restlessness which comes with extreme exhaustion. Even over
this he maintained a remarkable control. It was not during his waking
hours, but in his short periods of fitful slumber, that the uneasy
movements of his limbs might be observed. His intelligence was as keen
as ever, and his memory curiously exact, though it was on the far past
that it chiefly dwelt. What a story the young Greek could have pieced
together out of the old man's recollections! He had seen and known the
heroes of the last fierce struggle between Carthage and Rome, had ridden
by the side of the great Scipio at Zama, and had been within an ace of
capturing the famous Hannibal himself as he fled from that fatal field.
The young Greek, surprised to find himself in such a position, was
naturally curious to know why the old man preferred the companionship of
a stranger to that of his own kindred. When he ventured to hint
something of the kind, the king smiled cynically.

"You don't understand," he said, "the amiable ways of such a household
as mine. What do you think would have been the result if I had chosen
one of my three sons to be with me now? Why, furious jealousy and plots
without end on the part of the other two. And if I had had the three of
them together? Well, I certainly could not have expected to die in
peace. Quarrel they certainly will, but I can't have them quarrelling
here. Mind, I don't say that they are worse than other sons; on the
contrary, they are better. I do hope they may live in peace when I am
gone; at least, I have done my best to secure it."

As the days passed, the king grew weaker and weaker, but his faculties
were never clouded, and his cheerfulness was unimpaired.

About ten days after the conversation recorded above, a Greek physician,
whose reputation was widely spread in Northern Africa, arrived at the
palace. The three princes had sent him. Masinissa, informed of his
coming, made no difficulty about seeing him. "I am not afraid of being
poisoned," he said with a smile; "I really do not think that my sons
would do such a thing. It would not be worth while, and, anyhow, they
could not agree about it. Yes, let him come in. Of course he can't do
me any good; but it is one of the penalties that has to be paid for
greatness, that one must die according to rule. No one of any repute is
allowed to die in these parts without having Timæus to help him off.
Yes, I will see him. And mind, Cleanor, when he has examined me have a
talk with him, and make him tell you the absolute truth."

That afternoon, soon after the physician had departed, the king summoned
the young Greek to his chamber.

"Well, what does he say, Cleanor?" he asked.

The young man hesitated.

"Come," cried the old king, raising his voice, "I command you to speak.
As for these physicians, it is quite impossible for a patient to get the
truth out of them. It seems to be a point of honour not to tell it. But
I suppose he told it to you. Speak out, man; you don't suppose that I am
afraid of what I have faced pretty nearly every day for nearly fourscore
years."

"He said," answered Cleanor in a low voice, "that your time, sire, was
nearly come."

"And how many days, or, I should rather say, hours did he give me?"

"He said that you could hardly live more than two days."

"Well, I am ready. I have had my turn, a full share of the feast of
life, and it would be a shameful thing if I was to grudge to go. But
there is trouble ahead for those who are to come after me. I have done
my best for my kingdom, yet nothing can save it long. You know, I had to
choose, when I was about your age, between Rome and Carthage, and my
choice was the right one. If I had taken sides with Carthage, Rome would
have swallowed up this kingdom fifty years ago; as it is, she will
swallow us up fifty years hence. Sooner or later we are bound to go. But
it has lasted my time, and will last my sons' time too, if they are
wise. And now, as to this matter. I have something to put in your
charge. You have heard of Scipio?"

Cleanor nodded his assent.

"He came over here some two months ago, when I had had my first warning
that my time was short, and that I had best set my affairs in order. No
one had any notion but that he came on military business. The Romans had
asked me for help, and I didn't choose to give it just then. They hadn't
consulted me in what they had done, and it was time, I thought, that
they should have a lesson. We did discuss these matters; but what he
really came for was a more serious affair. I left it to him to divide my
kingdom between my three sons. I had thought of dividing it in the usual
way; this and that province to one, and this and that province to
another. But he had quite another plan in his head, and it seemed to me
wonderfully shrewd. 'Don't divide the kingdom,' he said; 'the three
parts would be too weak to stand alone. Divide the offices of the
kingdom. Let each prince have the part for which he is best fitted--one
war and outside affairs, another justice, the third one civil affairs.'
Well, I took his advice, and had his settlement put in writing. The
chief priest of the temple of Zeus in Cirta here has the document in his
keeping."

After this the old man was silent for a time. Rousing himself again, for
he had been inclined to doze, he said:

"Cleanor, are you here?"

"Yes, sire," replied the Greek.

"Don't leave me till all is over. And now give me a cup of wine."

"But, sire, the physician said--"

"Pooh! what does it matter if I die one hour or two or three hours
before sunrise? And I want something that will give me a little
strength."

Cleanor filled a cup and handed it to the king. "It hardly tastes as
good as usual," said the old man, when he had drained it, "yet that, I
can easily believe, is not the wine's fault, but mine. But tell me, do
you think that I shall know anything about what is going on here when I
am gone? What does Mastanabal say? I haven't had time to think about
these things; but he reads, and you are something of a student too. What
do the philosophers say?"

"Aristotle thinks, sire, that the dead may very well know something
about the fortunes of their descendants--it would be almost inhuman, he
says, if they did not--but that it will not be enough to make them
either happy or unhappy."

"Well, the less one knows the better, when one comes to think. To see
things going wrong and not be able to interfere!... But enough of
this.... And now, Cleanor, about yourself. You do not love the Romans, I
think?"

The young Greek's face flushed at the question.

"I have no reason to love them, sire."

"Very likely not. Indeed, who does love them? Not I; if I could crush
them I would, as readily as I stamp my foot on a viper's head. But that
is not the question. Can you make use of them? You shake your head. It
does not suit your honour to pretend a friendship which you do not feel.
That has not been my rule, as you know, but there is something to be
said for it. Well, it is a pity that you can't walk that way. Whether we
love them or no, depend upon it, the future belongs to them. And I could
have helped you with some of their great men. I have written a letter to
Scipio, and two or three others to powerful people in Rome who would
help you for my sake. You can deliver them or not as you please. But
tell me, what are you going to do if the Romans are out of the
question?"

"I thought of going to Carthage," answered the young man in a hesitating
voice.

"Carthage!" repeated the king in astonishment. "Why, the place is
doomed. It can't hold out more than a year,--or two at the outside. And
then the Romans won't leave so much as one stone standing upon another.
They won't run the chance of having another Hannibal to deal with.
Carthage! You might as well put a noose round your neck at once!"

"I hope not, sire," said the young man. "And in any case I have only
Carthage and Rome to choose between."

"Well," replied the old king after a pause, "you must go your own way.
But still I can help you, at least with some provision for the journey.
Put your hand under my pillow and you will find a key."

The young man did as he was told.

"Now open that chest in yonder corner, and bring me a casket that you
will find wrapped up in a crimson shawl."

Cleanor brought the casket and put it into the king's hands. Masinissa
unlocked it and took out a rouleau of gold pieces, which he gave to
Cleanor. "That will be useful for the present," he said; "but gold is a
clumsy thing, and you can hardly carry about with you what would serve
for a single year. This bit of parchment is an order for a thousand
ounces of gold--five hundred thousand sesterces in Roman money--on Caius
Rabirius, knight, of the Coelian Hill in Rome, who has kept some money
for me for thirty years or more. You can sell the parchment to Bocchar
the banker in Cirta here. He will charge you something for his
commission, but it will save you trouble. And he will keep the money for
you, or whatever part of it you please. It is a very handy way of
carrying about money; but there is another that is more handy still."

The old man took out a small leather bag full of precious stones.
"These," he said, "you can always hide. It is true that the merchants
will cheat you more or less when you want to sell them. Still, you will
find these stones very useful."

The jewels were worth at least five times as much as the order on the
parchment. "It is too much," murmured the Greek. "I did not expect--"

"It is true that you did not expect. I have seen that all along, and
that is one of the reasons why I give it. And as for the 'too much', you
must leave me to judge about that. My sons will find treasure enough
when they come to divide my goods between them. I have been saving all
my life, and this is but a trifle which they will not miss, and which
you will find very useful. And now give me another cup of wine. After
this I will sleep a while. You will stay,--and don't let that young
villain Jugurtha come near me."

Two or three hours afterwards Cleanor was startled to see the old man
raise himself in bed, a thing which he had not been able to do without
help for three or four days past. He hastened to the bedside, but the
king, though his eyes were wide open, did not seem to see him. Yet
something there was that he saw; his was no vacant stare, but a look
full of tenderness. Then he began to speak, and his voice had a soft
tone of which Cleanor could not have believed it capable.

[Illustration: "THE OLD KING, THOUGH HIS EYES WERE OPEN, DID NOT SEEM TO
SEE CLEANOR."]

"So, sweetest and fairest, you have not forgotten me; you, as all men
know, no one can forget. Why am I in such haste? Nay, dearest, look in
your mirror for an answer. And besides, when you are mine, the Romans
can have nothing more to say. Till to-morrow, then--but stay, let me
give you a little token. Nay,"--and his voice changed in an instant to a
note of horror--"what, pray, has changed my love-gift into this? Faugh!"

And with a gesture as of one who dashed something to the ground, he sank
down upon the bed, and in another moment was sleeping again.[5]

Early the next morning the king's three sons, who had heard the
physician's report of their father's health, arrived at the palace.
Their emotion, as they knelt by the dying king, was genuine, though
probably not very deep. The old man was perfectly self-possessed and
calm.

"My sons," he said, "I have done my best for you. Probably you will not
like it. What is there, indeed, that you would all like? But lay your
hands on my head and swear that you will accept what I have done. What
it is you had best not know till I am gone. But trust me that I have
been just to all of you."

The princes took the oath.

"Cleanor here knows where I have put away my testament, but he is bound
by me not to tell till I am buried. And now farewell! Don't wait for the
end. You will have your hands full, I warrant, as soon as the tribes
know that the old man is gone."

The princes left the room and the old man turned his face to the wall
and seemed to sleep. All the rest of that day Cleanor watched, but
noticed no change. Just before dawn he heard the sleeper draw two or
three deep breaths. He bade the slave who was in waiting in the
ante-chamber call the physician.

But the man of science found no movement either of pulse or heart. When
he held a mirror to the mouth, there was not the faintest sign of breath
upon it. The world had seen the last of one of the most wonderful of its
veterans.


    FOOTNOTES:

    4: Numidia corresponds roughly to Algeria, Mauretania to
    Morocco.

    5: In his youth Masinissa was betrothed to Sophonisba, the
    accomplished and beautiful daughter of Hasdrubal, son of Gisco.
    The engagement was broken off for political reasons. Hasdrubal
    made Sophonisba's hand the price of an alliance which he wished
    Syphax, Masinissa's rival in the struggle for the Numidian
    throne, to contract with Carthage. In the war that followed,
    Syphax was defeated, first by the Romans, afterwards by
    Masinissa himself, who took Cirta, his capital, and in it
    Sophonisba. To marry her at once seemed to the conqueror the
    only way of saving her from the Romans. But the marriage did not
    suit the policy of Rome, which dreaded the hostile influence
    which such a woman might exercise. Scipio (the Elder), who was
    in command, insisted that Sophonisba should be given up; and
    Masinissa, to save her the humiliation of captivity, sent her a
    cup of poison.



CHAPTER IV.

SCIPIO.


The old king's body was roughly embalmed, in order to give some time
before the celebration of the funeral. This was a more splendid and
impressive ceremony than had ever been witnessed in that region. The
news of Masinissa's death had been carried far into the interior
with that strange, almost incredible rapidity with which great
tidings commonly travel in countries that have no regular means of
communication. The old man had been one of the most prominent figures in
Northern Africa for a space more than equal to an ordinary lifetime. Nor
had he been one of the rulers who shut themselves up in their palaces,
and are known, not in their persons, but by their acts. His long life
had been spent, one might say, in the saddle. There was not a chief in
the whole region that had not met him, either as friend or as foe. Many
had heard from their fathers or grandfathers the traditions of his craft
as a ruler and his prowess as a warrior, and now they came in throngs to
pay him the last honours. From the slopes of the Atlas range far to the
west, and from the south as far as the edge of what is now called the
Algerian Sahara, came the desert chiefs, some of them men who had never
been seen within the walls of a city. For that day, at least, were
suspended all the feuds of the country, many and deadly as they were. It
was the greatest, as it was the last honour that could be paid to the
great chief who had done so much to join these warring atoms into a
harmonious whole.

The bier was carried by representatives of the states which had owned
the late king's sway. Behind it walked his three sons; these again were
followed by the splendid array of the war-elephants with their gorgeous
trappings. The wise beasts, whom the degenerate successors of the old
African races have never been able to tame,[6] seemed to feel the nature
of the occasion, and walked with slow step and downcast mien. Behind the
elephants came rank after rank what seemed an almost interminable
cavalcade of horsemen. The procession was finished by detachments of
Roman troops, both infantry and cavalry, a striking contrast, with their
regular equipment and discipline, to the wild riders from the plains and
hills of the interior.

The funeral over, there was a great banquet, a scene of wild and
uproarious festivity--a not unnatural reaction from the enforced gravity
of the morning's proceedings. Cleanor, who had the sober habits which
belonged to the best type of Greeks, took the first opportunity that
courtesy allowed of withdrawing from the revel.

He made his way to a secluded spot which he had discovered in the wild
garden or park attached to the palace, and threw himself down on the
turf, near a little waterfall. The fatigues of the day, for he had taken
a great part in the ordering of the morning's ceremonial, and the
exhausting heat of the banqueting hall had predisposed him to sleep, and
the lulling murmur of the water completed the charm.

When he awoke, he found that he was no longer alone. A stranger in Roman
dress was standing by, and looking down upon him with a kindly smile.
When the young Greek had collected his thoughts, he remembered that he
had already seen and been impressed by the new-comer's features and
bearing. Then it dawned upon him that he was the officer in command of
the detachment of Roman soldiers that had been present at the obsequies
of the king.

And, indeed, the man was not one to be hastily passed over, or lightly
forgotten. In the full vigour of manhood--he was just about to complete
his thirty-seventh year--he presented a rare combination of strength and
refinement. His face had the regularity and fine chiselling of the Greek
type, the nose, however, having something of the aquiline form, which is
so often one of the outward characteristics of military genius. The
beauty of the features was set off by the absence of moustache and
beard, a fashion then making its way in Italy, but still uncommon
elsewhere. To the Greek it at once suggested the familiar artistic
conception of the beardless Apollo.

But the eyes were the most remarkable feature of the face. They
expressed with a rare force, as the occasion demanded, kindliness, a
penetrating intelligence, or a righteous indignation against evil. But
over and above these expressions, they had from time to time a look of
inspiration. They seemed to see something that was outside and beyond
mortal limits. In after years it was often said of Scipio--my readers
will have guessed that I am speaking of Scipio--that he talked with the
gods. Ordinary observers did not perceive, or did not understand it. To
a keen and sensitive nature, such as Cleanor's, it appealed with a force
that may almost be called irresistible. All this did not reveal itself
immediately to the young man, but he felt at once, as no one ever failed
to feel, the inexplicable charm of Scipio's personality.

"So you too," said the Roman, "have escaped from the revellers?"

Cleanor made a movement as if to rise.

"Nay," said the other, "do not disturb yourself. Let me find a place by
you;" and he seated himself on the grass. "What a home for a naiad is
this charming little spring! But you will say that a Roman has no
business to be talking of naiads. It is true, perhaps. Our hills, our
streams, our oaks have no such presences in them. We have borrowed them
from you. Our deities are practical. We have a goddess that makes the
butter to come in the churn, curdles the milk for the cheese, and helps
the cow to calve. There is not a function or an employment that has not
got its patron or patroness. But we have not peopled the world of nature
with the gracious and beautiful presences which your poets have
imagined. Nor, I fancy," he added with a smile, "have your African
friends done so."

Cleanor, who would in any case have been too courteous to show to a
casual stranger the hostility which he cherished against the Roman
nation, felt at once the charm of the speaker's manner. He was struck,
too, by the purity of the Roman's Greek accent, and by the elegance of
his language, with which no fault could have been found except, perhaps,
that it was more literary than colloquial. He laughingly acknowledged
the compliment which the Roman had paid to the poetical genius of his
countrymen.

A brisk conversation on literary topics followed. Cleanor, who was
of a studious turn, had spent a year at Athens, listening to the
philosophical teachers who were the successors of Plato at the Academy,
and another year at Rhodes, then the most famous rhetorical school in
the world. Scipio, on the other hand, was one of the best-read men of
his age. He was a soldier and a politician, and had distinguished
himself in both capacities, but his heart was given to letters. In
private life he surrounded himself with the best representatives of
Greek and Roman culture. He now found in the young Greek, with whose
melancholy history he was acquainted, a congenial spirit. Cleanor, on
the other hand, who had something of the Greek's readiness to look down
upon all outsiders as barbarians, was astonished to see how wide and how
deep were the attainments of his new acquaintance.

The two thus brought together had many opportunities of improving the
acquaintance thus begun. Scipio had to carry out the details of the
division of royal functions mentioned in my last chapter. This was not a
thing to be done in a day. The three brothers accepted the principle
readily enough, though they felt that the one to whom the army had been
allotted had the lion's share of power. But when the principles came to
be applied there were endless jealousies and differences of opinion. It
required all Scipio's tact and personal influence to keep the peace
unbroken.

When this complicated business was finished, or at least put in a fair
way of being finished, an untoward event cut short Scipio's sojourn in
Africa. Two new commanders came out to take charge of the Roman army
before Carthage. Scipio knew them to be rash and incompetent, and was
unwilling to incur the responsibility of serving under them. Accordingly
he asked for permission to resign his command--he held the rank of
tribune.[7] The consuls, on the other hand, were not a little jealous of
their subordinate's reputation and, above all, of his name. A Scipio at
Carthage had a prestige which no one else could hope to rival, and they
were glad to get rid of him.

This interruption of an acquaintance which was rapidly ripening into
friendship had an important bearing on Cleanor's life. If anyone could
have reconciled him to Rome, Scipio was the man. Scipio gone, the old
feelings, only too well justified as they were, revived in full force.
Hostility to Rome became, indeed, the absorbing passion of his life. It
was a passion, however, which he concealed with the finesse natural to
his race. For the present his purpose could, he conceived, be better
served outside the walls of Carthage than within them. Accordingly he
accepted an offer from Mastanabal that he should undertake the duties of
a private secretary.


    FOOTNOTES:

    6: It is the Asiatic elephant only that has been domesticated in
    modern times, and taught to utilize his strength in the service
    of man.

    7: About equivalent to a colonel in our army. There were five
    tribunes in the legion or brigade, and these commanded in turn.



CHAPTER V.

A GREAT SCHEME.


Scipio's forebodings as to the incapacity of the new generals were
rapidly justified. The siege operations had not been uniformly
successful before they took over the command. There had been losses as
well as gains. Still, on the whole, the besiegers had the balance of
advantage. The defence had been broken down at more points than one.
Carthage was distinctly in a worse position than it had been three
months after the breaking out of the war. The besieged had done some
damage to the Roman fleet, had burnt a considerable extent of
siege-works, and had suffered a distinctly smaller loss in killed and
wounded than they had been able to inflict on their assailants.

But if the damage that they suffered was less than that which they did,
still it was less capable of being repaired, often indeed could not be
repaired at all. If a ship was burnt, they could not build another; the
losses of the garrison could not be filled up; the general waste of
strength could not be repaired. Carthage, in short, had only itself to
draw upon as a reserve; Rome had all the countries that bordered on the
Mediterranean, from Greece westward. These were advantages which were
certain to tell in the long run, but meanwhile much might occur to delay
the final victory.

The first thing to happen in the Roman camp was that supplies began to
fall short. The country round Carthage was, of course, so much wasted by
this time that practically nothing could be drawn from it. Further off,
indeed, there was plenty of food and forage, but the natives showed no
readiness in bringing it into camp. The fact was that there was no
market; buyers there were in plenty, but not buyers with money in hand,
for the military chest was empty, and the pay of the soldiers months in
arrear.

The consequence of this was that the Roman generals practically raised
the siege of Carthage, and devoted their time and strength to reducing
the Carthaginian towns, hoping thus to supply their wants. But in this
attempt they made very little progress. They began by attacking the town
of Clypea. Here they failed. The fleet could not make its way into the
harbour, which the townspeople had effectually protected by sinking a
couple of ships in the entrance, and the Roman engineers could not reach
the walls of the town.

They had better fortune with another small town in the neighbourhood,
though their success was gained in a not very creditable way. The
townspeople were disposed to come to terms, and a conference between
their representatives and the Roman generals was accordingly held. Terms
were agreed upon, and the agreement had been actually signed, when some
soldiers made their way into the town. The Romans at once broke up the
meeting, and treated the place as if it had been taken by storm. This
conduct was, of course, as unwise as it was wicked. Next to nothing was
gained by the falsehood, while every Carthaginian dependency resolved to
resist to the uttermost.

Hippo was the next place to be attacked. After Carthage and Utica--the
Roman head-quarters were at Utica--Hippo was the largest and most
important town in Northern Africa. Its docks, its harbour, its walls
were on a grand scale. Two hundred years before, Agathocles, tyrant of
Syracuse, in his desperate struggle with Carthage had made it the base
of his operations. A lavish expenditure, directed by the best engineers
of the time, had made it almost impregnable.

The Roman generals had, indeed, excellent reasons for attacking it. Till
it was in their power, they could hardly hope to capture Carthage, for
it stood almost between their own head-quarters and that city, and
commanded the route by which stores had to be carried to the besieging
army. But the Roman forces were quite unequal to the undertaking. Twice
did the people of Hippo, helped by a sally from Carthage, destroy the
siege-works, and when the time for retiring to winter quarters arrived,
nothing had been accomplished by the besiegers.

All this did vast damage to the prestige of the Romans. Far-seeing
persons were convinced, as I have said, that the future belonged to
them; but ordinary observers began to think, and not without some
excuse, that their decline had begun. Among these were two out of three
sons of King Masinissa. Possibly dissatisfaction had something to do
with their state of mind. Each had expected to get more than Scipio's
award had given him; both grudged to Gulussa the command of the troops,
suspecting that this meant in the end their own subjection to him.
Gulussa himself seemed to be still loyal to Rome, but the general
discontent had not failed to reach some of the high-placed officers in
his army.

Cleanor was still with Mastanabal, and, of course, watched the progress
of affairs with intense interest. His hopes rose high when tidings
reached the palace that the Romans had abandoned the siege of Hippo. At
the evening meal that day the subject was discussed, but in a very
guarded way, for the prince was still, at least in name, an ally of
Rome, and his young secretary, for this was the office which Cleanor now
filled, was too discreet to ignore the fact. The hour for retiring had
almost come when the confidential slave who waited on the prince
hurriedly entered the chamber and placed a letter in his hands. It was a
double tablet closely bound together with cords of crimson silk, these
again being secured by seals. Hastily cutting the cords with the dagger
which he carried at his waist, the prince read the communication with
that impassive and inscrutable look which it is one of the necessities
of a despotic ruler to acquire. Rising shortly after from table he bade
the young Greek good-night, but added, as if by an after-thought, "But
stay, I have a book, a new acquisition, to show you. Come into the
library."

The library was a small inner room, of a semicircular shape,
which opened out of the dining-hall. It had this great advantage,
contemplated, no doubt, by the builder who designed it, that
conversations held in it could not by any possibility be overheard. It
had an outer wall everywhere except on the side which adjoined the
dining-hall. It was built on columns, so that no one could listen
beneath, and there was no storey over it. As long as the outer chamber
was empty, absolute secrecy was ensured. Only a bird of the air could
carry the matters discussed in it.

"Listen, Cleanor," said the prince, and proceeded to read the following
letter:--

    _Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, to King Mastanabal greeting. Know that
    if you would save Africa, now, and now only, you have the
    opportunity. The Romans have fled from Hippo fewer by a third
    than when they first attacked it. Bithyas, commander of
    Gulussa's cavalry, has come over to us with seven hundred of his
    best troopers. Strike then along with us such a blow as shall
    rid us of this devouring Beast now and for ever. Else you shall
    yourself surely be devoured. Think not that when Carthage is
    destroyed, there shall be any hope left for Numidia. Farewell!_

"What think you of this, Cleanor?" the king asked after a pause. "I know
well enough that you have no liking for the Romans. Indeed, why should
you? But you can judge of how things stand, judge, doubtless, better in
some ways than I can, for there are many things that we kings never see.
Speak frankly. No one can overhear us."

"Sire," replied the young Greek, "it wants, I fear, more wisdom than I
possess to give you any profitable counsel. I hate Rome, but I fear her.
She makes blunders without number, but always manages to succeed in the
end. She chooses mere fools and braggarts for her generals, but always
finds the right man at last. So I read her history. There was a time
when everyone believed that Hannibal would make an end of her, and yet
she survived. She lost army after army, yet conquered in the end. After
a Flaminius and a Varro[8] she found a Scipio. And she has a Scipio now.
I saw him, sire, the other day, and felt that he was a great man."

"But he is too young," interrupted the king. "He wants some five years
yet of the age when he can be put in chief command."

"True, sire; but when a man is absolutely necessary they will have him,
be he young or old."

"Then there is their unending civil strife. What of that?"

"It makes for us, no doubt. But even that they can drop on occasion."

After a pause of some minutes Mastanabal spoke again.

"Then, what do you advise?"

"Sire," replied the young Greek, "I would advise you for the present to
do nothing. Let me answer this letter in person, and answer it as I
think best, if you can trust me so far. I have a plan, for I have been
thinking of these matters night and day. But don't ask me what it is. It
is better that you should know nothing about it. I will start at once.
It might look well if you were to send some troopers in pursuit. Of
course they must not catch me. Put Juba in command, and we may rely on
their not being too active."

"Will you carry any token from me?" asked the king.

"No, sire, it is better not. Let me have the letter; that will be
enough. Will you forgive me if I steal Whitefoot from her stable?"

"Take her or any other horse that you want. Have you money enough?"

"Ample, sire; your good father provided me with that."

"Then, farewell! You make me curious, but I suppose that I may not ask
any questions. In any case, and whatever happens, count me as a sure
friend."

Before midnight Cleanor was well on his way to Carthage. At the first
signs of dawn he drew rein, and halted for the day at a small cluster of
palms, where there was abundance of herbage for his horse. Starting
again at nightfall he reached the camp of Hasdrubal just as the light
was showing itself in the east. The camp, it should be explained, was
pitched outside the city. The larger half of the Carthaginian army
occupied it. The remainder of the troops were stationed within the walls
under the command of another Hasdrubal.

Cleanor, who had contrived to learn something about the arrangements of
the camp, gave himself up into the hands of the officer commanding an
outlying picket. Hasdrubal's letter proved, as he had anticipated, a
sufficient passport, and he was conducted, after taking a few hours'
rest, into the general's presence.

The personality of Hasdrubal was not by any means attractive, and
Cleanor could not help comparing his puny physique and sinister
expression with the commanding figure and noble countenance of Scipio.
The Carthaginian may be best described by saying that he resembled the
more ignoble type of Jew. It is often forgotten that the Phoenician
race, of which the Carthaginian people was the principal offshoot, was
closely akin to the Hebrew in blood and language.[9] Hasdrubal showed
the relationship plainly enough. His black, ringlety hair, prominent
nose, thick, sensual lips, and keen but shifty eyes, were just such as
might have been seen at that day in the meaner quarters of Jerusalem or
Alexandria (then become the second capital of the Jews), and at the
present time in the London Whitechapel or the Roman Ghetto.

On the present occasion, however, Hasdrubal wore his most pleasing
expression. He was genuinely delighted to see Cleanor, as much delighted
as he was astonished, for he had taken it for granted that the young man
had perished in the destruction of Chelys.

"Hail, Cleanor!" he cried with a heartiness that was not in the least
affected. "What good fortune has restored you to us? we had long given
you up as dead."

Cleanor gave him in the fewest possible words a sketch of what had
happened.

"And what can I do for you?" continued Hasdrubal. "If, as I hope, you
are come to join us, I can find plenty of work for you. Things are
looking more bright for Carthage than they have done for years past. We
shall soon have all Africa with us. When that happens the Romans will
have nothing left them but the ground that they stand on, and even that,
I hope, not very long. You have heard of Bithyas with his squadron
coming over to us? We shall soon have the rest of Gulussa's army
following him, and then there will be Gulussa himself and his brothers.
You have been in Mastanabal's household; tell me how he stands."

Cleanor produced in answer Hasdrubal's own letter. "The king's
position," he went on, "is a very difficult one, and he must act with
the greatest caution in your interests as well as in his own. If he
declares himself too soon, his brothers will most certainly take the
other side. What is wanted is a combination so strong as to compel all
the three to declare themselves together. He wishes well to you; that I
can say positively."

"That is good as far as it goes, though I should have liked something
more definite."

"May I put before you," said Cleanor, "an idea which has been working
for some time in my head? I am afraid that it is somewhat presumptuous
in a youth such as I am to discuss such things; still, if you are
willing to hear--"

"Say on, my young friend," cried the Carthaginian; "a son of your house
is not likely to say anything but what is worth hearing."

"I spoke of a combination which would enable Mastanabal to declare
himself. Don't you think such a combination might be made among all
those who hate Rome or fear her? First there is my own nation. The
League[10] is, I have heard, little satisfied with its powerful friends,
and it needs only a little blowing to set that fire a-blazing. Then
there are the Macedonians, who haven't forgotten that they were masters
of the world not so very long ago. There is Syria, there is Egypt, both
of them afraid of being swallowed up before long. There are the Jews,
kinsmen of your own, I believe. Is it not so?"

"Yes," said the Carthaginian, "kinsmen, but not friends. I fear that we
shall not get much help there."

"Then there is Spain. What do you know, sir, of Spain? Is there any
chance of a rising?"

"The northern tribes[11] still hold their own, but they will hardly go
outside their own borders. They are quite content to be free themselves
without thinking of others. Still, there is something that might be done
in Spain. Only, unluckily, the Spaniards don't love us any more than
they love the Romans. Perhaps they love us rather less. However, this
is a promising scheme of yours, my young friend. Ah! if it had not been
for you Greeks we should have had all the shores of the Sea[12] long
ago. We never could get you out of Sicily. It would be strange if you
were now to make amends to us for all the mischief that you have done."

Cleanor, who had read history to some purpose, could not help thinking
to himself that mankind would hardly have been better off than it was if
Carthage had been mistress of the west. But he put away the thought. His
lot was cast, and he could not, would not change it. The memory of the
inexpiable wrong that he had suffered swept over his mind, and he set
himself resolutely to carry out his purpose.

"And what do you suggest?" continued Hasdrubal.

"To go myself and see what can be done," replied the Greek.

"Good! And let no time be lost. I don't mean that you are one to lose
time; that you certainly are not; I mean that we had better not say
anything about this to the authorities inside the walls. There will be
questions, debates, delays, nothing settled, I feel sure, till it is
too late. You must go unofficially, but I will give you letters of
commendation which you will find useful. Succeed, and there is nothing
that you may not ask, and get, from Carthage and from me. When shall you
be ready to start?"

"To-day."

"And whither do you propose to go first?"

"First, of course, to Greece; then to Macedonia. I hear that there is
someone there who calls himself the son of King Philip, and that the
Macedonians are flocking to his standard."

"So be it. Farewell; and Hercules be with you!"


    FOOTNOTES:

    8: Flaminius commanded at the disastrous battle of Lake
    Trasumennus, Varro at the still more disastrous defeat of Cannæ.

    9: _Carthage_ was Kirjath-Hadeschath, the "new town" (opposed to
    Tyre, which was the old); its chief magistrates were _Shophetim_
    (Latinized into Suffetes), the Hebrew word for "judges". _Barca_
    was a well-known name, corresponding to the Hebrew _Barak_, and
    meaning "lightning".

    10: By the "League" Cleanor means the Achæan League, a
    combination originally of the cities of Achaia proper, or the
    southern shore of the Corinthian Gulf, but afterwards extended
    over the greater part of Mainland Greece.

    11: The Cantabri (now the Basques), who were not subdued by Rome
    for more than a century after this time.

    12: By the "Sea" Hasdrubal means the _Mediterranean_; outside
    the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar and Tangiers) was the _Ocean_
    (the Atlantic).



CHAPTER VI.

THE MISSION.


Cleanor's interview with Hasdrubal was followed by a long conversation
with one of his staff, Gisco by name, in which were discussed the best
and safest means of crossing from Africa to Greece. The Greek might have
had at his command the best and fleetest war-galley in the docks of
Carthage, but the idea did not at all commend itself to him. The harbour
was not actually blockaded--Roman seamanship was hardly equal to
maintaining a blockade, which often means the imminent peril of lying
off a lee-shore--but it was pretty closely watched; the sea in the
neighbourhood was patrolled by Roman ships, and the chances were at
least equal that a Carthaginian galley would be challenged and brought
to bay before it could reach Europe, and more than likely that if so
challenged it would be captured. Some kind of disguise seemed to be far
more promising of safety, and the more obscure the disguise the better
the promise.

A little fleet of vessels was about to sail from one of the coast
villages for the autumn tunny-fishing, and Cleanor resolved to embark on
one of them. It had been one of his boyish delights to spend a few days
from time to time at sea, and he had a long-standing acquaintance, which
might almost have been called a friendship, with the veteran master of
one of these craft. The tunny-fishing had always been too long an affair
for the lad, who had his duties at home to attend to. The boats were
about a month or more from home if the shoals had to be followed far,
for the tunny is a fish that lives mostly in deep water. But there was a
standing engagement that some day or other, when he happened to have
leisure sufficient, the thing was to be done. Syphax--this was the old
fisherman's name--knew nothing about his visitor except that he was a
merry, companionable lad who had a sufficient command of gold pieces.
To politics he paid no attention whatever. If there was war, it made no
difference to him except, possibly, to increase the market for his
tunnies, and raise the price. Romans and Carthaginians agreed in liking
his wares; if they paid honestly for them, it did not matter to the
fisherman what they did in other matters.

When, therefore, two or three days after his visit to Hasdrubal's camp,
the Greek knocked at the door of Syphax's little house by the sea, he
received a hearty welcome, and was asked no inconvenient questions.

"You're just in time, young sir," cried the old man, "if you are come
for the tunnies. We start at sunset, and, if we have luck, we shall be
among them by dawn to-morrow. Just now the shoals are pretty near, and
we may catch a boat-load before the new moon--it is just full to-day.
But you are not in a hurry, I hope, if we should have to go further
afield."

"All right, Syphax!" replied Cleanor. "I shall be able to see it through
this time."

The old man, who had, indeed, the experience of sixty years to draw
from, was quite right in his prediction that they would find themselves
among the tunnies at dawn. They had been able to get over a considerable
distance during the night. At first their progress had been slow, for it
was a dead calm, and the sweeps had to be used. About midnight, when
they were well out of the shelter of the land, a light breeze from the
south sprang up. The broad lateen sail was gladly hoisted, and the
little craft sped gaily along, making, with the wind due aft, some six
or seven miles an hour. Cleanor, who had fallen asleep shortly after
midnight, not a little fatigued by the share which he had insisted on
taking in the rowing, was awakened, after what seemed to him five
minutes of slumber, by the captain.

"See," cried the old man, "there they are yonder. Thanks to Dagon, we
have got among them quite as soon as I hoped."

And sure enough, about three hundred yards off, just in a line with the
sun, which was beginning to lift a crimson disk out of the sea, the
water seemed positively alive with fish, little and big. The tunnies had
got among a shoal of sardines, and were busy with the chase. Every now
and then some score of small fry would throw themselves wildly out of
the water to escape their pursuer; behind them the water swirled with
the rush of some monster fish, whose great black fin might be discerned,
by a keen eye, just showing above the surface. Elsewhere, one of the
tunnies would leap bodily into the air, his silvery side gleaming in the
almost level rays of the rising sun. The sail had already been lowered,
and the sweeps, after some dozen strokes to give a little way to the
vessel in the right direction, had been shipped again. In another minute
the little craft had quietly glided into the middle of the shoal.

Cleanor, in spite of all the grave preoccupation of his mind, was still
young enough to enjoy the brisk scene which followed. There were two
ways of securing the fish: the harpoon was one; the hand-line was the
other, the hook being baited with a small fish or with a bit of
brilliant red cloth. Syphax and two of his sailors used the former.
Cleanor and the third sailor, a young man of about the same age, as
being not sufficiently expert with the harpoon, were furnished with
hand-lines.

The fun was fast and furious. At his very first shot the captain drove
his harpoon into the side of a huge tunny. So strong was the creature
that it positively towed the boat after it for a few minutes. This gave
to Cleanor's baited hook exactly the motion that was wanted. It was soon
seized with a force which jerked the line out of his hand, and would
infallibly have carried it away altogether, had it not been wound round
his leg, more, it must be confessed, by accident than by design.

A sharp struggle followed. For some time the fisherman seemed to get no
nearer to securing his fish. It would suffer itself to be drawn up a few
yards, and would then by a fierce rush recover and even increase its
distance. But the line was of a thickness and strength which allowed any
strain to be put upon it, and the hook was firmly fastened into the
leathery substance of the fish's mouth. The creature's only chance of
escape was that the tremendous jerks it gave might flatten the barb of
the hook. This did not happen, for Syphax took good care that all his
tackle should be of the very best quality, and, after a conflict of half
an hour, Cleanor had the satisfaction of seeing his prey turn helpless
and exhausted on to its side. He drew it up close to the vessel, glad
enough to give a little rest to his fingers, which were actually
bleeding with the friction of the line. A sailor put his fingers into
the animal's gills, and lifted it by a great effort over the gunwale. It
weighed a little more than a hundred pounds.

The sport continued till noon, only interrupted by a few short intervals
when the shoal moved away and had to be followed. By noon so many fish
had been secured that it became necessary to take measures for
preserving them. They were split open and cleaned. The choicest portions
were immersed in casks which held a liquid used for pickling; other
parts were salted lightly or thoroughly, according as they were intended
for speedy consumption or otherwise.

"You have brought us good luck," said Syphax to his guest, as they
shared the last meal after a day's hard work. "In all my experience--and
it goes back sixty years at least--I don't remember getting such sport
so soon. Another day or two of this and we shall have a full cargo, and
may go home again."

He had hardly spoken when his eye was caught by a strange appearance in
the water,--strange, that is, to Cleanor, but only too familiar and
intelligible to the old man.

"Ah!" he cried, "I thought that it was too good to last. Do you see that
eddy yonder? And look, there is the brute's back-fin."

"What is it?" asked Cleanor.

"A shark, of course," replied the old man. "They never bode any good to
anyone. Dagon only knows where we shall find the tunnies again. They
will be leagues away from here by sunrise to-morrow, and there is no
telling what way they will go. However, we have done pretty well, even
if we don't see them again this moon. To-night we will lie-to; it will
be time enough in the morning to decide what is to be done."

Cleanor had begun to fear that his experiment might turn out to be a
failure. Nothing, he knew, would induce the old man to sail another
league away from home when once his cargo had been completed.
Accordingly he had hailed the shark's appearance with delight as soon
as he comprehended what it meant, and now he turned to sleep with a
lighter heart.

Again did the old fisherman show himself a true prophet. The next
morning, and for many mornings afterwards, not a tunny was to be seen.
The weather, however, continued fine, and the little craft made its way
in a leisurely fashion towards the north-east, a sharp look-out being
kept by day, and, as far as was possible, by night, for the object of
pursuit.

Two days had passed in this way when masses of floating sea-weed and
flocks of gulls began to warn the captain that he was drawing near the
land.

"We have been on the wrong tack," he said to Cleanor, "and must put her
head about. We are more likely to find the fish in deep water than
here."

"Where are we, then?" asked the Greek.

"Almost within sight of Lilybaeum, as far as I can guess."

Cleanor felt that it was time to act. "Will you do me a favour?" he
said.

"Certainly," replied the old man, "if I possibly can."

"Well, then, put me ashore."

"That is easy enough, if I am not wrong in my guess as to our
whereabouts. How long do you want to stay? I should not like to lose
this fine weather. As for landing, I should have had to do that in any
case, for we are getting short of water."

"I don't want you to wait for me. Only land me and leave me."

"What! Tired of the business, I suppose. Well, we have been a long time
doing nothing, but we must come across the tunnies soon."

Cleanor, who was anxious above all things not to be thought to have any
serious object in view, allowed that the time did seem a little long. He
had friends and kinsfolk, too, in Sicily, he said, and it would be a
pity to lose the opportunity of paying them a visit. It was arranged,
accordingly, that he should be landed, and that the crew should
replenish their water-casks at the same time. He parted with his friends
on the best of terms. Two gold pieces to the captain and one to each of
the crew sent them away in great glee, singing his praises as the most
open-handed young sportsman that they had ever had to do with.

It is needless to relate in detail our hero's journey through Sicily. He
bought a stout young horse, one of the famous breed of Sicilian cobs, at
Agrigentum, near which place he had been landed, and reached Syracuse
without further adventure. At Syracuse he found a merchant vessel about
to start for Corinth, secured a berth in her, and reached that city
after a rapid and prosperous voyage.



CHAPTER VII.

THE LAST OF THE GREEKS.


Most of Cleanor's fellow-passengers on board the _Nereid_--for this was
the name of the singularly un-nymphlike trading vessel that carried him
to Corinth--were a curious medley of races and occupations. Corinth was
the mart of the western world, and was frequented, for business or for
pleasure, by all its races. There were soothsayers from Egypt, who found
their customers all the more credulous because they boasted that they
believed in nothing; Syrian conjurors; Hebrew slave-dealers; a mixed
troop of commercial travellers; and a couple of grave-looking,
long-bearded men who, in spite of their philosophers' cloaks, were
perhaps the greediest, the most venal of all.

One passenger, however, was of a very different class. He was a
Syracusan noble, erect and vigorous notwithstanding his seventy years,
whose dignified bearing and refined features spoke plainly enough of
high breeding and culture. He was a descendant of Archias, the
Corinthian emigrant, who, some six centuries before, had founded the
colony of Syracuse, and he was coming, as he told Cleanor, in whom he
had discovered a congenial companion, on a religious mission. The tie
that bound a Greek colony to the mother city had a certain sanctity
about it. Sentiment there was, and the bond of mutual advantage; but
there was more, a feeling of filial reverence and duty, which was
expressed by appropriate solemnities.

"I am bringing," said Archias--he bore the same name as his far-away
ancestor--"the yearly offering from Syracuse the daughter to Corinth the
mother. I have done it now more than thirty times. But I feel a certain
foreboding that I shall not come on the same errand again. If that means
only that my own time is near, it is nothing. I have had my share of
life. The gods have dealt bountifully with me, and if they call me I
shall go without grumbling. But I can't help feeling that it is
something more than the trifle of my own life that is concerned, that
some evil is impending either over Syracuse or over Corinth. As for my
own city, I don't see where the trouble is to come from. We have long
since bowed our necks to the yoke, and we bear it without wincing. For
bearable it is, though it is heavy. But for Corinth I own that I have
many fears. She is restless, she is vain; she has ambitions to which
she is not equal. The gods help her and save her, or take me away before
my eyes see her ruin!"

As they were drawing near their journey's end Archias warmly invited his
young friend to make his home with him during his stay in Corinth.

"I have an apartment," he said, "reserved for me in the home of the
guest-friend of Syracuse. The city rents it for me, and makes me an
allowance for the expenses of my journey. I feel bound to accept it,
though, without at all wishing to boast of my wealth, I may say that I
don't need it. You must not think that you are burdening a poor
man--that is all. I can introduce you to everybody that is worth knowing
in Corinth, and, if you have any business on hand, shall doubtless be
able to help you. And it will be a pleasure, I assure you, to have a
companion who is not wearied with an old man's complaints of the new
times."

Cleanor thankfully accepted the invitation. When the _Nereid_ reached
the port of Corinth he found that the Syracusan's arrival had been
expected. A chariot was in waiting at the quay to convey them to the
city. At the apartment all preparations for the comfort of the guests
were complete--it was a standing order that a provision sufficient for
two should be made. First there was the bath,--more than usually
welcome after the somewhat squalid conditions of life on board the
merchantman,--and after the bath a meal, excellently cooked and
elegantly served.

The meal ended, Cleanor felt moved to become more confidential with his
new friend than he had hitherto been. Naturally he had been very
reserved, giving no reason for Archias to suppose that he had other
objects in his travels than amusement or instruction. But he felt that
it would be somewhat ungracious to maintain this attitude while he was
enjoying so kind and generous an hospitality. In a conversation that was
prolonged far into the night he opened up his mind with considerable
freedom. His precise schemes he did not mention; they were scarcely his
own secret; and he said nothing about Hasdrubal, feeling--for he had
studied history with intelligence and sympathy--that a Syracusan noble
would scarcely look with favour on anything that came from Carthage, the
oldest and bitterest enemy of his country. But he gave a general
description of his hope and aim, a common union of the world under the
leadership of the Greek race against the domination with which Rome was
threatening it.

The Syracusan listened with profound attention. "It has done me good,"
he said, "to hear you. I did not know that such enthusiasm was to be
found nowadays. The very word has gone out of fashion, I may say fallen
into disrepute. It used to mean inspiration, now it means madness. Our
young men care for nothing but sport, and even their sport has to be
done for them by others. They have chariots, but they hire men to drive
them; the cestus[13] and the wrestling ring are left to professional
athletes. The only game which they are not too languid to practise with
their own hands is the _kottabos_, and the _kottabos_[14] is not exactly
that for which our fathers valued all these things, a preparation for
war. I hate to discourage you, but I should be sorry to see you ruining
your life in some hopeless cause."

"But, if I may say so much with all respect, isn't this exactly what has
been said time after time? May there not be something better than you
think, than anybody would think, in these frivolous young fellows? Who
would have thought Alcibiades anything but a foolish fop, and yet what a
soldier he was when the time came!"

"Well, I hope that you are right," replied the old man; "only your
Alcibiades must make haste to show himself, or else it will be too late.
But it is not only this, the folly and frivolity of the youth, that
discourages me; it is the hopeless meanness and jealousy of the various
states. If I could raise from the dead the very best leader a Greek city
ever had, I should still despair. Now listen to the story that I have
to tell you. Don't think that I am a mere grumbler, who does his best to
discourage thoughts that are too high for him to understand; I speak
from a bitter experience. But you shall hear.

"I am just old enough to remember the storm and sack of my native city
by the Romans. I was but five years old, but even a child of five does
not forget when he sees, as I saw, his father and his elder brother
killed before his eyes. I should have been killed myself--for the
soldiers, who had suffered terribly in the siege, spared no one--but for
Marcellus himself.[15] He let the slave who waited on me carry me off to
his own hut. That worthy slave and his good wife kept me for five years
out of their scanty wages--he was a workman in the stone-quarries, and
she sold cakes to schoolboys in the streets--till I was ten years old.
Then interest was made with the Senate at Rome, and part of the family
property was given back to me. You will understand that I was very
restless at Syracuse, but I could not move till I was twenty-five, for
my father's will had fixed this age for my becoming my own master. It is
a custom in our family, and I was too dutiful to think of breaking it.
But the moment I became my own master I made haste to carry out a plan
which I had been long thinking of. The famous soldier of the time was
Philopoemen, the Arcadian. It was a privilege to serve under him as a
volunteer, and there were always ten times more applications than there
were places to fill. However, by great good luck, and partly, I may say,
through my having had the good fortune to win the foot-race at Olympia,
I was chosen. I landed here--it is more than forty-five years ago--and
made my way to his home in Arcadia. He had himself just come back from
Sparta, which he had brought over to the cause of Greece. Sparta, as I
dare say you know, has always cared much for herself, and very little
for anything or anybody else. I shall never forget what happened a few
days after my arrival. The Spartans, or, I should rather say, the
reforming party among the Spartans--for there never was a Greek city yet
but had two parties in it at the very least--felt greatly obliged to him
for what he had done, and determined to make him a present. Well, they
sent three of their chief citizens to offer it to him. They came, and
Philopoemen entertained them. Of course he knew nothing about the
object of their coming, and they said nothing about it. They seemed ill
at ease--that I could not help observing--though their host was all that
was courteous and agreeable; but speak they couldn't. There was
something about the man which positively forbade their mentioning such
a matter. The next day they went away, leaving their offer unspoken. But
as they could hardly go back to Sparta with this story, they put the
matter into the hands of an old friend to carry out.

