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Chapter 16

  • BUT Chilo did not appear for some time, and Vinicius knew not at last what t_hink of his absence. In vain he repeated to himself that searching, i_ontinued to a certain and successful issue, must be gradual. His blood an_mpulsive nature rebelled against the voice of judgment. To do nothing, t_ait, to sit with folded arms, was so repulsive to him that he could not b_econciled to it in any way. To search the alleys of the city in the dark gar_f a slave, through this alone, that it was useless, seemed to him merely _ask for his own inefficiency, and could give no satisfaction. His freedmen,
  • persons of experience, whom he commanded to search independently, turned out _undred times less expert than Chio. Meanwhile there rose in him, besides hi_ove for Lygla, the stubbornness of a player resolved to win. Vinicius ha_een always a person of this kind. From earliest youth he had accomplishe_hat he desired with the passionateness of one who does not understan_ailure, or the need of yielding something. For a time military discipline ha_ut his self-will within bounds, but also it had engrafted into him th_onviction that every command of his to subordinates must be fulfilled; hi_rolonged stay in the Orient, among people pliant and inured to slavis_bedience, confirmed in him the faith that for his "I wish" there were n_imits. At present his vanity, too, was wounded painfully. There was, besides,
  • in Lygia's opposition and resistance, and in her flight itself, which was t_im incomprehensible, a kind of riddle. In trying to solve this riddle h_acked his head terribly. He felt that Acte had told the truth, and that Lygi_as not indifferent. But if this were true, why had she preferred wanderin_nd misery to his love, his tenderness, and a residence in his splendi_ansion? To this question he found no answer, and arrived only at a kind o_im understanding that between him and Lygia, between their ideas, between th_orld which belonged to him and Petronius, and the world of Lygia an_omponia, there existed some sort of difference, some kind of misunderstandin_s deep as an abyss, which nothing could fill up or make even. It seemed t_im, then, that he must lose Lygia; and at this thought he lost the remnant o_alance which Petronius wished to preserve in him. There were moments in whic_e did not know whether he loved Lygia or hated her; he understood only tha_e must find her, and he would rather that the earth swallowed her than tha_e should not see and possess her. By the power of imagination he saw her a_learly at times as if she had been before his face. He recalled every wor_hich he had spoken to her; every word which he had heard from her. He fel_er near; felt her on his bosom, in his arms; and then desire embraced hi_ike a flame. He loved her and called to her.
  • And when he thought that he was loved, that she might do with willingness al_hat he wished of her, sore and endless sorrow seized him, and a kind of dee_enderness flooded his heart, like a mighty wave. But there were moments, too,
  • in which he grew pale from rage, and delighted in thoughts of the humiliatio_nd tortures which he would inflict on Lygia when he found her. He wanted no_nly to have her, but to have her as a trampled slave. At the same time h_elt that if the choice were left him, to be her slave or not to see her i_ife again, he would rather be her slave. There were days in which he though_f the marks which the lash would leave on her rosy body, and at the same tim_e wanted to kiss those marks. It came to his head also that he would be happ_f he could kill her.
  • In this torture, torment, uncertainty, and suffering, he lost health, and eve_eauty. He became a cruel and incomprehensible master. His slaves, and eve_is freedmen, approached him with trembling; and when punishments fell on the_auselessly, — punishments as merciless as undeserved, — they began to hat_im in secret; while he, feeling this, and feeling his own isolation, too_evenge all the more on them. He restrained himself with Chilo alone, fearin_est he might cease his searches; the Greek, noting this, began to gai_ontrol of him, and grew more and more exacting. At first he assured Viniciu_t each visit that the affair would proceed easily and quickly; now he bega_o discover difficulties, and without ceasing, it is true, to guarantee th_ndoubted success of the searches, he did not hide the fact that they mus_ontinue yet for a good while.
  • At last he came, after long days of waiting, with a face so gloomy that th_oung man grew pale at sight of him, and springing up had barely strength t_sk,— "Is she not among the Christians?" "She is, lord," answered Chilo; "bu_ found Glaucus among them." "Of what art thou speaking, and who is Glaucus?"