"It seems an easy thing to get rid of a pocketful of gold, but this man
didn't find it so. Everything about Philopoemen was so simple, so
frugal, he seemed so absolutely above things of the kind, that it was
impossible to offer him money. The man went away without saying
anything. He came a second time, and it was the same thing all over
again. I don't say but what Philopoemen had now some inkling of what
was on hand. There was a twinkle in his eye, as if he was enjoying some
joke greatly. As for me, I was completely mystified. Then the three
Spartans came back again, and this time they forced themselves to speak,
and, of course, did it in the clumsiest, most brutal fashion. It was a
large sum, too, a hundred and twenty talents,[16] if I remember right.

"Philopoemen smiled. 'My friends,' he said, 'you would have laid out
this money very badly if I were to take it. Don't buy your friends; you
have them already. Buy your enemies.'

"And a good friend he showed himself. He wasn't in office then, and the
President of the League, having a difference with the Spartans in some
matter of no great importance, was all for using force.

"'Pray,' said Philopoemen to him, 'don't do anything of the kind. It
is sheer madness to quarrel with a great Greek state, when the Romans
are on the watch to take advantage of our divisions.'

"And when he found that speaking was of no use, he mounted his horse and
rode straight to Sparta--I was with him--to warn them of what was going
to be done. Sure enough, in the course of ten days or so, the President
comes with some five thousand men of his own and half a Roman legion;
but Sparta was ready. They had to go back again without doing any harm.
Some two months afterwards he was chosen President--for the eighth time
it was--very much against his will, for he had passed his seventieth
year, and was hoping to spend the rest of his days in peace. But it was
not to be. There was a revolution in Messene, one of the endless changes
which tempt one to think, against one's own conscience, that the steady,
fixed rule of an able, honest tyrant is the best kind of government that
a state can have. The Messenians, accordingly, renounced the League.
This might have been endured; but it was another matter when they
proceeded to seize a strong place outside their own borders.
Philopoemen was lying sick with fever at the time in Argos, but he
left his bed immediately, and was on horseback in less than an hour. I
was with him; indeed, I never left him of my own free will. Before
nightfall we had reached his home in Arcadia, four hundred furlongs was
the distance, and the roads about as rough and steep as you will find
anywhere in Greece. The next day he sent round the city calling for
volunteers. Some three hundred joined him--gentlemen, all of them, who
furnished their own arms, and rode their own horses. We had a smart
brush with the enemy, and got the better of them. But they were strongly
reinforced, and as we were now heavily overmatched, Philopoemen gave
the signal to fall back. His one thought now was to save the volunteers.

"'They are the heart's blood of the city,' he said to me, 'and they must
not be wasted.'

"He placed himself with a few troopers, who formed his body-guard, in
the rear, and protected their retreat. He was a famous swordsman, you
must know, and old as he was, there were very few who cared to come to
close quarters with him. But of course they had their darts, and he was
soon wounded in several places, as, indeed, we all were. And then on
some very rough ground his horse stumbled and threw him. He was an old
man, you see, and he had had two days of hard riding, and the fever
fit--which was of the ague kind, caught some years before when he was
campaigning in Crete--was coming upon him.

"'Save yourselves,' he said to us; 'your country will want you for many
years yet, but I am an old man.'

"However, he gave me leave to stay; the others he commanded on their
obedience to go. When the enemy came up he had fainted. They thought he
was dead, and began to strip him of his arms, but before they had
finished he came to himself. My blood boils to this day when I think how
they treated him. They bound his hands behind his back, and drove him
before them on foot as he was, half-dead with fatigue and sickness.

"That night we bivouacked in the open. Some of the troopers had a
feeling of pity or shame. One lent him his cloak to keep the cold off,
though he had to go without one himself; another shared his ration of
bread, dried meat, and rough wine with him. On the evening of the next
day we came to Messene town, and I must do the townsfolk the justice to
say that the sight was not at all to their liking. I heard many of them
cursing the man--Deinocrates was his name, and he was as ill-conditioned
a scoundrel as there was in Greece--who had given the orders for it to
be done. Still, no one had the courage to interfere, and Deinocrates
determined to finish matters before he was hindered; for he knew
perfectly well that the League would spare nothing to get back their
president.

He thrust him, therefore, into a dungeon that was called the Treasury,
a dreadful hole without a window or door, but having the entrance to it
blocked by a huge stone. "Deinocrates then held a hurried council with
some of his own party. They voted with one accord for death. What
followed I heard from the executioner himself, who was one of
Deinocrates' slaves. His story was this:

"'My master said to me, 'Take this cup'--I guessed from the look and the
smell that it was hemlock--'to the prisoner, and don't leave him till he
drinks it.' I went in--it wanted but a little time to midnight--and
found Philopoemen awake. 'Ah!' he said, when he saw me, 'your master
is a generous man, and sends me, I doubt not, a draught of one of his
richest vintages. But before I drink it, answer me, if you can, one
question. Have any prisoners been brought in?' I said that I had not
heard of any. 'None of the young horsemen that were with me?' I said
that I had not seen them. He smiled and said, 'You bring good tidings.
Things have not gone altogether ill with me.' Then he took the cup and
drank it up without another word. This done he lay down again. I watched
by him, but though I heard him breathing heavily he never moved. Just
before cock-crow I judged that he died, for it was then that breathing
ceased, and when I put my hand on his heart I could feel nothing.'

"That was the end of Philopoemen, 'the last of the Greeks', as I heard
an enemy, a Roman, call him. And what, my dear young friend, can Greece
do without Greeks?"


    FOOTNOTES:

    13: The ancient boxing-glove, a formidable construction fitted
    to the hand, of leather thongs heavily loaded with lead.

    14: This consisted in throwing wine out of a cup into a bowl
    placed at some distance. The game was played in various ways.

    15: Marcellus was the Roman general in command.

    16: £27,000 in our money, reckoning by weight at five shillings
    per ounce for silver. This would mean a great deal more in
    purchasing power, not less than £100,000.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE CORINTHIAN ASSEMBLY.


Cleanor was of far too sanguine a temperament to allow himself to be
daunted by the gloomy reminiscences of his friend. "Things", he said to
himself, "are altered since then. Rome is more manifestly formidable,
for she has rid herself of more than one rival. The mere instinct of
self-preservation must make those that are left unite."

Still, he could not hide from himself various discouraging facts that
forced themselves upon his notice. In the first place Corinth, or,
rather, the Corinthian people, disappointed him. The place itself was
intensely interesting; he did not know whether to admire more the
splendid remains of the past that it had to show, or the evidences of a
prosperous present with which it abounded.

At one time he would make his way to the highest point of the citadel,
the Acro-Corinthus, and look down upon the city, crowded as it was with
temples, public halls, mansions, on which the wealth of centuries had
been lavished. At another he would spend long hours in wandering about
the docks, that one which brought to the "City of the Two Seas" the
commerce of the West, or that other which was filled with the
merchandise of the East.

There were vessels of all sizes and of every kind of rig, manned with
seamen of every nationality, and bringing the merchandise of every
country, from the Atlantic shores on the west to remote regions of the
east of which no European knew except by repute. Blocks of tin and
strings of amber from far-off islands of the north, ivory and precious
stones from the African coasts far to the south of the Pillars of
Hercules, iron from Elba, cattle and fruit from the Balearic Isles,
wines from Sicily and the shores of the Adriatic, were among the most
common articles in the western harbour; to the eastern harbour came
silks from China, metal work from India,--then as now famous for the
skill of its handicraftsmen,--dried fruits from Lesser Asia, salt and
pickled fish from the Black Sea, wheat from Egypt, and wines, some of
them the finest vintages in the world, from the islands of the Ægean.
Corinth, then, was interesting enough, making the impression upon a
stranger of being one of the busiest and wealthiest places in the world.

But what of the Corinthians? A more mixed, I may say mongrel, multitude
could not be seen anywhere. Cleanor's first impression was that the
population contained specimens of every nation upon earth--except
Greeks. There were swarms of Asiatics from the Lesser Asia and from
Syria, yellow-skinned Egyptians, Arabs and Moors showing every variety
of brown, and negroes with their glossy black. In effective contrast to
these might be seen a few Gauls, blue-eyed and yellow-haired, whose
imposing stature seemed to dwarf to pigmies the crowds through which
they shouldered their way. Now and then a Roman, conspicuous in his
white toga edged with a narrow purple stripe,[17] moved along with slow,
dignified step, which seemed to speak of a man born to rule. It was
curious to note the expression of fear and hatred with which he was
regarded. Again and again, as he watched this motley crowd thronging the
streets with an endless variety of costume, colour, and dress, Cleanor
felt disposed to say, "Here is Corinth, but where are the Corinthians?"
And when he did see specimens of the genuine Corinthian, he had to own
to himself that they did not greatly impress him. The city had its
gilded youth, most of them belonging to the second or third generations
of families enriched by trade, but some claiming to be Bacchiadæ,[18] or
even descendants of the mythical Sisyphus who had founded the city some
fourteen centuries before. A more debauched, spendthrift, and generally
useless set he had never seen. They made no pretence to culture; they
shuddered at the idea of a campaign; even the sports of the arena were
too much for their effeminate frames. Cleanor felt his spirits sink and
his hopes diminish day by day, for Corinth was now the capital of
Greece. Archias, his host, watched him meanwhile with a compassionate
interest. He had had something of the same enthusiasm himself in bygone
days, and had known the inexpressible pain of having to own that it was
a delusion.

"Do you know," he said to his young guest some ten days after their
arrival, "that there is to be an important meeting of the Assembly
to-morrow?"

"I heard Polemon say something about it to-day. He asked one of the
young fellows who were playing at _kottabos_ with him whether he thought
of going, and seemed to surprise him very much by the question.
Polemon, you see, has not been living in Corinth for much more than a
year, and has not quite caught the high-toned Corinthian manner. He
actually imagines it possible for a man to have some interest in public
affairs. You should have heard the astonishment in his friend's voice
when he answered him, 'Going to the Assembly, did you say? Why, my dear
fellow, I have never been to the Assembly, and certainly never shall,
till they make me Eparch or whatever they call it, when I shall have to,
I suppose. And to-morrow of all days in the year! Why, don't you know
that Pintocles of Megara is coming over with his champion team of
quails, and that I am going to meet them with mine? We have a wager of a
hundred gold pieces on the event. If one side kills _all_ the birds on
the other side, the loser is to pay double stakes. In any case the
winner is to give a dinner to the loser and his friends. Going to the
Assembly, indeed!' That is all that I have heard about it."

"Then I had better enlighten you," replied Archias. "You know that the
Assembly has been called to hear the envoys from Rome state the terms
which the Senate is willing to agree to. You ought to be there. _You_
will find it very interesting, whatever these young gentlemen with their
teams of fighting quails may think about it."

"Certainly I should like to go; but how am I to get in? At Athens they
were very particular not to admit any one that was not a citizen."

"Don't trouble yourself on that score. Here they are not particular at
all. Simply follow the crowd. There will be no one to stop you."

And so it turned out. There were door-keepers at the entrances to the
vast amphitheatre in which the meeting of the Assembly was held, but
they did not attempt to exclude anyone. Cleanor found himself, when he
was seated, in the midst of a crowd almost as variegated and as polyglot
as that at which he was accustomed to gaze in the streets. No one could
suppose that any large proportion of them were genuine Corinthian
citizens. The fourth hour[19] was the time appointed for the
commencement of business, and the multitude spent the interval much in
the same way that a waiting crowd would do nowadays. They cheered or
hissed any well-known citizen as he took his place, yelled out
witticisms which seemed to please the more the coarser and more personal
they were, sang songs with noisy choruses, and kept up generally an
incessant uproar. Men carrying baskets of cakes and sweetmeats, or jars
of wine, passed up and down the spaces between the blocks of seats, and
did a brisk business in their respective wares.

A brief hush fell upon the noisy crowd when, after the signal had been
given by the blast of a trumpet, the doors leading into what may be
called the magistrates' box were thrown open, and the officials, who
were to conduct the business of the day filed in. There was nothing
noteworthy about their reception, but when the figures of the two Roman
envoys became visible, a storm of groans and hisses broke out ten times
louder and fiercer than the noisiest manifestation that had greeted the
most unpopular Corinthian. The two Romans bore themselves with
characteristic indifference, took their seats in the places allotted to
them, and watched the furious multitude with the utmost unconcern.

After the howling and stamping had gone on for some quarter of an hour,
the demonstration began to die away. One of the magistrates dropped a
few grains of incense into a fire that was burning in front of him, and
poured out a little wine, muttering at the same time an invocation to
Zeus, the patron deity of Corinth. This was equivalent to our "opening
the proceedings with prayer". This ceremony completed, a herald
proclaimed that the Assembly was constituted, and the presiding
magistrate stepped forward to open the proceedings.

His speech was of the briefest. "Citizens of Corinth," he said, "you are
called together to-day to hear the terms on which the Senate and People
of Rome are willing to make a treaty of perpetual friendship with you.
They have sent two distinguished citizens, both members of the Senate,
who will set the matter before you, and whom you will receive with that
courtesy which it is the custom of Corinth to show to the ambassadors of
other nations."

The Romans stepped to the front of the platform. They were met for a few
moments with a renewal of the uproar which had greeted their first
appearance. But the Assembly was genuinely anxious to hear what they had
to say, and the disturbing element was hushed into silence.

Rome had paid the Greek people the compliment of sending them envoys who
could address them in their own language. Titus Manlius--this was the
name of the senior envoy--was one of the most cultured men of the time,
one of the Scipio circle, and feeling a genuine admiration for Greece,
for the Greece, _i.e._, of the past, for he had no little contempt for
the Greece of the present. On the present occasion, however, he had
every wish to please and conciliate.

When it was seen that he was going to address the Assembly without the
aid of an interpreter, he was greeted with applause, which was renewed
after he had uttered a few sentences with a fluency and purity of
accent which much impressed his hearers, few of whom, indeed, could in
these respects have rivalled him. When he went on, in a few well-turned
phrases, to compliment his hearers on the dignity and antiquity of their
city, and on the services which they had rendered to Greece in repelling
the barbarians from without, and checking undue ambition from within, he
was met with loud applause.

But after compliments came business, after sweets bitter. The first
statement was that the Senate and People of Rome desired that every
Greek city should enjoy complete freedom, electing its own magistrates,
and being governed by its own laws.

This was received with some applause, though the Assembly was acute
enough to be aware that a generality of this kind might not mean very
much.

The speaker went on: "Every city may form such alliances as may seem
expedient, provided only that they be not to the injury of the public
peace. No city shall be compelled to enter into or to give up any
alliance against its will."

At this there were loud expressions of disapproval. It was a cardinal
point with the League, of which Corinth was the ruling member, that
every city in Greece must join it. At this very time Sparta was
insisting on her right to stand alone, and the other states, headed by
Corinth, were insisting that she must join them. And now Rome had
pronounced in favour of Sparta.

The third item in the programme pleased the audience still less, for it
touched their pride at a very tender point. "A Roman garrison will
occupy the citadel until affairs shall have been finally arranged. The
occupation is for a time only, and will cease as soon as this may be
done without injury to the public good."

But when the last condition was announced it was met with a perfect
storm of rage. "Anxious to promote the general welfare of Greece, the
Senate and People of Rome decree that the island of Delos shall be a
free port."

This was a thing that everybody could understand. Freedom, after all,
was not much more than a sentiment, and alliances were a matter for
rulers to settle. Even a garrison in the citadel might be endured, for
it meant the spending of a good deal of money. But Delos a free port!
That was beyond all bearing. There was not a man in the whole of the
Assembly but would be distinctly the poorer for it.

The Roman had scarcely sat down when Critolaüs, the president of the
League, sprang to his feet, and poured out a furious oration, in which
he denounced the hypocrisy, the arrogance, and the greed of Rome. As he
spoke, the temper of his audience rose higher and higher. The whole
multitude sprang to their feet, howling, and shaking their fists at the
Romans as they sat calm and indifferent in their place. Still the
crisis, dangerous as it looked, might have passed off but for the
mischievous act of some half-witted fellow who had found his way into
the Assembly.

"As for these men who have come hither to insult us," cried the orator
in the peroration of his speech, "let them carry back to their employers
at home the message of our unanimous contempt and defiance." "And this
too," shouted the man, "as a little token of our affection," throwing at
the same time a rotten fig. It struck one of the envoys on the shoulder,
making a disfiguring stain on the white toga. "Good! good!" shouted the
crowd, and followed it up with a shower of similar missiles. Some stones
followed, and then came a leaden bullet propelled from a sling, which
struck the wall behind the chairs of the Romans, and only a few inches
above their heads.

The magistrates awoke to the gravity of the situation. They were
responsible for good order, were unwilling, in any case, to be
themselves compromised, and had an uneasy feeling that the excitement of
such proceedings would have to be dearly paid for. They caught the two
Romans by the arms, and literally forced them out of the building by the
door which served as a private entrance for official persons. The
usual escort was in waiting outside. Under this protection the envoys
were able to reach the citadel in safety. They had received a few blows,
but had not sustained any serious injury.

[Illustration: THE ROMAN ENVOYS TO CORINTH ARE COMPELLED TO LEAVE THE
AMPHITHEATRE.]

"What think you of this?" asked the Syracusan of his young friend as
they walked back to their lodging.

"A grievous business indeed, and of the very worst augury for the
future," replied Cleanor.

"Yes," said Archias. "Who can help thinking of Tarentum, and how the
robe of Postumius[20] was soiled and washed white again."


    FOOTNOTES:

    17: This narrow stripe indicated the knight; the broad stripe
    indicated the senator. The knights were the capitalists of Rome,
    farming the revenues of the state, a business becoming yearly
    more important as the dominions of the republic continued to
    grow.

    18: This was the ancient aristocracy of Corinth.

    19: The fourth hour, reckoned, _i.e._, from sunrise. As the time
    is supposed to be late in the autumn, sunrise would be at 7, and
    the fourth hour about 10.20, each hour being of fifty minutes
    duration, _i.e._ the twelfth part of the hour's day between 7
    a.m. and 5 p.m. Whatever the length of the day it was divided
    into twelve hours.

    20: C. Postumius was sent in the year 286 B.C. to deliver to the
    people of Tarentum the _ultimatum_ of Rome. While he was
    speaking a buffoon bespattered his toga with some filth. He held
    up the robe in the sight of the Assembly, with the words,
    "Verily this shall be washed white".



CHAPTER IX.

AT THERMOPYLÆ.


So far Cleanor's experiences had been distinctly disappointing. But he
still clung to his hopes, trying to comfort himself with the thought
that Greece meant much more than the little tract of country which bore
the name. It was to be found in Egypt, in Syria, in the finest regions
of Lesser Asia; and the country from which the most powerful Greek
influence had come forth was not Athens or Sparta, or any one of the
ancient states, but half-barbarous Macedonia. The next thing was to see
what promise Macedonia held forth.

The season was now growing late for travel by sea, and Cleanor gladly
joined a party which was about to make its way overland to Pella, the
old capital of Macedonia. The route lay through a number of famous
places. His study of history had long since made him familiar with their
names and associations. They were now seen for the first time with the
most vivid interest, an interest which reached its climax in the famous
Pass of Thermopylæ. The place, which has now been altered by the action
of nature and time almost beyond recognition, was then but little
changed. The wall behind which the Greek army took up its position,
though almost in ruins, was still to be seen; the mound upon which the
immortal Three Hundred made their last stand could easily be recognized.
So could the tomb of the heroes, with the epitaph, so appropriate in its
simplicity and modesty,[21] which Simonides the poet had written for it.
Close by was the separate sepulchre of the valiant king Leonidas, with
an epitaph of its own not less happy.[22] Cleanor saw with regret that
there was not enough of local patriotism to keep these memorials of a
splendid past in decent repair. The letters of the inscriptions were so
grown over with moss that it was very difficult to decipher them. Some
of the stones of the tomb of the Three Hundred were out of place; and it
would not be long, unless some repairs were done to it, before the whole
must fall into ruin. The lion, too, had a weather-beaten, almost
dilapidated look. Some mischievous hand, possibly that of a collector of
relics,--a class which was as unscrupulous in its greed for specimens
then as now,--had chipped off a portion from one of the ears. The
pedestal was covered with rudely carved initials, for this foolish
practice was as great a favourite with idle hands in the ancient world
as it is now.

The young man was meditating sadly on the want of public spirit that
suffered so scandalous a neglect of national glories, when he received
another rude shock to his feelings. Something had been said in the
course of the morning's march--it was about noon when they halted in the
Pass--about the tribesmen near Thermopylæ not having the best of
characters, but it had been in a half-jesting way, and Cleanor had paid
little attention to the remark. Nor had he noticed that the party,
which, indeed, had soon exhausted its slender interest in the place, had
gone some distance further to make their halt for the noonday meal in
the open country beyond the Gates.[23] He was roused from a fit of
musing by feeling a hand laid roughly on his shoulder. In a moment the
chance words of the morning came back to him. He swung himself violently
aside, and so released himself from the grasp of the intruder. Instantly
facing about he dealt the man a heavy blow straight from the shoulder,
which tumbled him to the ground. But he was unarmed, except for a short
dagger which he carried in his belt, and which was meant to serve for a
feast rather than for a fray. And he was overmatched. For the moment,
indeed, he was free; his assailant had been alone. But looking up and
down the Pass he saw small parties of armed men advancing in both
directions. Flight, too, was impossible, for the rocks rose sheer on
either side of him. There was nothing to be done but to submit to his
fate, which manifestly was to be captured by bandits. Throwing his
dagger to the ground, he held up his hands in token of surrender.

A man somewhat better clad and better armed than his companions--they
were a ragged, ill-equipped set--advanced from one of the approaching
parties and accosted our hero. Nothing could be more polite than his
manner of address.

"You will excuse us, sir," he said, "for detaining you for a short time.
Nothing but the exigencies of business could have induced us to put you
to any inconvenience."

The fellow whom Cleanor had knocked down had regained his feet, and was
coming up with a threatening air.

"Be quiet, Laches," said the leader. "My friend did nothing but what was
quite right and natural. You took a great liberty. To put your hand upon
a gentleman's shoulder indeed! And your blow, sir, was well delivered,"
he went on, turning to Cleanor. "It was not the first time, I fancy,
that you have used your fists. A very pretty stroke indeed! I am quite
delighted to offer such poor hospitality as I have at command to so
accomplished a guest. I have your promise, I suppose, not to attempt to
leave us till we have improved our acquaintance somewhat. I have been
obliged now and then to handcuff a friend who was so modest as to wish
to withdraw. But you, sir, I know, will accept my friendship as frankly
as it is offered."

Cleanor was not sure whether this elaborate civility was an improvement
on the more brutal manners of the average bandit, but thought it best to
accept the situation with as much show of good-humour as he could
manage. "I shall be delighted," he said, "to improve my acquaintance
with this most interesting country of yours. But I have important
business on hand at Pella, and to business even the most attractive
pleasures must be postponed."

"I shall be delighted to fall in with your views," replied the brigand
chief, with an elaborate bow, "though I cannot but regret that anything
should shorten your visit."

After proceeding down the Pass for some two hundred yards, the party
turned into a path on the right-hand side, and began to climb a somewhat
steep ascent.

"This is the very path, sir," said the chief, "by which Ephialtes
brought the Persians to take King Leonidas and his army in the rear.
That villainous traitor was, I regret to say, a native of Malia, the
only dishonest man that the place has ever produced. I myself have the
honour of having been born there."

An hour's smart walking brought the party to a small grassy plateau.
Here they left the path, and, making their way through a clump of ilex,
reached the entrance to a cavern in the mountain side. The entrance was
narrow, and so low that a man of even moderate stature had to stoop
before he could pass under it; but the cavern was spacious and lofty.

"My men's quarters," said the chief, with a wave of the hand; "rather
dark, as you see, but dry, and fairly warm. My own apartment is a little
further this way."

Another doorway, not unlike that by which they had entered, led from the
larger into a smaller cavern. This, as Cleanor observed, could be shut
off by a thick door solidly backed with iron.

"I like to be by myself now and then," explained the chief. "Our
friends, too, are sometimes a little boisterous in their mirth, and the
noise interferes with my studies."

The arrangement, it occurred to Cleanor, served for protection as well
as retirement. The smaller cave had also, he concluded from a ray of
light which made its way through the wall, a separate exit.

It had been furnished with some attempt at comfort. There was a couch in
one of the corners; in the middle, round a hearth on which a few sticks
were smouldering, coverlets and skins were piled. A couple of
hunting-spears, a bow, and a quiver hung on the walls, and a curtain
could be drawn over the door that led into the outer cave.

"Welcome to my home!" said the chief; "a poor place; but better men have
been worse lodged. If you have any money, you had better let me take
care of it. My men are not bad fellows on the whole, but you must not
trust them too far. They are common Phocians, you must know, not men of
Malia."

Cleanor had again to make a virtue of necessity. He had taken the
precaution of sending a remittance on to Pella, to await his arrival at
that place, and carried about with him little more than what would be
wanted on the journey. This--some twenty gold pieces--he had in a
purse-girdle round his waist,[24] which he now produced and handed to
the chief. The man examined it, not without first making an apology, and
counted the coins. Cleanor fancied that his face fell somewhat at
finding that they were so few. His manner, however, continued to be as
gay and friendly as before, and the talk, which he poured forth in an
unceasing stream, as intelligent as it was amusing.

"The sun must be nearly setting," he said, looking upwards at the
aperture in the roof--long practice had enabled him to guess the time of
day very accurately by the variation in the light--"and you must be
ready by this time for dinner. 'Tis but a humble repast I can offer you,
but you can understand that we have to rough it up here. My neighbours,
however, are very kind, and we always have enough, though the quality
now and then leaves something to be desired."

Opening the door that communicated between the two caves, he called to
Laches--the same, it will be remembered, with whom Cleanor had had a
collision earlier in the day.

"Tell Persis," he said, "to let us have something to eat as soon as
possible. You will join us, Laches," he added, "when it is ready, if by
chance you have any appetite left.

"I thought it as well," he explained, "to do away with any little
soreness there may be in the man's mind. He will be ready to swear
eternal friendship over a flask of wine."

Before long a wrinkled old woman, who looked quite the ideal cook of a
robbers' cave, brought in a smoking dish of roast kid, garnished with
onions. Flat cakes of what we should call "damper" served as bread, for
the latter, as the chief explained, could seldom be made for want of
yeast. A jug of red wine of the country was drawn from a cask which
stood in a corner of the cave, to be succeeded at the proper time by a
flask of stately dimensions, which contained a rich vintage from Lesbos.

"This," said the chief, "my good friend Clarilaus, eparch of Larissa,
was kind enough to supply me with."

Cleanor opened his eyes. Farmers and shepherds might find it worth
while to buy the brigand's forbearance by a toll from their flocks, but
was such a dignitary as an eparch content to pay blackmail? The chief
smiled.

"Perhaps I might explain," he said, "that we came across the eparch's
wagon as it was on its way to Larissa from the coast. As there was
clearly more wine than he could use--it is the one fault of Lesbian wine
that it does not keep very well--I took it for granted that some must
have been meant for me. He is famous for his taste in wine, and I think
you will own that this does him credit."

It was soon evident that the Lesbian wine had strength as well as
flavour, for the two brigands became very communicative as the flask
grew lighter.

"Tell us your story, Laches," said the chief. "It always puts me in
better conceit with myself to hear it. This life of ours here is not
exactly the ideal. My old master at the Academy, Philippus, would
scarcely have approved of it. Yes, my young friend, I too have been in
Arcadia, or rather, I should say, in Athens, though I may not look like
it; but I always console myself by thinking that there are worse thieves
than I am. Go on, Laches."

The man's tale ran thus:--

"I was a shepherd by occupation. My father was a shepherd; so had his
father before him been, and his father too, for many generations. Yes,
for many hundred years, but not always. There was a tradition in the
family that we had been princes once, owning all the land over which the
flocks we cared for grazed, and a great deal more. We believed that we
were descended from the great Thessalus[25] himself. Well, we were
fairly content. Our master was a gay young fellow, a little thoughtless,
and too ready with his hands if things did not go quite as he wished,
but kind and generous. Poor fellow! he was killed by a wild-boar. To
tell the truth, he had taken a cup too much. It was his habit, and a bad
habit too--a very bad habit."

Laches was quite sincere, though his own utterance had grown a little
thick.

"We had found a boar in the morning, and lost him. After the mid-day
meal--he would finish the flask of heady Chian--we found the brute
again. My master threw one of his two hunting-spears, and wounded him in
the shoulder. He was a little flurried, and he threw it too soon, and
with a bad aim. The boar charged, and my master knelt on one knee to
receive it. Flurried again, and the spear not quite straight. I was
running as hard as I could, but it was too late. When I came up, he was
lying on the ground, with as bad a wound in the thigh as ever I saw. He
was dead before you could count twenty.

"Then our troubles began. The master was not married, and all the
property went to an uncle, the meanest old skinflint in Thessaly. He had
been a spendthrift, they said, in his young days; such men always make
the worst kind of misers, I have heard. Anyhow, he was as bad as he
could be. He hadn't been in possession for a week when he began to cut
us short in everything. We used to be allowed half a drachma[26] for
every lamb that we reared. This was taken away. Not only that, but we
had to make good all that died. 'Your fault,' he would say; 'your fault;
a quite healthy lamb.' All the lambs, according to him, were quite
healthy. It was the same if one was killed by a wolf, and there are a
terrible lot of wolves in that part of the country. What used to be our
best time, the lambing season, came to be the worst. There was very
little of our wages left by the time that we had made good all the
losses. Then he charged us for every stick of wood that we picked up. We
were not allowed to catch a fish or snare a bird. We had to buy our
flour at his mill; damp, chalky stuff it was, more like bird-lime than
flour. Sour wine, rotten cloth, stinking salt-fish--we had to buy them
all of him. At every turn the villain made a profit out of us. As for
our wages, it was the rarest thing for us to see an obol[27] of them.
Most months he made out the balance to be on the wrong side."

"Well, to cut the story short, we got pretty deeply into his debt, my
poor father and I. What does the scoundrel do but take my sister--as
good and as pretty a girl as there was in the whole country--to be sold
as a slave, in payment of the debt, he said. He took care to do this
villainy when we--I mean the girl's husband that was to be and I--were
with the sheep on the summer pastures in the hills. A nice home-coming
we had; my old father dead--he had a stroke the day when his daughter
was carried away, dying in an hour,--and my sister gone. She wrenched
herself out of the hands of the slave-dealer as they were crossing the
Peneus, threw herself into the river, and was drowned--the best thing
that could happen to her, poor girl!

"You can guess the end, I dare say. The villain, my master, was found
dead in his bed--his throat cut from ear to ear--three days afterwards.
They caught Agathon--that was the lover, you understand--and crucified
him. And I am here."

"But," cried Cleanor, "are there no laws?"

"Laws!" answered the chief; "laws in plenty. But the question is--who
administers them?"

"The Romans, I suppose," replied Cleanor.

"I only wish they did," was the unexpected answer. "We might get some
sort of justice then. No; they leave the matter in the hands of the
rich, and there is only one in a hundred who has a spark of conscience
or pity in him. Mark this, young sir. I have twelve men in my band, and
there is not one of them but has a story to tell as bad as what Laches
here has told us. And in every one of them the oppressor has been one of
our own people. And now, doubtless, you will be ready for sleep."

Sleep was long in coming that night to the young man, and his thoughts
were full of gloom. He could not but feel some fears for himself. His
captors, it is true, were civil and even friendly; but he knew that such
people conducted their affairs on strict business principles, and that
one invariable principle was to get rid of a prisoner whose ransom was
not forthcoming in good time. He had funds, indeed, in the hands of a
merchant at Pella, but how was he to identify himself? And his
experiences hitherto had been very dispiriting. Whatever he might find
elsewhere, so far he had not met with the vigorous, united, patriotic
Greece of which he had dreamed.

It was late before he fell asleep, and then his slumber was light and
troubled. Just as the day was showing he was roused by the chief.

"Get up," said the man, "there is no time to be lost, if you don't want
to be choked like a rat in a hole."

Cleanor started to his feet. Thin coils of smoke were finding their way
through the crevices of the doorway between the two caves and through
various fissures in the wall. Dazed by the suddenness of his rousing he
looked to the chief for an explanation.

"Don't you understand? They have tracked us, and now they are smoking us
out. I am not going to leave my men. They're a rough lot, but they have
stuck faithfully to me, and I will stick to them. But that is nothing to
you. You have got time to escape; don't waste it. You will find some
steps cut in the far side of the cave. Follow them; they will take you
to a hole near the roof just big enough for you to creep through. That
is the entrance to a narrow passage which leads to the top of the hill.
No one knows it but myself; it was well to have my own way of getting
out. But I am not going to use it now. Take care how you go; the passage
is pitch dark, and has some dangerous places in it. And here is your
purse. I am sorry to have hindered you in your journey. We took you for
something quite different from what you are. Still you have learnt
something. If you can, think kindly of us. Even a set of rascally
robbers may have something to say for themselves."

There was no time to be lost in talking. Cleanor scrambled with little
difficulty to the entrance of the passage. But the passage itself was an
awful experience. As the chief had said, it was pitch dark, and the
Greek had to feel his way as he crept along on hands and knees. Twice he
found the path come to what seemed an abrupt end in what he supposed to
be a chasm, for he heard far below him the sound of falling water. But
exploring the wall on the left hand he found a ledge just broad enough
to allow him to creep along. At last, after what seemed hours of anxious
toil--he found afterwards that the time was much less than it seemed--he
saw a faint speck of light in the distance. Before long he reached the
open air on the hillside, at the height of some four hundred feet above
the plain.

It was not long before Cleanor fell in with a peasant. The man was aware
of what had happened. He had seen the Thessalian troops on their march,
and seeing the smoke rising from the hillside had guessed the tactics
which they had employed. It was plain from the man's talk that the
robbers were not unpopular in the district. As a rule they had paid, and
paid liberally, for supplies. In short, they had been regarded, as such
people often have been before and since, as friends of the poor. The man
took Cleanor by a short cut into the highroad, and so enabled him to
overtake his party, which reached Pella without further adventure. The
banditti, as he heard during his stay in Macedonia, had fallen to a man
in a desperate sally which they had made against the attacking party.


    FOOTNOTES:

    21: It ran thus:

        "Go tell to Sparta, thou that passest by,
        That here obedient to her laws we lie".

    22: "Bravest of beasts am I, who watch the grave
        Of him that, living, was of men most brave.
        Lion he was alike in name and heart,
        Else had I ne'er endured the watcher's part."

    23: Thermopylæ--the Hot Gates; so called from the hot springs
    found in the neighbourhood.

    24: The same Greek word stands for "purse" and "girdle". The
    old-fashioned long silk purse is an interesting survival of this
    ancient custom. Those who lead lives of adventure still carry
    their money in a belt fastened round the waist.

    25: The legendary hero, son of Hæmon, from whom Thessalia was
    supposed to have received its name.

    26: About fourpence farthing.

    27: About five farthings; six obols went to the drachma.



CHAPTER X.

A PINCHBECK ALEXANDER.


On arriving at the Macedonian capital, Cleanor made it his first
business to call on the merchant to whom his remittance had been made.
He had expected from the name, Hosius, to find in him a countryman of
his own, and was not a little surprised to discover that he was a Jew.
The old man, who bore his fourscore years very lightly, and was as
shrewd and keen in business as he had ever been in his prime, was very
cordial and hospitable. His house presented a very mean exterior to the
observer--the Jews had already begun to adopt this almost universal
method of concealing their wealth--but it was really a large and
splendid mansion. Of this, however, Cleanor caught during his stay only
rare and casual glimpses. His own quarters were in an annexe intended
for the use of guests not of the Hebrew race. This was entirely distinct
from the main building, and the service was performed by a separate
establishment of slaves.

Hosius--this was the form into which the merchant's real name, _Hoshea_,
had been changed--had much that was interesting to say to his guest. He
was very frank about his own ways of thinking.

"I am not very strict," he said; "I am content to be as one of those
among whom I live. I call myself Hosius. It is a name that is easier for
their mouths to pronounce than my own. And Greek fashions and ways suit
me well enough. But the younger generation is not content. My son David
is all for strictness, and I am obliged to humour him for peace' sake at
home. You see he was one of the 'Righteous,'[28] as they called
themselves. He served under Judas the Hammer for three years and more;
was with him when he fell at Elaim, and was left for dead on the field.
It was he who made me build the guest-chamber where you are now. Before
that I used to entertain my visitors in my own house. But he does not
allow it; he would sooner starve than eat a meal with a Gentile, as he
calls all who are not of the People. I don't hold with all this myself.
But he is a good young man, a great deal better than his worldly old
father, and I don't like crossing him."

It so happened that David was absent from home at the time, having gone
to Jerusalem to be present at the Feast of Dedication, and to look
after some family affairs for his father; his zeal did not in the least
hinder him from being an excellent man of business. Old Hosius took
advantage of his absence to see more of his guest than it would have
been possible otherwise. The young man's frankness and intelligence
greatly attracted him; and he, on the other hand, had much to say about
matters in which Cleanor was profoundly interested. The conversation
often turned on the deeds of those Jewish heroes the Maccabees. The old
merchant, for all his show of cynicism and worldliness, was really proud
of his countrymen. And he had wonderful stories to tell of endurance and
courage, of tenderly nurtured women bearing unheard-of agonies, mothers
who saw all their children tortured to death before their eyes sooner
than break the law, and men who went calmly to certain death if they
could work thereby any deliverance for their country.

These stories he would always introduce with something like an apology.
He had heard them from his son. He was too old to be enthusiastic about
anything, but still his young friend might like to hear them. Then, as
he told them, his eyes would kindle, and his voice thrill almost in
spite of himself.

"Listen to this;" this was one of his narratives; "we are forbidden to
eat the flesh of swine. I daresay it seems very ridiculous to you,
though, by the way, your own Pythagoras would not let his disciples eat
beans. Still a law is a law, and, whether it be wise or foolish, the man
or woman who will die sooner than break it is a noble soul. King
Antiochus swore that he would not be mocked by a set of slaves--so the
hound dared to speak of our people. What was good enough for him was
good enough for them. If he chose to give them good food, they should
eat it, law or no law.

"He had a Jewish mother and her seven sons brought up before him, and
tried to bend them to his will. The eldest of the seven stood up and
spoke for his brothers. 'What you ask, O king, is against our law, and
we will die rather than do it.' Antiochus cried in his rage, 'Does he
speak thus to his master? Cut out the fellow's tongue.' Why should I
tell you all the horrid story. They mangled him and burnt him cruelly
till he died. They brought the second. 'Wilt thou eat?' shouted the
king. 'I will not,' said he. And they dealt with him as they had dealt
with the first. So they did with them one after the other. And all the
while those that were left, and the woman herself, exhorted each one to
bear himself bravely, and to die sooner than yield. So it went on till
there was but one left, the youngest of the seven. 'Hear, young man,'
said the king to him. 'These six have died in their folly. Do you be
wise. Eat of this food, which is surely one of the good things that the
gods have given us, and I will promote you to honour.' And when the lad,
for he was of but tender years, refused, the king turned to the mother
seeking to persuade her that she might in turn persuade her son. After a
while she pretended to be convinced. 'I will persuade him, O king,' she
said. But her persuasion was this: 'Have pity on me, my son; remember
that I bare thee and nourished thee: endure therefore whatsoever this
butcher may do, so that I may receive in the world to come all the seven
of you, and lose not one.' So he too endured and died. And after the
seven had been slain before her eyes, the mother also was slain. Tell
me," cried the old man, "did any Spartan mother of them all equal this?

"Then, again, hear the tale of Eleazar, who was surnamed the
Beast-slayer, what he did when Judas the Hammer fought the army of King
Antiochus at the House of Zachariah. The king had brought a score of
elephants with him. You know the beast if you come from Africa, and that
he is not so terrible as he looks, and is scarcely more apt to hurt his
foes than his friends. But let me tell you that he who sees him for the
first time without trembling is braver than most men. So it happened
that our soldiers were not a little terrified at the sight. Then this
Eleazar, who was brother to Judas, seeing that one of the beasts was
bigger than the rest, and more splendidly equipped, as if he carried the
king himself, ran furiously into the company in which it was--for each
beast had a company of soldiers round it--slaying right and left as he
ran till he came to the beast. The creature's breast and shoulders were
protected with plates of brass, but his belly, as being out of reach,
was left unguarded, and here it was that Eleazar dealt him a great blow
with his sword, and continued to strike him till the beast fell dead and
crushed this brave Jew in his fall."

As for the young Greek, he was astonished to find that this fanatical
and superstitious people--for so he had always been accustomed to think
of the Jews--could boast of warriors and statesmen quite equal to any
that his own nation had produced. Leonidas himself and his Three Hundred
had not shown a more desperate courage at Thermopylæ than Judas
Maccabæus and his scanty band of followers had displayed at Elaim;
Themistocles had not exhibited a more subtle and skilful statecraft than
Jonathan. And while his admiration was extorted for the Jew, he was
equally constrained to despise the Greek. Antiochus the Splendid, as he
called himself, the Crazy as every one outside the circle of court
sycophants and flatterers called him,[29] made but a very poor figure
by the side of Judas the Hammer.

Another highly disturbing fact for the young man was this. Where did
these patriots find allies? Not in any Greek kingdom--these were all
banded together against them,--but in Rome. It was to Rome that Judas
had turned in his extremity, and in Rome that he found help. The old
man's son had acted as secretary to the embassy which Judas had sent on
this occasion, and had given his impressions of what he saw and heard in
a letter to his father, which the old man now showed to his guest. It
ran thus:

    _I am not persuaded that our chief has done well in seeking
    alliance with this heathen people, for has not the Lord our God
    commanded us to have no dealings with idolaters? How can we keep
    ourselves separate from them if they become our friends, and
    fight by our side in the battle? But this I will confess, that
    if it be lawful to have any nation from among the heathen for
    our friends, that nation is Rome. I had heard much of the things
    that these Romans have done, and how that there is not a nation
    in the world that has been able to stand up against them. The
    greatness of their achievements seemed to be beyond all belief;
    but after what I have seen in Rome, there is nothing in them any
    longer incredible. They make kings and unmake them, but none of
    them puts a crown upon his own head, or clothes himself with
    purple. There is no royal palace in their city, but a
    Senate-house, in which three hundred and twenty men, every one
    of them fit to be a king, sit day by day taking counsel for the
    welfare of the people. Every year they choose two men to whom
    they commit the ordering of the state and the command of their
    armies. All obey these two without question, and there is
    neither envy nor emulation among them._

But when Cleanor came to speak of the special purpose of his mission he
found the old man very reserved. "You want to see the Prince Andriscus,
for that is the name by which some of us knew him, or Perseus, as we are
to call him now, I understand. Well, I can give you an introduction to
the court, but that is all that I can do. And I would advise you not to
build your hopes too much upon what you may see or hear now."

The introduction was given, but it seemed impossible to get any
further. The king, as he called himself, was always too busy to give an
audience. But for all his being so busy, Cleanor never could make out
that anything was being done. There was no drilling of troops; there was
no gathering of stores. But there was a great deal of feasting, and
there were some fine performances at the theatres, not plays, for which
the Macedonians did not care, but spectacles, on which, so gorgeous were
they, a vast amount of money must have been spent. The king found time
to see them, and though he was carried in a closed chariot, a method of
conveyance which Cleanor had always been taught to consider effeminate,
no one could deny that his escort were magnificent men, and wore very
splendid armour.

At last the Greek got his long-promised interview. The first sight of
the prince or pretender, whatever we may call him, distinctly impressed
him. He had the advantage of one of those extraordinary personal
resemblances that have often stood pretenders in good stead. His face
and figure recalled the image, made so familiar by statues, pictures,
and coins, of the great Alexander, just as Alexander himself had seemed
an impersonation of Achilles, so closely had he resembled the
traditional representations of the famous hero. A second and longer view
of the face did much to dispel the illusion. The chin was receding and
weak; the full, sensual lips were parted in the way that commonly
denotes a want of resolution; the eyes were dull and shifty; habitual
intemperance had already suffused the skin with a colour which a few
more years would make disfiguring. When he spoke, his voice--and there
is no greater tell-tale than the voice--was rough and uncultured.

Cleanor presented to the prince the letter of commendation with which
Hasdrubal had furnished him. He glanced at it for a few moments, and
then tossed it to a secretary. The Greek had afterwards reason to
believe that the Prince could not read, and that his sole literary
accomplishment was a laboriously-executed signature. He asked a few
commonplace questions about the progress of the siege of Carthage, and
the prospects of the future, but did not seem to listen to the answers.
Then, seeming to weary of serious subjects, he turned to the more
congenial topics of amusement and sport. Some chance brought up
Cleanor's experiences in tunny-fishing, and the Prince was really
roused.

"I shall go," he said in a more determined manner than he had yet shown,
"and have a try for them myself. See," he went on, turning to one of the
chief officials of the court, "that you have everything ready for an
expedition on the day after to-morrow." The man bowed; he was
accustomed to see these whims appear and disappear. "You shall come with
me," he said to Cleanor. "Dine with me to-day, and we will talk it
over."

[Illustration: THE MACEDONIAN PRETENDER PERFORMS THE PYRRHIC DANCE.]

But by dinner-time the whim was forgotten. The martial mood now had its
turn, a frequent incident in the Pretender's convivial hours. A
rhapsodist, made up with no little skill to resemble the blind minstrel
of the Odyssey, recited from the Iliad the valiant deeds of Achilles;
and, later on in the evening, the Pretender himself performed, as well
as somewhat unsteady legs permitted him, the Pyrrhic dance. Cleanor left
the hall in disgust, under cover of the thunders of applause with which
this display was greeted. It enraged him to think how much time and
trouble he had wasted on this miserable mountebank. It was not from such
as he that any help could be gained to check the growing power of Rome.
His disappointment was made all the keener by the tidings which awaited
him on his return to his lodgings. His host put into his hands a missive
which had just been brought for him. It was a despatch from Hasdrubal,
and ran thus:

    _Hasdrubal to Cleanor, greeting._

    _I have heard this day from friends in Rome that it is already
    settled among the chief men of the tribes that Scipio is to be
    chosen Consul for the year to come. Some will object, but
    more for form's sake than in earnest, that he is below the
    proper age for the consul's office. But the people are wearied
    of incompetent men, and are determined to choose him who has,
    they say, the fate of Carthage for his inheritance. May
    Hercules avert the omen! Yet be sure both that this will be
    done, and that being done it will mean much. Return therefore
    with all possible speed. If you have found any friends for our
    country urge them to do what they can without delay. Never did
    we need help more, or are more ready to reward it. But, in any
    case, come back yourself. There is great work to be done, and
    great honour to be gained; nor is there anything which, if the
    gods favour our country, you may not hope for, or rather,
    demand. Farewell!_

Cleanor had done nothing, though he might fairly say that he had found
nothing to do; and it was a relief to him to find that his course of
action at last lay plainly before him. The two sides in the great
struggle were closing in; he knew where his own place was, and that he
could not take it too soon. But it was no easy matter to discover how he
was to get there. Hasdrubal's despatch had taken nearly two months to
reach him, for it had been sent off very soon after his own departure
from Africa. It was now close upon the end of the year, and with the New
Year would come the election of consuls at Rome. Scipio, once put into
power, would not, he was sure, let the grass grow under his feet; he
himself, too, must lose no time if he was to serve Carthage to any
purpose. Fortunately, he had ample funds at his disposal. By the help of
Hosius he found a fast-sailing pinnace, whose owner was willing for the
handsome consideration of ten minæ[30] to risk the perils of a winter
voyage. A brisk north-easter carried them to Corinth in three days. It
was easy to get from Corinth to Patræ, for traffic went on, winter and
summer alike, in the landlocked Corinthian Gulf. There he was upon the
regular route between the East and Italy, a route by which so much
indispensable business was done that it was never quite closed. At Patræ
he found a Roman official, just appointed to the commissariat of the
army at Carthage, who was on his way to Rome. He was expecting the
arrival of a ship which was to touch for him, on its way from Ambracia
to Brundisium.

On its arrival, which took place next day, Cleanor went on board with
his new acquaintance, and arranged to travel with him to Italy. He
assumed the character of a student at Athens, leaving that city for a
time on account of the troubles that seemed imminent in Greece. He knew
enough of the place from his former residence to play the part with
success, and he had ascertained that there was no genuine student on
board.

At Brundisium the party was met with the news that the prediction of
Hasdrubal's Roman correspondent had been fulfilled--Scipio had been
elected consul for the year, with Africa for his province. Their
informant described the scene as one of indescribable enthusiasm. The
tribes had simply refused to hear any other name. Candidates of credit
and even of high reputation had been proposed, but it had been only in
dumb-show, the voices of their proposers being drowned in the continuous
roar of "Scipio! Scipio!"

A hasty meeting of the Senate had been called, and a resolution passed
suspending the law which fixed the qualifying age at forty-two. So
engrossed was the people with the election of their favourite that it
was not easy to induce them to give him a colleague. The assembly
dismissed, Rome had given itself up to a frenzy of rejoicing, which
could not have been greater if Carthage had already fallen. It was an
absolute faith with every one that he was "born for the destruction of
Carthage", and such a faith has a way of working out its own
fulfilment.

Cleanor was now in a very difficult position. The audacious thought
presented itself that he might engage himself in some capacity with the
forces about to proceed from Italy, and, once arrived in Africa, take an
opportunity of deserting. But the plan was not only perilous, for there
was a great risk of detection,--Scipio seemed to be one of those men
whose eyes are everywhere,--but it had a dishonourable look. But some
stratagem would be necessary, and Cleanor's conscience did not forbid
him to employ it.

A fortunate chance cleared his way. His fellow-passenger, the
commissariat officer, happened to remember that he had spoken of his
being on his way to Sicily, and asked him whether by chance he knew
anything of the corn-market in that island. The Italian supply, on which
considerable demands were being made, would certainly fall short, and
nothing could be got from Africa, exhausted as it was by the war.
Cleanor, though hating to say the thing that was not, declared that he
had an uncle at Agrigentum who was engaged in the business, that he was
on his way to his home, and would deliver any message which it would be
a convenience to send.

The Roman caught eagerly at the suggestion. He jotted down the number of
bushels of wheat which he should probably want, and the price which he
would be willing to give. The details of the business, methods of
transport, terms of payment, and other matters might be settled with the
agent who represented Rome at Agrigentum. He also gave our hero what was
known as a _diploma_, a word which we may represent in a way by
"passport", but which really meant a great deal more. The bearer of it
could requisition horses and carriages, in short, any of the instruments
of travel that belonged to the state. Without this it would hardly have
been possible to proceed. A great campaign was about to begin, and every
kind of conveyance was practically engaged.

With this document in his hand Cleanor found everything open before him;
he called on a merchant with whom, though not a kinsman, he had some
acquaintance, and handed him the Roman's order. This done he made his
way as quickly as possible to the coast, where he was lucky enough to
find a small vessel in the coasting-trade that was just starting for
Africa. There is a humble commerce that, luckily for those that conduct
it, goes on through all the stress of war. This vessel was engaged in
it; and by its opportune help Cleanor, two days later, found himself in
Africa, and in two more had reached Carthage.


    FOOTNOTES:

    28: The _Chasidim_, who were the backbone of the patriot party
    of the Maccabees, the Pharisees of the time.

    29: It is impossible to give the play of words which we have in
    the Greek. _Epiphanes_, "Splendid", was the title which
    Antiochus assumed; _Epimanes_, "Crazy", was the nickname to
    which it was altered.

    30: About £40, if we reckon, as usual, by weight of bullion at
    the standard price.



CHAPTER XI.

THE TWO HASDRUBALS.


Cleanor found the streets of Carthage in a state of the wildest
confusion. The news that had brought him back thither in such hot haste
had made a profound impression upon the city itself. The name of Scipio
was no less powerful a charm at Carthage than it was at Rome. Only it
spelt defeat and ruin in Africa, while in Italy it seemed a sure augury
of success. Still, the spirit of the nation was not broken. It was one
of the characteristics of the great family of mankind to which the
people of Carthage belonged to fight desperately when driven to stand at
bay. The longest, the most stubbornly defended sieges in history have
been when some Semitic people has been reduced to its last stronghold.

The Punic race was now prepared to show the same fierce, unyielding fury
of resistance with which, some two centuries later, their Jewish kinsmen
were to meet the overpowering assault of the same enemy. One step, not
taken without reluctance, but absolutely demanded by the necessities of
the situation, was to bring within the walls the army that up to this
time had been encamped outside. This force was largely, indeed almost
wholly, composed of mercenaries, and Carthage never trusted her
mercenaries more than she could help. She had had frequent difficulties
with them; once she had been brought by their rebellion almost to ruin.
It was a law, accordingly, that they should never be admitted in any
great number within the walls. This law had now, perforce, to be
repealed. It would be rash to risk a battle in the field, when defeat
would mean so much; on the other hand, the defences of the city needed
all the men that could be found, if they were to be adequately
garrisoned.

Cleanor on his arrival found that the process of moving the outside army
into the city was in full swing. The roads that led to the gates were
thronged with a motley multitude, for Carthage drew her hired soldiers
from a very wide area indeed. There was every variety of hue, from the
fair-haired son of Celt or Teuton of Northern Europe, to the
thick-lipped, woolly-haired, ebony-coloured negroes, who had been drawn
by the report of Carthaginian wealth from remote regions even beyond the
Desert. The languages which they spoke were as various as their
complexions. It had been said by a writer who told the story of the
great revolt of the mercenaries a hundred years before,[31] that the
only word which they had in common was some equivalent of to "kill".
They were still as polyglot, and, so at least it seemed to Cleanor,
almost as savage. Much of the talk that he overheard as he made his way
along the crowded roads was unintelligible to him, but he understood
enough to make him sure that anger and suspicion were rife among them.

He had intended to propose himself as a guest of the Hasdrubal who
commanded the forces within the walls. Hasdrubal was a grandson of King
Masinissa, and would be certain to give him a friendly reception. But it
was so late in the evening before he could disentangle himself from the
throng that blocked all the approaches to the city, that he decided to
postpone till the morrow the delivery of his credentials. Under these
circumstances he was glad to accept the invitation of Gisco, whom my
readers may remember as a staff-officer of the other Hasdrubal, to share
his quarters. These were in the guest-hall attached to the palace of the
high-priest of Melcart.

A large company of officers was present at the evening meal, and when
the wine, which for flavour and strength was fully worthy of priestly
cellars, had passed round, there was little reserve in the conversation.
Cleanor's presence was unnoticed, or, possibly, as the guest and friend
of Gisco, he was supposed to be in sympathy with the views held by the
rest of the company. It soon became abundantly clear to the listener
that feeling was running very high against the Hasdrubal who commanded
the city army.

"I don't like the breed," said one of Cleanor's neighbours. "He has got
more than enough of Masinissa's blood in him, and Masinissa, I take it,
was about the worst enemy that Carthage ever had."

For anything more definite Cleanor listened in vain. It seemed to be
taken for granted that a man with this parentage could not be faithful
to his country. That he had betrayed Carthage no one ventured to assert.
No one could even bring up against him any instance of mistake or
negligence. It was not even denied that he had managed the defence of
the city with distinguished success. Certainly no such disaster could be
laid to his charge as the crushing defeat which the other Hasdrubal had
received some four years before at the hands of King Masinissa. The
young Greek had forcibly to repress a strong inclination to speak up for
the accused; but he saw that his interference would be useless. The
best, in fact the only service that he could do to the unfortunate man
was to warn him of his danger.

The question was how the warning was to be given. It was hardly possible
to leave the guest-house that night. Sentinels had been placed at the
doors, and these could not be passed without the watchword, and this he
did not happen to know. All that he could do was to take care that no
time should be lost in the morning. Fortunately Gisco, whose chamber he
shared,--the guest-house being crowded with company to its fullest
capacity,--was the officer on guard for the next day. Just before dawn
an orderly roused him from his sleep, and, giving him the watchword for
the day, communicated to himself overnight, left him, to relieve the
sentries.

Half an hour afterwards, Cleanor, having satisfied the challenge of the
sentinel, passed out by the gate, and, hastening through the deserted
streets, made the best of his way to the mansion of Hasdrubal. So little
did that general suspect any danger that he had not even taken the
precaution of placing a sentinel at his gate. The sleepy porter admitted
Cleanor without asking a question, though not without a grumble at the
unseasonableness of so early a visit.

The huge negro who slept outside the general's door did not let him pass
so readily. As the man did not understand a word of either Carthaginian,
Latin, or Greek,--no bad qualification for an official who had to refuse
troublesome visitors,--argument was useless. Cleanor, who felt that not
a moment must be lost in rousing the general, raised his voice to its
loudest, with the result that in another minute Hasdrubal opened the
door of his chamber.

He had a slight acquaintance with the Greek, knew his story, and had a
general idea of the mission from which he had just returned.

"Come in," he said, "you are welcome. And you"--turning to the negro
attendant--"fetch two cups of _mulsum_[32]."

Cleanor briefly stated the cause of his visit, and Hasdrubal heard him
with undisturbed calm.

"I hardly know," he said, when the story was finished, "whether I am
surprised or not. I must own that I did not expect this particular form
of attack, but I did expect that my namesake would do his best to oust
me from my place as soon as he had orders to bring his troops within the
walls. I quite see that now, when all our army is brought together into
one, there must be one general, and I should have been ready to resign.
But after what you have told me I must face it out; to resign would be
almost to acknowledge that there is something in what these knaves, and
the fools that follow them, say. There is to be a meeting of the Senate
at noon to-day, and the question of the Command is down for debate. Of
course I shall be there. So much for that; but you must understand that
I am immensely obliged to you. I had intended to offer you a post on my
staff, but, as things are at present, the less you have to do with a
suspected man the better for you. If things turn out more favourably
than I fear they may--we will certainly talk of this again."

"But, sir," broke in the Greek with some heat, "it is surely impossible
that the Senate should listen to such palpable absurdities as this. Why,
there is not a general in Carthage who has such a record of successes as
yours."

"My dear young friend," replied the general, "you don't know us. The
Carthaginians always suspect their generals. We always fight with a
rope, so to speak, round our necks. If we are victorious they fear that
we shall become too powerful, and protect themselves by the stroke of a
dagger or a pinch of poison in our wine. If we are defeated, there is
the usual penalty. They crucify us by way of an encouragement to our
successors. It is not revenge, it is suspicion that moves them. They
cannot imagine that they can be beaten except by treachery. It is a
terrible mistake, and Carthage suffers for it by being far worse served
than Rome. Rome has a plan that looks like the merest folly. She takes a
man because he is popular with the shopmen and artisans of the city and
the farmers from the country, and puts him to command her armies. Yet it
works well, because the Romans trust each other. What a splendid thing
it was that they did when their Consul Varro as nearly as possible
brought them to ruin by losing their army at Cannæ! The Senate and the
people went out to meet him, and thanked him for not despairing of the
Republic. And indeed a Republic where such things are possible need
never be despaired of. But it is useless to talk. And now for yourself.
Get away from this house as soon as you can, and go by the private door
which the negro will show you. No; not another word. Carthage will not
let me serve her any more, but she need not lose you also. Farewell!"

Hasdrubal touched a small gong which stood by his bed, and when the
negro appeared in answer to the summons gave him the brief instruction:

"The postern-gate for this gentleman."

Cleanor followed his guide, and in a short time was shown out into an
unfrequented lane which ran at the back of Hasdrubal's house. He reached
his quarters before the other guests had commenced their morning meal.

The prudent course for him to follow was, obviously, to stand aside and
watch the progress of events. Yet such prudence was alien to his temper.
Hasdrubal was the hereditary friend of his family, and he was related to
the old king from whom Cleanor had received such unexpected kindness.
There was but the faintest chance that he should be able to give him
any help; but to Cleanor it seemed ungrateful, and even inhuman, to
stand aloof. But what was he to do? To begin with, he was met with what
seemed an insuperable difficulty--the meetings of the Senate were of
course private. How was he to gain admission? This obstacle, however,
was soon removed. Gisco brought him a message from his chief that he had
been summoned to attend a meeting of the Senate, and desired his
attendance as one of his body-guard.

The meeting of the Senate, held as usual in the temple of Baal-Hammon,
otherwise known as Moloch, was an imposing scene. On two thrones in the
eastern semicircular recess of the building--corresponding to the
sanctuary in the Hebrew temple or the chancel or apse in a Christian
church--sat the two kings or Shophetim, wearing robes of the richest
Tyrian purple, with richly-jewelled diadems on their heads. Facing them
were semicircular benches, crowded with the members of the Inner Senate,
as it may be called. Scarcely one of the Hundred--this was the number to
which it was limited--was absent from his post. Further removed were
other benches similarly arranged, and set apart for the Four Hundred or
Outer Senate. It was evident at once that, whatever might be the usual
custom, this meeting at least was not private. The body of the temple
was filled with a vast crowd, separated from the assembly itself by
nothing more than a slight barrier of wood. Hasdrubal of the Camp, as we
may call him by way of distinction, was seated just within this; his
body-guard were ranged close behind him, but on the outer side of the
barrier. The other Hasdrubal occupied his usual place as one of the
Inner Senate.

The proceedings of the day having been opened with the customary
ceremonies, the senior king called upon Mago, son of Hamilcar, to bring
forward the motion of which he had given notice. Mago, an elderly man,
whose countenance greatly belied him if he was not an incarnation of the
Punic bad faith which had passed into a proverb, rose in his place and
made a speech of studied moderation.

"Rumours," he said, "have for some days been current in the city that
Carthage is not faithfully served by some of those to whom she has
committed offices of great dignity and importance. One man has been
specially pointed to. For my part I refuse to believe that a soldier
who has often distinguished himself in the field can be unfaithful to
the country which he has served so well. But the best service that can
be rendered to a man accused--may I not say calumniated?--is to give
him the opportunity of defence. I accordingly move that Hasdrubal, son
of Mago--for why should I refrain from mentioning a name which is on
the lips of everyone?--be called upon to give to the Senate any
explanations that he may think proper to make."

An approving murmur ran through the crowd when the speaker sat down. The
accused man rose in his place,--but before he could speak another
senator had intervened.

"I do not see," said this senator, "that Hasdrubal, son of Mago, has
anything to explain. No evidence has been brought against him. I have
not even heard any charge, except it be that there are rumours against
him. What man is there against whom there are not rumours? And the
better the man the more malignant the rumours. I move that the Senate
proceed to the next business."

A murmur, not by any means of approval, rose from the crowd. Hasdrubal,
who had resumed his seat while the last speaker was addressing the
Senate, rose again.

"I have nothing to explain," he said. "You know me, who I am, and what I
have done."

"Yes, we know you!" cried a voice from the crowd. "The grandson of that
accursed brigand, Masinissa."

The name was met with a howl of fury from the multitude, followed by
deafening cries of "Brigand!" "Traitor!" Hasdrubal faced the uproar
without flinching. But it was an hour of such madness as makes men blind
and deaf to all that might appeal to their better feelings. Something
might be said, not in excuse, but in explanation of the frenzy. An
imperial race, reared in traditions of greatness, felt itself to be
approaching the hour of servitude or extinction, and it raged like a
wild beast in a net. Nothing that came within reach of its fury was
likely to be spared. The multitude surged forward, the wooden barrier
gave way, and the inclosed space assigned to the senators was crowded in
an instant with a raging crowd.

Cleanor caught one glimpse of the doomed man's face, pale but still
resolute. The next moment it had disappeared.

He sprang forward, crying, "Save him!" though, unarmed as he was, for no
weapon was allowed within the building, he felt miserably helpless. In
fact, he could have done nothing, and, fortunately for himself, he was
not even permitted to try. His arms were seized from behind, and a cloak
was thrown over his head. The next moment he felt himself lifted from
the ground, and carried, he knew not whither. He could not even
struggle, for both arms and legs had been deftly secured, while his
voice was choked by the covering that enveloped his head.

When, half an hour afterwards, the cloak was removed, he found himself
in a small chamber, with no companion but a slave, who was apparently a
deaf-mute, as lie replied to all questions with the single gesture of
putting his finger on his lips.

In the course of another half-hour Gisco appeared.

"My dear fellow," he said, "pardon this violence, which would, indeed,
be inexcusable, if it had not been the only way of saving your life.
Believe me, you have friends who will soon, I hope, find more agreeable
ways of showing their good-will than they were forced to this morning.
You have been watched ever since you came into Carthage, though you have
not known it. The council have spies everywhere, and they know their
business. They knew that you were a friend of Hasdrubal, and felt sure
that you would do your best to help him. They followed you to his house,
they heard what you said to him and he to you, and they brought the
report to the chief. He has a great liking for you, and gave me _carte
blanche_ to do what I pleased, if only I could keep you out of danger.
So, if there has been anything rude in the method of saving you, it is I
whom you must blame. Believe me, you would have sacrificed yourself for
nothing. It was impossible to save Hasdrubal. The fact is, he ought to
have taken warning long ago, for warning he has had in plenty. Again and
again he has been told that a grandson of Masinissa could never be safe
in Carthage, and he ought to have gone long ago. Mind, I say nothing
against him. He was obstinate, but it was a noble obstinacy. He knew
himself to be blameless, and he wanted to save Carthage."

"And what has happened to him?" asked Cleanor.

"The worst, I fear," answered Gisco; "but more I really do not know. I
was busy with your affair, and saw nothing."

Cleanor heard the shocking story afterwards from an eye-witness. The
crowd, led by some of the senators--his informant was positive on the
point that some of the senators had a hand in the deed--had torn up the
benches from their fastenings, broken them into fragments, and beaten
the unfortunate man to death. The victim had made no resistance--had not
even uttered a cry.


    FOOTNOTES:

    31: 241 B.C.

    32: This was a drink made out of wine (mixed with water) and
    honey. It was frequently taken (warm) early in the day, being
    considered a wholesome draught for an empty stomach.



CHAPTER XII.

SCIPIO SETS TO WORK.


Cleanor, though he had no proofs of Hasdrubal's complicity in the crime
just committed, could not rid himself of the suspicion that he had had
something to do with it. No one profited by it more; he had been present
when the deed was done, and had not spoken a word or lifted a finger to
hinder it. Such a suspicion was enough in itself to make any post which
brought him into close contact with the general distasteful to the
young man. And Hasdrubal's personal habits were revolting to his taste.
The man was given over to gluttony. He had a sufficiently clear
intelligence and some military skill, but the enormous meals in which he
indulged produced a condition of torpor which disabled him during a
great part of the day.

Cleanor, therefore, was not a little pleased when, through the good
offices of Gisco, he was attached to the staff of one of Hasdrubal's
lieutenants, Himilco by name. Himilco had charge of a portion of the
wall looking towards the sea, about four stadia in length. Cleanor had
the duty, which he shared with another officer, of seeing that the
sentinels were properly vigilant during the night. Each was responsible
for two of the four watches, their practice being for one to take the
first and fourth, the other the second and third.

At this time the chief interest of the siege was centred at this point,
where it seemed not improbable that the Romans would have to suffer a
very serious check. The second-in-command of the besieging force, who
had a special charge of the fleet, an officer of more enterprise than
judgment, had seen, as he thought, a chance of greatly distinguishing
himself. Having taken advantage of a long spell of settled weather to
stand-in more closely than usual to the shore, he had observed, or
rather, it had been pointed out to him by a sharp-sighted young
officer, a portion of the ramparts which appeared to be insufficiently
guarded. The wall here ran along the top of a precipice, so steep and
inaccessible that it might almost seem unnecessary to supplement by art
the provision of nature. Such spots, however, while they seem to be the
strongest, are often in fact the weakest part of a fortification.[33] A
fortunate chance put Mancinus--this was the Roman admiral's name--in
possession of the fact that the cliffs were not by any means so
difficult of access as they seemed. One of the fishermen who plied their
trade along the coast had come on board the admiral's ship with a cargo
of fish for sale. He was asked whether there was any way of scaling the
cliffs, and replied that there was, and promised, in consideration of a
couple of gold pieces, to act as guide. Mancinus accordingly, having
waited for a dull night, landed a force of about a thousand men. The
guide fulfilled his promise and showed them the path, which, thanks to
the negligence of the besieged, they found entirely unguarded.

For a time everything went well. The sentinels had come to regard this
beat as one which might be neglected without risk. When they chanced to
be told off to this duty they were accustomed to sleep as unconcernedly
as if they had been in their beds at home. About fifty or sixty of the
assailants had mounted the walls by help of scaling-ladders when the
alarm was given. The besieged had organized a flying detachment of five
hundred men, whose business it was to be ready for any emergency, and to
hurry at once to any spot where they might be wanted.

This force now came up at full speed, and the few who had mounted the
wall were promptly dislodged. This done, the officer in command ordered
the nearest gate to be opened, and sallied out at the head of his men.
But he had not expected to find so formidable a force opposed to him.
His division was completely overmatched, and was driven back within the
walls, the Romans making their way through the gate--which there had
been no time to shut--along with the retreating enemy.

Both sides were now reinforced, the Carthaginians by fresh detachments
from the garrison, the Romans by Mancinus himself with another
contingent from the fleet. The result of the fighting, which was
continued throughout the night, was that the Romans retired from within
the walls, but occupied a fairly strong position outside.

In earlier days, when the idea that Carthaginian territory could be
successfully invaded had not occurred to anyone, a wealthy merchant of
the city had built himself a mansion on a space of level ground between
the wall and the cliff. The mansion was surrounded with spacious gardens
and orchards, and these again were protected from trespassers by a deep
ditch and a wall of unusual height. Here Mancinus intrenched himself. He
still cherished the hope that he might make good his footing, and use
the position as a starting-point for successful operations against the
city. What a splendid achievement it would be if he could falsify what
had come to be a commonly accepted belief, if it was to turn out that a
Mancinus, not a Scipio, was the conqueror of Carthage! And indeed he was
so far right that he always had the credit of having been the first to
effect a lodgment within the boundaries of Carthage itself.[34]

For the present, however, his position was precarious. He had no stock
of provisions with him, except that the men had been ordered to carry
rations for three days. Supplies could, of course, be obtained from the
ships, but only so long as the weather continued fine. A week of strong
wind from the sea would reduce him to absolute starvation. Of water
there was already a scarcity. The builder of the mansion had provided an
ample supply for a large household, but there was nothing like enough
for between two and three thousand men. And, apart from the difficulties
about food and drink, the position was not one which could be
permanently held. The wall round the mansion, for instance, was not a
military fortification. It was meant to keep out trespassers, not to
resist battering-rams.

This, then, was the state of affairs when Cleanor took up his command.
Two days had passed since Mancinus had occupied the position outside the
walls, and he was already in distress. The contingency for which he had
made no provision had occurred. The wind was blowing strongly from the
sea, and the captains of the fleet had thought it prudent to stand off
from the shore. The Carthaginians were perfectly well aware of the
condition of affairs. They had intercepted a messenger carrying an
urgent appeal for help to head-quarters, and knew that, unless there was
a change of weather, the Romans must be reduced to extremities. Their
policy was, of course, to sit still and wait. There was, indeed, a good
chance that if the battering-rams were vigorously applied to the walls,
a breach might be made, and an assault successfully made. But an
assault, whatever the result, would cost many lives. And of all men no
one is more bound to be economical of life than he who commands the
garrison of a besieged town; and this for the simple reason that he
cannot hope to get recruits. In the course of two or three days more the
Romans would have to capitulate, or fight at a terrible disadvantage.
Scipio, it was true, was now daily expected, and, if he arrived in time,
would be sure to make a vigorous effort to save his countrymen. But that
he should arrive in time seemed almost impossible.

But the Carthaginians did not know Scipio. Cleanor himself--who, as has
been seen, had had opportunities of estimating the remarkable qualities
of the man--was taken by surprise, such were the energy and the
promptitude with which the Roman acted. With that remarkable foresight
which he did not scruple himself to attribute to divine prompting, and
which we may anyhow describe as genius, he had made special preparation
for such a contingency as had actually occurred. He had selected the ten
swiftest ships out of the fleet which accompanied him from Italy, and
had put on board them a picked force of five hundred men. With this
squadron he had outstripped the slower sailers by not less than
forty-eight hours, an invaluable saving of time as it turned out.

He reached Utica, which was about twenty-seven miles west of Carthage,
at sunset on the day on which Mancinus had sent his appeal for help. Two
of the three messengers who had been despatched on this errand had been
captured, but one had contrived to elude the Carthaginian watchmen, and
had reached Utica at midnight. Scipio did not lose a moment. His own men
were ready for instant action, but they were scarcely numerous enough
for the work which they might have to do.

He found abundance of help in Utica. At an earlier period of the war he
had spent seven months in this town in command of a detachment quartered
there. The influence of his extraordinary personality had made itself
felt in Utica as it did everywhere else. Old and young in the city were
devoted to him. What we should now call a battalion of volunteers had
been raised, of which he had consented to be the honorary tribune. Late
as it was, he sent a herald through the streets with notice that this
force was to muster immediately at the harbour. In the course of little
more than an hour the battalion had assembled at the place indicated for
a _rendezvous_ in full strength, not a single member, except some
half-dozen incapacitated by sickness, being absent. A requisition also
was made for lads and elderly men, and of these there was such a throng
that the task for which they were wanted, carrying provisions and
stores on board the squadron, might have been done five times over. All
worked with such a will that before sunrise everything was actually
ready, and the squadron was able to make a start.

Scipio's arrival had been observed at Carthage, the harbour of Utica
being distinctly visible, notwithstanding the distance, through the
clear atmosphere of the north African coast. He had himself taken pains
to assure its being known, for he was not above utilizing to the utmost
the impression made, as he was well aware, by his name. He had no sooner
reached Utica than he ordered that some seamen, who were among the
Carthaginian prisoners, should be set free, supplied with a fast-sailing
pinnace, and commissioned to deliver at Carthage the message, "_Scipio
is come_".

That he would hasten to the relief of Mancinus everyone in Carthage
knew, and orders were issued accordingly that the position of that
general should be attacked as soon as possible after dawn. This was
prompt, but it was not prompt enough.

The night, indeed, was not lost. Battering-rams were brought to bear
upon the wall surrounding the mansion, and several breaches were made,
ready for the storming parties to enter as soon as it was light. Before
morning, indeed, the wall was so shattered that it became practically
indefensible, and Mancinus abandoned the idea of holding it against the
assailants. He formed his men into a square, with the heavy-armed, who
numbered about five hundred, outside, and the light troops, who had no
protection beyond a steel cap and small target, within.

Himilco, who personally directed the attack, ordered a charge on a
corner of the square, where the lines had been made up with Numidian
auxiliaries. He hoped to find them less sturdy in resistance than the
regular legionaries, who were all Italians. Cleanor, who was having his
first experience of serious fighting, was in the front rank of the
charge, and had the satisfaction of seeing the Roman line waver. But it
wavered without breaking.

The Numidians were under the command of a deputy centurion, a Picenian
mountaineer of huge stature and herculean strength. Springing to the
front he killed a heavily-armed Carthaginian outright with one thrust of
his pike. Then he struck Cleanor full in the breast. The finely-wrought
cuirass of steel, a gift from the old king, withstood the blow, but the
wearer was hurled backward with irresistible force and came to the
ground with a shock which partially stunned him. When Himilco ordered a
retreat he had to be supported by his companions.

But though the charge had been repulsed, the position of the Roman
force was full of peril. The heavily-armed men in the front ranks were
no protection to their less fully equipped comrades against the
incessant showers of missiles which the archers, javelin-throwers, and
slingers rained upon the helpless men inside the square. Their own
armour was not always proof against them, still less against the stones
which the catapults, now put in position on the city walls, discharged
into their ranks. The whole body continued to edge away out of range of
the walls, heedless of the fact that every step brought them nearer to
the cliffs.

A catastrophe was imminent when Scipio's squadron came in sight. The
decks were crowded, every available man putting himself as much in
evidence as possible. This was Scipio's command, given in order to
create an impression of greater numbers than he really possessed. The
effect on the contending forces was instantaneous and great. The
Carthaginian leaders felt themselves to be in the presence of a
formidable antagonist, and stood on the defensive. The forces of
Mancinus recovered the confidence which they had lost. Scipio's arrival
was soon followed by the appearance of Mancinus' own ships. For it was
one of the many instances of the extraordinary good fortune which seemed
to attend on Scipio throughout his career, that no sooner had he
appeared on the scene than the weather changed. The wind veered round,
and now blew with moderate strength from the shore. It was still a
couple of hours from noon when the whole force under Mancinus had
re-embarked.

"We must never lose a moment," said Gisco to our hero, when they were
talking over the events of the day, "if we are to keep up with this
wonderful man. As to being beforehand with him that seems impossible.
Who would have thought that, after coming all the way from Italy, he
would have started again almost without giving himself time to sup! This
is a very different thing from Piso's way of doing business."


    FOOTNOTES:

    33: The reader will remember the capture of Quebec by Wolfe's
    daring plan of scaling the Heights of Abraham.

    34: Mancinus was elected one of the consuls for the year 145
    B.C. There is a curious story, that after the conclusion of the
    war he exhibited in the Forum of Rome maps and plans of
    Carthage, showing where the various attacks had been made, and
    that he was never weary of explaining to the people the
    operations of the siege. This conduct, the story continues, made
    him so popular that he offered himself as a candidate for the
    consulship, and was successful. This story looks somewhat
    strange as it stands. The consulship was a very great honour,
    and, what is more, a serious responsibility. It would hardly
    have been bestowed on the giver of a popular and entertaining
    exhibition. But there may have been a general feeling that
    Mancinus had really done good service in the siege--had shown
    the way, so to speak, for the capture of the city.



CHAPTER XIII.

IN THE ROMAN CAMP.


There had been, as has been seen, not a few fluctuations of fortune in
the conflicts which had followed after the landing of Mancinus. One
result of this had been that a considerable number of prisoners had been
taken on both sides. Both sides, also, were anxious for an exchange. The
Carthaginians did not care to have any more useless men to feed than
could be helped; the Romans feared, and not without reason, that their
friends and comrades would be barbarously treated. Carthage had always
had an evil reputation in this respect, and was only too likely to
justify it, if ever she should be driven to extremities.

The envoy who conducted the negotiations on behalf of the city was a
member of the Senate named Maharbal. He had made himself conspicuous as
a leader of the peace, otherwise the pro-Roman, party, and was supposed,
therefore, to be acceptable to Scipio. Cleanor accompanied him in the
capacity of interpreter. The interviews would be conducted in Greek, a
language which Scipio spoke fluently. As for Latin, there was no one in
Carthage who was able to speak more than a few words of it; nor was
there in the Roman camp any more knowledge of the Punic tongue. There
could not be a greater proof of the irreconcilable hostility of the two
nations than this mutual ignorance.

Cleanor's visit was paid at a very interesting time, for the Roman camp
was undergoing, at the hands of the new commander, a very thorough
process of cleansing. It had fallen, under the management of his
incompetent predecessors, into a most deplorable condition. In the first
place it swarmed with disreputable camp-followers. There was a crowd of
sutlers, traders who sold to the soldiers various luxuries at the most
extravagant prices, and bought from them their plunder for ridiculously
small sums of ready money. There was a still greater multitude of
soldiers' servants. Even a private trooper must have a slave to groom
his horse; and an infantry soldier thought it a hardship if he had to
clean and polish his own arms. As some of the officers had a whole
establishment of attendants, there was a second army of servants
actually more numerous than the first army of fighting men.

Scipio made short work with these useless and mischievous encumbrances.
No sutler or dealer was allowed to remain in the camp, or even in the
neighbourhood, unless he held the general's license. Even then he was
not allowed to sell any articles but such as were contained in a very
brief list authorized by the general, and at prices which had received
his sanction. The purchase of articles from the soldiers was absolutely
forbidden. Indeed, the trade ceased of itself, for plunder was rigidly
prohibited. Any soldier who went further from the camp than the bugle
could be heard made himself liable to be treated as a deserter. The
reform in the matter of the soldiers' servants was no less radical. Two
were allowed to a tribune, one to a centurion, and four, who were to be
owned and employed in common, to a century or company of infantry and a
troop of cavalry. All these were to be able-bodied men, who had learnt
military drill; and they were liable on occasion to serve in the ranks.

Scipio, still acting on the principle which had made him announce his
arrival to the Carthaginians, kept nothing secret from the envoy and his
escort; he took pains, on the contrary, that they should see and learn
everything that was to be seen or learnt. He invited them to be present
at a general assembly of the army, which was summoned during their stay
in the camp to hear an address from himself. Maharbal knew, as has been
said, next to nothing of Latin, and Cleanor did not know enough to
enable him to follow Scipio throughout. Nevertheless, they could see
that the effect of the speech was remarkable. The orator held his
audience, so to speak, in the hollow of his hand. He was not speaking
smooth things to his army; on the contrary, he told them that they were
robbers rather than soldiers. He laid down for them for the future a
most rigid discipline; he gave them no hope of indulgence. But he was
heard with profound attention and without a murmur of dissent or
complaint.

The next morning Cleanor saw the banished multitude embark. A stranger
spectacle, a more motley crowd, and a more curious miscellany of
property was never beheld. One man was disconsolately watching while a
score of wine casks, full of some poisonous liquid which he had hoped an
African sun would sell for him, was hoisted on board; another had with
him a troop of performing dogs; a third was conducting a troop of
singing and dancing girls, whose rouged cheeks and tawdry finery looked
melancholy enough in the merciless light. The exiles were not by any
means silent; they cursed and quarrelled in a perfect Babel of
languages; but they did not dare to linger. A _cordon_ of soldiers kept
them rigidly within the boundaries of the place of embarkation. Vessel
after vessel took on board its cargo with a marvellous regularity and
speed. Before evening the camp had been brought back to a primitive
severity and simplicity which were worthy of the best times of the
Republic.

In the matter of the exchange Maharbal found the Roman general liberal
to the point of generosity. He was not careful to exact a very close
correspondence in the dignity or the number of the prisoners to be given
up and received. When every Roman had been accounted for, a considerable
balance of Carthaginians still remained in Scipio's hands. The envoy
offered to redeem them at the price which had been customary in former
wars, two pounds and a half of silver per man. Scipio smilingly refused
to receive it. "Your Hannibal," he said, "used to empty our treasury,
for it was seldom but he had more prisoners to give than to receive. You
must let me have the satisfaction of feeling that for once I am able to
be generous."

It was easy to transact business on such terms. When all was settled
the general invited the Carthaginian and his interpreter, whom he had
greeted in a most friendly fashion, to share his evening meal. He had
thoughtfully arranged that the two young officers who were his
_aides-de-camp_, and as such were commonly guests at his table, should
not be present. He felt that their company would not be agreeable to
Maharbal and still less to the young Greek. The only other guest was a
person whom Cleanor especially was delighted to meet. This was the
historian Polybius, who had already acquired a considerable reputation
as a soldier, a statesman, and a man of letters. Cleanor, during his
sojourn at Athens, had heard his character as a politician hotly
debated; that he was an honest man no one doubted. Personally he was
prejudiced against him as a partisan of Rome. But he found it impossible
to resist the charm of his conversation.

The hours passed only too quickly in such delightful company, and when
the time came to separate, Cleanor felt that he had not said a tenth
part of what he wanted to say to his new acquaintance. As they were
making their farewells, Polybius, who had heard from Scipio an outline
of the young Greek's story, found an opportunity of saying a few kindly
words.

"I could wish," he whispered, with a friendly pressure of the hand,
"that things were otherwise with you. Mind, I don't blame you, or doubt
but that you are quite loyal to conscience in what you do. But, believe
me, you are on the wrong side. Is there anyone in Carthage whom you can
compare in anything that makes the worth of a man with our noble Scipio?
I know something of what you feel, though I have not the same cause, for
I also am a Greek and have lost my country; but the gods give the
sovereignty to whom they will, and who are we to fight against them?
Farewell for the present! but I am sure that we shall meet again, and
under happier circumstances."

"I thank you for saying so," replied Cleanor; "but the future looks very
dark to me."

And, indeed, as he made his way back to the city, listening with but
half his mind to Maharbal's enthusiastic praises of the courtesy and
liberality of the Roman commander, he felt his spirits sink into a
deeper depression than he had ever known before.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE MEGARA.


Courteous, and even generous, as Scipio had showed himself in the matter
of the exchange of prisoners, he was not a man to let slip a single
advantage that might fall into his hands, or, when he delivered a blow,
to hesitate to strike with all his force. He allowed a short time for
his army to get used to the new condition of things. This he could well
afford, for the season was yet early. When he found his army restored to
a sound condition, physical and moral, at once hardened to labour and
amenable to discipline, in a word, thoroughly efficient, he proceeded to
act. It was as a keen, well-tempered sword in his hands, and he struck
with promptitude and energy.

His first plan was to follow the line of attack which Mancinus had
initiated. The weak spot in the defences of a wealthy city is commonly
found in the buildings which are allowed to grow up in times of peace
outside the fortifications. Life in a walled city is often both irksome
and unhealthy. The poor, always compelled to put up with a narrow space
whether within walls or without them, is indifferent, but the rich man
wants his garden and his playground, wants room for the health of his
family or his own entertainment. In this way a suburb, mainly consisting
of residences of the wealthy, had grown up outside the northern walls of
the city. It presented, only on a larger scale, much the same features
as the locality which Mancinus had fixed upon as his point of attack.
But it had a fortified wall of its own. This had in process of time
become a necessity. For more than four centuries after its foundation
Carthage had never seen a foreign invader on its soil. But there came a
time when its enemies discovered that it might be most effectually
attacked at home. Therefore, splendid houses which offered a rich prize
to the plunderer could no longer be left without a defence, and the
Megara had to be surrounded with a fortification, which started from the
city wall and joined it again. But the space which had to be inclosed
was great, and the new wall was neither so strong, so well furnished
with towers, nor so adequately garrisoned as the old. It was meant, in
fact, rather for a protection against a sudden attack than as a
permanent defence.

Scipio resolved on a night assault, an operation possible only to a
thoroughly well-disciplined army. He divided his force into two columns,
taking personal command of the one which was actually to attack. The
other was to make a demonstration, which was not to be developed into an
assault except the officer at its head saw a particularly favourable
opportunity. As the two points threatened were more than a couple of
miles apart--so great was the circuit of the Megara wall--the attention
of the garrison was effectually distracted. Scipio's column succeeded in
reaching its destination unobserved, and its sudden approach, coupled
with the alarm simultaneously raised on the other side, threw the
garrison into confusion.

But the assault received a check. A deserter had indicated the spot
where the wall might be most easily scaled. It had been used as a short
cut by marauders, stragglers, and others who did not care to go in or
out by the gate. Some stones had been broken down at the top of the
wall, while at the bottom there was a natural rise in the ground which
diminished the height. But the place had not escaped the vigilance of
the officer whose business it was to inspect this portion of the
fortification. The stones had been replaced and the rise in the ground
levelled. A determined attempt was then made at various points with the
scaling-ladders. But an assailant who is mounting a ladder is at a
considerable disadvantage when matched with an antagonist who has a firm
footing on the wall above. Here and there, indeed, especially where a
bit of the wall lay in shadow, the ladder could be applied and the wall
scaled unobserved by the guard. But these successes could not be
followed up. The soldiers who thus made good their footing on the top
were few and far between; unable to help each other, they could not hold
the ground that they had won. The only decided advantage obtained in
this direction was the capture of one of the small towers disposed at
intervals along the wall. This tower had been deserted by its guard,
who had hurried to repel a scaling-party, and was occupied by the Romans
in their absence.

Scipio saw that he was losing men to no purpose, and ordered the retreat
to be sounded. But his quick eye had detected a place which seemed to
promise better. Some resident in Megara had felt the same impatience of
being kept within walls to which the whole suburb itself owed its first
existence, and had built, in a spot which commanded a wide view over the
sea, one of those towers which we now commonly call "follies". The place
was of course deserted when the war broke out, but it was not destroyed,
as it ought to have been, for it was dangerously near the wall. So near,
indeed, was it that it was quite possible to throw a bridge across the
intervening space; fortunately, too, it was not very far from the tower
mentioned above as having been occupied by the assailants. A
considerable force of archers and slingers was brought up to the spot,
and they kept up so vigorous a discharge of missiles that this portion
of the wall, some fifty paces or so in length, was absolutely cleared of
its defenders. Two scaling-ladders, hastily lashed together, served
sufficiently well for a bridge. Across this two or three scores of
active young soldiers, picked out for their courage and strength, made
their way in rapid succession, and descending from the wall on the
inner side, hastened to open one of the gates. Before an hour had
passed, Scipio, with nearly four thousand men, was within the walls of
the Megara.

For a time the panic was as great as if Carthage itself, and not a
suburb, which never could have been seriously defended, had been taken.
The garrison of the Megara fled in wild confusion to the inner city, the
gates of which were blocked with a crowd of frantic fugitives. Cleanor,
who had joined the flying division as a volunteer, found himself carried
back towards the city walls by a quite irresistible torrent of
panic-stricken men.

Then a rally took place. In the first place the fugitives were compelled
to halt, if for no other reason than because they could not get through
the gates. Then the old instinct of obedience and discipline reasserted
itself, especially in the mercenaries, among whom the panic had been
most severe. Little by little the officers were able to restore some
kind of order, and even to recover some of the lost ground. The
defenders had the inestimable advantage of knowing the locality. To the
mercenaries, indeed, most of whom had never been inside Carthage, the
place was as strange as it was to the Romans; but the flying division
consisted entirely of native troops, and these were thoroughly at home
among the lanes and alleys of the Megara, where indeed most of them had
their family residences.

Cleanor had an hour or so of very lively adventure in the company of an
officer of the division, and could not help feeling a certain regret
when he heard the Roman bugles sound the recall. Scipio, in truth, had
found that his position was not by any means desirable. The Megara was
almost covered with detached houses, each surrounded by its gardens and
orchards, these again being intersected by running streams, some of
which were of considerable depth, and had branches winding in all
directions. Any adequate military occupation of such a region would
require a much larger force than he had at hand, and would serve no
useful purpose. And he could not quite trust his men. They had accepted
his reforms with wonderful docility, but here they were in the presence
of almost overpowering temptations. Many of the houses in the Megara
were full of the accumulated wealth of centuries. A few minutes among
such possessions would enrich a soldier with more than he could hope to
acquire in twenty campaigns. In fact, it was only too probable that the
men would take to plundering, and quite certain that, if they did, they
would be destroyed in detail. There were abundant reasons, therefore,
why the Roman general should order a retreat. Even as it was, his
losses were not inconsiderable.

"I wonder whether anyone has been paying a visit here?" said Cleanor's
companion to him as they approached one of the houses in the Megara.
"This is my father's place."

It should be explained that the non-combatant population had fled from
the Megara as soon as it was attacked. Even before that many persons had
deserted their houses for safer quarters within the city itself.

"It is a very likely place," the Carthaginian continued, "for a man to
lose his way in. Perhaps we may lay our hands on a prize. Come this way;
I know the best place for waiting."

The two young men, taking a couple of soldiers with them, made their way
down a narrow lane which skirted the garden of the house. The moon had
set by this time, but there was a dim light of dawn. After a few minutes
of waiting, the party could plainly hear that someone was approaching.

"There must be two men at least," whispered the Carthaginian; "and they
have missed the path, for they are crashing through the shrubs. By
Dagon! we have them, for there is a bit of deep water that they must get
over. Let us come a little further on. Mago, you know the hand-bridge;
go as quick as you can and secure it."

He had scarcely finished speaking when the party for which they were
watching came in sight. It consisted of three persons, and there was now
enough light to distinguish them. One was a Roman officer. He wore the
ornaments of a tribune, and might have been some twenty years of
age.[35] His two companions were private soldiers, and light-armed. The
three, forcing their way through the shrubbery, which here was
particularly dense, came upon the water. It was evidently an entirely
unexpected obstacle.

"Caius," said the officer, addressing one of the men, "how is this to be
managed?"

"We can jump it," the man answered, "with the help of our spears. When
we are on the further side, you, sir, must do the best you can, and we
will help you out."

"Very good," said the officer, "jump!"

"Let them go," whispered the Carthaginian to Cleanor, "we don't want
them; but the officer will be a prize worth having."

Each of the two soldiers planted his spear in the bed of the stream, and
swung himself across without much difficulty. The tribune, having first
thrown his sword to the other side, jumped his furthest. No run was
possible, for the shrubs were thick on the bank; still it was a good
leap--excellent, indeed, considering the weight of the young Roman's
armour. The breadth of the water was about twenty-four feet, and the
tribune had cleared eighteen. His companions were in the act of reaching
out one of their spears for him to grasp when the Carthaginian and his
party showed themselves. The young Roman understood the situation in a
moment.

"Save yourselves," he gasped, as soon as he could speak, "I am lost!"

After a moment's hesitation the men obeyed. To stay would have been a
useless sacrifice, for they must have been inevitably cut down while
they were attempting to save their companion.

"Speak to him," said the Carthaginian. "Try him with Greek; the Roman
gentlemen mostly know it. But perhaps we had better help him out of the
water first."

[Illustration: "DO YOU YIELD?" SAID CLEANOR WHEN THE ROMAN HAD REACHED
THE SHORE.]

"Do you yield?" said Cleanor in Greek, when the Roman had reached the
shore.

"I see no choice," replied the young man in the same language.

Giving his promise that he would not attempt to escape, he received his
sword, and accompanied his captors to the city. A few inquiries, made
and answered in Greek, satisfied them that they had indeed, as the
Carthaginian had anticipated, secured a prize. The tribune was a
Scipio, a kinsman not very distantly related to the commander.

"Let him be your prisoner," said Cleanor's companion to him. "He may
bring you promotion, which I am pretty sure of in any case. Though,
indeed," he added after a pause, "I strongly suspect that it will be all
the same for most of us, promotion or no promotion, a year hence."


    FOOTNOTE:

    35: Scipio was a tribune at this age. Young men of good birth
    were appointed to the office without previous service. Soldiers
    of lower origin who distinguished themselves were promoted to
    it, but, of course, at a later age. The great Marius was not a
    tribune till he was between thirty and forty.



CHAPTER XV.

THE PRISONERS.


The Roman became so unwell, from the shock of his sudden immersion
following on a night of unusual exertion, that Cleanor found it
necessary to take him to his quarters. They were sitting together at the
morning meal a few hours later, when Cleanor's soldier-servant announced
that someone had called to see him on urgent business. It was the
Carthaginian officer in whose company he had been during the adventures
of the night preceding.

"What about the young Roman?" asked the new-comer, who seemed to be in a
state of great agitation. "Did you give him up at head-quarters, or did
you bring him here by accident?"

"He is here," replied Cleanor. "He seemed so weak that I thought it
best to bring him home with me."

"That is well," said the Carthaginian, "though really I can hardly say
whether it is well. Do you know what has happened?"

"I have heard nothing. My chief has released me from duty for
four-and-twenty hours, and I have taken the chance of getting a good
long sleep."