  • "Thou hast forgotten, lord, it seems, that old man with whom I journeyed fro_aples to Rome, and in whose defence I lost these two fingers, — a loss whic_revents me from writing. Robbers, who bore away his wife and child, stabbe_im with a knife. I left him dying at an inn in Minturna, and bewailed hi_ong. Alas! I have convinced myself that he is alive yet, and belongs in Rom_o the Christian community."
  • Vinicius, who could not understand what the question was, understood only tha_laucus was becoming a hindrance to the discovery of Lygia; hence h_uppressed his rising anger, and said, — "If thou didst defend him, he shoul_e thankful and help thee." "Ah! worthy tribune, even gods are not alway_rateful, and what must the case be with men? True, he should be thankful.
  • But, unhappily, he is an old man, of a mind weak and darkened by age an_isappointment; for which reason, not only is he not grateful, but, as _earned from his co-religionists, he accuses me of having conspired with th_obbers, and says that I am the cause of his misfortunes. That is th_ecompense for my fingers!"
  • "Scoundrel! I am certain that it was as he says," replied Vinicius.
  • "Then thou knowest more than he does, lord, for he only surmises that it wa_o; which, however, would not prevent him from summoning the Christians, an_rom revenging himself on me cruelly. He would have done that undoubtedly, an_thers, with equal certainty, would have helped him; but fortunately he doe_ot know my name, and in the house of prayer where we met, he did not notic_e. I, however, knew him at once, and at the first moment wished to thro_yself on his neck. Wisdom, however, and the habit of thinking before ever_tep which I intend to take, restrained me. Therefore, on issuing from th_ouse of prayer, I inquired concerning him, and those who knew him declare_hat he was the man who had been betrayed by his comrade on the journey fro_aples. Otherwise I should not have known that he gives out such a story."
  • "How does this concern me? Tell what thou sawest in the house of prayer."
  • "It does not concern thee, lord, but it concerns me just as much as my life.
  • Since I wish that my wisdom should survive me, I would rather renounce th_eward which thou hast offered, than expose my life for empty lucre; withou_hich, I as a true philosopher shall be able to live and seek divine wisdom."
  • But Vinicius approached him with an ominous countenance, and began in _uppressed voice, — "Who told thee that death would meet thee sooner at th_ands of Glaucus than at mine? Whence knowest thou, dog, that I will not hav_hee buried right away in my garden?"
  • Chio, who was a coward, looked at Vinicius, and in the twinkle of an ey_nderstood that one more unguarded word and he was lost beyond redemption.
  • "I will search for her, lord, and I will find her!" cried he, hurriedly.
  • Silence followed, during which were heard the quick breathing of Vinicius, an_he distant song of slaves at work in the garden.
  • Only after a while did the Greek resume his speech, when he noticed that th_oung patrician was somewhat pacified.
  • "Death passed me, but I looked on it with the calmness of Socrates. No, lord,
  • I have not said that I refuse to search for the maiden; I desired merely t_ell thee that search for her is connected now with great peril to me. On _ime thou didst doubt that there was a certain Euricius in the world, an_hough thou wert convinced by thine own eyes that the son of my father tol_he truth to thee, thou hast suspicions now that I have invented Glaucus. Ah!
  • would that he were only a fiction, that I might go among the Christians wit_erfect safety, as I went some time since; I would give up for that the poo_ld slave woman whom I bought, three days since, to care for my advanced ag_nd maimed condition. But Glaucus is living, lord; and if he had seen me once,
  • thou wouldst not have seen me again, and in that case who would find th_aiden?"
  • Here he was silent again, and began to dry his tears.
  • "But while Glaucus lives," continued he, "how can I search for her? — for _ay meet him at any step; and if I meet him I shall perish, and with me wil_ease all my searching."
  • "What art thou aiming at? What help is there? What dost thou wish t_ndertake?" inquired Vinicius.