"Well, there have been most horrible doings. Hasdrubal was in a towering
rage this morning when he heard what had been going on in the Megara.
The fact is"--the speaker lowered his voice to a whisper--"that, between
you and me, he was too tipsy last night to appear. I am told that they
could not make him understand anything. That did not make him more
amiable this morning. Then he has been blamed for letting the Megara
remain as it is, and especially for the tower, which certainly ought not
to have been allowed to stand. And lastly, there has been more talk of
capitulation during the last few days. People were very much struck with
Scipio's liberality in the matter of the prisoners, and have begun to
think that better terms might be got from him. Well, all these things
have been working him up to a great pitch of fury. So this morning he
had all the prisoners that were taken in last night's business, some
threescore altogether, brought down to the wall at the point nearest to
the Roman camp, and there he tortured them to death in the cruellest
way. We Carthaginians are not so squeamish as you Greeks; but I tell you
that I felt fairly sick at what I saw, and I did not see a half or even
a quarter of the horrors that took place. Some had their eyes or their
tongues torn out, some were flayed alive; and when he had done with
them, he had them flung down from the wall. 'Tell your general,' he
shouted out, when the last of the poor wretches was tossed down, 'tell
your general that I sha'n't charge him more than one copper coin apiece
for them.'"

"But this is mere madness," cried Cleanor. "What can he have been
thinking of? What was his motive?"

"That is easily explained," replied the Carthaginian. "When it was all
over he turned to one of the senators, who is supposed to favour
peace--he had compelled the man to come with him--and said: 'We have
heard the last of capitulation, I fancy, for some time. What terms do
you think your dear Scipio will be disposed to give you after this?' And
now about your prisoner. I have come straight to warn you. We must think
what is to be done. One thing, of course, is certain--you can't keep him
here. Some bird of the air would carry the matter. Hasdrubal, too, has
his spies everywhere, and knows everything, and you would hardly like
to give him up. He seemed a nice young fellow."

"Give him up!" cried Cleanor--"certainly not. I should deserve to be
crucified myself if I did."

"You might tell him what has happened, and put him in the way of taking
the matter into his own hands. The Romans seem never to trouble much
about killing themselves."

"That seems but a mean way of getting out of the difficulty. The man is
my guest. I have eaten and drunk with him. He sha'n't be harmed, if I
can help it. I don't love the Romans, but I could not behave so to the
very worst of them, and least of all to a Scipio."

"But you'll get into very serious trouble yourself."

"Well, trouble or no trouble, I am determined to save him somehow.
Meanwhile, many thanks to you for warning me. But there's no good in
your mixing yourself up in the matter."

"Good! but mind this, the sooner he is out of the way the better for
him, if not for you. Farewell!"

"Well," said the young Roman, when his captor returned, "this is a very
pleasant way of being a prisoner, but I suppose it can't last. You must
do your duty; pray, don't get yourself into trouble on my account."

Cleanor was in a state of extreme perplexity. To hand over a gallant
young soldier to a merciless savage such as Hasdrubal was impossible.
Yet it seemed scarcely dutiful to Carthage to let a valuable prisoner
escape; and, again, if he could make up his mind to this, how was such
an escape to be managed?

"Doing my duty," he said, after a few minutes of silent reflection,
"happens to be more than usually difficult."

After another pause he went on, "After all, there is nothing for it but
to tell you the simple truth. Hasdrubal has put all the prisoners to
death, and to a horribly cruel death."

The prisoner grew pale. He was young, and life was dear to him. As a
Roman, too, he knew the hideous traditions of Carthaginian cruelty. In a
few moments he had recovered himself and his voice was firm.

"I can bear," he said, "what my countrymen have borne. Or, if you would
make me feel that I have been more fortunate than they, give me back my
sword for a moment."

"Hasdrubal's deed is a crime," replied the young Greek, "and I will not
make myself an accomplice in it. Your sword I will certainly give you if
I can see no other way."

Again he reflected, then his face lighted up. He had thought of a way
of escape out of part at least of his difficulty.

"There is another way, and I will ask you to follow it without any
questioning. I will certainly not give you up to Hasdrubal, nor will I
suffer you to give up your life for mine. Your sacrifice, too, would be
useless. Hasdrubal will say, if he should come to know about you, that
he wanted you alive, not dead, and will be as furious with me for
letting you kill yourself as for letting you escape. So put that thought
out of your mind. Now about escape; I have had half a hundred plans in
my mind during the last half-hour, but the best, I might say the only
one, seems to be this. All Carthage is hard at work on some ramparts of
earth that are being made in the rear of the south wall, just where the
ground dips a little. Men of all ranks are working at them, and even
women and children. All are volunteers, no wages are given, and no
questions are asked. You can't miss the place, for there is a steady
stream of people going backwards and forwards to it. Most of the men
wear a rough sort of workman's tunic. I can give you one, and I can
furnish you with a spade. Work on there till it is dark. No one will
think it strange, for people who are employed in the day often give two
or three hours to work at the ramparts in the night. Then you must take
your chance. Bide your time, and drop quietly down from the wall. One
thing remember: don't on any account open your mouth. If anyone speaks
to you, pretend to be dumb or that you don't understand. And there is
one thing more which I ask, not because I think it necessary, but
because I shall be able to answer for you better: swear by the oath that
in your country you think most binding, that you will give to the
besiegers no information as to what you have seen in the city."

The young man swore by Jupiter and the household gods of his own family
that he would be absolutely silent on all that he had seen or heard.
Shortly afterwards, equipped as Cleanor had described, he took his way
to the earthworks. It is needless to say anything more than that, after
nightfall, he easily made his escape.

When the day came to an end without any inquiry being made for the
prisoner, Cleanor began to hope that the whole affair might escape
notice. Just before midnight, however, he received a visit from his
Carthaginian friend. "I have only a few moments," said the young man.
"First, as to the prisoner--what have you done with him? where is he?"

"In the Roman camp by this time, I hope," replied Cleanor; and proceeded
briefly to describe what he had done.

"Well," said the other, "as nothing has been seen or heard of him, he
has probably made his escape; and a very lucky thing for him! But now
about yourself. Hasdrubal knows, or will know to-morrow morning. One of
the soldiers who was with us gave information. I will be even with him
some day, the mercenary scoundrel! Happily, the chief was too tipsy to
understand what was being told him. But he will be sober to-morrow
morning, and then look out for yourself. But what do you mean to do?"

"Do?" replied Cleanor, "nothing, except tell him the truth."

"Well, you don't want for courage. But remember, he is the most
merciless brute on earth. Don't flatter yourself that you will find him
anything else."

"I have made up my mind. Let him do his worst. But a thousand thanks to
you!"

"I wish we had a thousand men such as he in Carthage," muttered the
young officer to himself as he went away--"as gentle as he is brave,
whereas our people's fancy is to be cruel and cowardly."

Early on the following morning an orderly made his appearance at
Cleanor's quarters. "The general understands," he said, "that you have a
prisoner in your hands. You are to deliver him up."

Cleanor did not feel himself bound to make any explanation to an
orderly, and simply replied that he had no prisoner in his hands.

"Then," said the man, "I am instructed to search your quarters."

"Search, but you will find nothing."

The man searched and went away. An hour or so afterwards he reappeared,
this time with a guard of four soldiers. He had instructions, he said,
to arrest Cleanor, son of Lysis, an officer of the guards of the
south-west wall.

Cleanor surrendered himself without a word, and was at once marched to
head-quarters. On his arrival he was handcuffed. Hasdrubal, who had
never possessed much personal courage, was accustomed to take this
precaution when any prisoner was brought into his presence.

"I have it on good authority," said the general, when Cleanor stood
before him, "that you had a Roman prisoner in your hands on the night of
the day before last. Why did you not deliver him up at once to the
proper authorities?"

"Because he was ill. If this was irregular, I acknowledge my fault."

"Let that pass, then. Where is he now? How was it you suffered him to
escape?"

"I did not suffer him to escape; I took care that he should escape."

"What!" cried the general in a furious voice--so far he had succeeded in
keeping calm--"what! you deliberately let him go! This is sheer treason!
What have you to say?"

"I could not let him be dealt with as the others were dealt with. To
have given him up after that would have been a crime."

"What audacity! Who are you, paltry Greek that you are, to make yourself
a ruler and a judge in Carthage? That is enough. It is your life for his
life. Take him away!" he roared to the guards who had the prisoner in
their charge.

Cleanor was taken back to the guard-room, and shortly afterwards
transferred from that to a cell in the basement of the house, a squalid,
stifling, ill-smelling place, dimly lighted by a strongly-barred
aperture in the roof. Here he spent five days. Every morning his jailer
opened the door just long enough to put within it a loaf of coarse
rye-bread and a flagon of doubtful-looking water. He saw and heard
nothing more during the day.

On the sixth day he was again brought before Hasdrubal. The general was,
or seemed to be, in a different mood. He affected to be much disturbed
at the prisoners squalid appearance, inquired how he had been treated,
and when he heard the details declared that his orders had been entirely
misunderstood. Cleanor knew exactly how much value was to be attached to
these protestations, but prudently kept his counsel and thanked the
general for his kind intentions.

"I have been wishing," Hasdrubal continued, "to have some conversation
about a matter in which you might be very useful to Carthage, but you
are really not fit for it. Let me at all events do what I can to repair
this deplorable mistake."

He whispered some instructions to an attendant, and Cleanor was ushered
out of the room, being treated with a politeness which was in strong
contrast to the rude handling which he had received on the former
occasion. He was provided with a bath and a change of clothes, and
afterwards sat down to an excellent meal.

Later on in the day he was again summoned into the general's presence.
"I cannot but think," said Hasdrubal, "that you were wrong in the matter
of the prisoner, but you meant well; yes, you meant well, and it may
turn out for the best after all. The prisoner who escaped was a Scipio,
was he not?"

"Yes," replied the Greek, "he was a Scipio."

"The Scipios will feel that they owe you something for what you have
done.... Does not that seem to give you an opening?"

"I don't understand," replied Cleanor, though he had little doubt, as a
matter of fact, what it was that the general wanted.

"There are some things," continued Hasdrubal after a pause, "which I
should much like to know, and I would gladly give ten talents to the man
who would find them out for me."

"To put it plainly," said Cleanor, "you want me to go as a spy?"

"Well," replied Hasdrubal, "if you choose to put it so--yes."

"I cannot do it," said Cleanor.

"I know that it is a dangerous bit of work; a spy gets no mercy. But
then, think--I won't say, of the reward, for I believe that you think
little of that--think of the service you may be doing to Carthage."

"It isn't that I refuse to be a spy. A spy's work, I take it, is as
lawful and honest as any other. But I am not going to trade on what I
did for that young man. That would be base."

Hasdrubal checked himself with some difficulty. He could see that the
young Greek was not one to be bullied into compliance; but he did not
give up the hope of persuading him.

"Well, well," he said after a pause, "we must talk of this again.
Perhaps we may find some way for you to help us without offending your
conscience. Farewell for the present; and believe me that I am deeply
concerned that you should have been put to inconvenience. It shall not
happen again."

Cleanor found his quarters and his fare changed very much for the
better. He had now an airy little chamber high up in the house, which
commanded a view of the sea. He received a visit from the general's own
physician, a countryman of his own, who claimed to be one of the great
Æsculapid clan.

"A little reduced," said the man of science, after feeling his pulse and
listening to the beats of his heart--"a little reduced, but that is not
to be wondered at. I shall not have to exhibit any drug; a generous diet
will do all that is wanted. And the general gives you the use of his own
private terrace, so that you will not want for fresh air and exercise."

Time now passed pleasantly enough with the young man, though it was
irksome to be shut up in idleness while so much was going on. And there
was always the anxiety as to what Hasdrubal would do. The tiger was
pleased for the time to sheath his claws, but the claws were there, and
would be shown some day. Meanwhile he made the best of his position. The
physician paid him a daily visit, told him the news of the siege,
chatted with him on various subjects, played sundry games of draughts or
soldiers,[36] and, best of all, lent him some books.

More than once he was summoned to an interview with the general, who,
however, did not again introduce the subject of the last meeting, but
was always very communicative and friendly, flattering the young man by
referring to him sundry military questions, and asking his advice. At
the end of a fortnight he was unconditionally released, not a little to
his surprise. And his release was followed by reappointment to his old
command.

He was not long left in ignorance of the causes which had brought about
this unexpected result. The fact was that pressure, which he did not
feel able to resist, had been brought to bear upon Hasdrubal. Tyrant and
savage as he was, he stood in fear of his soldiers, and could not afford
to neglect any strong feeling that they might show. The Greek contingent
among the mercenaries was numerous, and constituted the most effective
part of the force. With many of these men Cleanor was a personal
favourite; most of them knew him by repute, and had heard with sympathy
his melancholy story. Among the native Carthaginians also he had not a
few well-wishers. Hasdrubal, accordingly, was made to understand that if
anything should happen to the young man, it would be strongly resented.
His superior officer gave him an outline of these facts, but added, with
significant emphasis:

"Be on your guard with him, though that is easier to say than to do. He
does not forget or forgive."


    FOOTNOTE:

    36: The Latin _latrunculi_, a game somewhat resembling our
    "military tactics", or "fox and geese".



CHAPTER XVI.

BAAL HAMMON.


For some time after the events related in the last chapter the siege
went on without any noticeable incidents. The fighting was nearly
continuous, but there was nothing like a pitched battle. The besiegers
did not again attempt an assault, nor did the besieged make a sally in
force. Scipio's plan was to complete the blockade of the city, and then
to await events, reserving his attack till famine and disease had
exhausted the strength of the enemy.

The first step was to cut off all communication on the land side.
Carthage stood on a peninsula, and Scipio's superiority in the field
made him master of the isthmus by which this peninsula was joined to the
mainland. This he covered from sea to sea by a huge fortification, which
served at the same time for a camp. It had a ditch and a rampart both on
the side that looked towards the city, from which it was distant little
more than a bow-shot, and on that which faced the mainland. It was
necessary, indeed, that it should be defensible both in the front and in
the rear. It was one of the most formidable possibilities of the war
that the Roman army might be attacked from behind by the native allies
of Carthage. Scipio knew--it was a mark of his genius that he knew
everything--that the emissaries of the city were unceasing in their
efforts to raise an army of auxiliaries among the native tribes of
Northern Africa. The wall had, as usual, towers at intervals over its
whole length. One of these towers, built in the most solid fashion of
stone, was carried up to such a height that it commanded a view of all
that was being done within the city walls.

Of course the besieged did not allow this work, threatening as it was to
the very existence of their city, to be carried on without interruption.
Catapults, posted on the city walls, kept up a continuous discharge of
missiles; unceasing showers of stones came from the archers and
slingers, while bodies of infantry were kept in readiness to sally forth
whenever and wherever they saw an opportunity of doing damage. The
Romans had, so to speak, to build and dig with a workman's tool in the
one hand and a weapon in the other, but they stuck to their task with
indefatigable zeal and inexhaustible courage. The officers shared all
the toils and dangers of their men, and the work progressed, not indeed
without loss, but without interruption.

Meanwhile the city was in a state of constantly increasing excitement
from another cause, not unconnected, however, with the war. The festival
of Baal Hammon--otherwise Moloch--was approaching, and it was to be
kept with unusual splendour, even, it was said, with rites of worship
that had fallen into disuse for many years. For Carthage, though it had
much of the unchanging temper of the East, was not wholly untouched by
the spirit of progress, and some of the darker and more savage practices
of her religion were no longer practised. But now again the fiercer
instincts of the race were waking. It was a common topic of talk in the
streets that the desperate fortunes of the state called for more
effectual methods of propitiating the anger of heaven. Meetings of the
Senate were held daily with closed doors, and it was known, though
instant death was the appointed penalty of any indiscreet revelation by
a senator, that the chief subject of debate was settling the details of
the great Moloch feast.

Cleanor, in common with the other Greeks in the population, whether
civil or military, heard but little of the matter. It was, in a way,
kept from them by their companions and comrades, who knew that they
regarded such proceedings without sympathy, not to say, with disgust. In
the ordinary course the great day would have come and passed without his
knowing anything about it beyond the fact that it was the chief festival
of the Carthaginian year. But this was not to be.

He was returning to his quarters somewhat late in the evening, two days
before the appointed time, when he felt a hand laid on the sleeve of his
tunic, and heard himself called by his name in a voice which somehow
seemed familiar, though he could not immediately connect it with any
friend or acquaintance. He halted, and turned to the speaker.

It was a woman, poorly clad as far as he could see in the dim light, and
of middle age, to judge from what appeared of her veiled and cloaked
figure.

"Help, noble Cleanor!"

That strange faculty of remembering voices that most of us have, strange
because it is a sheer effort of memory, unhelped by any accessories of
shape and colour, did not fail him.

"What! is it you, Theoxena?" he cried.

Theoxena was his foster-mother, the wife of a poor schoolmaster at
Chelys, who had been persuaded by her own need and the liberal offers of
Cleanor's father to undertake the nurture of one of his twin-children.
She had been resident for some years at Carthage, to which city her
husband had migrated, tempted by the prospect of more liberal
remuneration than he could hope for in his native place.

"Yes, sir, it is I," said the poor woman in a voice broken with tears.
"And oh, in such trouble! If you could help me--but come in here. 'Tis
but a poor place; but I cannot tell you my story in the street."

Her home was close at hand, and Cleanor followed her in. A poor place it
was, but clean and neatly kept, and even with some little marks of taste
and culture. In one corner of the room stood a _capsa_, a cylindrical
case for holding manuscript rolls, and above it, on a bracket fastened
into the wall, a statuette of Hermes. The chairs were of elegant
pattern, though of common wood, and the mats on the floor, though worn
and shabby, were of artistic pattern.

"Well, Theoxena," he said, "what is the matter? What can I do for you?"

"Oh, sir!" she answered, commanding her voice with an effort, "they have
stolen from me my little Cephalus, the dearest, brightest little boy
that ever was, and are going to offer him for a sacrifice to their
dreadful Hammon."

"But how do you know? How did it happen?"

"You shall hear the story from Daphne, who was with him when he was
stolen."

"And who is Daphne?" asked Cleanor.

Daphne, who had been sitting in a small chamber leading out of the main
room, came forward on hearing her name, holding in her hands a piece of
tapestry at which she had been working. She was a girl of fourteen or
thereabouts, not actually beautiful, perhaps, but with a rare promise
of beauty; her figure had something of the awkwardness of the time which
comes between childhood and womanhood; her features still wanted that
subtle moulding which the last critical years of girlhood seem able to
give. But her eyes, blue as a southern sea with a noonday sun above it,
were marvellously clear and full of light; her complexion was dazzlingly
bright, and all the more striking from its contrast to the generally
swarthy hue of the inhabitants of Carthage. Her hair was of a rich red
gold colour, and would have been of extraordinary beauty if it had had
its natural length. As it was, it was cropped almost close, though here
and there a little curl of a new growth had begun to show itself.

"This, sir, is my Daphne," said the woman, laying her hand upon the
girl's head. "We are good patriots, I am sure, for the dear girl gave up
her beautiful hair--if you will believe me, it used to come down nearly
to her ankles--to be made into a string for a bow. The bow-maker said it
was the very finest he had had, though all the great ladies in Carthage
did the same, I am told. Daphne," she went on, "tell the noble Cleanor
about our darling little Cephalus."

"Remember," said the young man, who saw that the girl was trembling
excessively, "remember that the noble Cleanor is your brother, even as
Theoxena is his mother," and he lifted his foster-mothers hand to his
lips and respectfully kissed it.

The girl began her story: "I took my little brother to walk in the
garden--the garden, I mean, of Mago the senator, who kindly lets us use
it, because the streets are so noisy and crowded, and the people are so
rude." Cleanor did not wonder that she attracted more notice than she
liked. "There is seldom anybody there; but that day there was an old man
who began to pet dear little Cephalus, and give him sweetmeats and
cakes. He seemed very kind, and I never dreamt of any harm; and besides,
I was there, for I never leave Cephalus alone. Ah! but I did leave him
alone that morning, wicked girl that I am." And she burst into a flood
of tears. "But then what could I do? Hylax--that is the puppy that
Cephalus is so fond of--began to fight with another dog, and Cephalus
was frightened, and said, 'He'll be killed! he'll be killed! Do save
him, Daphne.' He would himself have run to help, but I was afraid he
would be bitten, though that would have been better than what did
happen. So I told him to sit still where he was, and I ran to help
Hylax. It took me a long time to get hold of him, for he was very angry,
and would go on fighting though the other dog was much bigger. And when
I looked round, the dear little boy was gone. I hunted all over the
garden, and called him a hundred times, but it was no use. Mother
hasn't blamed me once, but I can't help feeling that it was my fault."

"But what," asked Cleanor, speaking to Theoxena, "has put this dreadful
idea of Hammon into your head?"

"Oh! I know from what my neighbours have told me that there is going to
be a sacrifice such as there has not been for years and years, and that
a number of children are to be put into the fire. The priests say that
there must be a hundred, not one less. Some parents offered their own
children--to think that anybody could be so wicked!--and these quite
rich and noble people, I am told; but still there were not enough, so
others had to be taken by force. Besides, the priests said that there
must be children of every race that was in Carthage; and no Greek
children could be got except by kidnapping them. And there was
something, too, which Daphne did not tell you. She picked up a button
where the old man had been sitting, and I have been told by someone who
knows that it is of a kind that only the temple servants of Hammon use."

"I see," said Cleanor; "there seems very little doubt that it is so. But
don't trouble; you shall have your son again. I have a hundred things to
ask you, but that must be for another day; there is no time to be lost
now. Farewell!"

The young man had spoken confidently enough to the agonized mother, but
when he came to reflect on what he had to do he did not feel by any
means confident. All night he was busy with the problem, but seemed,
when the morning came, as far off a solution as ever. He could not even
think where to go for counsel and help. His Greek comrades would feel
with him, but they probably knew no more about the matter than he did.
As to his Carthaginian fellow-officers, though he was on the best of
terms with them, it was quite useless, and indeed impossible, to
approach them. At last an idea occurred to him. The Greek physician who
had attended him when he was in Hasdrubal's house might possibly be not
only willing, but able to help him. Willing he would certainly be, for
he was a Greek; able, possibly, seeing that his practice lay largely
among Carthaginians of the highest class.

He lost no time in looking for his friend, and was luckily soon
successful in his search.

"I am not surprised," said the physician when he had heard the story. "I
knew that something of the kind was going on, though the priests keep it
as quiet as they can. I was called in yesterday to see the wife of a
senator. She was in a state of prostration, for which I could see no
physical cause. Of course I diagnosed mental trouble, and put some
questions in that direction. I got nothing but the vaguest answers. Just
when I was going away I asked some question about her children. She said
nothing, but the next moment she fell into the very worst fit of
hysterics I have ever seen. I put two and two together, for I haven't
been a doctor for forty years for nothing, and guessed the truth. And
afterwards, when I was giving the maid in attendance some directions, I
heard it for certain. The poor woman had given up her eldest boy, a
beautiful little creature of six, to Moloch. And now about this Greek
child. Well, we must not be seen on the street talking together. Come to
my house about noon to-morrow, and we will talk it over."

Cleanor was punctual at the appointed time.

"I have been thinking it over," said the physician when he had satisfied
himself that he could not be overheard. "And I don't see any chance of
success except by bribery. I know where the child is--in the
high-priest's house. I was called in two or three days ago to see a
child who was ill there. I thought it strange, for the priests have no
families. Still, it might be a child of a relative. But it was stranger
still when, after I had prescribed for the little fellow and was going
away, I heard the voices of other children. Then it was all explained by
what I told you this morning. They keep the poor little creatures, when
they have got them by persuasion or force, in the high-priest's house.
That is one step, then. We know where the boy is. And the next, by great
good luck, is made easy for us. The little fellow that I have been
attending will certainly die. I feel almost sure that I shall not find
him alive when I go this afternoon. Well, I shall have to report his
death to the high-priest, who will have to find a substitute for him,
and will, I suppose, kidnap another child. That is a horrible thing; but
we can't help it. Now for my plan. You must bribe the attendant who will
have to remove the child and see to its burial. That will be easy
enough. He is a fellow of the lowest class, and will do anything for a
score of gold pieces. And you must also bribe the priest who has the
business of actually offering the children. That will be a more serious
matter. The practice is for the high-priest to offer the first, and to
hand over the rest to a subordinate. This is the man you will have to
deal with. It isn't that it will be a matter of faith with him.
Generally, in my experience--not always, mark that--but generally the
nearer the altar the less the faith; and this man I know. But it is a
dangerous affair, and, besides, the man can make his own terms. I should
say that a hundred gold pieces will be wanted. Now, can you manage that?
It isn't every young officer that has a hundred gold pieces to spare. I
can help you a little, but a physician's fees are small and hard to come
by."

"A thousand thanks!" said Cleanor, "but I have as much as will be
wanted."

"Come again after dark," the physician went on. "You will have to settle
with the men, for I must not appear in the matter, but I will arrange a
way for you to see them."

"Everything is going as well as possible," said the physician when the
two met again. "As I expected, the child was dead. And here I have made
a little change in our plans. I thought that it might make complications
if two were engaged in the affair. And the priest might object if he
found his secret shared by an attendant of far inferior rank. It might
mean, he would say, endless blackmailing. What I did, then, was to tell
the man that there was something very strange about the child's illness,
that I wanted to discover the real cause, and that I would give him a
couple of gold pieces--to offer him more would have been suspicious--if
he would let me have the body. That is disposed of, then. Now for the
priest. He comes here to-night; he has long been a patient of mine, and
he wants to see me. The fellow, who is one of the hardest drinkers in
Carthage, would have been dead long ago but for me. You will see him,
and tell him what he is to do, which, in a word, is to put a dead child
for a living one, and what you will give him for doing it. That is the
naked truth, but you will wrap it up as you think best."

"But will not that be an impossible thing--a dead child for a living?"
asked Cleanor.

"Not at all," replied the physician, "and not by any means so hard as
you think. You don't know, I daresay, that the children are drugged as
heavily as possible without making them actually insensible. All the
creatures that are brought to be sacrificed have to be drugged. You know
that it is thought to be the very worst omen if a bull or a ram breaks
away from the attendants as they are bringing it to the altar. You don't
suppose that there is a miracle perpetually worked so that what happens
every day in the slaughter-house never happens in a temple? And this
makes the affair comparatively easy. There is not much difference
between a drugged child and a dead child."

The priest came in due course. The physician with some cautious hints
excited his curiosity and greed, and Cleanor found his task neither so
difficult nor so costly as he had anticipated. It is needless to relate
the negotiations. As the physician had anticipated, the priest's faith
was not a difficulty. He had not a vestige of belief. He had been a
party to too many impostures to have anything of the kind left.
Fraudulent miracles were a part almost, it might be said, of his daily
business. But he made the most of the risk of the proceeding, and this
was undoubtedly great. Not only was the dead child to be substituted for
the living, but the living was to be smuggled away. The physician had
provided a temporary refuge for it; it was to be received into the
family of the couple which kept his house. The thing probably appeared
to be more difficult than it really was, chiefly because no one would
have any idea that it would be attempted. A bargain was ultimately made
for a somewhat smaller sum than the physician had named. The priest was
to receive five-and-twenty gold pieces down, and fifty pieces more when
Cleanor was satisfied of the safety of the child.

Cleanor was long in doubt whether or not he should be present at the
hideous ceremony of the coming day. All the instincts of his own nature
and his race revolted against such doings. The Greek temper was not
particularly merciful, and certainly never shrank from taking life when
occasions of policy or promptings of revenge seemed to suggest it, but
it had no liking for spectacles of blood. Even in its degradation it
revolted from the savage amusements which fascinated the Romans. And
Cleanor had the best feelings of his race in high development. On the
other hand, he reflected that if any chance suspicion should arise his
presence might help to disarm it. Above all, his interest in the fate of
his little foster-brother was so overpowering that he felt it impossible
to keep away.

The solemnities of the day began with a great procession, in which the
inferior deities of the Carthaginian faith were carried to pay their
homage, as it was said, to Baal Hammon their chief. Each had his own
company of priests and temple attendants; both the deity and his
satellites were decked out for the occasion with all the splendours
which the temple treasuries--most of them rich with the accumulation of
centuries--could furnish.

First,--for it was right that the most dignified visitor should be the
first to arrive,--came Melcart, Hammon's vicegerent, as he might be
called, who had under his special protection the daughter cities of the
Phoenician race, as he had the great mother-city of Tyre. The god was
not represented by any human figure, but a great sun, with gilded rays,
was borne under a canopy of rich purple curtains. Next to Melcart came
Tanit or Astarte, symbolized by a similar image of the moon, but
smaller, and with silver rays; and after Tanit again, Dagon, the
fish-god, the special protector of the fleets of Carthage, held in less
reverence since the eldest daughter of Tyre had lost the hereditary
supremacy of the seas. These were the three great dignitaries of the
procession; after them followed a crowd of inferior powers with figures
of man or brute, always heavy with gold or sparkling with gems, but
grotesque or even hideous in shape, for the Phoenician craftsman made
no effort to emulate the grace of his Greek rival.

Hammon's temple was thronged, and indeed had been thronged from the hour
of dawn, when its gates were thrown open, with an excited multitude. A
lane, however, was kept clear in the middle by two ranks of stalwart
guards, native Carthaginians, all of them splendid in gilded helmets,
with nodding plumes of the African ostrich, and armour of shining steel,
with short purple cloaks over their shoulders. This lane was left for
the approach of the divine visitors. As the first of these drew near,
the great doors, themselves covered with a scarlet curtain, that
separated the sanctuary from the body of the temple, were thrown back,
and the holy place became visible, to most of those present that day for
the first time in their lives.

In the centre of a semicircular recess at the further end, on a throne
of gold, approached by twelve steps, each flanked by the image of a
lion, sat the colossal statue of Hammon. The canopy above it was formed
by the meeting wings of two stooping figures. The image was made of some
black stone, probably basalt, carved into a rude similitude of the human
figure, with arms of steel which extended forwards. In front, so close
to the image as to be partly under the arms, was an opening six feet
wide, from which, now and then, a slender tongue of coloured flame might
be seen to shoot forth.

When the opened doors revealed the image, an instantaneous silence fell
upon the assembled multitude, in striking contrast to the babel of
sounds which had filled the temple a minute before. The awful moment had
come, and the multitude waited with mingled wonder and terror for what
was to follow.

The silence was first broken by the voice of the high-priest as he began
to chant the litany of supplication. It was heard plainly enough, but
few understood it, for the form had not been changed from the earliest
times, and the language was mostly obsolete. At certain intervals the
voices of the inferior priests might be heard coming in with the
refrain. The ancient formula ended, the high-priest added special
supplications for the day. He invoked blessings on Carthage, on her
armies, her fleets, her priests, and her people. He cursed her enemies,
Rome first of all, with special mention of the name of Scipio. The
supplications ended, the high-priest turned to the people, crying, "Sons
of Carthage, offer with a willing heart, and of your best, to your Lord
and Saviour Hammon!"

There was a momentary pause. Then the Shophetim descended from the
seats on which they had been sitting, and, coming forward, cast gold and
spices into the opening. No one imitated, or was expected to imitate
them. They represented the people, and their gifts symbolized the
offering of the people's wealth. The more solemn part of the sacrifice
remained to be performed, and this part, for evident reasons, the
priests retained in their own hands.

The high-priest began again:

"O Baal Hammon, we have given thee the most precious of things without
life; now we give thee flesh of our flesh, and life of our life."

So saying, he took from the hands of a subordinate priest
something--what it was no one could discern--wrapped in white linen, and
placed it on the outstretched arms of the colossus. The image, worked by
concealed machinery from behind, bowed its head, and at the same time
lowered its arms, dropping the burden that had been placed upon them
into the chasm underneath. Something between a roar and a shriek went up
from the multitude that filled the temple. There was the joy of seeing
that the great Hammon accepted their offering; there was the horror--for
even the Carthaginians were human--of knowing what the offering was. The
next instant a loud crash of sound came from the cymbal-players, who had
been stationed in a recess out of sight of the multitude. Every time
another burden was placed on the arms and dropped into the chasm there
was the same outburst of wild music.

[Illustration: "THE HIGH PRIEST PLACED THE SACRIFICE ON THE OUTSTRETCHED
ARMS OF THE GOD."]

Cleanor watched the horrible ceremony with intense attention. Now and
then he fancied--he had found a place, it should be said, not far from
the sanctuary--that he saw a movement, and even heard a cry. But he
could not feel certain. He recognized the priest who handed the first
child to the high-priest, and who placed the others on the arms of the
image, as the man with whom he had negotiated, and he felt sure that on
one occasion he made a slight gesture, which no one else would notice,
in his direction. It was a great relief when the horrible rite was
finished. As to the fate of the child he could not immediately satisfy
himself. It would have been imprudent to make any inquiries. He had,
however, the satisfaction of receiving, during the course of the next
day, a message from his friend the physician that the boy was safe. The
same comforting intelligence was conveyed to the mother. She, of course,
had to be content with an occasional sight of her child, and the hope of
regaining him at some happier time.



CHAPTER XVII.

MOVE AND COUNTERMOVE.


The great festival of Hammon, with all its lurid splendours, did not
fail to produce something at least of the effect which the authorities
had expected from it. The flagging zeal of the Carthaginian people
regained its old energy; the hope that their country might yet be saved
to them, a hope almost abandoned during the last few months, began to
revive. Hammon, they thought, must be propitiated by a piety so devoted,
must interfere to save so dutiful a city.

There was, indeed, need of all the encouragement that could be had, for
the situation of the civil population of Carthage was precarious in the
extreme. The Senate had not neglected to lay up in the time of peace
such provisions for the war that they knew to be impending as it had
been possible to collect. But the work had had to be done almost by
stealth. Rome had watched with suspicion anything that looked like
preparations for war, and had remonstrated more than once against the
purchase of unnecessary stores.

What was done in this way had to be done without the knowledge of her
regularly appointed agents and of residents who were secretly in her
pay. Something had been accomplished; the garrison had ample supplies;
the houses of the upper class were, for the most part, well furnished.
But the poor, who had no room for stores in their dwellings, even if
they had the means to purchase them in advance, were dangerously near to
want. It is for the needs of this class that public provision has to be
made in any city that expects to be besieged, and it was in respect of
this public provision that the action of the Carthaginian government had
been hampered.

Things had grown rapidly worse since the building of the walled camp
across the isthmus. Nothing could now be brought into the besieged city
by land. The sea was still partly open. The Roman fleet kept up a
blockade, but it was not really effective. As soon as the wind began to
blow from the sea the war-ships had to stand off from the shore, and the
blockade-runners had their opportunity. Prices ruled so high in the city
that a trader who contrived to take safely to its destination one cargo
out of two made a very handsome profit.

All the fishing population of the African coast for a hundred miles on
either side of the besieged city was busily employed in the traffic.
Light vessels drawing but little water were chiefly used, for they could
be safely navigated in places where a war-ship would inevitably have
grounded. So rudely and cheaply were they built that the loss, if they
were wrecked, was insignificant. The great difficulty was the weather;
if this continued to be fine for ten days together, a large part of the
besieged population came within an easily measurable distance of
starvation.

Scipio now resolved on making a great counter-move--he would block up
the approach to the harbour. He had, in fact, for some time past
foreseen the necessity of taking this step, and had prepared a vast
amount of material for the work, employing great numbers of the native
population in quarrying stone and cutting timber. So much had been
accomplished in this way that when the time came for executing the work
little more than the actual construction remained to be done. This was
not so difficult as it had seemed. The harbour mouth was not very far
from the shore occupied by the Romans.

The first thing was to lay a foundation for the mole that it was
proposed to build. This was done by sinking huge blocks of roughly-hewn
stone, chiefly during moonless nights. During this stage of the work the
besieged took little heed of what was going on, or, anyhow, took no
pains to interrupt or hinder it. There was a suspicion, and more than a
suspicion, of Scipio's purpose, but Hasdrubal, himself indolent and
incompetent, haughtily refused to listen to any suggestion from his
subordinates. But even Hasdrubal was roused when the structure reached
the surface of the water. What he saw was a mole, more than thirty yards
broad, stretching across the mouth of the harbour, and shutting off
every channel available even for the smallest craft.

Hasdrubal now developed, or accepted, a plan which for a time at least
was a virtual check to Scipio's move. He kept up a brisk discharge of
missiles on the men employed in building the mole. So sharp and
continuous was it that the besiegers had little attention to give to
what was being done on the opposite side of the harbour. It was a
surprise, and a very unwelcome surprise to them, that no sooner had they
stopped up one mouth of the harbour, than they found that another exit
had been created. The whole population, every man, woman, and child in
the city, that could ply a spade or a pick, wheel a barrow-load or carry
a basket of earth, had been working night and day at excavating another
mouth to the harbour.

Nor was this all; a still greater surprise, so great, indeed, as to be
almost overwhelming, remained behind.

One of the conditions of the peace granted to Carthage after the fatal
defeat of Zama[37] had been the surrender of all the ships of war but
twenty. In a way this condition had been observed. There had never been
more than twenty ships in commission at one time; but the old hulks had
not always been destroyed. At first they had been kept to serve various
purposes; latterly, as another war began to loom in the future, they had
been preserved with the intention of using them again. A number of
merchant vessels also were furnished with crews and an armament that was
at least passably effective.

And, marvellous to relate, all this had been done without the knowledge
of the besiegers. There was a constant flow of deserters from the city,
increasing as time went on and the prospects of Carthage became less and
less hopeful. Yet none of them had any definite information to give.
That something was going on they knew; they had heard for some time a
great sound of hammering--that, indeed, had been audible in the Roman
camp when the wind blew from the dockyard--but the restrictions on
admission to the arsenals had been rigidly enforced. So there ended the
information which they were able to give.

Nothing, then, could have exceeded the astonishment of the besiegers
when a new fleet, the existence of which no one had suspected, issued
from a harbour mouth which no one had ever seen. A thin bank of earth
had been kept to the last, so that to observers from outside, as also to
the Roman ships as they cruised backwards and forwards along the coast,
nothing appeared to have been changed. When everything else was ready,
all the available labour in Carthage was set to work to clear this bank
away. The task was finished by dawn. At sunrise the new fleet,
magnificently equipped, for there had been a lavish expenditure on the
ornament as well as the armament of the ships, sailed out of the harbour
by its new exit.

Unfortunately for Carthage there was no one to make the most of the
opportunity. A vigorous attack on the Roman fleet--scattered as it was,
and altogether unprepared for action, some of the ships being under
repair, and nearly all of them but half-manned, their crews being
largely employed on shore--might have been successful, and have even
postponed the fate of Carthage. But it was not to be. Hasdrubal,
self-opinionated and incapable, paralysed everything and everybody. The
fleet paraded for a while along the coast, and had the barren honour of
holding without dispute, for that day at least, the possession of the
sea.

"The crews must be exercised first," said Hasdrubal, who was on board
what we may call the flag-ship, to the veteran who directed its
navigation; "but in a few days--"

"There's no exercise like fighting," growled the old man as he turned
away.

And this was the common opinion of Carthage. So strong and so general
was it, and so vigorously expressed, that Hasdrubal could not afford to
disregard it. Word was passed round to the captains that they must be
ready to engage the next day. In the morning, accordingly, the fleet
sailed out again. Every one was in high spirits, for it is an immense
relief for those who have been long cooped up within walls, occupied
with the tedious task of a protracted defence, to renew the more
adventurous and interesting experience of attack. Some victories were
won. One of the Carthaginian ships contrived to ram two antagonists in
rapid succession. This vessel was a present to the state by one of the
merchant companies, and no expense had been spared in making it of the
strongest build and furnishing it with an effective crew of freeborn,
well-paid rowers. Another captured one of the Roman ships by boarding.
Cleanor was serving in this, and, owing to the death of one and the
disablement of the other of his superior officers, had the unexpected
honour of leading the boarders. There was a sharp struggle, but
ultimately the Roman crew was overpowered and compelled to surrender.

On the other hand, there were counterbalancing, or almost
counterbalancing losses, for towards the end of the day the Romans had
recovered from their surprise, and more than held their own.

Scipio was everywhere, conspicuous in the scarlet cloak of the
general-in-command. Once as he passed he was well within a javelin-throw
of our hero. Cleanor, as he doubted whether he ought not to do his best
to rid Carthage of a formidable enemy, fancied that he saw a smile of
recognition on his face. When it grew dark, the struggle was suspended
by mutual consent.

The next morning it was renewed. This time fortune declared itself
unequivocally against Carthage. It was not that there was any marked
falling-off in the efficiency or courage of the crews. It was the ships
themselves that began to fail. Many, as has been said, were old hulks
patched up to serve again. Two days of incessant use, with occasional
collisions with friends and enemies, had not improved them. The seams
began to open and old leaks to show themselves, so that by noon at least
a score were more or less water-logged. Those that had suffered most,
about half the number, fell into the hands of the enemy. Five other
ships were sunk.

The Roman loss was less than half of this amount. It was not a crushing
defeat, but it was sufficient to show that Carthage could not hope
for deliverance from her fleet. Still, some advantage remained to
the besieged. It would be impossible to close up the new mouth of
the harbour, so deep was the water into which it opened. On this
side, therefore, the Roman blockade could never be made complete.
Notwithstanding this gain, the whole result was a heavy discouragement.


    FOOTNOTE:

    37: The battle which brought the Second Punic War to a
    conclusion in 202 B.C.



CHAPTER XVIII.

HELP FROM THE HILLS.


One day shortly after the events related in my last chapter, Cleanor's
somewhat melancholy musings on the prospects of the future were
interrupted by the arrival of his friend Gisco, who had been absent from
his duty for several weeks.

"You have been wondering, I dare say," said the Carthaginian, "what has
become of me the last month or so."

"Yes, indeed," replied Cleanor; "I asked the officers of your battalion
about you, but could find out nothing. However, I noticed once or twice
just a suspicion of hesitation in their answers, and so I came to the
conclusion that there was a secret."

"Well," said Gisco, "there was what you may call a secret. Anyhow, we
thought it best not to say anything about the business I had on hand. It
was to be a little surprise to our friends outside, and that is not so
easy to manage as things are now. There is very little that goes on in
Carthage but is known the next day in Scipio's tent. This time,
however, we have managed, I hope, better."

"Is it a secret still?" asked Cleanor.

"No, no," said Gisco, "everyone may know it now, and, besides, you are
not one of those that a man has to keep secrets from. But now for my
story. I left Carthage just thirty days ago--it was, I remember, the day
before the new moon. It was no easy matter, I can tell you, to get away.
One of the Roman sentinels caught sight of me, and I had to take to the
lagoon. Happily the water was deep enough for diving, and I am a good
hand at that business, but when I came up to breathe I was all but hit
by an arrow. However, I got safely to the place I was bound for. There
Bithyas met me--Bithyas, you remember, was Gulussa's master of the
horse--with two or three troopers and a spare horse for me. Our errand
was to go to the tribes that live far up in the country, and gather
recruits for a campaign against Rome. Bithyas, who knows the whole
region and the tribes better than any man living, was to introduce me,
and I was to make engagements on the part of Carthage. We carried with
us a sort of talisman which Bithyas had got hold of, I don't exactly
know how. Anyhow, it seemed to be respected everywhere, and as soon as
it was produced we never failed to get a hearing, and we must have gone
to not less than fifteen chiefs."

"You say a 'hearing'," Cleanor put in; "but how did you contrive to make
yourselves understood?"

"Well, in this way. We took new interpreters when they were wanted. We
found that a man could always make himself understood by the people of
the next tribe. Sometimes the same man served for two or three. When he
came to the last place where he could be of use, he picked out some
likely man, and instructed him in what he was to say. This, after all,
was very simple. It was chiefly that they were wanted to fight, and that
a chief was to get so many gold pieces, an under-chief so many, and a
common man so many. It does not take much talking to explain so much. It
might almost be done by signs. Of course we could not carry the money
about with us, but we made a present to each of the chiefs, and
commonly, when the tribe was a strong one, to one or more of the
sub-chiefs. Promises, you may be sure, we did not spare. Even if all
goes well, I don't see how Carthage is ever to pay her debts."

"And did you have much success?" inquired Cleanor.

"Yes, we had," replied Gisco. "If all the promises that were made to us
are kept, we shall have a hundred thousand men. But that is, of course,
too much to expect. If three-fourths, or even a half, let us say, are
put into the field, it will be a very great thing, and with what we can
do to help by a sortie from the city, we ought to give a good account of
the Romans."

"And how soon is this to be?"

"Very soon now; the tribes were beginning to move when we left to
return. It took us ten days' hard riding to get back from the last
settlement that we visited. They can't come as quickly as that, but they
don't linger on the march. Remember that they are all horsemen, though,
when it comes to a battle, some of them dismount."

"Well," said Cleanor, "you have been into a new country. Did you see
anything strange? There are marvellous tales told about these regions
and the people who live in them. What has your experience been?"

"Well," replied Gisco, "I saw some very curious things. And as to the
things I heard, and heard too from people who swore that they had seen
them with their own eyes, they pass all belief. I never saw such trees
as there are on the lower slopes of the hills. You know those tables
made of one piece of wood? Well, they come from that region. I saw some
that were being sawn off, and others that were being polished. Then the
vines were enormously large. I came across some with stems as big as an
ordinary-sized column of a temple, and I heard of others--one never sees
things quite as wonderful as one hears of--that two men could hardly
encompass with their arms. I saw crocodiles, just like those one has
heard of in the Nile, and I was told of leeches that were ten feet
long--that is pretty good, but then the ear can take in more than the
eye. In one place that we came to there was a whole colony of monkeys,
just like so many men and women, mothers nursing their children, and old
ones with white heads, some chattering peaceably together like friends,
and some quarrelling ever so fiercely. As for lions, there were troops
of them. Hardly a night passed without an alarm, and though we picketed
our horses close to our tents, we had several carried off at night."

"And what," asked Cleanor, "do you think of these people as soldiers?"

"Well," replied Gisco, "I can hardly judge. They are marvellously good
horsemen, and have their animals trained to obey them in a most
wonderful way. A man may leave his horse standing, not tethered, you
understand, as long as he chooses, and when he is riding on one, he will
have another following him like a dog. But whether they will be able to
stand against the Romans is another matter. If it were not for their
numbers, I should not expect much. But with four or five to one they
must do something; let them only go on charging, and they must break the
line at last."

As Gisco had predicted, the native forces did not linger on the march.
They had none of the _impedimenta_ of an army, carrying only their arms
and their food,--of this last but a few days' supply,--and they were all
mounted. On the third day after the conversation related above their
advanced guard could be seen on the summit of the hills which formed the
sky-line to the south. It had been arranged that they should make their
way to the rock-fortress of Nepheris, now almost the only place, some
remote spots in the hills excepted, which Carthage still possessed
outside its own city walls. Nepheris was held by a strong garrison of
mercenaries, under the command of a skilful soldier, Diogenes by name.
Scipio had never been able to spare a sufficient force to invest it, but
it had been masked by a considerable body of troops under the command of
King Gulussa, strengthened by a small Roman contingent under the
leadership of C. Lælius.[38] This force was to be attacked by the native
army, while Diogenes with his mercenaries was to make a sally from the
fortress. Another sally, timed as nearly as possible for the same
moment, was to be made from the city. Everyone, besiegers as well as
besieged, recognized the fact that the critical moment had come. If this
effort succeeded, the fate of Carthage would be postponed almost
indefinitely; if it failed, the capture of the city could be only a
question of time. If it did not yield to force, it would certainly
succumb to famine.

Hasdrubal himself was roused by the gravity of the situation from his
usual self-indulgence and lethargy. He was not wholly without the
feelings of a patriot and a soldier, and in this supreme effort of his
country he did his best to rise to the occasion. The chief object of his
energies was the formation of what may be called a Sacred Phalanx. It
was to consist entirely of native Carthaginians, a class of troops
seldom used except in cases of grave necessity. These were to be chosen
by a method which Hasdrubal borrowed from the practice of Rome. He began
by selecting a hundred men of tried courage. Each of the hundred chose
nine comrades; and each of these nine, again, chose nine more. The
result was a hundred companies, numbering each a hundred men, all bound
together by the special obligation of a common tie. The legion was
splendidly equipped with richly gilded armour, and arms of the very
finest quality. Each company had its own badge.

It was a fine force, but it was all that the citizen population of
Carthage could do to raise it. Indeed so reduced were the numbers on the
roll of military effectives that some recruits had to be enfranchised in
order that they might be enrolled in the legion. Cleanor, not a little
to his surprise, found himself attached to Hasdrubal's own staff. The
general, indeed, said a few gracious words to the young man when he
reported himself. If there had been any difference between them, said
Hasdrubal, it might now be forgotten. A chance such as might never be
repeated had occurred of saving Carthage. The city would not be
ungrateful to those who used this occasion energetically.

Cleanor could not banish his recollections of the past, and the
suspicions which persistently followed them; but his pride was naturally
flattered, and he hoped for the best.


    FOOTNOTE:

    38: Lælius was as close a friend to the Younger as his father
    had been to the Elder Scipio. The two were born in the same year
    (B.C. 185), as were also the elder pair of friends (B.C. 234).
    It should be remembered that the Younger Scipio was _nephew by
    marriage_, though _grandson by adoption_, to the Elder. He was
    the younger son of Æmilius Paullus, whose sister was married to
    the Elder Scipio, and he was adopted by his sister's son, who
    had no children of his own.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE BATTLE ON THE ISTHMUS.


The Sacred Phalanx, as described in the last chapter, was undoubtedly a
formidable body of men, one that, rightly handled, might win a battle.
The difficulty was to bring its force to bear. There were, in fact, only
two ways of doing this. One was to break through the lines of
investment which had been drawn across the isthmus; the other was to
transport the troops on shipboard to some place from which they might
operate. Both methods were risky and doubtful, but both offered some
hope of success.

The lines of investment had been hastily made, contained some weak
places, and were not adequately guarded throughout their length. It was
possible that they might be carried at one point or another by a
determined attack. Of the plan of transport by sea it could only be said
that it was not impossible. The new harbour-mouth had, as has been said,
this advantage over the old, that it opened into deep water, where the
blockading ships could find no anchorage. But if in bad weather it
became impossible for the Roman fleet to watch the exit, it was also
impossible, or, to say the least, highly dangerous, for any ship to
venture out.

Hasdrubal determined to try both methods. He divided the phalanx into
three parts. Two of these three were to assault the investing lines at
widely distant points; the third was to try the adventure of transport
by sea. This was by far the most risky undertaking. If the division
succeeded in reaching the spot at which it aimed, there still remained
the problem of getting back. As a matter of fact, there would be no
getting back, except in the event of victory.

For this enterprise, therefore, volunteers were called. The
volunteering, however, was by companies. It would have been against the
principles on which the phalanx was constituted for any one soldier to
leave the comrades to whom he was bound, either by their choice or by
his own. But about the volunteering there was no difficulty. Twenty
companies only were wanted, for more could not be safely accommodated in
the transports, but double the number could easily have been obtained.
The force was put under the command of an officer who had a high
reputation for dashing courage, another of the numerous Hasdrubals, who,
it might almost be said, swarmed in Carthage. Cleanor was commissioned
to act as his _aide-de-camp_.

Of the attack on the lines of investment little need be said. It was not
wholly a failure, but it was certainly not a success. Stubborn as was
the resistance offered by the Romans, the assailants broke through the
lines at several points. At one time as many as seven or eight companies
found themselves on the further side of the intrenchment, with somewhat
diminished numbers indeed, but still substantially intact. Yet, for the
most part, the line was still held by the besiegers. If the object of
the Carthaginians had been to cut their way through the blockading
force, it was accomplished. At various points the way out of Carthage
lay open, and it would have been possible for at least a large portion
of the force to escape.

But much more than this was wanted, nothing less, in fact, than that the
investment should practically cease to exist, that the besieged should
be free to go and to return as they pleased. Nothing like this had been
achieved. Those who, after a fierce struggle, had forced their way
through to the open country, would have to struggle not less fiercely to
force their way back. Hasdrubal could not afford to run the risk. The
loss of such a force meant ruin to Carthage, which no longer possessed
its old powers of recovery. He reluctantly ordered the signal of recall
to be sounded, and the troops still more reluctantly obeyed.

The division to which Cleanor was attached fared better, so far, at
least, as to reach the field of battle. It was exceptionally fortunate
in both embarking and landing without hindrance. A strong sea-wind had
been blowing for some days, and the blockading squadron had been
compelled to leave the harbour-mouth unwatched. Then came a sudden
change of weather, and the troops, who had been bivouacking for two days
on the chance of some such opportunity occurring, were hurried on
shipboard, and had actually reached their destination before the Roman
ships had put to sea again.

The march to the place of meeting was effected without molestation, and
a junction was made with the native allies. Diogenes, too, did not fail
to perform his part in the concerted plan, arriving exactly at the right
moment with a picked force of a thousand mercenaries. But the hope that
something towards the relief of Carthage might be effected by this
combination of forces was entirely disappointed. The native allies made
one charge, but only one. Twenty thousand horsemen came down the
incline, at the foot of which the Roman army was drawn up, at a gallop,
their white burnooses streaming behind them, and their spear-points
flashing in the sun.

Cleanor always said that it was the most magnificent spectacle that he
ever saw. Some of King Gulussa's squadrons were swept away by the
impetuous rush of a multitude which outnumbered them many times. But the
line of the Roman legions--there were three of them on the field, for
Scipio had brought all his available force into action--did not waver
for an instant. A few of the boldest riders hurled themselves on the
Roman pikes. But not so much as a single gap was made in the ranks.
Almost in a moment the huge array--like some great animal which exhausts
its strength and spirit in one struggle--broke into hopeless confusion.
Then the Roman cavalry, with the reserved squadrons of Numidian horse,
charged the helpless mass.

The slaughter that followed was terrible. It was said that seventy
thousand mountaineers were left dead on the battle-field. That is
impossible. Many of the tribesmen fled as soon as they saw that the day
was not to be theirs, and these must have secured such a start as to
make their escape easy. But the victorious cavalry went on slaying till
their arms were weary.

The safety of the mercenaries and the third division of the phalanx was
now seriously compromised. They had, fortunately, effected a junction
before the battle began, and it was of course a necessity that they
should keep together. So much was certain, but it was not equally
certain what was the best course for them to follow. The Carthaginians
were anxious to return, if return was in any way possible, to the city.
Their families, their friends, everything in fact that they held dear
was there; it was only too probable that unless they got back at once
they would never see the city or them again. The mercenaries, on the
other hand, were bent on returning to the fortress of Nepheris, from
which they had sallied forth. The fortress was near, so near that the
legions could not bar their way, though the light-armed troops and the
cavalry might molest them on the march.

A hurried council of war was held; there was no time for discussion.
Each officer--there were seven of rank to vote--gave his decision
without reasons. Considerations of safety, which were overwhelmingly
strong in favour of a retreat on the fortress of Nepheris, carried the
day. Five voted for this course, and a sixth, who had originally
declared for cutting their way through to Carthage, changed his mind
when he saw himself in a small minority.

Only Hasdrubal was left in opposition. "I swore to defend Carthage, not
Nepheris," he exclaimed. Then, with an unconscious imitation of the
obstinate Spartan at Platæa, he took a huge stone from the ground
and threw it down in front of him, saying, "I give my vote for
remaining."[39]

Cleanor's private opinion was that his chief's obstinacy was nothing
else than madness, but he could not leave the general to whose person he
had been attached.

If Hasdrubal had thought that his opposition would determine the action
of his colleagues he was mistaken. Without a word--and indeed there was
no time for argument--they moved off in the direction of the fortress.
Hasdrubal was brought to his senses by this decisive action, just as the
Spartan had been before him. Nor could he mistake the meaning of the
agitation that at once showed itself among his men. It was not difficult
to see that he would soon be left almost alone.

Accordingly he gave the signal to march. Some time, however, had been
lost, and a number of light-armed troops from the Roman army were within
a short distance of the retreating force. It became necessary, if their
attacks were to be checked, for the rear ranks to face about. There was
little or no actual fighting. The pursuers fell back as soon as the
retreating division showed them a firm front. Their object was to cause
as much delay as possible; the Carthaginians, on the other hand, had to
solve the problem of making these necessary halts interfere as little as
possible with the rapidity of their retreat. In this they were greatly
helped by their high discipline and what may be called their perfect
coherence, and they had actually got almost within a bow-shot of the
rock-fortress when they had to turn, as they hoped, for the last time.

There was now some really sharp fighting. The pursuers had been
reinforced by a detachment of picked troops from the main body, men
chosen for the speed with which they could move under a heavy equipment
of armour and arms. The Carthaginians fell slowly back before them,
keeping an unbroken line, and encouraged by the thought that if they
could get within range of the walls they would be in comparative safety.

Nor was this hope disappointed. The Romans, indeed, pressed on, for the
walls were to all appearance deserted, but this appearance concealed a
carefully concerted surprise. Hundreds of archers and slingers were
crouching behind the battlements, and there were scores of catapults,
with their range carefully adjusted, ready to discharge volleys of
stones and javelins. At a given signal, fire, if the expression may be
allowed, was opened with overwhelming effect. The Roman line absolutely
staggered under the blow. At the same time the gates were thrown open,
and before the enemy could recover, the whole of the retreating force
was safe within the walls.

But when, an hour or so afterwards, the roll was called, Cleanor was
among the missing.


    FOOTNOTE:

    39: "At Platæa Pausanias commanded the Spartans to change their
    position. All the captains but one were ready to obey, but
    Amompharetus refused to move. 'I will not fly,' he said, 'before
    the strangers, nor bring disgrace upon Sparta.' After a while
    the Athenians sent a horseman to learn why the Spartans did not
    change their place as had been agreed upon. When the man came up
    the dispute was waxing hot, and Amompharetus took up with both
    hands a huge stone, and put it at the feet of the general,
    saying, 'With this pebble (_psephos_) I give my vote not to fly
    from the strangers.' At last the general gave the signal for
    retreat, expecting that Amompharetus and his men would not like
    to be left behind. And so indeed it turned out, for, when he saw
    the rest of the army in motion, he also left his place and
    followed them" (Herod. ix. 53-5).



CHAPTER XX.

TREACHERY.


The young Greek had had a narrow escape with his life. Two wounds--one
on the head, producing a severe concussion of the brain; the other on
the thigh, causing an almost fatal loss of blood--had well-nigh finished
his career. For nearly forty-eight hours he remained in a state of
complete unconsciousness; then the brain slowly began to resume its
functions. But the weakness of extreme exhaustion still continued. He
lay for days dimly conscious of his existence, but content to accept his
surroundings, to swallow the food and drink which were offered him, and
to sleep without asking any questions.

Then a certain curiosity began to awake in him. The place in which he
found himself was unfamiliar, and he lazily wondered where he was. The
voices about him were strange--his sight was still too weak to
distinguish faces--and the speech which they used was strange. His first
attempt to move was followed by a feeling of absolute helplessness; his
first effort at speech produced a sound so far-away that he hardly
recognized his own voice.

It was on the morning of the seventh day, after an unusually long and
refreshing sleep, that he felt equal to the task of realizing where he
was. The physician, who luckily happened to be paying him his morning
visit, at once recognized the improvement in his patient.

"Hush!" he said, when the young man attempted to speak. "Be quiet till
you have had some food. You are better, I see, but you want some
refreshment. Then you may ask questions, and listen to what is told you,
but only for as long as I allow."

He clapped his hands, and an attendant entered the room, carrying a cup
of broth which had been fortified with a cordial. Cleanor, who was still
so helpless that he had to be fed like an infant, swallowed it with an
excellent appetite, and was sorry when the last spoonful had been
administered.

"Good!" said the man of science; "we have positively brought a little
red into your cheeks. You shall have another allowance when that has run
itself out three times;" and he turned, as he spoke, a water-clock which
stood on a table by the bedside. "Meanwhile, you can receive a friend
who has been waiting for some days to renew his acquaintance with you."

He nodded to the attendant, and the man pushed aside the curtain which
hung over the entrance to the tent. The next moment the expected visitor
appeared. Cleanor recognized in him the young officer, kinsman to
Scipio, whose life he had saved in the attack on the Megara.

"The gods be thanked," said the young Roman, "that I see you yourself
again!"

"That I am myself I must believe," replied Cleanor, "but of everything
else I feel doubtful. Tell me what has happened."

Scipio looked to the physician with a tacit inquiry whether the subject
was permitted.

"Speak on; it will worry him more, now that he has begun to think, to be
left in ignorance."

"To begin, then," said Scipio, "when did you see me last?"

"Now I come to think of it, a dim remembrance of your face is about the
last thing I can recall. But between that and the present there is a
gulf of forgetfulness."

"And no wonder; if you hadn't had a head of adamant that same gulf would
have swallowed you up for good. Well, do you remember anything about a
battle?"

"Yes, yes; the things begin to come back to me; you were on a bay horse.
I remember thinking what a skeleton it was."

"No wonder; these African pastures are terribly bare."

"And now I remember that I thought of something else. It was those
verses in Homer, the verses that Diomed says to Glaucus when they meet
on the battle-field, and find that they are old family friends."[40]

The young Roman laughed aloud. "Now, this is curious," he cried. "We are
bound to be friends, if thinking the same things be a mark of
friendship. I remember that the very same thought about Glaucus and
Diomed occurred to me. You have not forgotten everything, it is clear."

"Come, my dear sir," interposed the physician, "you must not let him
talk so much. Tell him your story, and then leave him to get a little
rest."

"Well," said Scipio, "what I have to say is very soon told. You will
remember the discharge from the walls of the fort that checked our
advance. It was admirably calculated; but, of course, when the fighting
was so close as it was at the time, and the front ranks of the two
armies were actually mixed together, it could not damage us without
doing some harm to you. I saw two or three of your men struck down,
manifestly, from the way in which they fell, by some missile from the
walls. One of them I noticed particularly, because he was close to you.
There could be no mistake, for there was a clear space round you. Our
men had fallen back, and yours were making the best of their way to the
gates. You two were rather behind the rest. I saw you stoop as if to
lift your companion from the ground. You were looking towards us, for I
particularly remember that I saw your face. You raised the man from the
ground, but then your foot seemed to slip, and you fell forwards. Then
you raised the man again. Several of us were watching you, and I have
heard from them since that their recollections agree exactly with mine.
And of this, too, I am quite certain, there was not a hand raised
against you from our side of the field of battle. Well, we all saw you
rise again with the man in your arms. You got him over your shoulder,
for that, of course, was the easiest way of carrying him, but you still
had your face looking our way. And before you turned you were struck
by--"

[Illustration: "I SAW YOU STOOP AND LIFT YOUR COMPANION FROM THE
GROUND."]

"Before I turned?" interrupted the sick man, who had been listening with
rapt attention to the narrative. "Before I turned, you say; you are sure
that I was struck by my friends behind me?"

"As sure," replied Scipio, "as that I am sitting here and speaking to
you at this moment."

"Go on, then."

"Before you turned you were struck from behind. The first blow was on
the back of your leg. I saw you put your hand to the place. And you had
hardly done that when you were felled to the ground by a second blow.
That was on your head. We guessed as much from the way you fell; and
when we came to examine you afterwards, we found it to be as I have
said. Your good physician here will tell you the particulars."

"Yes," said the leech, "I will at the proper time. But for the present
my patient has heard enough. Indeed, unless I am very much mistaken, he
has heard too much."

"Whether it is enough or too much," said Cleanor, "I must hear it all.
It would be ten times worse to be left in this suspense. I can only
judge from what you say that I must have been struck from behind, that
is by my own friends. But that treachery I can't believe. What do you
say, sir," he went on, looking to the physician; "can you throw any
light on the matter?"

"Be calm, be calm, my friend," said the physician. "You will undo all
the good that we have been doing you for the last ten days. Here, let me
feel your pulse.... It is just as I thought," he went on, "a regular
bounding pulse. I would have given anything for you to have had such a
pulse when I first took you in hand. But now it means fever, and fever
means I don't know what."

"Still, I must have the whole story now," persisted Cleanor. "Do you
think I can sleep with this doubt regarding my friends hanging over
me?"

"Well, a wilful man will have his way, but, mind, I wash my hands of the
whole business. I am not responsible for what may happen. And it
promised to be such a beautiful cure, too!"

"For heaven's sake go on! Tell me how I came to be wounded?" cried the
patient, with an emphasis of which no one would have thought him capable
half an hour before.

"Well," replied the physician, "I will tell you what I know, but it is
under protest. You see this"--he produced from his pocket a leaden
bullet of the kind commonly used in slings--"I extracted this from the
wound on your hip. A nasty wound it was, and had caused a terrible loss
of blood. You see that mark? It is not a Roman mark, certainly. Do you
recognize it? Unless I am very much mistaken, it is the Carthaginian
letter that answers to what we Greeks call _alpha_. What do you say?"

"You are right," said Cleanor. "I have myself given them out to the
slingers from the stores. Yes, it is a Carthaginian bullet."

"Then there is another thing," the physician went on. "When they were
stripping you to put you into bed, this stone that I hold in my hand
fell out of a fold in your clothes. There were some fragments of hair
upon it, and I recognized the hair as yours. See, they are here still;"
and he produced a small piece of papyrus in which they were wrapped.
"Now, where did that bit of stone come from? It has got, if you look
closely at it, a little mortar on one side. At some time it has been
built into a wall. You don't find such things lying about on the open
plain. No; that bit of stone came from somewhere inside Nepheris. I have
got some ten or twelve other pieces of stone very like it, that were
picked up near the place by a boy whom I sent to search the next day.
They are much of a size, and, I should say, though I don't profess to
know much about such things, that they came from a catapult. Nothing
else could have sent them so far. Now I have told you all I know."

"Many thanks, sir!" said the Greek in a low voice. "I am convinced that
there has been treachery; indeed you leave no room for doubt. But I
could almost wish," he added with a melancholy smile, "I could almost
wish that you had been less skilful, and my friends here less
affectionate. I hardly feel as grateful to you as I ought to be. It is a
grievous thing for a man to feel that he has been wounded in the house
of his friends."

"Come, come," said the kindly physician, "it may have been only an
accident or a mistake after all! However, you have had excitement
enough, and more than enough, for the day. Take this, and it will send
you to sleep;" and producing a small phial of poppy-juice from his
wallet he poured a potent dose into a cup of wine, and gave it to his
patient.

"Thanks, doctor!" murmured Cleanor, but added in a whisper, "Yes, sleep,
but if only there could be no waking!"


FOOTNOTE:

    40: "E'en in the turmoil of battle each other's spears will
                we shun:
        I shall find many a Trojan, and allies many an one
        To slay, whom my feet shall o'ertake, or a god deliver
                to me;
        And for thee be Achaians enow, to smite as thy strength
                shall be."



CHAPTER XXI.

POLYBIUS.


Cleanor's wish for the sleep from which there is no waking was only too
genuine. He felt almost heart-broken at the treatment which he had
received. He had thrown himself into the cause of Carthage with a
single-minded energy which had never been permitted to flag, and these
wounds were his reward!

True, he had a pretty clear notion of the quarter from which this
treacherous enmity had proceeded. He felt sure that Hasdrubal had never
forgiven him. That his vanity had been humbled and his cruelty baffled
were offences that would be sure to rankle in the mind of such a man.
But what could be said for a people which was content to be ruled by a
Hasdrubal? The young Greek felt that he had lost his country, so to
speak, a second time. His native town had perished, and now the city of
his adoption, Carthage, which he had been eager to serve with life and
death, had cruelly repudiated him.

The first result of these thoughts was an absolute loss of all interest
in life. He did not wish to recover, and for a time it seemed most
likely that what he did not wish would not be. The physician found that
all the ground which had been gained was lost, and for some days he
despaired of his patient's life. There was no active disease; that would
have given his art something definite to combat. But there was a total
indifference to everything, which offered an inert, and, as it seemed,
unconquerable resistance to all his efforts.

Still, at twenty there is an almost physical desire for life which
triumphs over the deepest sorrows and the most acute disappointments.
Had Cleanor been master of his own actions he might have committed
suicide. As it was, lying helpless in the hands of his physician and his
friends, he had to submit to being kept alive. His appetite returned by
degrees, though he was almost ashamed of being hungry. As his strength
grew, and the blood began to course more briskly through his veins, he
found interests revive which he had thought to be extinguished,
interests to which he seemed to have bidden farewell. And so the process
of recovery went on.

The young Scipio did his best to help it forward. He had often
reproached himself with haste and want of discretion in prematurely
revealing to his friend and preserver the revolting truth of the
treachery of which he had been the object. He now exerted himself to
repair the mischief. His attendance by the sick-bed was unceasing. He
was always ready to talk, to read aloud, or to play a game of draughts
or soldiers, as the strength of the patient permitted.

And all was done with so genuine an affection that it could not fail to
win its way to the heart of the patient. More than once the young man's
great kinsman, the Commander himself, spared an hour from his
innumerable occupations to pay a visit to the sick man's tent. Cleanor
felt again, in even increased force, what had impressed him at his first
meeting, the inexplicable charm of Scipio's personality.

Under these circumstances Cleanor's health improved, at first almost in
spite of himself, for he could hardly be said to have had any wish for
life, and then with greater rapidity, as time weakened the painful
impressions of the past and strengthened new interests and hopes. In the
early days of his illness his host, for he occupied the private tent of
the younger Scipio, had been granted a furlough from his military
duties, for the express purpose of attending on his guest. Though
renewed more than once, this had to come to an end.

But Cleanor never lacked company, and that of the most interesting kind.
It will be remembered that on the occasion of his visiting the Roman
camp in the capacity of interpreter to the officer negotiating an
exchange of prisoners, he had made the acquaintance of the historian
Polybius. This acquaintance he was now able to improve. Polybius, as a
non-combatant, had plenty of time to bestow on the invalid, in whom he
found an intelligent listener and even critic. It became his constant
custom to bring what he had written on the previous day, read it aloud
to the invalid, and invite his criticism on it.

"I want above all things," Polybius said, "to be both candid and clear.
Tell me if I seem to write like a partisan, or if I am obscure. What you
do not readily understand will certainly be unintelligible to nine
readers out of ten."

The reading was commonly followed by a conversation, in which a great
variety of subjects were touched upon, and in which Cleanor found a
quite inexhaustible interest. Polybius, who was now past middle age,[41]
had seen about as much of men and manners as any man of his time. He had
held high military office in his native country, commanding the cavalry
of the Achæan League, the last effort of Greece to hold her place in the
world of politics. He had never seen, it so happened, any active
service of importance, but in the knowledge of the theory of war he was
unsurpassed by any man of his time. He had indeed made a very important
contribution to the military art by greatly improving the practice of
signalling. If there was anything that raised the old soldier's vanity
it was this. He could not boast of any victories, and he belonged to a
nation which had ceased to be a factor of importance in the politics of
the world, but the credit of this invention gave him, he believed, a
rank among the great soldiers of history. It was, he told Cleanor, the
proudest moment of his life when he saw his system used, and used with
success, by the great Scipio himself.[42]

But nothing in Polybius' conversation was more interesting than what he
had to say about his experiences during his seventeen years of exile in
Italy. Along with many hundreds of his countrymen--with all, it might
almost be said, who were in any way distinguished or able--he had been
deported to Italy. But he had been more fortunate than most of his
companions. While they were distributed among the towns of Northern
Italy, where they dragged out a miserable existence, without books or
society, and often with but the scantiest means, he had been permitted
to live in Rome. He had won the friendship of Æmilius Paullus, the great
conqueror of Macedonia, and he and his two sons interested themselves in
him. The society into which he was thus introduced was the most
brilliant which Rome possessed, and Polybius was never weary of talking
about it. Cleanor, who, like his countrymen in general, had been
accustomed to regard the Romans as little better than barbarians, was
astonished at his enthusiasm.

"We haven't any society in Greece," Polybius would say, "that can be
fairly matched with them. They are on a larger scale, more strongly
built, so to speak. They are not so acute, perhaps, as some of our
people, but far more solid and strong."

"But they have no literature, I am told," interrupted Cleanor.

"That is hardly so," replied Polybius, "they have the beginnings of what
will be, I am sure, a great literature. At present they do little more
than translate from us. But their translations are better than any
originals we can now produce. I used to be present at the first readings
of the comedies of their great writer, Terence. They were taken, it is
true, from Menander and Diphilus and other Greeks, but the taking was
done with the greatest art, and the language was admirable. You may take
it for granted that with a language so finished as Latin now is, a real
literature is sure to come before long. And it was curious, too, to see
what admirable judges of style these young nobles were. It wasn't true,
though it was commonly reported, that Scipio and his friend Lælius wrote
Terence's plays for him, but I can bear witness of my own knowledge that
they helped him greatly with them. You see, he was not a Roman born,
and it is not everyone that can write Roman Latin, any more than
everyone can write Attic Greek. And there is another thing which we
cannot match: the culture of the women in the best families. Among us it
is very seldom that a respectable woman can do more than read and write;
very often she cannot do as much as that. It is very different in
Rome--not, of course, everywhere, for there are some who stick
obstinately to the old ways, but in the circle of which I am talking.
Lælius--he, you know, is Scipio's great friend--whose acquaintance you
will soon make, has a daughter whose learning would put many of our
students to shame. She was a girl not far into her teens when I used to
see her--they do not shut up their women in our fashion--and she could
speak Greek with the very finest accent, and they said just the same of
her Latin; of that, of course, I could hardly judge so well."

"Did you ever see the old man Cato?" asked Cleanor. "I have often heard
talk of him. He must have been a worthy of a very different stamp."

"Yes, yes, I knew him well," replied Polybius, "and have excellent
reasons for remembering him. As you say, he was of a very different
stamp, and belonged to quite another age. He was of a time when
scarcely a Roman had ever set his foot outside Italy, or even imagined
that anything good could come from beyond the seas. Yet it was strange
how the new spirit had succeeded in touching even him in his old age. Do
you know that I had the honour of having him for a pupil? He must have
been close upon eighty years of age when he found that it put him at a
disadvantage not to know what other men knew, and he actually took to
learning Greek. He had long been able to speak it in a way, but he took
to reading it, and I had the pleasure of being his teacher. I used to
stay at his country house, for it was only there that he had leisure for
his lessons. It was a curious experience. He used to entertain his
neighbours, the country-side folk, farmers and the like, in the
friendliest fashion. They were fine, sturdy folk, and I soon understood,
when I saw them, how Rome seems likely to conquer the world. And what
heads they had! The wine-cup didn't halt in its rounds, I can tell you,
and if I hadn't missed my turn as often as I could, the end would have
been disaster. As for the old man, he never shirked.[43] But there was a
very harsh side to his character. Nothing could be harder than his
dealings with his slaves. They were mere beasts of burden to him, not
one whit of more account than his horses and oxen,--not indeed of so
much, seeing that they gave more trouble. He gave them just as much food
as would keep them alive, not a morsel more. When they grew too old for
work, he turned them out of doors to starve. However, he behaved very
well to me, and if I gave him any help, he repaid me many fold. He was
won over somehow to take the part of the exiles. Of course Scipio and
his friends had a great deal to do with it, but I always thought that he
had also a kindness for me. I was in the senate-house when the question
came on--should the Greek exiles be allowed to go home? There was a hot
debate, and a close division was expected. The old man rose to speak
quite at the end of the sitting. I must say that what he said was not
flattering, but it was certainly effective. 'Are we going to waste any
more time about these trumpery Greeks? If we don't settle the matter
to-day we shall have the whole discussion over again.' Then he sat down.
The senators laughed; and the motion was carried easily. I went to thank
him the next day. He was very friendly, and I took courage to say that
if we were allowed to go back, we might also be restored to our rank and
honours. He smiled very grimly. 'Friend,' he said, 'when a man is lucky
enough to get out of the Cyclops' cave, I take it that he would be a
fool to go back after his hat or his cloak.' I took the hint, and was
off before two days had passed. But before I went, he sent a message
that he wanted to see me. He was then at his country house, and he was
busy making some alterations in a book that he had written about
agriculture. He was dictating, and a slave, a wretched Greek, who
looked, as he probably was, half-starved, was writing down. 'I bought
him at Magnesia[44],' he said, 'for £20, and an excellent bargain it
was, but he is getting past his work now.' I saw the poor fellow flush
up, but Cato cared no more for his feelings than if he had been a dog.
'But now for what I wanted to say to you. I don't suppose that I shall
see the end of Carthage, though it will not be for want of urging my
countrymen to bring it about.[45] But you probably will, for it can
hardly be postponed for another ten years. Well, there is one thing in
Carthage that I have always wished to see, and that is, Mago's work on
agriculture. I have never been able to get anything like a complete copy
of it. Only two or three of the books--there are twenty-eight in
all--have come into my hands, and I have found them quite admirable, and
have made all the use of them that I could for my own treatise. What I
wanted to say to you was to bear this matter in mind if you should
chance to be at hand when the end comes. Books often fare very badly at
such times. What, indeed, does the common soldier know about their
value? But, depend upon it, this one will be worth a whole ship-load of
gold and silver. Keep your eyes open, then, and warn all whom you know
to be on the look-out for Mago's book.' That was the last time I saw
him. He lived two years longer, and died happy, I suppose, because war
had been declared against Carthage."


    FOOTNOTES:

    41: He was probably born about the year 204 B.C., and so would
    now (147 B.C.) be in his fifty-eighth year.

    42: I have not ventured to interrupt my narrative with an
    account of the invention as it was described by Polybius in more
    than one conversation, but I will give it here for the benefit
    of such readers as may be interested in the subject. The plan
    which Polybius seems to have found in use was a very curious
    one, and, it is evident, far from being effective. The two
    bodies of men which would have to communicate by signal were
    provided with two vessels of exactly the same diameter and
    depth, and with outlets for the water of exactly the same size.
    Divisions were marked on them, and each division was
    appropriated to some common contingency in military affairs, as
    for instance, "Cavalry has arrived", "Cavalry is wanted", "Food
    is short", &c. The party desirous to communicate showed a torch.
    The other replied in the same way to indicate that they were
    attending. Another torch was shown by the first party. This
    meant that the water had been set flowing. The other replied in
    the same way, and set the water flowing in their vessel. When
    the desired point had been reached a third signal was shown. As
    soon as this signal was seen, the other side observed how far
    the water in their vessel had sunk. The defect was that only a
    few out of the innumerable contingencies of war could be thus
    communicated. The system perfected by Polybius was much more
    effective. The alphabet was divided into five groups of five
    letters each. The party wishing to communicate, which I will in
    future speak of as No. 1, called the attention of the other (No.
    2) by raising two torches, and this signal was acknowledged in
    the same way. No. 1 then showed one, two, three, four, or five
    torches on the left to indicate which group he was about to use,
    and then one, two, three, four, or five on the right to indicate
    the letter in the group. An observing-glass with two tubes was
    necessary for No. 2 to enable him to distinguish between right
    and left. I will give an example, taking it, for convenience,
    from our own alphabet. "Cavalry wanted" is the message which No.
    1 desires to send. The groups of letters would be--

        1. _a b c d e._
        2. _f g h i j._
        3. _k l m n o._
        4. _p q r s t._
        5. _u v w x y._

    _z_ might be neglected, as practically of no use. (In the Greek
    alphabet of 24 letters the fifth group would be one letter
    short. This, of course, would not matter.)

    _C_ is shown by 1 left and 3 on right; _a_ by 1 and 1; _v_ by 5
    and 2; _l_ by 3 and 2; _r_ by 4 and 3; _y_ by 5 and 5.

    And similarly with "wanted".

    43: So Horace in his Ode, "Ad Amphoram" (To the Wine Jar):

        "Cato's virtue, as we know,
        Caught from thee a warmer glow".

    44: The great victory of the Romans over Antiochus the Great at
    Magnesia was in 190 B.C. Polybius is speaking of the year 151.

    45: Cato was accustomed, whatever the business before the Senate
    might be, to add to his opinion on the matter in hand, "I also
    think that Carthage ought to be destroyed". One of the Scipios,
    who favoured a more liberal policy, or perhaps thought that Rome
    would be better if she had a not too powerful rival, used to add
    in the same way, "I think that Carthage ought still to exist".



CHAPTER XXII.

A PLEASURE TRIP.


The year drew to its close with a period of inaction on both sides. The
Carthaginians, greatly disheartened by the defeat of the native tribes,
made no further attempt to assume the offensive. They still held Fort
Nepheris, the Romans not being able to spare enough men to invest it.
The besiegers, on the other hand, were content to let things alone for
the present. Time was on their side. They added daily to the strength of
their siege-works, and their troops, most of them at their first landing
raw recruits, were now becoming well-seasoned soldiers. A few days
before the end of the year Scipio left for Rome in order to be present
at the elections. Nothing was done during his absence, but it was
understood that on his return active operations would be commenced
without delay.

On the day after the departure of the commander-in-chief, Cleanor
received a visit from his physician. Latterly these visits had been rare
and brief, not going beyond a few questions and a short gossip on the
news of the camp. Now, however, the patient was subjected to a close
examination. When this was completed, the physician shook his head.

"My young friend," he said, "you are not making quite the progress I had
hoped and expected to see. The pulse is weak, I find. You have
headaches, you tell me, now and then, and little appetite. This last is
not a good sign. A young man like you, when he is really getting well,
ought to be as hungry as a wolf. On the whole, I think you would be the
better for a change, and we must consider how it can be managed."

At this point of the conversation Polybius entered the tent. "I am not
satisfied," said the physician, addressing the new-comer. "I don't find
my young patient making as good a recovery as I had hoped, and I have
been suggesting a change. These are excellent quarters, and every care
is taken, I know, of our friend, but a camp is not a good place for a
complete recovery. Somehow the presence of a number of men seems to make
the air somewhat stale."

"I am particularly glad to see you," said Polybius, "for this is exactly
the business about which I have come. Scipio, who thinks of everybody,
and forgets nothing, was talking to me about Cleanor here the day before
yesterday, and the very last thing he said to me yesterday when I bade
him good-bye on board his galley was, 'Don't forget the invalid.' He
left the matter, as a whole, to my discretion, but his idea was a short
trip to Egypt. I was to ask your opinion, and if that was favourable, I
was to arrange the details. Scipio will be away for nearly or quite a
month, for there are many things to settle in Rome, and of course
nothing of importance will be done during his absence. That gives us
plenty of time. What do you say, doctor?"

"Nothing could be better," replied the physician. "We will say a month.
That won't give you much time on shore. But I don't care about that. In
fact it is the sea voyage that I count upon for putting our young friend
right. Still, there is plenty to see in Alexandria, even if you can't
get any further."[46]

"That is exactly what I expected to hear," said Polybius. "In fact, I so
much took it for granted that I have given orders for a galley to be
ready this evening. So if you don't object, Cleanor, we will start at
once. There is a nice westerly breeze blowing, which we ought not to
lose."

Cleanor had no objection to make. He was, on the contrary, much pleased
with the idea. He had certainly been feeling somewhat languid, and the
time was beginning to hang heavy on his hands. Besides, what could be
more delightful than to see Alexandria?

A start accordingly was made at sunset. Everything favoured the
voyagers. The wind never veered from the west, and though towards
evening it commonly lulled, it never ceased; during the day it always
blew briskly, but never was so strong as to cause inconvenience. In
consequence the galley's voyage was almost a record, for she reached the
quay in what was called the Eunostos or Haven of Happy Return in nine
days. The travellers paid the customary visit of thanksgiving for a safe
voyage to the Temple of Poseidon, and dropped a half-stater[47] apiece
into the chest for offerings. This done, they presented a letter of
introduction, with which Scipio had furnished them, to the official who
represented Rome in Alexandria, were received by him with effusion, and
pressed to accept his hospitality, but preferred the independence of
lodgings of their own.

Their first visit was, of course, to the great Library. This had not at
that time reached the enormous proportions which it attained about a
century later, when it received, in addition to its own wealth, the vast
collections of Pergamum,[48] but the volumes on its shelves already
numbered more than a quarter of a million. The two friends could have
spent months, had months been at their disposal, in this wilderness of
learning. It was not only the multitude of its treasures that astonished
them, it was the extraordinary value of many of the particular volumes.
Here the student was permitted to inspect, under due safeguards, of
course, the actual autographs of some of the most famous authors of the
world. One of the Ptolemies, ironically called the Well-doer, had
fraudulently possessed himself of the originals of Æschylus, Sophocles,
and Euripides, presenting the Athenian people which owned them with
copies and a money compensation. His successors had followed the same
unscrupulous policy. Indeed, no valuable manuscript that once found its
way into Alexandria was ever permitted to leave it.

Adjoining the Library was the Museum, with its theatre or great
lecture-hall, its smaller lecture-rooms, its dining-hall, and collegiate
buildings, cloisters, gardens, and park. The two friends wandered from
room to room, where all comers were welcome--the munificent endowments
of learning rendered all fees unnecessary--and listened to discourses on
all the subjects of knowledge under the sun.

There did not happen to be any commanding or famous personality among
the professors of the time, but there was plenty of learning and
abundance of rhetoric if not of eloquence. A successor of Aristarchus
discoursed on the criticism of Homer, denouncing, for such happened to
be the subject of the day, the pernicious heresy of the _Chorizontes_,
the critics who maintained a diverse authorship of the Iliad and the
Odyssey. The chair of Euclid was occupied by a geometrician who had made
some additions to the science of trigonometry. In the lecture-room
devoted to astronomy they had the good fortune to hear a really
distinguished man of science, Hipparchus of Bithynia, who had been
invited by the authorities of the Museum to give a course of lectures.
He had chosen for his subject his own great discovery of the precession
of the equinoxes, made, as he explained, by a comparison of his own
observations with those of earlier astronomers.[49]

As they left the room they were invited by an attendant, who observed
that they were strangers, to read an inscription written in letters of
gold over the principal door. It was the epigram of Apollonius of Rhodes
on the reception of the Hair of Berenice among the Constellations.
Polybius was recognized by one of the professors, who had been glad to
leave the thankless politics of Greece for a quiet competence in this
abode of learning, and was invited by the professor to take dinner in
the great banqueting-hall. Cleanor was, of course, included in the
invitation. The intervening time was spent pleasantly enough in
inspecting the garden, in which the collection of tropical plants,
afterwards so famous, had been already begun, and in examining, what
was then a sight peculiar to Alexandria, a menagerie.

Both Polybius and his friend were inclined to think that all time not
spent in the Library or the lecture-room was more or less wasted. Still,
there were sights which it was impossible for a visitor to Alexandria to
neglect. Such was the mausoleum of the Ptolemies, with the coffin of
gold in which reposed the remains of the great Alexander; the
observatory; the palace of justice; and the market, thronged with the
commerce of the whole of the civilized world. There were hours, too,
when the Library was shut, and these were spent in a way both amusing
and instructive. The two wandered through the different regions of the
great city, the streets inhabited by the Jews, with squalid exteriors,
often concealing palaces fit for kings, and the native quarter, crowded
with figures and faces that might have belonged to long-dead subjects of
the Pharaohs. Not less interesting than the city were the docks and
quays. Egypt was already one of the great granaries of the world.
Loading the wheat ships was an employment that provided thousands of
labourers with sustenance, and at this time, thanks to the war, which
had thrown out of cultivation the fertile territory of Carthage, the
trade was particularly brisk.

Anyhow, the time did not hang heavily on the visitors' hands, and
Cleanor could hardly believe that ten days had passed when Polybius
introduced the subject of departure. There was a certain hesitation in
the old man's manner, and Cleanor, who had all the quick observation and
alert intelligence of his race, did not fail to perceive it.

"This is a delightful place, Cleanor," he said, "and I hope to see it
again. Indeed, there are books in the Library which I must go through
carefully before I give my _magnum opus_ to the world. But that must be
for the future. Now I have no choice but to go. We must not allow less
than twelve days for the return voyage, though, if this wind holds, we
shall not take so long."

"Yes," replied Cleanor, "I am ready to start at any time."

Polybius hesitated a second before he spoke. "Well," he said, "I don't
think that there is any necessity for your coming with me. It is a pity
that you should not see something more of Egypt now you are here. And
then there is the question of health. It would be a thousand pities that
you should have anything like a relapse. As for me, I must go. Next
month, or, at furthest, the month after, is likely to see one of the
greatest events in the history of the West, and it would be folly in me,
who pretend to be an historian, if, having the chance of seeing it with
my own eyes, I should fail to be present."

Cleanor saw in a moment that the whole thing had been planned, and that
his companion was speaking by instruction. But he thought it prudent to
conceal his knowledge.

"Yes," he said, "I understand; but I think that I would sooner go back
with you."

This was put out as a feeler, and it did not fail in its object.

"I think it must be as I said," replied Polybius with some hesitation.
"To tell you the truth, it was Scipio's wish that you should remain
here, and I should not like to go against his wish. The master of
legions," he added with a smile, "must have his own way."

"Exactly so," said the young man, "and I have no wish to oppose him."

"Good!" replied Polybius with evident relief; "I was sure that you would
be reasonable, so sure, in fact, that I have made arrangements for you
to start to-morrow on a journey up the Nile. All expenses have been
paid, and you will have nothing to do but enjoy the most wonderful sight
in the world. There need be no hurry. Take your time and see everything
at your leisure. The chance may never come again. The boat and its crew
have been hired for three months. When you return you shall find, all
being well, a letter with instructions awaiting you here."

"Well," said Cleanor, "I can't help being sorry that you are not coming
with me, but the plan is a most delightful one. You could not have
devised anything better."

The young man's real thoughts were quite of another kind, though he
concealed them with an adroitness which would have done credit to a
veteran diplomatist. The fact was that he had been haunted for some time
past by anxieties with which was mingled a certain feeling of
self-reproach. They had scarcely presented themselves, or had been
readily banished, during the period of his weakness and forced inaction.
But when health was fully restored, and he again felt himself capable of
action, he could no longer ignore them.

What had happened, what was likely to happen, to his foster-mother and
her daughter? To Theoxena he was bound by one of the most natural and
tender of ties. To let her perish, or suffer a fate worse than death,
would be a shameful failure of duty, only less disgraceful than if she
had been his mother indeed. And her daughter--? He had scarcely thought
of the girl at the time, so engrossing had been the anxieties of the
moment. But her image had been impressed deeply on his memory, and even
on his heart. He seemed to see her still, as she told, with all the
simplicity of a child, the pitiful story of her kidnapped brother. The
large pathetic eyes, brimmed with tears, haunted him night and day.

And there came with the thought the memory of another face, his sister
in blood, lost to him for ever. Was Fate about to deal him another blow
even worse than the first? Cleoné was dead. Was the time coming when the
best thing that he could wish for Daphne would be that she should be
dead also? And was he to be sight-seeing on the Nile, curiously
speculating on the history of long-past generations, while this awful
tragedy of the present was working itself out at Carthage? The thought
was maddening. "No!" he said to himself; "I may not be able to do
anything to help, but at least I will not be taking my pleasure while
they are suffering torture or death!"

It was, however, necessary to dissimulate. It was plain that Scipio was
determined to have him out of the way when Carthage fell. Nor could
anything, he acknowledged to himself, be more reasonable or more kind.
Though he could not be supposed to feel any sense of duty to a state
from which he had received such treatment, still he might well wish not
to witness its final catastrophe. Of his private feelings the Roman
general could have no knowledge.

His only course was to appear to acquiesce in the plan. Scipio must
undoubtedly have provided for the contingency of his resistance.
Polybius, he remembered, had introduced the subject with a certain
hesitation, as if an objection was not impossible. He was now, Cleanor
trusted, off his guard. A too prompt consent might have seemed
suspicious. As it was, he reflected with satisfaction, he had shown
exactly the right kind of reluctance. He had expressed regret at
losing his friend's company, without giving a hint of any personal
unwillingness to accept the plan.

That evening Polybius started on his return voyage. Cleanor was with him
to the last moment, talking with an admirably simulated gaiety and
interest of the pleasure which lay before him in exploring the Egypt of
the Pharaohs.


    FOOTNOTES:

    46: A ship of war, with a first-rate crew of rowers, making a
    very long day, say of fifteen hours, could travel 150 miles.
    From Carthage to Alexandria, by sea, is about 1100 miles. We
    must allow not less than ten days each way.

    47: A gold piece equal to twelve shillings.

    48: The Attali of Pergamum, and the Ptolemies of Alexandria,
    were rivals in amassing literary treasures. The house of the
    Attali became extinct in 133 B.C., and soon afterwards their
    kingdom became a Roman province. Their library remained at
    Pergamum till Antony presented it to Cleopatra. The word
    "parchment" (_pergamena_) remains as a reminder of its
    existence. Skins, of course, had long been used for writing
    purposes, but the manufacture was greatly improved under the
    patronage of the kings of Pergamum. The jealousy of the
    Ptolemies forbade, it is said, the export of paper (_papyrus_)
    from Alexandria, and parchment had to be used as a substitute.

    49: The backward movement of the equinoctial points along the
    elliptic. A constellation which Hesiod describes as rising sixty
    days after the spring equinox, now rises one hundred days after.
    The equinox therefore has receded by a space equivalent to forty
    days.



CHAPTER XXIII.

DIPLOMACY.


The Nile boat which had been engaged for Cleanor was lying at one of the
quays which bordered a considerable part of the eastern or city shore of
Lake Mareotis. The arrangement had been that it should start early in
the morning of the day following the departure of Polybius. But the
young man purposely delayed his appearance till late in the day, and
the captain and crew, who had plenty of private affairs to occupy them
for as long as their employers chose to stay, made no complaint.

It wanted but two or three hours to sunset when Cleanor at last
presented himself. The captain explained that they would not have time
that day to go further than the mouth of the canal which connected the
lake with the river Nile. This was false. They had plenty of light to
make the passage of the canal itself. But the passenger assented with an
unquestioning alacrity which inspired the old rogue who owned the boat
with the liveliest expectations of a lazy and prosperous voyage. Both
were, in fact, equally satisfied. The captain wanted to do as little as
possible, and also contemplated a final carouse at the Canal Tavern, a
house famous for its wines. The passenger, who had made up his mind to
leave the boat at the earliest opportunity, was glad not to be taken any
further distance from the city than could be helped.

As soon as they halted for the night he summoned the old captain and had
an explanation with him. He began by asking in an indifferent tone the
names of the chief cities which they were to pass. The captain of course
had his lesson by heart, and answered with a long list of places,
adding, as he mentioned each name, the chief sights for which it was
famous.

"And do you particularly wish to see all these places again?" asked the
Greek with a smile.

The old man stared at him. "It is my business, my lord," he answered; "a
poor trade, it is true, but it was my father's before me, and his
father's too, and so on for I don't know how many generations. I don't
know why I have stuck to it, for the pay is poor, but so I have. It is
our way, I suppose, in Egypt."

"The pay is poor, you say," said the Greek; "but it would be better if
you didn't go this voyage, and had the pay all the same."

"My lord is laughing at his servant," said the captain, staring again
with eyes more wide open than ever.

"Not at all; the fact is that I have no more wish to see these places
than you have."

The captain went on staring. "Then why--?" he began.

"My friends settled the matter for me; but I would sooner stay where I
am."

"I understand," said the captain, closing one eye entirely, and
diminishing the other to its natural size. "I understand. You have a
friend, a young friend, I daresay, and you don't think that this is a
good time for a long voyage."

Cleanor saw that the captain had his own ideas of what was keeping him
in Alexandria, and did not care to disabuse him. After all, he
reflected, he was not quite wrong. He nodded.

"You are right, my lord. These cities and temples and tombs up the river
are very fine, but they will be just as fine ten, twenty, thirty years
hence. You can't say that of youth. It passes, my lord, it passes, and
you must enjoy it while you can. But what am I to say? I have been paid
to take you up to Philæ, and, if you wish it, as far as the Second
Cataract. I signed the agreement before a notary. He knows all about it;
other people know it. What am I to say when they find me loitering about
here and your lordship not to be seen? You will hardly believe it, but
there are positively people so wicked that they will say I murdered you
to get the money without making the journey."