  • "Aristotle teaches us, lord, that less things should be sacrificed fo_reater, and King Priam said frequently that old age was a grievous burden.
  • Indeed, the burden of old age and misfortune weighs upon Glaucus this lon_ime, and so heavily that death would be to him a benefit. For what is death,
  • according to Seneca, but liberation?"
  • "Play the fool with Petronius, not with me! Tell what thy desire is."
  • "If virtue is folly, may the gods permit me to be a fool all my life. _esire, lord, to set aside Glaucus, for while he is living my life an_earches are in continual peril."
  • "Hire men to beat him to death with clubs; I will pay them."
  • "They will rob thee, lord, and afterward make profit of the secret. There ar_s many ruffians in Rome as grains of sand in the arena, but thou wilt no_elieve how dear they are when an honest man needs to employ their villainy.
  • No, worthy tribune! But if watchmen catch the murderers in the act? They woul_ell, beyond doubt, who hired them, and then thou wouldst have trouble. The_ill not point to me, for I shall not give my name. Thou art doing ill not t_rust in me, for, setting aside my keenness, remember that there is a questio_f two other things, — of my life, and the reward which thou has promised me."
  • "How much dost thou need?"
  • "A thousand sestertia, for turn attention to this, that I must find hones_uffians, men who when they have received earnest money, will not take it of_ithout a trace. For good work there must be good pay! Something might b_dded, too, for my sake, to wipe away the tears which I shall shed out of pit_or Glaucus. I take the gods to witness how I love him. If I receive _housand scstcrtia to-day, two days hence his soul will be in Hades; and then,
  • if souls preserve memory and the gift of thought, he will know for the firs_ime how I loved him. I will find people this very day, and tell them that fo_ach day of the life of Glaucus I will withhold one hundred sestertia. I have,
  • besides, a certain idea, which seems to me infallible."
  • Vinicius promised him once more the desired sum, forbidding him to mentio_laucus again; but asked what other news he brought, where he had been all th_ime, what he had seen, and what he had discovered. But Chilo was not able t_ell much. He had been in two more houses of prayer,— had observed each perso_arefully, especially the women, — but had seen no one who resembled Lygia:
  • the Christians, however, looked on him as one of their own sect, and, since h_edeemed the son of Euricius, they honored him as a man following in the step_f "Christ." He had learned from them, also, that a great lawgiver of theirs,
  • a certain Paul of Tarsus, was in Rome, imprisoned because of charges preferre_y the Jews, and with this man he had resolved to become acquainted. But mos_f all was he pleased by this, — that the supreme priest of the whole sect,
  • who had been Christ's disciple, and to whom Christ had confided governmen_ver the whole world of Christians, might arrive in Rome any moment. All th_hristians desired evidently to see him, and hear his teachings. Some grea_eetings would follow, at which he, Chio, would be present; and what is more,
  • since it is easy to hide in the crowd, he would take Vinicius to thos_eetings. Then they would find Lygia certainly. If Glaucus were once se_side, it would not be connected even with great danger. As to revenge, th_hristians, too, would revenge but in general they were peaceful people.
  • Here Chilo began to relate, with a certain surprise, that he had never see_hat they gave themselves up to debauchery, that they poisoned wells o_ountains, that they were enemies of the human race, worshipped an ass, or at_he flesh of children. No; he had seen nothing of that sort. Certainly h_ould find among them even people who would hide away Glaucus for money; bu_heir religion, as far as he knew, did not incite to crime, — on the contrary,
  • it enloined forgiveness of offences.
  • Vinicius remembered what Pomponia had said to him at Acte's, and in general h_istened to Chio's words with pleasure. Though his feeling for Lygia assume_t times the seeming of hatred, he felt a relief when he heard that th_eligion which she and Pomponia confessed was neither criminal nor repulsive.
  • But a species of undefined feeling rose in him that it was just that reverenc_or Christ, unknown and mysterious, which created the difference betwee_imself and Lygia; hence he began at once to fear that religion and to hat_t.