Cleanor did believe that there were such people, and thought to himself
that the captain did not look altogether like a man to whom such things
were impossible.

"Oh!" said he, "I will set that all right. I will sign a paper before
the chief of the village, or anyone else that will serve, to say that I
was compelled by urgent private business, which kept me in Alexandria,
to give up my proposed voyage. You will be able to show that to any one
who may be curious enough to inquire."

And this was actually done. The village headman was called on for his
services, and witnessed a declaration on the part of Cleanor that he
released the captain of the _Sphinx_ from his contract to carry him to
Philæ and the Second Cataract, and that he claimed no compensation or
return of the money or of any part of it for the non-fulfilment of the
conditions. This done, he made the captain and crew a present of a gold
piece, and saw with satisfaction that they departed to expend it at the
Canal Tavern. Shortly afterwards Cleanor hired a small rowing-boat, and
before long found himself again in Alexandria.

As to his general plan of operations he was quite clear. There was only
one plan of getting into Carthage. It was full of risk, but still it was
practicable. A brisk trade was being carried on from Alexandria in
blockade-running. Corn had long been at famine prices in the besieged
city. What was worth an ounce of silver on an Alexandrian quay could be
sold for at least half an ounce of gold in the markets of Carthage. If
only one ship-load out of three succeeded in escaping the Roman galleys
a magnificent profit was realized. The average of those ships that ran
the blockade was not smaller; it was probably higher. The new
harbour-mouth gave, as has been explained, a better chance.

Cleanor, then, was resolved to make his venture in a blockade-running
corn-ship. The question was, what disguise should he use? Fortune had
done something for him. The wound in his thigh had given him a limp.
During his illness a slight beard and a fairly thick moustache had
grown. These things meant a considerable change. More was effected by a
brown dye which gave him the complexion of an Arab. The character that
he thought it best to assume was that of pedlar. He provided himself
with suitable clothing and a pack, which last, however, he left for the
present unfilled.

As Egypt was in alliance with Rome the traders that followed the
business of blockade-running had to affect a certain disguise. The
cargoes were consigned to dealers in Italian ports, and the ships
themselves actually shaped their course for Italy, and kept on it as
long as possible, so as to minimize to the utmost the chances of
capture. The event of a passenger offering himself was rare, for the
destination of this class of corn-ships was an open secret. If, however,
one chanced to come, the captain could hardly refuse a passage. If he
was exceptionally honest he might put difficulties in the way; commonly
he left the stranger to find out his mistake, taking the precaution of
having the passage-money paid in advance.

Cleanor, who had put up for the night at a little tavern close to the
water-side, picked up a little information from the talk which was going
on round him. Improving his acquaintance with a sailor, who seemed the
most respectable of the somewhat miscellaneous company at the tavern, he
learnt a good deal more. Finally his new friend offered to introduce him
to the captain of the _Sea-mew_, a blockade-runner which was intending
to sail the following day.

"Dioscorides," said the sailor, "is an honest man in his way. He would
have taken your passage-money for Rhegium, it is true, and made no
scruple about carrying you to Carthage. That, you might say, is scarcely
fair. But then you are quite safe with him. He won't cut your throat and
throw you overboard for the sake of your pack. That's what I call
honesty in a sea-captain. If you want to find a finer article, you will
hardly get it on this side of the Pillars of Hercules. We will go on
board at the last moment, and I will give him a hint that it is all
straight."

The object of going on board so late was to show that the person
proposing himself as a passenger had no idea of lodging an information
against the ship with the agent of the Roman Republic.

On the following day, accordingly, this programme was carried out. The
_Sea-mew_ was taking on board the water wanted for the voyage, a part of
the preparations naturally left to the last, when Cleanor and his friend
reached the quay. A grizzled veteran, whose face was tanned by the suns
and winds of some fifty years of voyaging, was receiving his last
instructions from a keen-looking man, whose pale and unhealthy-looking
skin spoke of long confinement to the desk and the counting-house. The
conference over, Cleanor was introduced.

"My young friend here," said the sailor, "is going the same way as you
are. Cleanor, this is Dioscorides, the captain of the _Sea-mew_. You
could not sail with a better man; and you," he went on, turning to the
captain, "will find him an agreeable and accommodating passenger." The
word "accommodating" was emphasized by a wink.

"Good!" said the captain; "come and see your quarters. That is the last
water-cask, and now we are off."

He led the way as he spoke to the gangway that connected the quay-side
with the deck. In five minutes more the _Sea-mew_ was on her way
westward.

A little after noon, the _Sea-mew_ being now fairly started and making
good way with a strong breeze that was almost dead aft, the captain
invited his passenger to come below. The cabin was not spacious,--for
the vessel, though carrying cargo, was built for speed, her owners
having had in view the more risky kinds of trade,--but it was well
furnished, and the meal that was spread on the table was almost
sumptuous. The captain did not fail to observe his passenger's look of
surprise.

"In this business," he said, "a mina or two this way or that does not
make much odds. It is no use to save when you are going either to make
your fortune or be drowned, or, it may be, hanged."

"Possibly," replied Cleanor; "but a passenger is not in the same case. I
am afraid that such fare will not suit my modest means."

"Don't trouble yourself on that score," returned the captain. "Suppose
we say fifty drachmas for your passage-money, and ten more as a present
to the crew, if the voyage turns out to your liking."

"I am afraid that you will not gain much by me on these terms," said
Cleanor as he produced the money, which he had carefully made up out of
a variety of coins. He thought it safer to avoid any appearance of
wealth.

The voyage which followed was prosperous in the extreme. A west wind,
with just a touch of south in it, carried the _Sea-mew_ towards Italy,
which, as has been said, was nominally her destination, with a quite
surprising regularity of speed. She seldom made more than six miles in
the hour, but she did this day and night with little variation, and
without a single drawback. Her course lay just within view of the
African shore till Cyrene was sighted. Then the captain struck a bolder
course, nor did they come again within sight of land till a little
object showed itself in the northern horizon which was speedily
identified as Malta. Not long after they spoke a coral-fisher's
boat, from which they learnt that a Roman squadron, with the
commander-in-chief on board, had passed a couple of days before.

"If that is so," said the captain, "I shall steer straight for Carthage.
We are likely to have a clear course. It is scarcely likely that the
Roman cruisers will be prowling about for prizes in the wake of their
own squadron."

As they sat together at their supper, the only officer who messed with
them having gone on deck to superintend the setting of another sail, the
captain said to Cleanor:

"Don't suppose that I want to intrude on your private affairs, and if my
questions are inconvenient, or you have any reason whatever for
declining to say anything more about yourself, don't hesitate to tell
me. I sha'n't be offended or think the worse of you for it. On the other
hand, I may be able to help you or give you a hint. Now, to be quite
frank, I can't make you out. You wish to pass as a pedlar--excuse my
plainness of speech. Now, you are no more a pedlar than I am; not so
much, indeed, for you have never, I should say, either bought or sold
anything in your life. You talk like a gentleman. I could not do it
myself, but I know the real thing when I hear it. Now, what does it
mean?"

Cleanor had been long prepared for some such question as this. When he
adopted his disguise he had vaguely counted on being one among a crowd
of passengers, and able to keep himself as much in the background as he
pleased. In such a situation he might have sustained his character with
fair success. But it was a very different thing to sit _tête-à-tête_ for
a fortnight together with a shrewd man of business, who had been
accustomed to mix with all sorts and conditions of passengers. Cleanor
had felt from the first that it would be useless to maintain the
pretence, and he was prepared to abandon it if he should be challenged.
But he was not prepared to tell his true story. He had devised what he
could not help thinking a very plausible substitute for it.

"You are quite right, my good friend," he said, "I am not a pedlar.
Still, I hope to do a good stroke of business in Carthage."

"Business!" said the captain, opening his eyes wide. "I fancy this is a
poor time for business there."

"For buying, doubtless--I suppose they have to keep all their money for
food--but not for selling. That is what I am after. I have had a
commission from someone whose name I must not mention to buy books."

"Books!" repeated the old sailor in unfeigned astonishment; "who in the
world wants to buy books?"

"Well," said Cleanor, "there are people who have the taste. There are
some very valuable things of the kind in Carthage, taken, most of them,
from Greek cities in Sicily. My employer thought it a good opportunity
for picking up some bargains, and he has made it worth my while to go.
You see, books are not like gold and jewels. Most people don't see
anything in them. You yourself, though you have seen a good deal of the
world, could not understand anyone buying them. I am not likely, you
see, to be interfered with."

The sailor shrugged his shoulders.

"Well," he said, "everyone to his taste. However, now I understand how
it is that you don't talk like other pedlars. Good luck go with you!"

The captain was right in supposing that the sea would be clear in the
wake of the Roman squadron. He now matured a very bold design, which
wanted for its successful accomplishment only one element of good
fortune, an absolutely favourable wind. The _Sea-mew_ was one of the
fastest sailers in the Mediterranean, and with her own wind, which was a
point or so off aft, could do what she liked even with a well-manned
ship of war. The captain's plan was to hang closely, but just out of
range, on the skirts of the Roman squadron as they neared their
destination. This he could do without difficulty. Twenty galleys
presented a larger object to him than he to them, and he reckoned, with
a confidence that was not misplaced, that they would not keep a very
careful look-out aft. If a solitary sail was to heave in sight for a
moment it would probably attract no attention.

What was wanted was the right wind, and this, to his great joy, he got
just when it was wanted. The breeze, which for some hours had been due
north, shifted to W.N.W. The weather thickened a little, and to make the
lucky combination complete, the voyage came to an end a little after
nightfall. The _Sea-mew_, which for some hours had been keeping, under
shelter of the failing light, within two miles of the Roman squadron,
now came up close to the rearward galley. In the preoccupation of the
time she was practically unobserved. The _Sea-mew_ was built almost on
war-ship lines, and was flying Roman colours. No one certainly supposed
for a moment that she was an Alexandrian blockade-runner.

Two hours afterwards she was safe in the harbour of Carthage, and the
captain--he was owner as well as master--had realized a handsome
fortune. He had shipped one hundred and fifty tons of wheat and as much
barley at Alexandria, the wheat at one mina and a half[50] per ton, and
the barley for half as much, and he now sold the wheat for eight and the
barley for five minas per ton. The crew had a fourth of the gross
profits divided between them, but enough was left to enable the captain
to give up this very perilous kind of business for good and all.

"If I tempt the gods again after this I deserve to be crucified," he
said to his chief officer; and he kept his word.


    FOOTNOTE:

    50: A mina and a half are equivalent to £5, 5_s._, eight minas,
    therefore, to £28, and five to £17, 10_s._ This allows,
    reckoning the weight of wheat at 64 lbs. per bushel, a buying
    price of 3_s._ 3_d._ (about) per bushel, and a selling price of
    17_s._ for the wheat, and 1_s._ 7-1/2_d._ buying, and 11_s._
    selling, for the barley. The highest price paid for wheat in
    England during this century has been 14_s._ 3_d._ (1812), and
    the lowest 2_s._ 3_d._ (1895). I will not trouble my readers
    with the figures for the barley. Commonly it was much cheaper in
    proportion to wheat than it is now. (So in Rev. vi. 6 we have,
    "_A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley
    for a penny_", a penny being the Roman _denarius_, or 9-1/2_d._)
    We may calculate the gross profit of the voyage at £6660
    (nearly), taking the mina as equal to £3, 10_s._ 3-3/4_d._, or
    £5222 for the captain's share. The sum entitling a Roman citizen
    to equestrian rank was £4000.



CHAPTER XXIV.

IN SORE NEED.


Cleanor succeeded in landing without attracting, as far as he knew, any
observation. He lent a hand to the disembarking of the cargo of the
_Sea-mew_, and after going to and fro between the ship and the
warehouse some half-dozen times, quietly slipped away. It was now far on
towards midnight. The rest of the night he spent in a shed. This gave
him shelter; of food he had been careful to provide as large a supply as
he could conveniently carry. He foresaw an immediate use for it.

Rising--it cannot be said waking, as he scarcely slept during the whole
night--as soon as the earliest light of dawn made its way into his
resting-place, he made his way out of the inclosure which surrounded the
docks by an exit which he had observed during his sojourn in the city,
and had noted for possible use in the future. He was still fortunate
enough not to be seen.

This done, he soon made his way to the street where he remembered the
house of his foster-mother, Theoxena, to be situated. It was still early
morning, and but very few persons were about, these being almost
entirely women, who were fetching water from the public fountain at the
end of the street. He was not long in recognizing among these his
foster-mother, and it went to his heart to see how pale and wasted she
looked, and how slowly and painfully she moved under the slight burden
of the pitcher which she carried upon her shoulder.

He was careful not to betray himself by look or movement, for he was
anxious to know whether his disguise was successful. If her eyes,
sharpened by a love that was almost as strong as a mother's, did not
discover him, he felt that he was safe, and on this not only his own
life but the power to help others depended. He passed her slowly,
exaggerating a little the limp caused by his lameness. She looked at him
twice, the second time, he thought, with a momentary awakening of
interest, which, however, died away almost as soon as it appeared.

And now chance gave him a fully convincing proof of how completely she
had failed to recognize him. At the very moment of his passing she made
a slight stumble, her feebleness probably causing her to drag her feet.
The pitcher shook upon her shoulder, and was in imminent danger of
falling. Cleanor caught it with his hand, and steadied it till she had
recovered herself. She looked at him with a little smile of thanks,
murmured a few words of acknowledgment of his help, and passed on, in
what was evidently complete ignorance of his identity.

This was proof enough for Cleanor. Looking round and hastily satisfying
himself that there was no one near, he murmured "Theoxena". She started
and looked at him, but still without recognition, for his voice was
disguised. The art of doing this was an accomplishment in which he was
almost perfect; and indeed, the most elaborate dressing up of features
and figure is of but little avail without the disguised voice.

"What, mother Theoxena," he added in his natural tones, "don't you know
your son?"

In a moment her face beamed with delighted recognition. Pressing his
finger on his lips to enjoin silence, he stepped up to her door, which,
happily, was close at hand. Had it taken her more than two or three
steps to reach it she must have fallen in the street. As it was, he had
almost to lift her across the threshold, and to put her in one of the
two chairs which formed part of the very scanty furniture of the room.
Seeing that she wanted help, he ventured to call out the name of Daphne.

In a few seconds the girl appeared. She was dressing, and had been about
to bind up her hair when she was startled by the sudden call. Her
locks--cut short, the reader will remember, to furnish the string of a
bow--had grown enough to fall over her shoulders, and were even more
luxuriant and brilliant than ever. But her face was a piteous contrast
to their splendour--so pale, so wasted, so worn with suffering was it.
The eyes, which had haunted the young man's memory, looked larger than
before, so shrunk were her cheeks, and their look was pathetic beyond
expression. She seemed scarcely to observe the presence of a stranger,
but flew to her mother's side and busied herself with the task of
restoring her to consciousness.

When Theoxena began to revive, Cleanor put a few drops of a strong
cordial wine which he carried in a flask between her lips, and had the
pleasure of seeing a faint tinge of colour show itself in her cheeks. In
a few minutes more she was sufficiently recovered to sit up. Cleanor
would not permit her to talk.

"Not a word," he said; "you are not strong enough yet. You must be
satisfied for the present with seeing me alive and well. The rest we can
postpone. Do you think she could eat something?" he went on, turning to
the girl.

Poor Daphne's eyes filled with tears. "We have nothing in the house,
sir," she said. "We had a little crust of rye-bread at noon yesterday,
but she said that she was not hungry, and made me eat nearly all of it."

Cleanor was horrified. He had expected to find them in great want, but
this actual starvation was worse than he had looked for. He glanced
hastily round the room. He had already noticed that it was very bare. He
now saw that it had been stripped of almost everything. Daphne observed
his look, and explained.

"We have had to sell nearly all the furniture for food, and oh, sir,
they give so little for the things! I know that money is very scarce,
and the dealers are quite besieged with people who want to sell their
furniture and clothes, but I can't help thinking that they cheat me
because I am a girl and cannot help myself. Six days ago I sold mother's
bed for eight drachmas--I remember her telling me that it cost
thirty--and the eight were only enough to buy two rye-loaves and two
anchovies. Poor mother does find it so hard to eat the bread alone.
These lasted us till yesterday. We should have had nothing but for the
old man who lives next door. He had a grandson who used to play with
our little Cephalus. The dear little boy died about a month ago, and the
old man always will make us have what he calls the child's portion. It
has been getting to be very small lately, for the old man's pension is
not large, and money buys less and less every day. But I don't know what
we should have done without it."

"Well," said Cleanor, "you will have me to help you now. I suppose, by
the way, you remember who I am?"

"Yes, sir," replied the girl; "it was you that were so kind to us about
Cephalus."

"You ought to have remembered, then, to call me not 'sir' but brother;
or, better still, Cleanor. But now about food. This will be better than
nothing for the present."

He produced from the pack which he carried some twice-baked bread,
something like what we call biscuit, and some strips of dried goat's
flesh. It was pitiful to see how the girl tried to hide the eager look
which would come into her eyes at the sight of the food. The elder woman
had almost ceased to care for life, but youth protests against suffering
and will make its voice heard.

[Illustration: "CLEANOR PRODUCED FROM THE PACK WHICH HE CARRIED SOME
TWICE-BAKED BREAD."]

The meal was not abundant. Cleanor's prudence restricted the supply,
because he feared the reaction after a long period of starvation. When
it was finished he said, "Now, let us see what is to be done."

"We heard you were dead," began Theoxena--"killed, too, so they said,
by our own people. The gods be thanked a thousand times that it isn't
true!"

"Well," said Cleanor, "that is past and done with. We won't talk about
what other people have done or tried to do. Here I am alive, and hoping
to keep alive in spite of them, and I have come to see what I can do for
you."

"But what do you mean?" cried the woman. "Where have you been? Where do
you come from?"

"Well," replied Cleanor, "I came from Egypt last of all, and before that
I was in the Roman camp, where I found, I am bound to say, very kind
friends."

"But have you really come back into this doomed city--for doomed it
certainly is--when you were actually safe and among friends outside?"

"Yes, I have, if you must know. And what else could I do? You don't
suppose I was going to leave you to perish here while I was safe and
comfortable outside?"

"But why? What claim--?"

"Do you ask me what claim? You are my mother, Daphne here is my sister.
I have friends, and kind friends too, but you are all the home I have.
So that is disposed of. I have come back to get you safe out of
Carthage, and we must consider how that is to be done. But before I say
anything more, how about the little boy?"

"I have never seen him, but I have heard several times--the last time
was only four days ago--that he is well. Oh! how can I thank you
enough?"

"We'll talk about thanks another time, dear mother," said Cleanor with a
smile. "We must think about the present."

"I hear," said Theoxena, "that everyone is to move into the Upper City.
Hasdrubal thinks that there is no chance of defending the rest. I would
as soon--I would sooner stop here and die. But you see it is not only
dying that one has to fear. That would be easy enough. We must go; yet
where shall we find a corner to hide ourselves in, or a crust of bread
to eat?"

"Leave all that to me," said Cleanor. "If it can be done, I will do it;
and I think," he added after a moment's pause, "I think that I see a
way."

As he spoke there flashed through his mind the thought that he might
find help where he had found it before. If the physician who had served
him in the matter of the little Cephalus were still alive, no more
skilful, and, he was sure, no more willing auxiliary could be
discovered.

"Wait," he said to Theoxena, "you and Daphne, where you are, and don't
show yourselves more than you can help. Will the provisions I have here
serve you for a day or so?" And he emptied the contents of his pack upon
the table.

The woman smiled. She and Daphne had contrived to live for not a few
days upon far less.

"Yes, it is abundance."

"Till to-morrow, then," cried the young man with a gaiety which he did
not feel. If the physician should be unable to help, or should have
died!

Happily this misfortune was spared him. Cleanor found the man, and,
thanks to his knowledge of his habits, without loss of time. It was
still an hour short of noon when he saw the leech coming out of a
casemate in the wall, which he was accustomed to visit at that hour for
the purpose of inspecting the newly wounded.

"This is a good sight," cried the physician. "What Æsculapius has
brought you back from the dead? They told me that you were killed, and I
feared that they had only too good reason for knowing that it was true."

"That," said the Greek, "is a long story, and will keep. As usual, I
want your help."

"You are not ill?--no, I have never seen you look better. What is it?"

Cleanor told him his story.

The physician looked grave, and after a pause he said: "You are wanting
for your two friends what a couple of hundred thousands of people in
this city are wanting--a safe place of shelter. Yet it can be found; all
things can be found, if one knows where to look for them. But it will be
costly, very costly." And he looked inquisitively at the young Greek,
who certainly, in his pedlar's dress, did not look as if he had the
command of boundless wealth.

Cleanor understood the look, and whispered a few words in the old man's
ear.

"That is capital," he said with an admiring glance. "You are certainly a
young man of business."

Cleanor had, in fact, brought with him, in view of any possible
necessities that might arise, an ample supply of means in the most
portable, and therefore most valuable form that wealth under the
circumstances of the time could possibly bear. Gold, precious as it is,
is not very portable. A really wealthy man would require a whole caravan
to transport his fortune from one place to another if it were in the
shape of gold. Paper money--for the ancient world did business by bills
of exchange very much as we do--was not available. The commercial credit
of Carthage had collapsed for ever.

The one readily available vehicle for wealth was precious stones. These
had risen in Carthage to an almost incredible price. Sooner or later,
everyone felt, the city would be taken. When that should happen, gold
would be almost useless. The one chance of preserving it, and that but a
slight one, would be to bury it. That might hide it from the enemy, but
might very probably also hide it from the owner. Jewels, on the other
hand, could be carried anyhow. If a man could contrive to escape at all,
he could also contrive to escape with a fortune, so invested, about him.
Cleanor, accordingly, was now utilizing this part of the old king's
bounty. He carried round his waist, next to his skin, a slender
girdle-purse in which he had stored a number of jewels. This he was
resolved not to lose except with his life. While he kept this, he felt
that he could do anything that money could accomplish.

"Come home with me," said the physician, "and talk this matter over. You
are best out of sight, for someone might recognize you in spite of your
disguise, and that would be very awkward indeed."



CHAPTER XXV.

A REFUGE IN THE STORM.


"You have the necessary means, I understand," said the physician to
Cleanor, when the two were seated together safe from interruption. "Now
for my plan. The only safe hiding-place will be one of the temples. Now,
there are three temples which would answer our purpose, I mean three
that would be specially suitable on account of the number of private
apartments which are attached to them. There is Æsculapius in the
citadel, Apollo in the arsenal, and Baal Hammon in the Upper City; but
that, of course, you know. On the whole, I am inclined to Apollo in the
arsenal, and I will tell you why. Æsculapius is the strongest place in
Carthage, and it is there that the last stand will be made. There are
some desperate men who will hold on to the last extremity, and perish
rather than surrender. There are some of the old nobles who are too
proud to live under the rule of Rome, and there are the deserters, who
know that pardon is impossible. Hasdrubal himself gives out that he
intends to cast in his lot with them, but I doubt him; he is a cur. Now,
I know as a matter of fact that preparations have been made for holding
Æsculapius as long as possible. And when it becomes impossible, then it
will be destroyed. I know these Carthaginians. Drive them to
extremities, and they will behave as the scorpion between two fires.
Clearly, then, Æsculapius is not the place for non-combatants. Then at
Baal Hammon there are too many priests, and they are a bad lot. That
fellow whom you bribed about the little boy was very useful to you, but
then he is a great scoundrel. In that matter you could trust him,
because he had put his own neck in the noose; but in this you could not.
You see he might easily make double gain out of it--a heavy sum from you
for keeping your friends safe, and another sum for selling them to the
Romans. No, you had better have nothing to do with Baal Hammon and its
crew. Then there remains Apollo in the arsenal. There are only two
priests there. There's the old man, who is almost in his dotage, and the
son, who is a decent fellow with a really excellent wife. He is not
above taking money, but he will not be extortionate. She--poor woman,
she has just lost her only child--would take in your friends out of
pure kindness. Anyhow, she will do her best for them. You had better
leave the matter to me, for the less you are seen the better. Now, what
do you say?"

"I am only too glad," said Cleanor, "to leave the matter in your hands.
How much money will be wanted, do you think?"

"It can hardly be less than two hundred gold pieces," replied the
physician.

"These," said Cleanor, as he produced some rubies and emeralds, with a
rose diamond, small, but of peculiarly brilliant lustre, "have been
valued at a talent[51] by a very good judge. Your friend the priest will
get, if he wishes it, another opinion as to their value, but I feel sure
that the price is not too high. That is what was actually offered me as
a first bid by Raphael, the first jeweller in Alexandria, and, as you
know, a man does not offer his highest price in his first bid."

"A talent!" said the physician, who was himself something of a
connoisseur in precious stones, and had been examining them with obvious
admiration. "A talent, indeed! Unconscionable scoundrel! He ought to
have said three. This diamond alone is worth a talent, and more too.
Well, I will see to the affair at once, for there is no time to be lost.
You stop here, and make yourself at home."

About noon the physician reappeared. "Everything is settled," he said.
"I have saved your diamond for you. It was really too much to give. The
rubies and emeralds were quite sufficient. Mago--that is the younger
priest's name--is a good judge of jewels, and was quite satisfied. You
are to meet him to-night at the upper end of the street where your
friends live, and take him to their house, and introduce him. He will
take the women in charge, and conduct them to the temple. He has the
means of getting them through one of the arsenal gates without any
questions being asked. I am to hand over the price to-morrow, when the
first part of the business shall have been finished. For the rest you
must trust him. Indeed, you have no other choice; but he is not a bad
fellow, and, as I said, his wife is absolutely loyal."

By midnight Theoxena and Daphne were safely lodged in a little chamber
adjoining that occupied by the priest and his wife.

The change was not effected a day too soon. Early on the following
morning the Roman armies were seen to be in motion, and peremptory
orders were issued that the Lower City was to be evacuated. Many of the
inhabitants had anticipated it, and had found such shelter as they could
in the Upper City. But thousands had lingered behind, hoping against
hope that the change might be avoided, or simply paralysed by despair.
Destitute as many of them were, both of means and friends, they stayed
only because it was easier to stay than to move.

Even now some doggedly remained behind. The troops had instructions to
drive them out by force, and they attempted for a time to carry out this
order. But they were met with a passive resistance that baffled them.
Some would not, some could not be stirred from the homes to which they
were accustomed, and which at least afforded them a present shelter.

Still, there was an overpowering rush of panic-stricken fugitives. The
streets leading to the Upper City were crowded up to and beyond the
utmost limit of their capacity. At the gates the press was something
terrible. All night long the human stream flowed ceaselessly on; when
the morning broke it was still dense and strong. Scipio, fully aware
that the helpless crowd would be a source of weakness rather than
strength to the besieged, had strictly forbidden pursuit. But for this
fact, any number might have been killed or captured.

Still, the arsenal itself was not to remain long undisturbed. To abandon
it to the besiegers was to acknowledge that the fall of the whole city
was only a question of time, for this sufficient reason, if for no
other, that no fresh supplies could possibly be introduced. Up to this
time a certain amount of food had been brought in, as we have seen in
the case of the _Sea-mew_. The supply was small and irregular, but it
had been sufficient to replenish the stores of the garrison. Now and
then something had been spared for the wants of the general population.
All this would come to an end when the port fell into the hands of the
enemy.

But Hasdrubal had really no choice. He could not hope to defend the
fortifications of the arsenal with the forces at his command. He had to
concentrate his strength within the smaller compass of the Upper City.
Accordingly, in the night following the abandonment of the Lower City,
the arsenal was evacuated by its garrison. The last detachment to leave
was instructed to set the stores on fire. Nor was this done an hour too
soon. The necessity which constrained the Carthaginian commander to this
course of action had not escaped the notice of Scipio. Lælius, the
ablest of his lieutenants, was making his way into the arsenal--which he
found, somewhat to his surprise, undefended--at the very time when the
garrison was leaving it at the opposite end.

The physician was too busy with his work to pay much attention to
military affairs, and Cleanor having accomplished, as far as was
possible for the present, the purpose for which he had returned to
Carthage, did not risk recognition and capture by venturing out of
doors. It was with surprise, therefore, as well as dismay, that he
learned what had happened. The first thing that he saw on looking out of
his window the following morning was the area of the arsenal swarming
with Roman soldiers. Some were endeavouring, under the direction of
their officers, to quench the flames in the storehouses; not a few, it
was easy to see, were busy in collecting plunder; the Temple of Apollo
was evidently one of the chief objects of attraction.

It was an anxious moment for Cleanor, but if he could have seen what was
going on in the temple, he would almost have despaired of the safety of
Theoxena and her daughter. The fact was that the Roman soldiery, for all
the strictness of discipline to which it had been habituated by Scipio,
was for the time completely out of hand. The siege had been long and
tedious, and the perils, so far, out of all proportion to the prizes.
And now, almost for the first time for three years, these men, starving,
so to speak, for booty, found themselves within reach of what seemed
enormous wealth.

In the centre of the temple stood a figure of Apollo, about double the
size of life. It had the appearance of being of gold; in truth, it was
of wood, covered with massive plates of gold. The throne on which it was
seated, the lattice-work on either side, and the canopy above its head
were of the same metal, and these were absolutely solid. The weight of
the whole was afterwards reckoned at about two hundred and fifty of our
tons. Possibly this was an exaggeration; but the treasure was
unquestionably very large. So large, indeed, was it that the first
impression of the soldiers when they burst into the shrine was that the
whole was of some base metal gilded.

Then the discovery was made. A Roman in mere mischief aimed a blow with
his sword at the trellis-work which surrounded the statue. Picking up
the fragment which he had thus lopped off, more in curiosity than with
any definite expectation of finding treasure, he was astonished by its
weight. Then the truth dawned upon him.

"By Pollux!" he cried, "it must be gold."

The scene which followed was one new to Roman experience. All Rome, it
might almost be said all Italy, hardly contained so much treasure. Since
the day when the soldiers of Alexander burst into the treasury of
Persepolis, and saw what the wealthiest monarchy of the world had been
accumulating for centuries, such a sight had never met human eyes. It
overpowered the solid strength of Roman discipline; with a frantic cry
the men precipitated themselves on the spoil. The centurions, who with
the instinct of command endeavoured to keep them back, were thrust
roughly aside. One of them, who ventured to use the vine cudgel which he
carried by way of enforcing his orders, was levelled to the ground by a
blow of the fist. The tribune in command of the detachment, when he
ventured to interfere, met with no more respect. In less than half an
hour the statue was stripped of its costly covering, and the shrine was
hacked to pieces.

Then the strange passion of destruction, which seems always to follow
close after any great mutinous outbreak, seized upon the men. Possibly
they were carried away by a frantic desire to abolish the very scene of
their offence. Anyhow, the temple was for a few minutes in the most
imminent danger of being burned. A soldier thrust a torch into the fire
which was burning near the great central altar, and threw it all blazing
among the curtains which covered one of the walls.

At this critical moment Scipio himself appeared upon the scene. His
presence seemed to recall the frantic soldiery to themselves. His first
care was to see that the fire was extinguished. With the plunder he did
not at the moment attempt to deal; he reserved that matter for a cooler
moment. It was one of the secrets of his success that he never strained
his power. But order was restored and firmly enforced. A guard was put
in charge of the building. This was to be changed at fixed intervals. It
was to have, meanwhile, its full share of all prize-money that might be
earned on exactly the same scale as actual combatants. After this the
temple and its inmates were as safe as any place or persons could be at
such a time.


    FOOTNOTE:

    51: An Attic talent, worth, by weight of silver, about £225.



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE STORMING OF THE UPPER CITY.


The actual fortifications of the Upper City did not offer any serious
resistance to the assailants. They were of extreme antiquity, and were
not only greatly decayed, but were inadequate to meet, even had they
been in the best condition, the improved methods of attack which had
been introduced since the time of their erection. Some attempt had been
made to put them into repair within the last few months, but to very
little purpose. Nothing short of a complete reconstruction would have
been of any practical use. The Roman battering-rams had not been at work
for a day before it became evident that several breaches would speedily
be made in the walls. In fact, so many weak spots had been revealed,
that even the most determined and powerful garrison could not have hoped
to make them all good. In the course of the night the whole line was
evacuated.

Still, Carthage was not to be taken without a desperate struggle. Twice
already had her mother-city Tyre defended herself with fury against
assailants of overwhelming strength,[52] and the world was to see a
still more terrible scene of rage and madness some two centuries later,
when the Hebrew people defended its last stronghold, Jerusalem, against
the legions of Rome. The Carthaginians were now to show themselves not
unworthy of these famous kinsfolk.

The Upper City was penetrated by three streets, all of them built on
steep inclines, and converging on the summit of the hill. On this the
citadel stood, itself crowned by the famous Temple of Æsculapius. This
was built on a rock, three sides of which displayed a sheer descent of
some sixty feet, while the fourth was ascended by a long flight of
steps. The three streets were built to suit the oriental taste, perhaps
we should rather say the oriental need, which prefers shade to the
circulation of air and light. They were so narrow that the inhabitants
of opposite houses--the houses commonly inclined outward--could almost
shake hands from their windows. The houses were not of equal height, but
they were all lofty, sometimes having as many as seven or eight stories.
At the back of these main thoroughfares was a wilderness of lanes and
alleys, consisting for the most part of smaller houses, with now and
then a paved yard or small garden.

Up these streets the Romans had to force their way. Almost every house
was a fortress which had to be separately attacked and separately taken.
The first danger that had to be encountered was a shower of tiles and
bricks from the roofs and upper stories. These missiles, heavy
themselves, and falling with tremendous force from the lofty buildings,
would have been terribly destructive, had not the assailants protected
themselves by the formation of the _testudo_ or tortoise. This was made
by the men ranging their shields over their heads in a close
impenetrable array, under cover of which they broke down the doors of
house after house. Sometimes even the _testudo_ reeled under the shock
of some more than usually heavy mass; more than once it was actually
broken when the defending party contrived to detach and send down upon
it the whole of a parapet. Whenever this happened no small loss of life
was the result.

When an entrance had been forced into the house, every storey became the
scene of a fresh conflict. Driven at last to the roof, the defenders
would sometimes prefer to hurl themselves down to the street below
rather than fall into the hands of the enemy. Some would take a
desperate leap across the space that separated them from the houses
opposite; others crossed on bridges of planks or doors which they
hastily made, or, in some cases, had prepared in anticipation.

It is needless to say that a conflict of such a kind was fought with the
greatest ferocity. It was a struggle, for the most part, between a
people and an army. The inhabitants, seldom, if ever, protected by
armour, and furnished with the weapons that chance supplied, often,
indeed, reduced to nothing more effective than sticks or household
implements, fought desperately against well-protected, well-armed,
well-disciplined men. The women were even more frenzied than the men.
Driven to bay, they flew like wild-cats at the Romans, and bit and
scratched till they were slain or disabled. There was no question of
quarter; it was not even asked. The assailants, as they slowly advanced,
winning their way yard by yard, left a lifeless desolation behind them,
with the dead lying as they had fallen, on every staircase and in every
chamber.

This battle of the streets lasted with unabated fury for six days. The
besiegers, of course, fought in relays; there were three detachments,
and each had its regular time of service, four hours twice in the day,
for of course no cessation of the attack was possible. One man allowed
himself no rest, and this one man was Scipio. During the whole of the
six days he never slept, or, at least, never composed himself to sleep,
for nature would sometimes assert itself, untiring as was the spirit
which dominated his physical frame, and he could not help a brief
slumber as he sat at his meals. These he took as chance gave him the
opportunity. They were hurried repasts of the simplest kind--a piece of
dried flesh, a crust of bread, or a biscuit, with now and then a bunch
of raisins. His drink was rigidly limited to water, for in battle he
always acted on the principle which made Hector refuse the wine-cup
which his mother proffered him in an interval of battle.[53]

At sunset on the sixth day the Upper City was practically held by the
Romans. Nothing but the citadel remained to be taken, and that was so
arduous an undertaking that the attack was necessarily postponed till
the troops had had some rest.

But the spirit of the Carthaginians was at last broken. Just as the
troops told off for the first assault had finished mustering, and before
the trumpets had sounded the signal for the advance, a procession,
headed by a herald who carried a flag of truce in his hand, was seen to
be descending the steps that led from the temple of Æsculapius. Lost to
sight for a short time as it came under cover of the outer wall of the
citadel, it next became visible as it issued from one of the gates.
Scipio, who was about to address his troops, went forward to meet the
new-comers. Their leader, whose style and title were given by the herald
as chief priest of the temple of Æsculapius, addressed him, his words
being interpreted by a Roman prisoner.

"Leader of the armies of Rome," so ran the speech, "the gods have given
thy country the final victory over her rival. Four centuries ago Rome
felt it to be an honour to be acknowledged by Carthage as an ally on
equal terms.[54] Since then there has been continued rivalry and
frequent war between the two nations. More than once it has seemed
likely that the Fates had decreed that the seat of empire should be in
Africa rather than in Italy. But this was not their will. We have long
been convinced that we were not to rule; we now perceive that we are not
even to be permitted to exist. But though it is necessary for the
honour, if not for the safety, of Rome, that Carthage should be
destroyed, it is not necessary that a multitude of innocent persons,
whose sole offence is to have been born within the walls of a doomed
city, should also perish. There are some, a few thousands out of many,
who have, it is true, committed the offence of defending their country;
these also implore your mercy. That they can resist your attack they
acknowledge to be impossible; but they can at least claim this merit,
that by a prompt surrender they will save the lives of some of your
soldiers. Your nation, man of Rome, has been ready beyond all others to
show mercy to the conquered, and your family, Scipio, has been
conspicuous in this as in all other virtues. Be worthy, we beseech you,
of your country, your house, and yourself."

It was without a moment's hesitation that Scipio replied to this
harangue. Nor had he to use the services of an interpreter. With that
indefatigable energy which distinguished him he had employed the scanty
leisure allowed by his duties to learn the Carthaginian language, of
which at the beginning of the siege he had been as ignorant as were the
rest of his countrymen.

"I will not use many words, for time presses, and there is much to be
done. The multitude of unarmed persons may come forth without fear.
Their lives are assured to them. Nor do we bear any enmity against brave
men who have fought against us. They shall not be harmed. I except only
from my offer of mercy those who have betrayed their country by
deserting it."

The answer had scarcely been spoken before a huge multitude, to whom its
purport had probably been communicated by some preconcerted signal,
poured out from the gates. Seldom has a more piteous sight been seen.
With faces wan with famine, and clothed, for the most part, in squalid
rags, the long lines of old men, women, and children defiled before the
Roman general as he stood surrounded by his staff. True to his gentle
and kindly nature, he busied himself in making provision for their
immediate wants. The whole number--there were fifty thousand in all, a
great crowd, it is true, but pitiably small in comparison with the
supposed total of non-combatants when the siege began--was divided into
companies, each of which was assigned to the commissariat department
of one or other of the legions. At the same time instructions were
given to the officers in charge of the stores that their immediate
necessities--and many of them were actually starving--should be
relieved.

The non-combatants thus disposed of, the soldiers that had surrendered
followed. There may have been some six thousand in all, of whom
five-sixths were mercenaries, one-sixth only native Carthaginians. They
were in much better case than the rest of the population; in fact, as
far as provisions were concerned, they had not been subjected to any
hardship. The mercenaries had, for the most part, an indifferent look.
It was depressing, doubtless, to have been serving for now three years
an unsuccessful master, and to have missed the good pay which they
might have earned elsewhere. But this was one of the chances of their
profession, and they might hope to recoup themselves for their loss by
another and more fortunate speculation. The Carthaginian minority were
in a different temper. There was no future for them. Their country was
gone, and if the love of life, which asserts itself even over the
fiercest and bitterest pride, had bent their haughty temper to
supplicate for mercy, it could do nothing more. Each man as he passed in
front of the general laid down his arms upon the ground. These, again,
were piled in heaps, to be carried off in due time to the stores in the
Roman camp.

This business was just completed when a solitary figure was seen to
issue from one of the gates in the citadel walls, and hurriedly to
approach the Roman lines. As he ran he was struck by a missile from the
walls. The blow levelled him to the ground, but he regained his feet in
the course of one or two minutes, and hastened on, though with a
somewhat limping gait. It was observed that he was dressed as a slave,
and, as he came nearer, that his face was so closely muffled that his
features could not be recognized. Nevertheless, his figure, which was
short and corpulent, seemed to many to be familiar. Reaching the Roman
lines, he threw himself at Scipio's feet, caught him by the knees,
and in broken Greek begged for his life. The general, stretching
forth his hand, raised him from the ground. It was Hasdrubal, the
commander-in-chief of the armies of Carthage.

A murmur of disgust at his poltroonery ran through the ranks. Here and
there the kinsmen or comrades of the unhappy prisoners whom he had done
to death in so barbarous a fashion a few months before gave vent to more
menacing expressions of anger. Scipio silenced these manifestations of
feeling by an imperative gesture of command.

"Your life is spared," he said. "See that you make a due return for the
boon."

It must not be supposed that the Roman general was disposed to regard
with any kind of leniency Hasdrubal's baseness and barbarity. It was
from policy that he spared the miserable creature's life. In the first
place, it was the custom, from which it would be injudicious to depart,
to make the king or chief general of a conquered people an essential
part of the triumph which would celebrate the victory. Secondly, he was
aware that the prisoner would be useful in many ways, that there were
important matters about which he could give the best, or, it might be,
the only available information.

As to the boon of life, it seemed to his own noble nature to be a very
small thing indeed. For himself he felt that, had such a situation been
possible, he would far sooner have died than survive to face such shame
and ignominy: the craven clinging to life which dominates such mean
natures as Hasdrubal's was simply incomprehensible to Scipio. But if he
despised Hasdrubal while he spared him, there were others among the
Carthaginian leaders for whom he felt a genuine admiration and respect,
and to whom he was willing to offer honourable terms of surrender.

"Where," he asked Hasdrubal, "are your colleagues in command, and the
chief magistrates?"

"They are in the temple of Æsculapius," replied the Carthaginian.

"Think you that they will be willing to surrender? They are brave men,
and have done their best, and they shall be honourably treated."

"I know not what they intend," muttered the fugitive, with as much shame
as it was in his nature to feel.

"I will at least try them," said Scipio, and he advanced towards the
citadel, followed by some of his staff. Hasdrubal, much against his
will, was constrained to accompany them.

A number of figures could be seen on the roof of the temple, which, as
has been explained, formed the summit of the citadel. As soon as he came
within ear-shot of the place he bade one of the prisoners step forward
and communicate his _ultimatum_ to what may be called the garrison of
the temple.

"_Scipio offers to all freeborn Carthaginian citizens, life on
honourable terms. To all those who have deserted he promises a fair
trial, so that if they can show any just cause for having left
their country, even they may not despair of safety._"

To this appeal no answer was made. After a while, as Scipio and his
attendants waited for a reply, thin curls of smoke were seen to rise
from the temple. Next a woman, leading a young boy by either hand,
approached the edge of the roof. She was clothed in a flowing robe of
crimson, confined at the waist by a broad golden girdle. Her long hair,
which streamed far below her waist, was bound round her temples by a
circlet of diamonds that flashed splendidly in the sun.

"By Baal," cried the Carthaginian prisoner who delivered Scipio's
message, "it is the Lady Salamo herself."

"Who is it, say you?" asked Scipio.

"The Lady Salamo," answered the man, "the wife of my lord the general."

It was indeed the wife of Hasdrubal.

"Man of Rome," she began in a clear, penetrating voice, which made
itself heard far and wide, addressing herself to Scipio, who was
conspicuous in the scarlet cloak worn by generals commanding armies,
"man of Rome, to thee there comes no blame from gods or men. Carthage
was the enemy of your country, and thou hast conquered it. But on this
Hasdrubal, this traitor who hath been false to his fatherland, to his
gods, to me,--whose shame it is to have been his wife,--and to his
children, may the gods of Carthage wreak their vengeance! And thou,
Scipio, I charge thee, fail not to be their instrument."

[Illustration: THE LADY SALAMO DEFIES THE ROMANS FROM THE WALLS OF
CARTHAGE.]

She then turned to Hasdrubal.

"Villain," she cried, "and liar, and coward, as for me and these
children, we shall find a fit burial in this fire;" and as she spoke a
great flame sprung up for a moment among the gathering clouds of smoke;
"but thou, that wast the chiefest man in Carthage, what dishonourable
grave wilt thou find? This only I know, that neither thy children nor I
will live to see thy disgrace."

Turning from the wretched man with a gesture of contempt, she drew a
dagger from her girdle and plunged it into the heart first of one then
of the other of the two children who stood at her side. Then flinging
the bloody weapon from her, she leapt into the midst of the flames,
which by this time were rapidly gaining the mastery over the whole
building. All her companions shared her fate. The Carthaginian nobles
were too proud to live under the sway of Rome; the deserters were
conscious of their guilt, or distrusted the justice of a Roman tribunal.
Anyhow, not a single individual out of the desperate band to which
Scipio had addressed his appeal availed himself of the opportunity. The
temple of Æsculapius perished with all its inmates; and along with it
was lost to Rome and to the world a vast treasury of wealth.


FOOTNOTES:

    52: Against Nebuchadnezzar in 598 B.C., and against Alexander in
    331.

    53: "'Far hence be Bacchus' gifts,' the chief rejoined;
        'Inflaming wine, pernicious to mankind,
        Unnerves the limbs, and dulls the noble mind.'"

              _Iliad_ (Pope), vi.

    54: A treaty was made between Rome and Carthage in the year 509
    B.C.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A PRECIOUS BOOK.


It is time to explain what had happened to Cleanor while the events
recorded in the last chapter were proceeding. He had remained within the
physician's house during the six days' fighting in the streets. The
house had been turned into something like a hospital, and the young
Greek found plenty of employment in doing such services as a lay hand
could render to his host's patients. The physician was naturally one of
the deputation which, as has been described, waited on the conqueror on
the morning of the seventh day, and he took his guest with him in the
character of his assistant. Nor could Cleanor escape an emotion of
relief to find himself again under Roman protection. It was a curious
change from the feelings that had dominated him a few months before, but
the constraining power of circumstances had been too much for him. His
first care was to ascertain the fate of Theoxena and her daughter. Here
it was necessary to proceed with caution. It would not be wise to make
inquiries at random. The person whom he could most safely trust was
Scipio, the young officer, whom he was, of course, anxious to see for
other reasons. To his great delight he found that his friend was the
officer in command of the guard to which the safety of the temple of
Apollo in the arsenal had been committed. He found an opportunity of
sending a message by a soldier who happened to be off duty for the time.
Hardly an hour had elapsed when he received an answer. It ran thus:

    "_A thousand congratulations. We had almost given you up for
    lost, only that the gods are manifestly determined to make up to
    you for some part at least of what you have suffered. Come at
    once: I have much to say to you!_"

The meeting between the two friends was very affectionate. Cleanor,
postponing the narrative of his own adventures to some future
opportunity, at once took the young Roman officer into his confidence.

"You may rest assured that your friends are safe. There has been a guard
over the private apartments attached to the temple; and I have taken
care to have trustworthy men, as I always should in such a case. But I
can tell you that your friends have had a very narrow escape. If the
general had not arrived just at the right time, the whole building would
have been reduced to ashes."

He then proceeded to relate the story which the reader has already
heard. Cleanor listened with emotion that he could hardly conceal. How
nearly had all his efforts been in vain! How narrowly had these two--who
were all that remained to him of his old life--escaped destruction!

Young Scipio's narrative was hardly finished when the conversation of
the friends was interrupted by the arrival of an orderly bringing a
message from the general. The official despatch, accompanied by a letter
expressed in more familiar terms, ran thus:

    "_I have learnt that a manuscript of the very highest value,
    which I have a special charge from the Senate and People of Rome
    to preserve, to wit, the Treatise of Hanno on Agriculture, has
    always been and is now in the custody of the priests of Apollo
    in the arsenal. I commission you, therefore, as officer
    commanding the guard of the said temple, to make inquiries of
    these same priests, and to take the book into your keeping, for
    which this present writing shall be your authority._"

The private letter was to this effect:

    "_I have just learnt from Hasdrubal--and the information is so
    valuable that it almost reconciles me to having had to spare the
    villain's life--that the precious book on Agriculture is to be
    found in the temple of which you have charge. Lose no time in
    getting it into your possession. It is supposed to contain
    secrets of the very greatest value. Anyhow, the authorities at
    home attach great importance to its preservation. To lose it
    would be a disaster. I can rely, I know, on your prudence and
    energy._"

"Cleanor, can you throw any light on this matter?" asked the Roman.

"No," was the answer, "except to tell you what I know about the priests.
There are two attached to the temple. One is an old man--almost, as I
understand, in his dotage--whom I did not see; the other, his son,
middle-aged, with whom I negotiated the affair of which I told you. That
is absolutely all that I know, except that my friend the physician
described the son as being on the whole an honourable man, who could be
trusted the more implicitly the more one made it worth his while to be
true."

"That," said young Scipio, "is the man whom I saw the day that I took
charge of the temple. He came to thank me. Since then he has never
appeared. The services have been intermitted. They could hardly, indeed,
have been carried on with all these soldiers in the place. He is the
first person of whom to make inquiries."

Scipio then summoned the centurion, who was nominally his second in
command. The man was a veteran who had seen more than twenty
campaigns--his first experience of war had been at Pydna under the great
Æmilius Paullus--an excellent soldier in his way, but without much
judgment in matters outside his own narrow sphere of experience.

"Convey," young Scipio said to this officer, "a respectful request to
the priest of the temple that he will favour me with an interview."

In due course the priest appeared. It had been arranged between the
friends that no reference should be made to the shelter given to the
women.

"I am informed," said Scipio, "that you have charge, as priest of this
temple, of a certain book relating to agriculture."

"You are right, sir," replied the man, "so far as this: there is such a
book, and it is kept in this place; but it is not in my charge. My
father is the priest, and it is in his custody."

"Let me see your father, then," said the young officer.

"Unhappily, sir," replied the man, "he is incapable of answering or even
of hearing a question. He has been failing in mind for some time, and
the events of the last few days have greatly affected him. This morning
he had a stroke of paralysis, and has been unconscious ever since."

"But you know," said Scipio, "where the book is?"

"As a matter of fact," the priest answered, "I know, or, to put the
matter more strictly, I believe that I know. But the secret has been
very jealously guarded. It has been usual for the priest to hand over
the charge formally to his successor when he felt himself failing. To
meet the case that the priest might die suddenly, or fail for some other
reason to communicate the secret in due course, the Shophetim were also
in possession of it. They have also another copy of the treatise."

"And where was that kept?" asked Scipio.

"In the temple of Æsculapius, but in what part of the temple of course I
know not."

"If it was there it must have perished," said the Roman. "Nothing could
have been left after the tremendous fire of yesterday. Lead the way and
show us the place that you have in your mind."

"It shall be done, sir," said the man. "But let me first see how it
fares with my father. It is possible that he may yet revive."

Permission was, of course, granted, and he went. Before many minutes he
returned.

"My father has passed away," he said in a low voice, "and without
becoming conscious even for a moment; so the woman that was in
attendance told me. Follow me, sir."

He led the way down a flight of steps, and then along a passage to the
chamber in which it terminated. The door was carefully concealed in the
wall, with the surface of which it was entirely uniform. The priest,
however, had no difficulty in opening it. He pressed a secret spring,
and it opened.

"This," he said, as they entered a small lofty room lighted from above,
"is the priest's private chamber. The book should be somewhere here. But
at this point my knowledge comes to an end."

"If I might hazard a guess," said Cleanor, "the hiding-place is
somewhere in the floor. One would naturally, perhaps, look for another
secret door in the wall, hence it is likely that some other way of
concealing it would be tried. Anyhow, let us begin with the floor."

The place was easily, as it will be seen, too easily found. As soon as
the matting which covered the floor was removed, it became evident that
a part of the boarding had been recently moved.

"That is it," exclaimed the four men--the centurion had accompanied the
party--almost in the same breath.

"I don't like the look of this," added Cleanor, whose quick Greek
intelligence had promptly taken in the situation. "It has been taken."

He was right. When the boarding was lifted, it revealed an empty space.
All that remained was a wrapper of silk, which might very well have
served--for there was nothing on it that absolutely indicated the
fact--for a covering to the volume.

"What is to be done now?" said Scipio, as the four looked at each other
with faces full of blank disappointment.

"My father," said the priest, after a short pause of reflection, "must
have taken it away. He evidently did it in a hurry without carefully
replacing the boards. He might have concealed the joining so well that
it would have been very hard to find. See," and he put the covering back
in such a way that the spot was absolutely undistinguishable from the
rest of the floor. "This makes me sure that it has been done quite
recently, and when he was not quite himself."

"I wonder," said Cleanor, "whether by chance your guests could tell us
anything about it?"

"My guests!" cried the priest, vainly endeavouring to conceal his
dismay.

"Don't trouble yourself, my good friend," said Scipio with a smile. "My
friend Cleanor has taken me into his confidence, and I think you have
done very well in helping him in this matter. It is just possible that,
as he suggests, the women may have seen something,--enough to give us a
clue."

"Possibly," said the priest. "The book was far too bulky to be easily
destroyed. That I know, though I have never had it in my hands. But it
may have been put away where it will be hard to find."

"Cleanor," said Scipio, after a brief reflection, "will you go and see
what you can find out? The priest will show you the way."

Cleanor accordingly followed the priest to the apartment which had been
assigned to Theoxena and her daughter. Only the elder woman was visible.
Daphne, she assured Cleanor, after an exchange of affectionate
greetings, was quite well, but was busy at the moment with some
needlework. When questioned about the old priest and his movements, she
had no information of any importance to give. He had been very strange
in manner, constantly muttering, but so indistinctly that she could not
catch more than a word or two here and there. She had, it is true,
caught the word "treasure" once or twice. She had certainly not seen
him with anything in his hands. Daphne, however, might have more to say.
The old man had seemed to take a fancy to her, and had talked to her a
good deal.

Daphne accordingly was fetched by her mother, and came in covered with a
charming confusion, which, in the young Greek's eyes, added not a little
to her beauty. It was the fact, indeed, that the few days of peace which
she had enjoyed with her mother in their place of refuge had made a
marvellous change for the better in her looks. The hunted expression had
gone out of her eyes, which, deep as ever, were now limpid and calm. The
cheeks which, when Cleanor had last seen them, were wan and worn, were
already rounded, and touched with the delicate tint of returning health.
Cleanor did not fail to note all this with the greatest satisfaction,
but for the time he was absorbed by the interest of the story which she
had to tell about the old priest.

"I saw the old man," she said, "on the first day of our coming here. He
seemed to take me for someone else. In fact, once or twice he called me
by some name which sounded like Judith, but I could not catch it
distinctly. Commonly he spoke to me as his daughter. He had no son, he
said, I was all that he had left. He had evidently something on his mind
that troubled him greatly. He would talk about 'a treasure' which he had
in his keeping, and which he must hand over to the right person, only
that he did not know where this person was. 'Anyhow,' and when he said
this his voice seemed to grow stronger, and his eyes to lighten up,
'anyhow, the enemy must not be allowed to get it.' After the uproar that
took place in the temple one day--we did not know what had happened, but
we guessed that the Romans had made their way in, and we were very much
frightened--he was much worse. That same evening he said to me,
'Daughter, I want you to help me. Come with me.' He took me down a
flight of steps, and then along a passage which seemed to end in a wall.
When we were almost at the end, he said, 'Now, turn round and shut your
eyes. You must not see what I am going to do.' I did what he told me,
and waited. In about half an hour he came back, panting very much and
breathing hard. He carried a great roll in his arms. I could not see
what it was."

"Did it look like a book?" asked Cleanor.

"Yes," replied the girl, "it might have been a book. I asked him whether
I should carry it for him. 'No,' he said, 'no woman has ever touched it.
Indeed, no woman has ever seen it before. I hope that I have not done
wrong. But what was I to do? I had no one else to help me. And anyhow,
the enemy must never have it.' We went up the passage, and down another,
till we came to a place where one of the stones in the pavement had a
ring in it. 'Now you must help me,' he said. 'I have got to take that
stone up.' We both pulled away at the stone as hard as we could. For
some time we seemed to make no impression at all. Then he went away and
came in a few minutes with a lantern, for by this time it was getting
quite dark, and a chisel. 'Work the mortar away from the edges,' he
said, 'my eyes are too old to see.' So I worked the mortar out, and then
we pulled again. I don't think that I did very much, but he seemed to
get wonderfully strong with the excitement. At last we felt that it was
beginning to give, and in the end we pulled it quite away. I heard what
sounded like the lapping of water a long way below. Then the old man
took the roll and dropped it into the hole. After that we put the stone
back into its place."

"And you can take us to the place?" asked Cleanor.

"Certainly," replied the girl.

"I must tell my friends," said Cleanor, "what I have heard. Wait while I
go."

In the course of a few minutes he returned with Scipio and the
centurion. At the latter's suggestion the party provided themselves with
torches, and then proceeded, under Daphne's guidance, to the indicated
spot. The stone was removed from its place, an operation which required
so great an exertion of strength that there was something almost
miraculous in its having been accomplished before by a decrepit old man
and a girl. The priest, it was clear, must have worked with frantic
energy.

The first thing was to lower a burning torch. The light revealed a depth
which might be estimated at some sixty or seventy feet. At the bottom
there was a stream which seemed, as far as could be estimated from the
sound, to be moving with some rapidity. Judging from the height of the
temple above the level of the harbour, the water seemed to be a
land-spring which flowed into it some way below the surface. The chance
of recovering anything dropped into such a place seemed remote, without
reckoning the very considerable chance of its being irretrievably
damaged.

Scipio was discussing with Cleanor and the centurion the best method of
proceeding, when Daphne's keen eyes discovered that something seemed to
be resting on a ledge that projected from the side of the well some
twenty feet below the surface. What it was could not be seen, but it was
obviously worth investigating. The only way of doing this was to lower
someone with ropes, and Cleanor, who was lighter than either of the
Romans, volunteered for the service. After some delay ropes of adequate
strength were obtained, Cleanor was lowered to the spot, and the missing
treasure, for the object which Daphne had descried was nothing less, was
recovered.

"The Roman Commonwealth," said Scipio, making a polite obeisance, "owes
very much to this young lady."



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE END OF CARTHAGE.


The younger Scipio lost no time in handing over the precious volume
which had been so nearly lost, and so fortunately recovered, to the
general, reporting, of course, the circumstances of its rescue. At the
same time he described the relation in which Daphne and her mother
stood to Cleanor, and hinted that his friend seemed to have a keener
interest in the girl than a young man would ordinarily feel for his
foster-sister.

"This is not the place for women," said the elder Scipio, "and the
sooner these two are out of it, the better. Now, what is to be done?"

"Would not my Aunt Cornelia[55] receive them for a time if you could
contrive to send them to her?"

"An excellent idea, my Lucius!" cried the general. "It shall be done,
and by good luck, there is opportunity this very day. I am sending off a
galley with despatches for the Senate, and some private letters of my
own. Lollius is in command, and there is not a more trustworthy man in
the fleet. I will put the women into his charge. And I will write to my
mother--she will still be in Rome when the galley arrives--and ask her
to give them hospitality. We must hope that my cousin, Tiberius, will
not fall in love with the damsel. Is she beautiful?"

"As beautiful a girl as ever I saw. But you need not be alarmed. I am
pretty sure that the young lady will not have a look or a thought for
anyone in Italy."

"I will send an orderly to Cleanor to explain, and leave him to arrange
the business. So that is settled. Now for public matters. Yesterday I
opened the sealed instructions which I brought with me when I left Rome,
and which I was not to read till Carthage was taken. They are, as I
feared, to the effect that the city is to be razed to the ground. Now, I
make no secret to anybody--in any case I should speak openly to
you--that this policy is not to my liking. I don't like the principle of
it. If it were being done with a view to the future safety of Rome, I
should still hesitate, thinking it to be, even in that view, a policy of
doubtful advantage. But this is not the motive. It is the doing of the
capitalists and the traders. They want to destroy every port but those
which they can dominate themselves, and so to get all the trade of the
world into their own hands. We shall see the same thing--mark my
words--over again at Corinth; and Rome will have the disgrace of having
destroyed, and it may be in one year, two of the great capitals of the
world. I hate such doings, and I don't care who knows it. Still, the
thing has to be done. But there are matters to be arranged first. One
thing I have made up my mind about, and happily the Senate leaves it to
my discretion. I have a free hand in dealing with the spoil, with a
general proviso that I am to consult, as in my judgment may seem best,
the interests of the Commonwealth. Whatever there is of real value that
can be given back to its rightful owners shall be given back. Now,
Carthage has for three hundred years and more been robbing the Greek
cities in Sicily. She has had, at one time or other, pretty nearly every
one of them, except Syracuse, in her power. The gold and silver that she
has taken from them are gone beyond remedy, but the works of art remain,
and can be given back. I have taken some trouble to inquire into the
matter, and I have got a list here, which has been made up for me in
Sicily, of some of the chief things that we may expect to find. Some
may have been lost; some may have fallen into private hands and
disappeared--the history of some of the specimens goes back, I hear, a
long time. Well, I have appointed yourself, Lucius, and two other
officers with you to enquire into this matter. See which of these things
you can find, and report to me. Most of the Sicilian cities that are
interested in the matter have sent envoys to the camp, as I dare say
you know. If you can find the articles it will be easy enough, I do not
doubt, to find claimants."

The work of the commission proved to be one of considerable magnitude.
There were, it was found, hundreds of works of art which bore in their
appearance the manifest signs of a Greek origin. The Phoenician genius
was not entirely barren in the province of art. In some directions, on
the contrary, it was remarkably fertile. But it never attained to, it
did not even attempt, except in a conventional and even grotesque
fashion, the representation of the human form. Any really graceful or
even natural similitude of man or woman that was found in Carthaginian
temple or house was certainly the spoil of some Greek city. Many of the
less important works were unknown; about some there was much doubt;
their pedigree was uncertain, sometimes through accident, sometimes
through fraud, for most of the impostures known to the modern world of
art are inheritances from the ancient.

But there were some famous treasures about which there was no
possibility of doubt. Such was the Artemis of Segesta, one of the
noblest figures that ancient sculpture produced. It was colossal in
size, and yet retained in a singular degree the delicacy of girlish
beauty. The figure was represented with a quiver richly gilded hanging
from the shoulder; the left hand carried a bow; in the right was a
burning torch, which imitated, with a fidelity that would hardly have
been thought possible in marble, the contours of flame. The envoys from
Segesta positively wept with joy when they found themselves in
possession of the long-lost treasure of their city.

In a very different style of art, the characteristic product of a later
and more reflective age, was the figure of the poet Stesichorus, carried
away by the Carthaginians when they destroyed the city of Himera, and
now about to be restored to the townspeople of Thermæ, which occupied
its site and inherited its traditions. The poet was represented as an
old man, frail and stooping, with one hand holding a book. The whole
expression was admirably suited to the serious character of his verse.

But the most celebrated of all the art treasures now about to return to
their proper homes was the Bull of Agrigentum. The Agrigentines regarded
this figure with a reverence that was very surprising, seeing how it
recalled a time of discreditable servitude. Scipio happened to come in
when the precious possession was made over to them, and could not help
improving the occasion.

"This is, I understand, the monstrous invention of one of your own
citizens," he said. "He made it for your tyrant Phalaris; it was to be
heated from underneath, and the groans of the victims inclosed in it
pleased the brutal caprice of that monster of cruelty, by imitating, as
he thought, the bellowings of a bull. I do not know which was most to
be condemned, the servility of the artist or the cruelty of the tyrant.
Do you not think, men of Agrigentum, that you have happily exchanged the
brutality of your own citizens, whom you suffered thus to lord it over
you, for the justice and clemency of the Roman people?"

While this business was being completed, the work of collecting the
general spoil of the city had been going on briskly. Scipio had dealt
liberally with the troops in this matter. Some generals in similar
circumstances, whether from anxiety for their own enrichment or from
zeal to make as large a profit as possible for the public purse,
overreach themselves. They exact too much from the men, and thus they
are habitually deceived. Scipio was personally disinterested in a
remarkable degree; and he did not care to be greedy on account of the
treasury. Simple and well-defined rules were laid down for the conduct
of the troops. There were certain things which a man might keep for
himself, if he brought other things into a common stock. At the end of
seven days the fiat of destruction which had gone out against Carthage
was to be executed. A body of men was detailed for the purpose.
Combustibles were disposed in various parts of the city, and at a fixed
time these were to be kindled.

"Well," said the young Scipio to Cleanor as they stood together after
superintending the embarkation of the last cargo of statues and
pictures destined for Sicily, "well, the last act of the drama is nearly
over. Shall we go to see the final scene together?"

"I don't know," replied the young Greek. "I feel half disposed to cover
my head till it is all past."

"I can understand," said Scipio. "Still, I can't see, after what has
happened, that you owe much gratitude to Carthage."

"Perhaps not," was the answer. "Yet it was all the country that I had.
And, anyhow, it is an awful thing to see a city that once had her hopes,
and good hopes too, of ruling the world, flare out into nothing, like a
piece of wood-shaving. However, I will come. To what place are you
thinking of going?"

"To the citadel, or what was the citadel. The chief told me that he
should be there at sunset. I must own that I am very curious to see how
he takes it. This, you must know, is not his doing. His friends fought
hard in the Senate against the decree of destruction; but the majority
would have it, and there was nothing for him but to carry it out."

When the two friends reached the citadel the chief was already there,
surrounded by his staff, his generals of division, and the chief
officers of the legions. The spectacle of the burning city was
magnificently terrible. The wind was blowing from behind them, and
rolled away the smoke in huge volumes towards the sea. Now and then it
lulled, and then a dense cloud covered the whole place, save some tower
or spire which rose here and there out of it. As the light rapidly
failed, for the sun was just setting when the two friends reached the
height, the heavy smoke clouds became more and more penetrated with a
fiery glow, and this again grew into one universal, all-embracing blaze
of light, as the flames gained a more commanding hold on the doomed
city. Everything was as plainly to be seen as if it had been noonday.
All the while a confused roar came up to the height where the spectators
stood, varied now and then by the tremendous crash of some huge
structure falling in sudden ruin to the earth.

The general stood intently watching the scene, but without a word, and
the group surrounding him, overawed by the solemnity of his mood,
maintained a profound silence, broken only by some almost involuntary
cry, when a burst of fiercer flame rose to the heavens. When the second
watch was about half spent[56]--for the hours had seemed to pass as
minutes, so overpowering was the interest of the spectacle--he turned
away. Some awful vision of the future seemed to reveal itself to his
soul. He caught Polybius by the hand and said:

"Will anyone do for Rome what I have been doing for Carthage?"

And as he turned away he was heard to murmur to himself the line in
which Hector, touched in the midst of his triumph by a dark prevision
of the future, foretold the fall of his country,

        "Some day e'en holy Troy herself shall fall",[57]

Then, throwing a fold of his toga over his face, Scipio burst into a
passion of tears.

[Illustration: "SCIPIO, THROWING HIS TOGA OVER HIS FACE, BURST INTO A
PASSION OF TEARS."]


    FOOTNOTES:

    55: Cornelia, the "mother of the Gracchi", was the elder
    daughter of Scipio Africanus the Elder. The young Scipio of my
    story, who is, I may say, an imaginary character, but is
    supposed to belong to a younger generation than Scipio Africanus
    the Younger, the conqueror of Carthage, would therefore be her
    great-nephew. Scipio himself was her nephew by adoption (being
    the adopted son of her brother), and her first cousin by blood.
    (He was a son of Æmilius Paullus, and she was the daughter of
    Æmilius Paullus's sister.) He was also her son-in-law. Her elder
    son Tiberius was born in 163 B.C., and was therefore seventeen
    at this time; the younger, Caius, was about nine.

    56: About 10.30 p.m.

    57: Ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτ' ἄν ποτ' ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρή.

        [Greek: Essetai êmar hot' an pot' olôlê Ilios hirê.]



CHAPTER XXIX.

AT DELOS.


Cleanor gladly accepted the warm invitation of the young Scipio again to
become his guest. For the present the Greek's plans were uncertain. His
most definite idea was to follow Theoxena and her daughter to Italy as
soon as possible. It had been arranged that the two women should depart
on the following day. He would have to look for his own passage to the
favour of the general; all that he could do, therefore, was to hold
himself in readiness to depart as soon as the opportunity should offer.

The day was not to pass, however, without giving quite a new aspect to
the future. The two friends had been exchanging experiences, and were
just thinking of sleep,--when Polybius entered the tent. After greeting
Cleanor--whom he had not seen since they had parted in Egypt--in the
kindest way, not, however, without a smiling rebuke for the trick which
he had played, he explained his errand.

"I am going," he said, "as soon as is possible to Greece, where things
are in a critical condition, and I want you to go with me. I come direct
from the general, who has put a ship of war at my service, and who fully
approves of your accompanying me. I was, he said, to tell you this from
him. He also gave me another message for you. He wants you to give what
help you can in the translation of this great book on Agriculture. There
will be a committee appointed to carry it out, and you are to be on it
if it pleases you. But that will wait, anyhow for a few months. The
affair in Greece will not wait; the sooner we get there the better, if
we are to do any good."

Nothing could have been more to Cleanor's mind than this proposal, and
he promised to be ready to depart as soon as he was wanted. Accordingly
the very next day, after bidding Theoxena and her daughter an
affectionate farewell in the morning, he himself embarked about sunset
with Polybius. For some time the voyage was fairly prosperous, if not
very rapid. The wind came mostly from the north, with a touch of east in
it. The ship had but a poor crew of rowers, and its sailing capacities
were small. If the wind had more than one point from the east the sails
had to be hauled down and the oars resorted to.

On the tenth day there came a change in the weather. The wind shifted
suddenly to the south-west. This change was at first hailed with delight
by everyone on board; by the rowers, who were rejoiced to be set free
from their toil, by the passengers, who were beginning to be impatient
of their tedious progress. But a wind from the south-west has always
something dangerous about it. At daybreak a steady breeze, it grew
before night into something like a gale, and it was accompanied by
weather so thick that, failing any observation of either sun or stars,
the captain lost his reckoning entirely.

After two days of this alarming uncertainty the weather cleared only
just in time, as everyone on board saw plainly enough, to save the ship
from a catastrophe. About three miles to the north the cliffs of
Malia[58] could be seen, crowned by the famous temple of Apollo, whose
gilded roof showed itself when it was touched, from time to time, by
some passing gleam of sunshine. On their right the cliffs of Cythera
were visible. This was satisfactory in a way, but the plan of the
voyage, which was to make for the western end of the Corinthian Gulf,
had failed. The wind was blowing far too strongly to allow the captain
to attempt a north-western course. He had, therefore, no alternative but
to let it carry him up the Ægean. What had been lost was the safe and
easy passage up the quiet landlocked waters of the gulf, and with it
the certainty of reaching Corinth at or near the appointed time.

After a few hours the weather again changed for the worse. The clouds
came lower, the wind rose. When night came all that the captain and the
crew knew of their whereabouts was that they were not far from Melos, of
which they had just caught a glimpse, in dangerous proximity, on their
larboard bow. Melos, they knew, was not by any means on their straight
course to Corinth. They were, indeed, being blown out of this more and
more as time went on. The best they could hope for was that they might
not be dashed on one of the rugged and inhospitable islands and islets
with which the south-western Ægean was so thickly studded.

All night they scudded before the wind under one small sail, just enough
to give some steering power to the rudder. More than once they heard the
crash of unseen breakers on some unseen shore, and turned their course
away from the warning sound. With the morning came another welcome
change of weather. The wind dropped almost instantaneously; the sky
cleared till not a cloud could be seen, and the sea, though the long
rollers witnessed to its recent agitation, settled rapidly into calm.

About two miles to the north, yet seen so distinctly through the clear
atmosphere of early spring that it seemed almost within a stone's-throw,
lay a small island which Cleanor recognized at the first glance. Only
one place in the world brought together so closely, within so small a
space yet on a scale so magnificent, the two great elements of Greek
life, commerce and religion. On the low-lying land of the west coast was
to be seen the town of Delos, with its thickly-clustered dwellings.
Almost, as it seemed, among these rose a forest of masts, for Delos was
a mart of exchange for the trade of the Mediterranean, and the trade of
the Mediterranean was practically the trade of the civilized world.
Close behind the town, in all the splendour of its white Parian marble,
rose the famous temple of the tutelary god of the isle, Phoebus
Apollo, while nestling beside it were the smaller shrines of his twin
sister Phoebe or Artemis and of Aphrodite. Behind these again was the
hill of Cynthus, its steep declivity clothed with trees, among which
gleamed here and there the white shining walls of buildings both sacred
and secular.

"Delos!" cried the captain; "well, it might have been worse, and if we
can only get out of the harbour as easily and quickly as it seems likely
we shall get into it, we shall have nothing to complain of."

"Here," cried Cleanor to Polybius as they stood side by side on the
galley's deck, "here is one of my dreams come to pass! I have always
desired to see Delos, and here it is. Truly, here Greece is still to be
seen in all its glory."

Polybius smiled somewhat bitterly. "There is very little of Greece, I
fear, about Delos nowadays."

"But it belongs to Athens surely," broke in the young Greek, "just as
it did in the best times of Greece."

"Yes, it belongs to Athens," replied his friend; "if that means that
Athenian coin is circulated there, and the government is carried on in
the name of the Athenian people. But Delos is Roman for all practical
purposes. As for the Delians themselves, they were all deported twenty
years ago, and this time unfortunately Apollo did not interfere.[59] No,
my dear friend, it is only the past of Delos that belongs to Greece, and
that happily no power on earth can take from her. That, thank the gods,
we can still enjoy."

Some hours were pleasantly spent by the two friends in examining the
sights of the place. Polybius had been there two or three times before;
Cleanor, who knew every reference to the sacred island,--from the young
palm-tree to which Ulysses compared the fair Nausicaa onwards,--was
prepared thoroughly to enjoy the guidance of so intelligent a companion.
Later on in the day they strolled through the business town. Evidently
it was a thriving place. The docks were crowded with ships, the wharves
covered with merchandise of every kind, from the spices of the East to
the ivory brought by African hunters from the great forests of the
South. But there was little or nothing Greek about it. Two out of three
among the huge factories which lined the harbour-side belonged to Roman
traders. The others belonged to merchants of Tyre, of Antioch, of Joppa,
of Alexandria, but it was the exception to find a Greek name among them.
Cleanor could not help confessing to himself that another illusion was
gone. The most famous seat of Greek life, whether sacred or secular, had
passed into the power of the stranger.

The anxiety of the travellers to get to their journey's end was
increased by all that they heard in the island. It was clear, by all
accounts, that the fate of Corinth was imminent. But, much against their
wills, their stay was prolonged. The ship had received so severe a
buffeting during its voyage from Carthage that it could not be said to
be seaworthy. It had to be laid up in dock and repaired. And then, when
it was pronounced ready for sea, the weather made it absolutely
impossible to start. The captain had been only too prescient when he
doubted whether they should be able to get out of the harbour as easily
as they got in.

There was, indeed, much to be seen in Delos, which was then at the
height of its prosperity, and adorned with the offerings which the piety
of more than five hundred years had heaped upon it. But Polybius and his
companion were so impatient to reach their destination that the time
seemed to hang heavily on their hands. Disturbing rumours, too, were
current about the policy which Rome was likely to pursue at Corinth.
That the city would speedily be captured was considered certain, and
there were ominous conjectures as to its probable fate. One day the
friends had accepted an invitation to dinner from Diagoras, the Athenian
governor of the island, and Corinth was naturally the principal subject
of conversation. What Diagoras had to say was alarming in the extreme.

"You have come from Carthage," he said. "Well, what you have seen there
you will see again at Corinth. The capitalists and the commercial party
have it all their own way at Rome now, and their policy is, of course,
monopoly. Every trade rival must be put out of the way. Carthage has
been destroyed. That was not, as you know, the doing of the nobles.
Scipio and his friends were strongly against it. The capitalists carried
it in the Senate, partly by their own votes, partly by the votes which
they practically bought. I could tell you the men--and some of their
names would surprise you--whose votes were purchased, and I could tell
you the price that was paid for them. The same thing has happened over
and over again. Listen to this. I must not tell you the name of my
correspondent, but his authority is beyond all doubt:

    "'_The vote has gone as I expected. Corinth is to perish. The
    division was closer than in the Carthage affair, for the
    crime--I can call it nothing less--is more scandalous and more
    unprovoked. Carthage was once formidable, though she has long
    ceased to be so; Corinth never could have caused a moment's fear
    to Rome. It is simply the case of a trader burning down a
    rival's warehouse.'_

"This letter I received last night," the governor continued, "and it
appears to have been delayed on the way. The Senate's instructions to
Mummius--it is he that is in command at Corinth, and a very different
man from your Scipio, I fancy--must have reached him by this time."

"Then we are too late," said Polybius with a groan.

"Yes," replied the governor, "though I do not see what you could have
done even if you had not been delayed. All that will be in your power
will be to help individuals. I should recommend you, by the way, to go
to Athens first, and get a safe-conduct and letters of introduction from
the Roman agent there. These will make your task easier."

Two or three days after this conversation the travellers were able to
make a start. A gentle breeze from the east carried them out of the
harbour, and took them quickly to their journey's end.


    FOOTNOTES:

    58: Still called by the same name, at the south-east extremity
    of the Morea.

    59: The inhabitants of Delos were sent away from their island by
    the Roman government in 167 B.C. The Athenians had done exactly
    the same thing in 422 B.C., but the oracle of Delphi had warned
    them that they must be brought back, and this was accordingly
    done some time afterwards.



CHAPTER XXX.

CORINTH.


The news that met the travellers when they arrived at Athens was as bad
as their worst fears had anticipated. The whole city was in mourning.
One of her sister states--after herself the most splendid, and wealthy
beyond anything to which she could pretend--had perished, and Athens,
more generous than her rival had been in former days, grieved
unfeignedly for her fate.[60] It was a lamentable story of rashness,
incapacity, and cowardice that Polybius and Cleanor had to listen to,
and they heard it in full detail from a young soldier who had himself
taken part in the campaign. At first the young man could hardly be
persuaded to speak, so heartily ashamed was he of the conduct of his
countrymen. At last, assured of the sympathetic temper of his hearers,
he related a narrative, of which it will be sufficient for me to give an
outline.

"I was one of the _aides-de-camp_ to the general of the year, Critolaüs.
Did you know him?"

"Yes," said Polybius, "only too well; a more incompetent fool never
ruined the affairs of a state."

"Well," said the young soldier, "he has paid for his folly. Early in
this year we marched out of our winter-quarters near Corinth to attack
Heraclea in Thessaly, which had declared itself out of the League.[61]
We had just sat down before the town when news came that the Roman army
was approaching. Immediately there was a scuttle. The general did not
wait to hear what was the force of the enemy, but was off at once. Some
of his officers begged him to make a stand at Thermopylæ. We were not
all of us such curs as he. There really was a chance of holding the pass
till we could get any help that might be forthcoming. Anyhow, it was a
place where a Greek might fight with the best hope, and die with the
most honour. But the general had no wish to fight, much less to die. He
hurried through Thermopylæ, thinking to get back to the intrenched camp
at Corinth in which we had wintered; but Metellus--he was in command of
the Romans--was too quick for us. He overtook us when we had got about
twenty miles from Thermopylæ, and there was a battle,--if you may call
it a battle, when one side charges and the other runs away. The Thebans,
it is true, held their ground. They may call the Thebans stupid, but
they are wonderfully good soldiers. Yet what was the good of one corps
standing firm when there was no one to back it up? As for Critolaüs, no
one knows what became of him. He galloped off as soon as the Roman
troops came in sight, and he has never been seen from that day to this.

"Well, nothing was left of the army but a few scattered troops and
companies, and many of these were cut up, or taken prisoners one by one.
I am bound to say that the Romans behaved very well. They offered
quarter to anyone who would lay down his arms, and safety to every state
that would submit. It was more than could be expected, for really they
could have imposed any terms that they pleased. But our chiefs, led by
Diæus, who had succeeded Critolaüs, were bent on securing their own
lives. They were afraid that on some pretext they would be excepted in
any amnesty that might be offered, and so they went on fighting. Diæus
made a levy _en masse_ of the whole population, and, besides, armed
twelve thousand slaves, if you may call it arming a man to give him a
blunt sword and a spear with a cracked shaft. Money he raised in any way
he could; first he confiscated the property of all who belonged to the
peace party, and made up what was wanting--and a good deal was
wanting--by robbing his own friends. He took up his position on the
Isthmus, close to what is left of the wall built in the Persian
time.[62] Everything went badly from the first. Our vanguard was near
Megara, and, of course, we expected that it would make a stand, so as
to give us a little time. It had a strong position which it might have
held for at least three or four days. Well, it fled without so much as
striking a blow.

"After this Metellus, who really behaved in the most moderate way, gave
Diæus a chance. He sent envoys to offer terms, really liberal terms,
too, which it would have been no dishonour for people much better off
than we were to accept. To make them more acceptable, as he thought,
these envoys were Greeks, men of the highest character. But our general
would not listen to them. Not only that, but he charged them in the
public assembly with being traitors, and they were all but killed in the
riot that followed. Then we had yet another chance. Philo the
Thessalian, than whom there is no man more honoured in Greece, came with
conditions for an arrangement. Some of the general's own party were
convinced. Old Stratius, who has never been a friend to Rome, as you
know, actually grovelled on the ground, and caught Diæus by the knees,
entreating him to give way. But it was all of no use. Philo had to go
away without accomplishing anything. In fact, all this seemed only to
make the man more furious. He had some of his own officers brought
before a court-martial on the charge of being in communication with the
enemy. Their real fault was that they had been imprudent enough to show
that they were in favour of peace. One of them was found guilty and put
to the torture. He bore it, I was told, without saying a word. Two
others escaped with their lives, but only by paying a bribe--one a
talent, the other forty minæ, for the man was as greedy as he was cruel,
and he went on robbing and murdering with the sword within a foot of his
own neck.

"Then we had another reprieve. There was a change of generals in the
Roman army. Mummius, who had crossed from Italy, took over the command
from Metellus. While new arrangements were being made the Romans sat
still, and Diæus took the notion into his head that they were beginning
to be afraid of us. Then there happened some small affair of outposts in
which our cavalry got the best of it. It was but a trifle, not more than
half a dozen men killed or wounded on either side, but it elated our
chief beyond all measure. First he sent envoys to offer terms to the
Romans. They were to evacuate Greece, and give hostages as guarantee
that they would not return. If they did this, Diæus would allow them to
depart in safety. It was the act of a madman, and, of course, Mummius
did not even condescend to send back an answer.

"But it was a good thing for me. I, you see, was one of the envoys, and
I did not go back with them. It was quite enough for me to go through
the Roman camp, and see the admirable order and discipline, not to speak
of the number of the men, to feel sure that we had not the shadow of a
chance. I frankly told the Roman general, who seems a kind-hearted man,
though somewhat of a boor, how I was situated. I was really serving
under compulsion, a sort of hostage for my father, who is a leader of
the peace party, and as he was out of danger now, living as he did in
Northern Greece, and so not within reach of the League, I felt free to
leave, without having to feel myself a deserter. The general was very
kind, and advised me to leave the seat of war, where, indeed, it would
have been painful for me to stay, whatever might happen. Accordingly I
came to Athens; that is why I have the pleasure of seeing you to-day."

"And what has happened since?" asked Polybius.

"A despatch came in yesterday. Everything has gone as I expected. The
League generals were as rash at the end as they were timorous at the
beginning. They offered battle to the Romans though these were twice as
strong in actual numbers, not to speak of being vastly superior in
discipline and quality generally. The cavalry turned and fled without
waiting to cross swords with the enemy. The infantry, who were mostly
Thebans, behaved better, but the number of the enemy told against them.
They were outflanked and broken. After that, of course, all was over.
The general wrote that he held back his troops from the pursuit."

"And Diæus, what of him?" asked Polybius. "I hope the villain has had
his deserts. How has Greece sinned against the gods that she should be
cursed with having such fellows put in authority over her?"

"Nothing was known of what happened to him. But his body was not found
among the dead."

Polybius and his companion were kept for three days longer in Athens,
the Roman commissioner refusing them a permit to pass to the front.
Mummius was still before the city. Till he had entered it the presence
of strangers in the camp was considered to be inconvenient. Late in the
evening of the third day a despatch arrived from him, dated from the
citadel of Corinth. He explained that no resistance had been offered by
the Greek army; but that, finding it difficult to believe that so strong
a place could be given up without some attempt at defence, he had waited
till he could be sure that no stratagem was intended. The city, he
added, was perfectly quiet; all the leaders of the hostile army had
either fallen in battle or were prisoners in his hands. Diæus was
reported to have fled into Arcadia, and to have there committed suicide
along with his wife, but the report was not at present confirmed.

The Roman commissioner immediately on receiving this news sent the
desired permission to Polybius, and the two friends, who had everything
in readiness for their journey, started at once. Travelling all night
they reached Corinth, which was not more than thirty miles from Athens,
shortly after dawn. The city presented a most lamentable appearance.
The great market-place, and all the other squares and open spaces, were
thronged with a helpless and miserable crowd of men, women, and
children, of all ages and all ranks, doomed to the cruellest lot that
humanity can endure. The Senate and People of Rome, provoked, it must be
allowed, to the utmost by the insolence and folly of the Corinthians,
had passed the savage decree that the whole population of the city
should be sent to the slave-market.

The horrible business had already begun. The wretched victims had been
divided into lots according to sex and age. The quæstor's clerks--the
quæstor, it may be explained, was the officer who had charge of
finance--were busy noting down particulars, and the loathsome crew of
slave-dealers and their assistants, foul creatures that always followed
close on the track of a Roman army, were appraising the goods which were
soon to be offered for competition. Nobles of ancient houses, merchants,
who but a month before could have matched their riches with the
wealthiest capitalists of Rome, the golden youth of the most luxurious
city of the world, and, saddest of all, delicate women, whose beauty had
been jealously guarded even from sun and wind, stood helplessly exposed
to the brutal gaze and yet more brutal handling of Egyptian and Syrian
slave-dealers, barbarians to whom, in the haughty pride of their
Hellenism, they would scarcely have conceded the title of man.

[Illustration: A CORINTHIAN NOBLEMAN BEING SOLD AS A SLAVE IN THE
MARKET-PLACE.]

Cleanor recognized among the victims several whose acquaintance he had
made during his brief sojourn in Corinth during the previous year. The
contrast between their present degradation and the almost insolent pride
of their prosperous days touched him to the heart. The emotion of
Polybius was even more profound. Some of these men were lifelong
friends. He had sat by their side at the council; he had been a guest at
their hospitable tables. Some of them bore names associated with the
greatest glories of Greece. To see them exposed for sale like so many
sheep or oxen was a thing more strange and more horrible than he could
have conceived to be possible.

Not less strange, if less harrowing, was the spectacle which presented
itself to the two friends when they reached that quarter of the city in
which the Roman soldiery had bivouacked. One of the first things that
they saw was a group of soldiers off duty busy with a game of hazard.
For the convenience of having a level surface on which to throw the dice
they had stretched a canvas on the ground. Polybius, whose eye was
caught by what looked like a figure on this improvised dice-table,
approached and looked over the shoulder of one of the players to examine
it more closely. He started back in amazement and horror.

"Great Zeus!" he cried, "what do you think it is, Cleanor, that these
fellows have laid there to throw their dice upon? Why, it is one of the
finest pictures in the world! It is the 'Dionysus' of Aristides! The
city, I have been told, gave twenty talents for it to the artist, and,
to my certain knowledge, might have sold it over and over again for
twice as much if not more. Look at it. Did you ever see anything finer?
See how the god is flinging himself from his car! See with what surprise
Ariadne is turning to look at him! And the throng of nymphs and satyrs,
did you ever behold such variety, such energy, such grace? And these
barbarians are using it for a dice-table!"

"Hush!" said Cleanor warningly. "They may be barbarians, but they are
our masters, and it is prudent to be civil."

Close by was another group which was amusing itself in precisely the
same way. The picture was not, it is true, so famous a master-piece as
the "Dionysus"--it was the "Hercules" of Polygnotus, but it was a work
of art which meant a modest fortune to anyone who had had the luck to
possess himself of it. As for the purpose which it was then serving, a
table of gold would not have been so inappropriately costly. Anomalies
of the same kind could be seen everywhere. Coverlets of the richest
Tyrian purple, tapestries worked with figures as graceful and delicate
as the most skilful brush of the painter could make them, embroidered
robes that Pallas might have worked or Aphrodite worn, the treasures
brought from the harems of Eastern kings, lay about to be trampled under
the feet of Apulian herdsmen, Sabine ploughmen, and Campanian
vine-dressers. To these sturdy peasants, ignorant of all arts but the
soldiers, they were but gaudy-coloured cloths which might be put, in
default of something more convenient, to the meanest purposes.

"Great Zeus!" cried Polybius, as he looked on the scene, "what a waste!
It is better that anyone should have these treasures than that they
should be wasted in this fashion. Let us see Mummius and give him an
idea of what is going on."


    FOOTNOTES:

    60: In 404 B.C., when the Spartans and their allies had captured
    Athens, Corinth voted for the total destruction of the city.

    61: The Achæan League.

    62: It was the favourite plan of the Peloponnesian states in the
    Persian war to fortify the Isthmus and leave all Northern Greece
    at the mercy of the Persians; but this plan was abandoned owing
    to the declaration of the Athenians that, if it was persisted
    in, they would make terms with the Persians. A wall, of course,
    would have been useless, if the fleet of the enemy were free to
    land an army wherever it pleased. The work, however, was begun,
    though never completed.



CHAPTER XXXI.

MUMMIUS.


Scipio had furnished Polybius with a letter addressed to Mummius, who,
as one of the consuls of the year, was likely, sooner or later, to take
command of the forces that were to operate against Corinth. Thanks to
this he found no difficulty in obtaining for himself and Cleanor access
to the great man. He had also the advantage of having made the consul's
acquaintance during his sojourn in Italy. Mummius was a "new man",[63]
one of the class which their enemies describe as upstarts, their friends
as "self-made men". He was rude and uncultured, with just so much
education as enabled him to spell through a state document and sign his
name. But if he was ignorant and unrefined, on the other hand he was
honest, a plain man who did his duty up to his light, not given either
to self-indulgence or greed, and humane at least up to the Roman
average.

The friends found him immersed in business, a kind of business, too,
with which he was wholly unfitted to deal. This, however, did not
prevent him greeting Polybius in friendly fashion, and speaking a few
words of welcome to Cleanor.

"What can I do for you, gentlemen?" he asked, when these salutations had
been exchanged.

Polybius briefly described what he had seen, and suggested that some
steps should be taken to put a stop to this waste of valuable property.

"This sort of thing is quite beyond me," exclaimed the consul in some
irritation. "I don't understand what you mean by these treasures of art.
However, I will see to it. But I have done a good stroke of business for
the treasury. There are hundreds of statues about the city, which,
indeed, is fairly blocked up with them. What they could want with so
many I can't conceive. As for being statues of great men, as they tell
me, I can hardly believe it. Why, the whole country is not a quarter of
the size of Italy, and we haven't a half or anything like a half. But as
to the statues. The agents of King Eumenes of Pergamus were here
yesterday, and gave me five thousand sesterces apiece for the pick of a
hundred statues. That makes a fine sum of money, more than a knight's
qualification, as you know."[64]

"Five thousand apiece! is that all?" cried Polybius. "I don't know, of
course, what the statues were, but I am pretty sure that King Eumenes
would send an agent who knew what he was about. And if he had the first
pick, I should say that the king has made the best bargain that he ever
made in his life. Five thousand, indeed! It would not have been a bad
stroke of business, I should say, if he had paid fifty thousand. I know
that he gave double that to Diagoras of Rhodes for Myron's Dancing
Faun."

"You astonish me," said Mummius. "I never dreamt of such sums. Why, at
Interamna--my native place, you know--they put up a statue of my father,
twice the size of life, and the sculptor thought himself very well paid
with five thousand sesterces, the town finding the stone. But I suppose
you know all about these things. However, I have passed my word, and I
can't go back from my bargain. But the king didn't get quite the pick,
as you call it. I sent Duilius my quæstor round the city to look about
him and choose a cargo of specimens to send over to Rome. He told me
that he knew something about these matters. And he can speak Greek,
which is something."

At this point of the conversation one of the consul's lictors knocked at
the door and announced that the transport contractors had called by
appointment.

Polybius and his companion offered to go away. "No," said Mummius,
"there is nothing private, and I have something else to say to you
afterwards. Bring them in," he went on, speaking to the lictor.

The contractors were three in number, the owners of as many transport
ships. They had undertaken to convey three ship-loads of statues to
Rome. One of them had a catalogue of these works of art, which he handed
to the consul. Mummius had another copy.

"Would you be good enough," he said to Polybius, "to go over the list
with these gentlemen. You will tell me whether it is all right, and you
will see what sort of choice Duilius has made."

The list contained some two hundred items in all, and there was scarcely
one of them which Polybius did not know or had not heard as being a
master-piece in its way. There were works amongst them of all the famous
sculptors of Greece, from Phidias downwards--Polyclitus, Myron,
Praxiteles, and the masters of the Rhodian and the Pergamene schools.

"Well," said the historian, when the list had been carefully gone
through, "Duilius has done his business very well. He has got the pick
of the treasures of Corinth. And King Eumenes, though he has done
exceedingly well, can hardly have made the extravagantly good bargain
that I thought. Yes, this is a very fine list indeed."

The consul's face grew visibly brighter.

"That is good hearing," he cried. "I sha'n't have done so badly after
all; but I wish very much that I had seen you a little sooner. Now, my
friends," he went on, addressing himself to the contractors, "you hear
what this gentleman says. He is a friend of mine, and knows all about
these matters. You understand that you have a very valuable cargo. Are
your transports water-tight and seaworthy in every way?"

"Certainly, sir," said the spokesman of the three. "I don't believe you
could find better ships between the Pillars and Tyre."

"Well, I hope they are what you say. But mind this, you are answerable
for the cargo. I paid your price, and I expect you to do your work. Mind
this, if you lose them, you will replace them with others just as good.
Isn't that fair, Polybius?"

"Certainly, sir," said the Greek, preserving a quite masterly command of
his countenance.

This business concluded, the consul went on:

"You have done me, or tried to do me, a good turn; I only wish that you
had come a few hours sooner. Now I should like to show you that I am
grateful. You have heard, I suppose, of Diæus?"

"Not a word, sir," replied the historian, "except that he disappeared
after the battle."

"Well," said Mummius, "he is dead. He poisoned himself at some place in
Arcadia. His property, of course, is confiscated. I am told that there
are about thirty talents of silver and half a talent of gold. Whatever
the amount, half of it is at your service."

"I thank you, sir," returned Polybius, "but I don't care to enrich
myself with what has belonged to a countryman. Diæus was no friend of
mine, but I should not like it to be said that I have been a gainer by
his death."

"You are an honest man," cried the consul, "and I wish that there were
more like you here, and, for the matter of that, at Rome. But can I do
anything for you?"

"Yes, sir, you can," said Polybius. "Let me use this money to redeem
some of these poor creatures who are to be sold. I know many of them;
some I may almost call friends. It is heart-rending for one who has seen
them as they were to see them as they are now."

"Good!" answered Mummius, "you shall have the whole of the money, and I
will tell the quæstor to see that it goes as far as possible. There
shall be no bidding against you. And now farewell; but you and your
young friend must dine with me to-day."


    FOOTNOTES:

    63: A _novus homo_ was one who could not reckon among his
    ancestors anyone who had risen to the rank of consul or prætor.

    64: Five thousand sesterces would be £40, 7_s._ 1_d._, and the
    total price paid would be a little over £4000; the property
    qualification of a knight was £3600.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE SLAVE-DEALER.


The entertainment which the consul provided for his guests was of the
simplest and most frugal kind, in curious contrast with the costly plate
on which it was served. His cook knew his tastes, which were those of
the Sabine farming folk from whom he came, and catered for him
accordingly; but the furnishing of the table was naturally that of the
place where he was quartered, the official residence of the chief
magistrate of Corinth, and this was filled with the finest specimens of
the city's famous ware.[65]

The repast ended, the quæstor, who had been one of the guests, explained
to Polybius what Mummius had instructed him to do. "The consul," he
said, "has commissioned me to use forty talents of silver[66] in
redeeming slaves. You are to draw up a list, and as the sale begins the
day after to-morrow, you should lose no time in doing so. As to the
price, he has instructed the official agent to value the persons
selected, so they will not be actually put up for sale. More than this
the consul did not feel he could do. 'If I were to interfere with the
prices,' he said, 'I should be making a very dangerous precedent. It
must all be done on strict business principles.' A more scrupulously
honourable man than Lucius Mummius does not live, though it must be
allowed that he does not know much about art. However, you will have
fairly easy terms, I don't doubt."

"I am greatly obliged to you," said Polybius. "And now there is another
thing in which you can help me. My young friend here and I have been
talking the matter over, and we are agreed in wanting to do something
more in the same direction. He has been actually under the spear,[67]
and I, though I have never gone through that experience, know something
of the bitterness of being at another man's bidding. Well, fate has
dealt kindly with both of us, and we both want to show our gratitude.
Between us we can raise another forty talents, and we want to use it in
the same way. Our idea is this. The money that comes from Diæus' estate
should, we think, be used on the public account. Our own we should
employ as our private feelings may suggest. In the list that I shall
draw up for the official agent I shall put the names of men whose
official standing, or services to their country, or any other public
reason, seem to call for their selection. In regard to our own money, we
shall consider private friendship or acquaintance. Now, can you help us
in laying this out to the best advantage?"

The quæstor reflected. "You must not go," he said after a pause, "to the
agent. I feel quite sure that the consul would not like it. I do not see
that you can do anything better, or, indeed, anything else than approach
one of the slave-dealers. The way of these sales, I may say of all
sales, is pretty much the same everywhere. There is a regular gang which
has it all its own way. The members of it don't bid against each other,
except where they have a commission to purchase this or that lot. But
when an outsider tries to get anything for himself, they agree to run
him up to a most extravagant price. Yes, you must get one of the dealers
to take a friendly interest in you."

"And whom do you recommend?" asked Polybius.

"That is not so easy to say," replied the quæstor. "They are not a nice
lot, as I dare say you know. Most of them would sell their own fathers
and mothers. It is not an improving occupation. But, on the whole, I
should recommend Judas the Jew. He has principles; very queer principles
they are, but still they are something. Yes, Judas is your man. One of
my orderlies shall bring him to you early to-morrow."

Early the next day, accordingly, Judas presented himself, showing a
curious contrast, with his slight, wiry figure and keen intelligent
face, to the stoutly-built, stolid-looking soldier who accompanied him.

"Well, gentlemen, what can I do for you?" he began. "There will be some
bargains to be picked up, I dare say. But the really good things always
fetch their price. There is never a glut of them."

Polybius had drawn up a list, which he proceeded to hand to the Jew. He
had put down the names, and, as far as he knew or could guess them, the
ages of the persons whom he wished to purchase. The Jew's eyes opened
wider and wider as he read it.

"But what," he asked, his astonishment overcoming for the moment his
usual somewhat servile civility, "what do you want with all these old
men and women? They can't all be your fathers and mothers, and uncles
and aunts. Excuse me, gentlemen," he added, recovering himself, "but
this is not the sort of commission I am in the habit of getting from my
customers."

Polybius explained, to the best of his power, his own and his friend's
motives. As the Jew listened a gentler expression came into his face.
"By the God of my fathers," he exclaimed when the historian had
finished, "I have never come across such a thing in my life! I don't
mean that I haven't known of sons buying back fathers and mothers and
that sort of thing, but this is quite outside my experience. Well," he
went on with a smile, "you will at all events find that your fancy won't
cost you very dear. How much do you propose to spend?"

Polybius named the sum. "But of course," he added, "we must consider
your commission. What will that be on this amount?"

Judas meditated a while. "By Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," he broke out
after a time, "I won't take a drachma. I have been about the world in
this line of business for thirty years, and I have never seen anything
like it. I should not have supposed it possible," he muttered to himself
in his own language, "that these Gentile dogs should have thought of
such a thing. Well, I must not shame Father Abraham by behaving worse
than they do. No, gentlemen," he went on, "I shall not charge anything
for commission. This is a quite uncommon piece of business, and you must
let me please myself by managing it in my own way. Well, you can get a
whole ship-load of the old people for this money. Some of the young men
will be more expensive. But the really costly articles are the young
women, and I don't see one on your list. Depend upon it, you shall have
your money's worth. There are some of the meanest scoundrels in the
world in Corinth at this moment, but they know better than to bid
against Judas."

When sundry details of business had been disposed of, the old Jew grew
very communicative about his occupation. He had been a slave himself,
carried away by some Syrian marauders in his childhood from a village of
Galilee. Bought by a soldier, a captain in the army of the third
Antiochus, he had regained his liberty in the rout which followed the
victory of Magnesia. After this had come a period of service in the
patriot armies raised by the Maccabee brothers. In this he gained some
distinction, but he found himself destitute when a severe wound received
at the battle of Elaim compelled him to give up the profession of arms.
He had no relative in the world; his native place had absolutely
perished. A countryman offered him a clerk's place. When he found that
his new employer was a dealer in slaves he felt a strange thrill of
pleasure. He was to make his living out of the miseries of these heathen
who had marred his own life. To his own people he never ceased to be
tender and generous. To the rest of the world he seemed to be absolutely
callous and heartless. On this occasion he related to his hearers
experiences so horrible that their blood ran cold at hearing them. His
comments on these were often curiously cynical. "What a piece of folly
it was that Flamininus committed at Chelys!" he remarked when some
chance had brought the conversation round to that subject. Cleanor
listened, we may be sure, with all his ears, when he caught the name.
"In a fit of stupid passion he threw away at least fifty talents of good
money. Imagine the absolute idiotcy of a man who kills some scores of
able-bodied men when he might have sold them! What did he do it for? For
revenge? Didn't he know that nine out of ten would far sooner have been
killed than made slaves of? Why, I always have to watch any spirited
young fellow for the first month or so lest he should slip out of my
hands. After that they seem to lose heart, and can't even pluck up
spirit enough to stab themselves. Of course the order to kill is never
really carried out. The soldiers have a knack of stunning those whom
they seem to kill. I have had some pretty cargoes of corpses who came to
life again when they were safely out of the way. You give a soldier a
hundred sesterces,[68] and you get a stout young fellow whom you can
sell for five thousand."

Polybius and Cleanor had the satisfaction of seeing their efforts
crowned with even more success than they could have expected. The public
agent had taken a very liberal view of his duties, and the Jew dealer
had carried out his part of the business with great success. Nearly
seven hundred of the oldest and most helpless victims of the siege were
restored to freedom. It was but a small fraction of the miserable whole,
but it was something to have done. None of the rescued captives knew the
names of their benefactors, though somehow the secret leaked out
afterwards, but the friends felt that their pains had been well bestowed
and well rewarded when they stood by and marked, unmarked themselves,
the happiness which they had been able to secure to their unfortunate
compatriots.

If in this respect Polybius went, and was content to go, without the
praises of his countrymen, there was another matter in the conduct of
which he deservedly won almost universal applause. Some miserable
sycophants--and sycophants were only too common among the Greeks of the
time--proposed to Mummius that the statues of Philopoemen should be
thrown down. He had been always, they alleged, an energetic opponent of
Rome, and it was a contradiction that monuments erected in his honour
should be permitted to stand now that Rome had finally triumphed. The
consul, who, to tell the truth, had but the slightest acquaintance with
even recent history, was at first impressed by the argument. This
Philopoemen had been the chief of the Achæan League, and it was the
Achæan League that had defended, or tried to defend, Corinth against
him.

Polybius, who, of course, knew what was meditated, begged to be allowed
to defend the departed patriot, and Mummius consented to hear him. A
kind of impromptu court was constituted. The consul and his quæstor,
with the legates or generals of division, formed the bench of judges.
Polybius, who spoke with a depth of personal feeling that touched the
hearts of all who heard him, delivered a most eloquent and convincing
apology for the venerable man whom he had once been privileged to call
his friend. He allowed that Philopoemen had struggled for the
independence of Greece as long as that independence was possible. What
honest Greek, he asked, could have done less? But he had always been an
honourable enemy, and as soon as he saw that the true interests of his
country demanded it he had always been a loyal ally. The judges gave an
unanimous verdict in his favour.

"He was an honest man," said the consul with emphasis. "His statue shall
remain standing here and everywhere, whatever may be thrown down, and as
honest men are not too common, it shall be set up in every city of
Greece."

It was now time for the friends to part. Polybius had received a
commission from Rome to arrange the affairs of the other cities of the
Peloponnese, and he would gladly have taken his young friend with him in
the capacity of secretary. But Cleanor felt irresistibly called, and by
more motives than one, to Italy. There awaited him there an honourable
and lucrative employment, which would be all the more welcome because it
was wholly remote from the scenes, so full of painful associations,
through which he had passed during the last two years of his life. This,
as my readers will remember, was the translation of the famous treatise
on Agriculture. And he never forgot for a moment that Italy now
contained the two beings who were dearest to him in the world. Corinth,
which the savage decree of the Senate had doomed to the flames, both
were anxious to leave without delay. They parted on the deck of the
_Ino_, the ship which carried Polybius to Sicyon, the first city which
he was to visit in his official capacity, and which was to take Cleanor
further westward to Rome. "Farewell!" said Polybius. "I shall be busy
with my history when these affairs are settled. Remember that you have
promised to criticise it. I shall not like to give it to the world till
it has had your approval."


    FOOTNOTES:

    65: This was made of an alloy known as _Corinthian brass_ or
    _bronze_, and said to have been composed of gold, silver, and
    copper. In later times it was believed to have been first made,
    and that by accident, at this very taking of Corinth, when gold,
    silver, and other metals were found to have been melted by the
    violent conflagration and to have run together; but it had been
    known long before.

    66: About £9000.

    67: It was the Roman custom, and Polybius naturally uses Roman
    terms on this occasion, to set up a spear when an auction was
    going on.

    68: Something less than £1.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

TO ITALY.


The _Ino_ had a quick and prosperous voyage. But though Cleanor arrived
safely at his destination, he learned, not without astonishment, that he
had been running a very considerable danger of having a different ending
to his travels. The Roman Republic was extending her borders in every
direction, and was levelling to the dust the cities which had disputed
with her the empire of the world, but she suffered herself to be
insulted and her citizens and allies to be maltreated by insignificant
enemies. While her legions and fleets were winning great victories
abroad, her own coasts were harried by pirates. Near Ithaca the _Ino_
picked up a boat in which were three sailors reduced to the last stage
of exhaustion by hunger and thirst. The poor fellows, who were almost
unconscious when they were taken on board, had a piteous story to tell
when they had recovered sufficient strength to speak. They had been
drifting about for nine days, and were the survivors of a company of
nine, the crew of a trader of Patræ which was bound with a cargo of wine
for Tarentum.

"We were overhauled," said the captain, who was one of the three, "when
we had accomplished half our voyage by a Cilician pirate galley. They
took what they wanted of my cargo, scuttled my ship, and being, for some
reason or other, in high good-humour, instead of making us walk the
plank, as is their common custom, let us take our chance in our boat,
and even gave us a keg of water and a bag of biscuits. This was my first
venture on my own account," said the man, with tears in his eyes, "and I
have lost everything I had in the world. We pay taxes to the Romans; why
don't they keep the seas safe for us?"

"Why, indeed?" said the captain of the _Ino_. "Things are far worse
now," he continued, addressing himself to Cleanor, "than they were when
I first began to sail these seas some thirty years ago. They used to be
fairly well kept in those days by the Rhodian ships. It was very seldom
that the pirates ever came west of Cyprus. But then Rhodes began to go
down the hill. She was ruined by Delos being made a free port, and could
not afford to keep up her fleet. Since then things have been going from
bad to worse. You wouldn't believe, sir, the things that have happened
almost in the sight of Rome. Two years ago half of a prætor's
establishment was carried off as it was on its way along the coast-road
from Barium to Brundisium, and it was only by good luck that they did
not lay hands upon the great man himself. He happened to have gone on in
advance instead of being behind, as was usual. Perhaps if they had
caught him something might have been done. As it is, nobody seems to
care."

The next day the _Ino_ herself had what looked like a narrow escape.
At daybreak the look-out man descried in the offing a craft of
suspicious-looking build, long, and low in the water. It was then almost
a dead calm, and if the stranger was a pirate, as seemed only too
likely, her long sweeps would soon bring her dangerously near. "We will
have a fight for it," said the captain, as he inspected his stock of
arms.

Happily the occasion to use them never arrived. A brisk breeze sprang up
as the sun rose higher, and the _Ino_, which was an excellent sailer,
soon left the strange ship far behind. The same evening she was moored
to one of the quays in the harbour of Brundisium. By noon next day
Cleanor was well on his way along the great Appian Road to Rome.

It was yet early in the autumn, the unhealthiest time of the year, then
as now, for the Italian capital, and the city was empty, as far at least
as its wealthier inhabitants were concerned. The translation committee,
however, was about to commence its work, which was considered to be
urgent. Scipio, with the thoughtful kindness which was characteristic
of him, had placed a villa of his own near Ostia at the disposal of the
members, and they were able to devote themselves to their task under
favourable conditions of health and quiet. Under these pleasant
circumstances the work progressed rapidly. Cleanor's assistance was
found to be of the greatest value. He was now equally familiar with the
three languages, Carthaginian, Greek, and Latin. The first two had been
spoken almost indifferently in his native town; the third he had learned
grammatically in his childhood, and he had since acquired the colloquial
use of it. It is easy to understand how useful an educated man, who had
had these unusual advantages, could be in dealing with a book which was
largely concerned with common things and the affairs of everyday life.
Not one of his colleagues united in himself so many qualifications.

The time, taken up as it was with this occupation, passed quickly, and,
on the whole, pleasantly enough. Still, the continuous labour, and the
sedentary life, so unlike the continuous activity in which he had spent
the preceding months, began to tell upon his health and spirits, and he
was glad when the approach of the Holidays of Saturn[69] promised an
interval of rest and, possibly, a change of scene. It was with no small
delight that early in December he received a letter from the younger
Scipio. It was as follows:--

    _L. Cornelius Scipio to his friend Cleanor, heartily greeting._

    _This is but the third day since I arrived in Italy, and I
    hasten to make sure that we should meet as soon as possible. My
    aunt Cornelia, from whose villa at Misenum I am now writing,
    invites you, as I write at her request, to spend here the
    approaching holiday. She desires me to say that she now hears
    for the first time where you are and what you are doing. Other
    things concerning you have been told her, not without much
    praise, by some whose names I need not mention. Come, therefore,
    as soon as circumstances permit. That you will come welcome to
    many, and especially to me, be assured. Farewell!_


    FOOTNOTE:

    69: The "Holidays of Saturn" (_Saturnalia_) occurred in the
    early part of the latter half of December. They extended to as
    many as seven days. It is not improbable that they were, in a
    way, carried on by the Christmas festivities.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

AT MISENUM.


Cornelia, the "Mother of the Gracchi", was at this time not far from
fifty years of age, but retained by favour of nature, often so
capricious in what she gives or takes away, much of the beauty of
youth. Left a widow with a numerous family--she had borne twelve
children to her husband, but all had not survived--she had found a royal
suitor in Ptolemy, king of Egypt. This suit it had probably not caused
her any effort to decline. A daughter of the great Cornelian house would
have disdained in any case an alliance with so doubtful a race as the
Ptolemies, and this particular Ptolemy, whose bloated appearance had
earned him the name of Physcon, was a degenerate scion of it. But
Cornelia had had serious troubles. Of her twelve children two only were
now alive, Tiberius, now a lad of seventeen, and Caius, a child of five.
Both, indeed, gave the fairest promise; the elder, though he had but
lately assumed the manly gown, had exhausted such education as Roman
teachers could then supply, and was already an accomplished rhetorician;
the younger was a boy of singular beauty and intelligence. But Cornelia,
a remarkably clear-sighted woman, had already begun to view with alarm
the rapid development of Tiberius's character. The young man's political
tendencies were strongly marked, and they seemed likely to bring him
into dangerous collision with the aristocratic traditions of his
mother's house. As for Caius, he was self-willed and imperious to an
extraordinary degree. Still, no mother could have been prouder of her
children, as none certainly could have been more devoted to them.

At this particular time, however, when Cleanor paid his first visit to
the villa at Misenum, all was brightness and gaiety. Theoxena and her
daughter had learned by this time to feel themselves thoroughly at home
in Cornelia's hospitable house. The elder woman had suffered so much in
the past that the best happiness which could be hoped for her was peace;
but Daphne had blossomed out into a most attractive personality. There
was a peculiar radiance about her beauty, which had all the greater
charm because the girl's own disposition and the gracious example of her
hostess, a very pearl among women, tempered it with a certain air of
virginal reserve. Cleanor she met at first with her old sisterly
frankness, but there was an ardour in the young man's glance, and a
thrill in his voice--though he vainly attempted to subdue them into the
greeting of a respectful affection--which seemed to alarm her. As for
Cleanor, after the first day spent in her company, he could doubt no
longer as to the real nature of his feelings. Daphne would be
thenceforward the one woman in the world for him.

The holiday, which was prolonged to the beginning of the new
year, passed only too quickly. The days were spent either in
hare-hunting--larger game was not to be found in a region already
thickly populated--or in excursions on the water, which were favoured by
weather that, though it was the depth of winter, was remarkably calm and
warm. Possibly the most delightful expedition of the season was the
ascent of Vesuvius, then clothed almost to the summit with lovely
woods, and giving no sign of the hidden forces which, two centuries
later, were to spread desolation over the fairest region of Italy.

The evenings were begun by a meal, simply yet elegantly served, at which
the whole party assembled, even the little Caius being allowed to be
present for at least a time. The meal over, there was no lack of
entertainment. Tiberius was an accomplished reciter, and could give one
of Terence's comedies with an artistic variety of voice and emphasis.
Cleanor charmed the company with a passage from Homer, from Pindar, or
from one of the great Athenian dramatists. Sometimes, by special
request, he would dance the Pyrrhic dance, a pastime which in sterner
Roman society would have more than savoured of frivolity. And now and
then Daphne was persuaded to sing to the lute an exquisite little lyric
from Stesichorus.

The last day of the year, which was also to be the last of the most
delightful of visits, Cleanor determined to make as long as possible.
Rising as soon as the first streaks of dawn began to show themselves in
the sky, he began to explore more thoroughly than he had before an
opportunity of doing, the beautifully ordered gardens which surrounded
the villa. Following a path of velvet sward, sheltered on either side by
shrubberies of box-wood, he came to a spot which gave him a wide
prospect over the lovely bay of Naples. He noticed, but in the most
casual way, the figure of a gardener, who was busy, as it seemed, in
trimming the surrounding shrubs, the whole spot, except on that side
which fronted the sea, being protected from the wind by a dense growth
of box and laurel, arbutus and bay.

He threw himself down on a rustic bench and gazed on the scene before
him. He was looking westward, and the sea at his feet lay in shadow, a
dark purple in colour. In the distance the sun was just touching with
golden light the crags of Prochyta and of the more remote Inarimé. For a
time the beauty of the scene wholly occupied him, for nature stirred the
hearts of the men of those days even as it stirs ours, though they had
only begun to give their feelings articulate expression.

Then his thoughts recurred to what was the dominant emotion of the time
with him, his love for Daphne. How, he asked himself, how should he make
it known? How should he approach her? To speak directly, at least in the
first instance, was not the custom of his race, though doubtless love,
there as elsewhere, made exceptions of his own to the severest rule.
Through her mother? But Theoxena was, he knew, only too thoroughly
devoted to him. To her his wish would be a command; she would make it a
matter of filial obedience with her daughter, and he wanted the
voluntary submission that was wholly free. Through Cornelia? But would
she favour such an alliance? She was a noble of the nobles, filled with
the keenest sympathy for the people, but profoundly conscious of the
social difference between her class and them, and with her own class she
would certainly rank the well-born Cleanor.

Well, he said to himself, after a pause of reflection, which did not
seem to make the matter clearer, "these things will settle themselves. I
love her, and I think she loves me, so that nothing will keep us apart."
And he broke into the beautiful choric song of the _Antigone_--for it
was his habit, as it is the habit of all true lovers of poetry, thus to
interrupt his solitary musings--

        "O love invincible!"

After this came a stave of Alcæus, and after this again a piece of
melodious tenderness from Sappho.

As he turned to retrace his steps to the house, for he had risen early,
and the keen morning air made him feel that he had fasted long, he was
startled to hear his name called from behind him, not the name by which
he was known to the world, but the pet family name, which he had not
heard since the home of his childhood had vanished in fire and blood.

"Cle," said the voice, and its tones seemed to be strangely familiar. He
turned; no one was within sight but the gardener. The man had dropped
the shears, and stood with his hands stretched out in a supplicating
gesture.

"What is it?" he cried; "what or whom do you want?" He took two or three
steps forward, and as he approached there seemed to be something
strangely familiar in the figure before him.

"Yes, it is--" and the speaker swayed to and fro for a moment, and then
fell unconscious to the ground. The wide-brimmed hat, which had been
drawn down low over the face, to conceal, as it seemed, the features,
was displaced by the fall, and revealed the graceful contour of the
forehead, and the shapely head covered with short curls of sunny gold.

"Great Zeus!" cried Cleanor, as he lifted the prostrate figure from the
ground. "Great Zeus! if I am not mad or dreaming, this is Cleoné come to
life again."

Close by a tiny spring trickled down from a rock. Cleanor held his cap
beneath it till it was half full, and dashed the water in his sister's
face. She drew two or three deep breaths, and then opened her eyes.
Vacant at first, for she could not remember where she was or what had
happened, they soon became radiant with happy light.

"Dearest brother," she murmured, "have I found you again? But come to my
little hut--it is close by. There you shall hear my story, and we will
consider what is to be done."

Briefly put, for in the actual telling it was interrupted, as may be
supposed, with numberless exclamations and questions, Cleoné's story was
this:--

"I remember nothing after I was struck down by a blow from a soldier's
sword in the market-place of Chelys, till I found myself in the hold of
a ship at sea."

"Then you were not killed?" cried Cleanor.

"It seems not," said the girl with a merry laugh, "for even were I an
Eurydice there was no Orpheus to bring me back from the house of Hades."

"Ah!" said the young man, "now I begin to understand what old Judas
meant. He said, you must know, that they bribed the soldiers not to kill
the prisoners, but to stun them."

"Well, as I was saying, I found myself in the hold of a ship which was
evidently making very bad weather. I was lying with my head close to the
deck, and I could hear two men talking just over me. There was such a
roaring of the wind, and such a creaking of timbers, that I lost a good
deal of what they said. Still I could make out something. Someone--I
supposed it was the captain--was cursing his ill-luck. 'Here,' he said,
'is a bit of cursed spite--as good a speculation as ever I made in my
life all comes to nothing. There are fifty as likely young fellows as I
have had the handling of since I went into the business five-and-twenty
years ago down there, and what is going to become of them? They are
worth two hundred thousand sesterces if they are worth one, and now the
whole lot is going to the bottom.' 'What is the odds?' growled the
other, whom I took to be the steersman. 'What is the odds if you are
going too?' 'I tell you what,' said the other again after a pause, 'you
should give the fellows a chance. Open the hatches, and let them get to
land if they can.' 'What is the good?' answered the captain sulkily;
'they may drown for all I care.' 'Nay, but you talk like a fool. If they
live, they are still yours, and you may get hold of them, or, at least,
of some of them again.' 'True,' said the owner, 'that is so. They shall
have a chance.' A minute or two afterwards the hatches were opened, and
the fellow cried, 'Up with you as quick as you can! The ship hasn't many
minutes to float, and if you don't want to go to the bottom with her,
now is your time.' About two score out of the fifty clambered upon deck.
Some had never recovered from the blow which had stunned them--it can't
be an easy thing to give just the right sort of stroke--and some, I take
it, were so far gone with sea-sickness that they did not care to move.
As for me, I felt a little dazed; sea-sickness never troubles me, as you
know. We got up on deck only just in time, the ship was already close
upon the rocks. The next minute she struck. What happened to the crew
and to my companions is more than I can say; all I know is that I have
never seen one of them since, except, indeed, some dead bodies that I
found on the shore next morning. I had a desperate struggle to get to
land, and, indeed, I never should have done it, though, as you know, I
am no bad swimmer, but that an extra big wave threw me up almost high
and dry, and I had just strength enough to crawl away out of reach of
the sea. The rest of the night--it was about the middle of the third
watch, as near as I could guess, when this happened--I passed in a
thicket in a bed of dry leaves, where I slept as soundly as ever I did
in my life. The next day I rigged myself out with clothes that I took
from the dead men on the shore--it was no robbery, I thought, poor
fellows! I found some money, too, in their pockets. Following a road
which led inland, I came to a village where there was a tavern. Here I
got some bread and a draught of sour wine. I thought it safest, I should
tell you, to pretend to be deaf and dumb, and made them to understand by
signs that I wanted something to eat and drink. I paid for what I had,
but was careful to let the people know that I had very little, for I
made up the few coppers that were wanted from one place and another.
Then I got them to understand that I wanted to work for my living. First
I made as if I were digging, then as if I were sawing wood. They
happened to want someone, for it was a busy time of the year, and they
saw that they could get the work done very cheaply, for they gave me no
pay besides my food and lodging in an outhouse, which, happily, I had to
myself. Here I stopped for about a month. Then I overheard some people
talking of a great lady who lived in the neighbourhood. She was a widow,
they said, and managed everything--house and garden and farm--all by
herself. That, I thought to myself, is the place for me. Perhaps some
day I shall be able to tell her my story. However, the day has never
come. I got employment just in the same way as I did at the tavern, and
I have the little hut to myself, where I look after some fowls and
pigeons. But, somehow, I could never summon up courage to speak.
However, I always went on hoping and hoping, and now, dearest Cleanor,
that you are come, all will be right."

"Yes," said the young man, "and the first thing, my dear Cleoné, will be
to get you some proper clothes."

The girl blushed.

"By Castor!" she said, "I had almost forgotten that I was dressed as a
man. But how will you manage it?"

"Easily enough," replied her brother. "The lady Cornelia has an
excellent housekeeper with whom I am in high favour; I don't doubt that
she will let me have everything I want. But I must go; the sooner we
manage this the better."

Poor Cleoné, woman-like, felt the courage which had never failed before
desert her when she had to part even for half an hour with her long-lost
brother. She clung to him, and wept piteously. "Don't leave me," she
sobbed.

The young man, to whom this sort of thing was quite a new experience,
looked at her with astonishment. "What, Cleoné, is the meaning of this
after all you have gone through?"

"Yes," she said, smiling through her tears, "I am a fool. And besides,"
she went on, looking at her dirty and ragged garments, "I do want some
decent clothes."

The good Pollia, who acted as wardrobe-keeper, mother-of-the-maids, and
housekeeper in general to Cornelia, was not a little astonished when
Cleanor asked her to supply him with the various articles of a young
lady's toilet, not so numerous in those days, it should be mentioned, as
they are now. He was a great favourite, however, and she asked no
questions, probably thinking that some joke was being meditated. She
searched accordingly among the treasures in her charge, and had no
difficulty in finding all that was wanted.

Fashions did not change in those days as they change under the vagaries
of modern taste. Women were careful, indeed perhaps more careful than
they are now, to suit their dress to their age. But what the mother had
worn at twenty, the daughter, reaching the same years, might wear
without even the suspicion of oddity, and the garments might be handed
down, if they were of the quality that was suited to so long a life, to
yet another generation.

Cleanor was soon making his way with an armful of suitable apparel to
the gardener's hut. Cleoné, who seemed to be bent on making up as
quickly as possible for her enforced separation from all feminine
vanities, received the precious burden with a shriek of delight. When
she emerged, half an hour afterwards, from her hut it would have passed
all human skill to recognize in the brilliant young beauty who held
Cleanor's hand the shabby deaf-mute who for many months past had plied
his solitary task in Cornelia's gardens.

[Illustration: "HALF AN HOUR AFTERWARDS CLEONÉ EMERGED AS A BRILLIANT
YOUNG BEAUTY."]

All these confidences and preparations had taken time, and the house
party had just assembled for the mid-day meal when the pair walked into
the dining-room. Never since Misenum got its name had the place seen a
more startling sight. At first it seemed as if Cleanor had found his
double, for brother and sister were curiously alike. But the time that
had passed since they were so tragically parted had changed them not a
little. The young man had grown in height, and his frame, knit by the
continual activities of an adventurous life, had developed the ampler
proportions that became his sex. The girl was his very image, but now on
a somewhat smaller scale. A fairer couple had never been seen in Italy.

"Cleanor has turned into Apollo," cried the little Caius, "and he has
brought Diana with him."

As for the rest of the company, they gazed with an astonishment that was
almost stupefaction on the scene. Cornelia was the first to recover
herself. She advanced to greet the new-comer. "You are welcome," she
said, "for your brothers sake--for Cleanor must surely be your
brother--and, I am sure, for your own." Then Theoxena threw herself at
the girl's feet and clasped her knees. "It is Cleoné," she cried. "The
gods have nothing more to give me." Little Cephalus kissed her hand, and
Daphne, somewhat shy at first of the splendid stranger, was not long
behind with an affectionate greeting.

"Not a word," said Cornelia, "till you have eaten and drunk. For the
present," she said, smiling at the little Caius, "they will have to be
content without ambrosia and nectar."

The meal ended, Cornelia heard the whole story. Her mind, always
eminently practical, discerned at once the first thing that had to be
done.

"We must assure without delay," she said, "this young lady's civil
_status_. At present it would be very perplexing to say who or what she
is."

A message was immediately despatched to the nearest town with a letter
requiring the immediate presence of the resident notary. He arrived
before sunset, and by a formal act of emancipation Cleoné, slave of
Cornelia, was made free.

"Pardon me, my daughter," she said, "if I speak of you as my slave. And
indeed my title is a very weak one; no one, however, is likely to make
out a better. Meanwhile, as far as I can secure your freedom, you are
free."



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE WORLD WELL LOST.


Cleanor had been back in Rome some four months, and had nearly completed
his work with the committee of translation, when he received a visit
from the young Scipio. The latter had not been one of the party at
Misenum during the holidays of Saturn, having been summoned to Sicily to
fill a casual vacancy on the staff of the quæstor in that province.

"Well," said Cleanor, after an affectionate exchange of greetings, "and
how did you like your quæstor's work in Sicily?"

"I found it most interesting," replied the young man, "and, I must say,
most agreeable. My name made me most welcome everywhere. You can hardly
imagine what an impression my uncle's action in giving back the statues
to the cities has made on the whole island. The simple fact that I was
his nephew was enough to make them almost worship me. I happened to be
at Agrigentum when the famous Bull was solemnly put back into its place.
If I had been the founder of the city come to life again I could not
have been treated with more respect. I should be quite ashamed to
describe all the oratings and crownings and embracings that I went
through. In fact, if I had any complaint to make, it would be that
to a modest young man like myself the honours were just a little
overpowering."

"And what," asked Cleanor, "are you going to do now?"

"That," replied the young Roman, "is just what I want to talk to you
about. Lentulus, who is proconsul of Sicily, as I dare say you know, has
expressed himself very handsomely about my services, and, what is more,
has offered to propose me as one of the regular quæstors for next year.
This is all the more satisfactory because he is no kinsman of mine, and
in fact is not on the same side in politics as my uncle. If my uncle
were to nominate me, I should probably get my election, but this will
make it quite certain."

"Well," said Cleanor, "of course you won't hesitate to accept. I give
you my congratulations in advance. It will be the first step in the
ladder, and we shall see you climb, as your forbears have climbed before
you, to be ædile, prætor, consul."

"Yes, yes," said the young man, "that is so. It is the first step, and I
could not take it under better auspices, but--" and he paused, looking
like anything but the ambitious young man before whom the greatest
career in the world was opening.

"What is the hindrance, then?" asked the young Greek.

Scipio's embarrassment seemed to increase. "I have been to my aunt
Cornelia's at Misenum," he added after a long pause.

"And what was her advice?" asked Cleanor. "Surely she had nothing to
say against it. I should even have thought, as far as I know anything of
your Roman politics, that she would have been especially well pleased to
see you come out in public life under the auspices of Lentulus."

"Oh, yes!" returned the young Roman. "That was exactly her view. But--"
and the speaker paused in still greater embarrassment than ever.
"Well--I must say it sooner or later--I have seen your sister."

"My sister! What has my sister got to do with it?" asked Cleanor in
utter bewilderment. "I don't suppose you asked her advice, and if you
did, she would not hinder you, I should suppose, from serving your
country."

"Well," said Scipio, "I did ask her, though not exactly for her advice,
and she said exactly what you supposed she would say."

"Then where is the difficulty? You want the thing yourself; all your
friends advise you to take the chances. What is it that hinders? For
heaven's sake, my friend, do explain what you mean, for it is quite past
my understanding."

"Then, Cleanor, listen; if I offend you, as I can hardly help doing, be
patient with me. First and foremost, then, I love your sister Cleoné. It
is the dearest wish of my heart to make her my wife, and I think, that
is, I hope, that she cares a little for me."

"I am delighted to hear it," cried the young Greek, as he sprang up and
seized his friend's hands. "I am delighted to hear it. There isn't a
better or braver girl in the world, if I may say so much of my own
sister. You have heard her story, of course. Well, she deserves a good
husband, if ever a girl did, and I am glad to think that she is likely
to find one."

"I am delighted to hear you say so, though I don't feel anything like
worthy of her. But now comes what I find it so hard to say. Cleoné is a
match for anyone in the world, in birth as well as in herself. But, in
the eyes of our law, she is not a match for a Roman citizen. By some
accursed chance--though, indeed, but for this said chance I should never
have seen her--she was made a slave, and is now a freed woman. Out of
that _status_ nothing, as far as I know, can raise her, and being in
that _status_ she cannot be my wife. In one sense there may be a
marriage between us, but it would not be a marriage that would give her
the rights and privileges of a Roman matron; it would not be a marriage
which would open to our children the career of a Roman citizen. There,
my dear friend, the murder is out; that is the bare fact, and if it
seems an insult to you--and an insult, I fear, it must seem--pray
remember that it is not of my making or doing."

"My dear friend," said Cleanor, "I won't pretend that what you have said
hasn't hurt me. We have always been accustomed to think ourselves as
good as anybody in point of birth and standing. In fact we Greeks are
not a little exclusive, and it is a blow to be told that we are
ourselves outside the social pale. But for you, I assure you I haven't a
feeling that is not all friendship. I don't draw back from a single word
of what I said about my sister. Still we must consider; and of course,
before all things, she must know."

"Yes, she must know," replied Scipio. "Of course I have said nothing.
She does not know--so far at least as anything that I have said is
concerned--that I love her."

"Well," said Cleanor, "we will leave that then for the present. Now
listen to what I have been thinking about myself and my own future. I am
in love, too, and you have seen the lady. Can you guess who it is?"

"Guess!" said Scipio with a smile. "There is no need of guessing. I have
known it a long time. Well, I will allow that your Daphne is the fairest
woman in the world,--with, of course, one exception."

"Well, when a man is in my plight, he naturally, if he is worthy of
being called a man, begins to think of his future. And what future have
I here in Italy? I have property enough to live upon, but that is all.
But what career is there before me? I have turned the matter over in my
mind, and I have asked for information from others. There seems to be
positively but one thing for a man in my situation to do. I might
become a teacher of rhetoric. That is the one solitary employment open
to a Greek stranger, and a very precarious employment too. The
old-fashioned nobles don't like Greek rhetoricians, and it is quite
possible that some fine day I might find myself banished.[70] That, you
will allow, is not a prospect with which a man will readily content
himself."

"And do you see any way out of it?" asked Scipio.

"I have dreams," replied the young Greek, "and I have always had, and
the dreams of to-day fit on curiously enough to the dreams of the past.
When I was a boy I had an ambition to be something beyond the chief
citizen of Chelys. As for Carthage, though no one thought that her end
was so near, I knew that there was nothing there to satisfy me, even if
her honours had been open to me. But there is a world beyond Carthage,
and even beyond Rome. It is of that that I dreamed then, and of which I
dream still. Say, Scipio, my friend, shall we go and look for it?"

The young men had a long talk on the subject. Cleanor poured out the
store of knowledge which, with an enthusiasm that dated back to very
early years indeed, he had gathered from every available source. There
was, of course, a plentiful admixture of fiction, or fact so transmuted
and idealized that it almost had become fiction. There were legends and
traditions, travellers' tales, and yarns of adventurous seamen; but
there was also a solid substratum of truth. Cleanor's sheet-anchor, so
to speak, was the famous _Circumnavigation_ of Hanno.[71] That famous
voyager had beyond all doubt passed into the great western ocean through
the Pillars of Hercules, and turning southward had seen many a strange
and beautiful land, aye, and lived to bring back the report of them. All
these things the ardent Greek dwelt upon with an enthusiasm which at
last fired the duller fancy of the Roman. Scipio left the house more
than half persuaded.

A few days afterwards Cleanor, having fairly finished his part in the
work which had so long occupied his leisure, went down with Scipio to
Misenum. They had agreed to say nothing of their scheme till they had
heard what their hostess had to say to it. Cornelia was doubtful.
Cleanor indeed had her fullest sympathy when he declared that he could
not be content with any career that fate had left open for him, and that
he must seek one elsewhere. It was about her great-nephew that she
doubted. She could not bring herself to think him right when he proposed
to relinquish his Roman birthright. Not for any woman, not though she
was, as Cleoné, one among ten thousand, should a man give up the
splendid opportunities of service and reward which Rome held forth to
her sons.

The young man found an unexpected ally in his cousin Tiberius. "My
duty," he said, "keeps me here; but if I could choose my own way, I
would join your search. Sometimes I seem to see further into the future
than is commonly given to man, and what I see is dark with the shadow of
disaster and death. Our great kinsman has won splendid victories for
Rome, and has others to win, but I doubt whether the gods have not
granted these victories to our country more in wrath than in love. When
we have trodden all our foes and rivals under our feet we shall turn our
swords upon ourselves. The wealth of the world that is pouring into our
treasury will kindle to a deadlier rage the eternal quarrel between
those who have and those who have not. My lot is cast in with the
unhappy. The love of woman is not for me; I shall not be able even to
keep the affection of my kinsfolk. But I would not avoid my fate, even
if I could. You are happier. It would be as great a folly for you to
stay, as it would be a crime for me to depart."

After this Cornelia, who was always overawed when the deeper nature of
her son revealed itself, silently withdrew her opposition. The elder
Scipio, who would almost certainly have used all his influence to bring
it to nothing, was fortunately absent from Italy. Daphne put no
hindrance in the way. She had secretly worshipped the magnificent
hero--for such he seemed to her--who had rescued her and hers from the
deadliest peril, and was ready to follow him, if he willed it, to the
ends of the world, and, if it might be, even beyond it.

But Scipio found Cleoné far more difficult to deal with. She was very
far from disdaining his love, but it filled her with something like rage
to think that for her sake he should abandon his career. It was partly
that her pride was touched. That she, the long-descended daughter of
heroes, who reckoned Ion himself among her far-away ancestors, should
bring humiliation and disability on the man to whom she gave her hand!
The bare idea was beyond endurance. Such love was a disgrace to both of
them. She peremptorily commanded her suitor to forget it. But this stern
mood did not last. She was moved not a little by the sight of Daphne's
happiness. She was conscious of a craving in her own heart for a
happiness of her own. She had herself suffered so much, and it was hard,
when at last the sunshine came, to have to shut it out, and still to sit
in the darkness. Then the strongest influences were brought to bear upon
her. Her brother was urgent in his entreaties that she should not mar
their plan. And her refusal would mar it. He could not go if she stayed
behind. And the sight of Scipio's suffering touched her, for indeed she
loved him tenderly. In the end she gave way.


    FOOTNOTES:

    70: The Greek teachers of rhetoric were actually banished thirty
    years after this date.

    71: The _Periplus_ of Hanno, probably written early in the
    fourth century B.C.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

BEYOND THE SUNSET.


The party, which was increased by some manumitted slaves of Greek
origin, sailed for Utica in the early autumn of the year, and reached
that port after a quick and prosperous voyage. Their first destination
was the court of King Gulussa. It so happened that their arrival
coincided with a meeting of the three brothers. One of the wilder tribes
on the desert border had invaded the kingdom, and it was necessary to
make arrangements for an expedition of more than usual proportions.
Micipsa had brought with him his two sons, and a younger lad, Jugurtha
by name, his son by a wife of inferior rank, of whom we have heard
before, and of whom the world was to hear a great deal more before many
years had passed.

Gulussa and his brother kings gave a most complimentary welcome to their
guests. But when Cleanor, who was naturally the spokesman of the party,
unfolded his scheme, they took no pains to conceal their incredulity.

"It would be a thousand pities," said Gulussa, "if you were to throw
away your lives on a romantic folly of this kind. Why not stop here,
where you have something ready to your hands, not quite so splendid as
these dreams of yours, but, believe me, a hundred times more solid and
real. Now, listen to what I have got to say. We--that is, my brothers
and I--have been talking matters over since you came, and we have made
up our minds to make you an offer that it may be really worth your while
to accept. Enter our service; you are both skilful soldiers. My father,
than whom there never was a better judge of men, thought very highly of
you, Cleanor; the name of Scipio would be commendation enough, even if
we did not know how worthily it is borne by your friend. Details we can
settle afterwards, but you may depend upon it, that you will never have
to find fault with our liberality. Don't answer at once," Gulussa went
on, as Cleanor was beginning to reply, "but think the matter over
carefully, and let us know your decision, say, three days hence."

The princes spared no pains to make their guests' sojourn at court
agreeable to them. A great hunting party was arranged for each day, and
the two young men were furnished with magnificent mounts and allotted
the best places. At the banquet which followed they occupied seats of
honour. Meanwhile the ladies of the party were welcomed in the royal
harem, received the most flattering attention from the queens and
princesses, and were loaded with handsome presents.

"We might do worse than stay, Cleanor," said Scipio to his friend, for
his unimaginative temper could not help comparing these present
splendours with the remote prospects of Cleanor's scheme, not a little
to the disadvantage of the latter.

Cleanor shook his head.

"How long do you think it would last? I don't say anything about the
chances that our hosts might not always be as friendly as they are now.
They are a fickle race. But let that pass. Yet how long will this
Numidian kingdom stand? I remember what the old king said when I was in
attendance on him before he died. He was sure that Rome would swallow it
up before long. There is sure to be some quarrel sooner or later, and
then who can doubt which of the two will go to the wall. And there is
another thing. If the kingdom lasts, will it always be in the same
hands? Have you noticed that lad Jugurtha? I remember that the old king
warned me specially against him. 'That viper,' he called him; and as
King Gulussa said the other day, Masinissa was an excellent judge of
character. The brothers are elderly men, and, to judge from their looks,
not very strong. Micipsa's two sons, who by rights should come after
him, are feeble creatures; Jugurtha is his father's favourite, and he
will come to the top of the tree sooner or later. And Jugurtha hates us;
you first,--perhaps because you are a Roman, and his hatred for the
Romans is a proverb,--and me next. No, it would not be well, I am sure,
in any case to stop here; and to stop with a chance of finding ourselves
under Jugurtha's thumb would be madness."

Scipio could not but acknowledge the force of these arguments, and gave
way. At the appointed time the friends announced their decision to the
kings. Gulussa shrugged his shoulders.

"Well," he said, "you must have your own way. If you should come
back--very few do come back, I am told--and I am still alive, you will
find me as ready to be your friend as ever. Meanwhile let us do what we
can for you. The queen tells me that you have brought your wives that
are to be with you. Let us have the honour of providing your marriage
feast, and remain with us afterwards for as long as you like and may
find convenient. If you are bent on this wild voyage of yours you must
go prepared."

The friends gladly accepted this hospitable invitation. Preparations
were at once commenced for performing the marriage ceremonies with due
solemnity. While these were going on, Cleanor made his way to the coast
to find a captain and crew who would be willing to take part in his
adventure.

His first care was to discover Syphax, the old sailor with whom, as you
may remember, he had made his voyage to Sicily. The old man listened
with eager interest to his exposition of his plans, but shook his head
when the question whether he would go was put to him.

"Ah!" he said, "if you had only come to me with this scheme twenty years
ago! But what am I saying? old fool that I am! Twenty years ago you
were little more than a baby in arms. I mean that I am too old. I am not
fit for anything more now than pottering about with my fishing-lines.
And there is my old wife. She couldn't go, poor thing; she hasn't set
her foot outside the hut for the last ten years, and I certainly could
not go without her. But there's my son Mago. He can't settle down in the
new state of things, for Rome is likely to be a much harder master than
Carthage ever was. Mago is your man; let me send for him."

Mago came, and Cleanor talked his plans over with him, and found him all
that he wanted. The general scheme, and such particulars as the capacity
of the vessel required, the stores, the cargo of articles for trade with
native tribes, were settled between them, and Mago was left to carry out
the details, while Cleanor returned to the court of King Gulussa.

Two months later,--for I shall not weary my readers with describing the
marriage festivities,--the good ship _Pallas_ lay ready for sea in the
harbour of Utica. The piers and quays were filled with a dense crowd of
spectators, for the fame of this adventurous voyage had spread through
the city, and brought together a multitude of curious sight-seers. Loud
and hearty were the cheers that went up as a soft breeze from the east
slowly filled the sails, and the _Pallas_--her prow appropriately
adorned with the figure of the goddess friend of Ulysses, prince of
adventurous heroes--forged her way round the end of the western pier and
shaped a course towards the setting sun.

Sail on, swift ship, to the region that lies beyond the darkness of the
west. You leave behind you a world over which the shadows of civil
strife and desolating war are gathering. Who knows what lies before
you--Islands of the Blest, where nature smiles for ever, her fair face
untouched by frost or storm, and where man still keeps primeval faith
and innocence; or, perhaps, to a world that is but a meaner copy of that
from which you are fleeing? Yet sail on, happy at least for the hour
that is, in the unfaltering confidence of youth and hope.


       *       *       *       *       *


NOTE.

I have departed, for convenience sake in the construction of my story,
from historical truth in the date of Masinissa's death. This took place
before the beginning of the Third Punic War. For the same reason, the
Macedonian pretender is postdated. He had certainly disappeared from the
scene before the autumn immediately preceding the fall of Carthage (when
my hero is supposed to visit him).

If my readers fail to form a clear idea of the topography of Carthage,
I must beg them not to blame me. This is a problem which no one has yet
been able to solve.

Chelys is an imaginary place; the young Scipio an imaginary person.

        A. C.


THE END.


PRINTED BY BLACKIE AND SON, LIMITED, GLASGOW.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling standardized when a predominant preference was
found in this book; otherwise unchanged. Simple typographical errors
remedied; most retained.

Decorative designs and publisher's logo not indicated here.

Page 305, last line, quotation marks: "a treasure" changed to
'a treasure'.

Page 310, last line, "he promise" changed to "he promises".

Page 339, last line, "You will tell we" changed to "You will tell me".





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