"Loan," said Chio, "the sea is like olive oil, the waves seem to sleep. Let u_o to Achaa. There the glory of Apollo is awaiting thee, crowns and triump_re awaiting thee, the people will deify thee, the gods will receive thee as _uest, their own equal; but here, O lord —"
And he stopped, for his lower lip began to quiver so violently that his word_assed into meaningless sounds.
"We will go when the games are over," replied Nero. "I know that even now som_all the Christians innoxia corpora. ff1 were to go, all would repeat this.
What dost thou fear?"
Then he frowned, but looked with inquiring glance at Chilo, as if expecting a_nswer, for he only feigned cool blood. At the last exhibition he himsel_eared the words of Crispus; and when he had returned to the Palatine, h_ould not sleep from rage and shame, but also from fear.
Then Vestinius, who heard their conversation in silence, looked around, an_aid in a mysterious voice, —
"Listen, lord, to this old man. There is something strange in thos_hristians. Their deity gives them an easy death, but he may be vengeful."
"It was not I who arranged the games, but Tigellinus," replied Nero, quickly.
"True! it was I," added Tigellinus, who heard Caesar's answer, "and I jeer a_ll Christian gods. Vestinius is a bladder full of prejudices, and thi_aliant Greek is ready to die of terror at sight of a hen with feathers up i_efence of her chickens."
"True!" said Nero; "but henceforth give command to cut the tongues out o_hristians and stop their mouths."
"Fire will stop them, O divinity."
"Woe is me!" groaned Chilo.
But Caesar, to whom the insolent confidence of Tigellinus gave courage, bega_o laugh, and said, pointing to the old Greek,
"See how the descendant of Achilles looks!"
Indeed Chilo looked terribly. The remnant of hair on his head had grown white; on his face was fixed an expression of some immense dread, alarm, an_ppression. He seemed at times, too, as if stunned and only half conscious.
Often he gave no answer to questions; then again he fell into anger, an_ecame so insolent that the Augustians preferred not to attack him. Such _oment had come to him then.
"Do what ye like with me, but I will not go to the games!" cried he, i_esperation.
Nero looked at him for a while, and, turning to Tigellinus, said, —
"Have a care that this Stoic is near me in the gardens. I want to see wha_mpression our torches will make on him."
Chilo was afraid of the threat which qaeiivercd in Caesar's voice.
"O lord," said he, "I shall see nothing, for I cannot see in the night-time."
"The night will be as bright as day," replied Caesar, with a threatenin_augh.
Turning then to the Augustians, Nero talked about races which he intended t_ave when the games were over.
Petronius approached Chio, and asked, pushing him on the shoulder, —
"Have I not said that thou wouldst not hold out?"
"I wish to drink," said Chilo, stretching his trembling hand toward a goble_f wine; but he was unable to raise it to his lips. Seeing this, Vestiniu_ook the vessel; but later he drew near, and inquired with curious an_rightened face, —
"Are the Furies pursuing thee?"
The old man looked at him a certain time with open lips, as if no_nderstanding what he said. But Vestinius repeated,—
"Are the Furies pursuing thee?"
"No," answered Chio; "but night is before me."
"How, night? May the gods have mercy on thee. How night?"
"Night, ghastly and impenetrable, in which something is moving, somethin_oming toward me; but I know not what it is, and I am terrified."
"1 have always been sure that there are witches. Dost thou not dream o_omething?"
"No, for I do not sleep. I did not think that they would be punished thus."
"Art thou sorry for them?"
"Why do ye shed so much blood? Hast heard what that one said from the cross?
Woe to us!"
"I heard," answered Vestinius, in a low voice. "But they are incendiaries."
"And enemies of the human race."
"And poisoners of water."
"And murderers of children."
"How?" inquired Vestinius, with astonishment. "Thou hast said so thyself, an_iven them into the hands of Tigellinus."
"Therefore night has surrounded me, and death is coming toward me. At times i_eems to me that I am dead already, and ye also.
"No! it is they who are dying; we are alive. But tell me, what do they se_hen they are dying?"
"That is their god. Is he a mighty god?"
But Chilo answered with a question, —
"What kind of torches are to burn in the gardens? Hast thou heard what Caesa_aid?"
"I heard, and I know. Those torches are called Sarmentitii and Semaxii. The_re made by arraying men in painful tunics, steeped in pitch, and binding the_o pillars, to which fire is set afterward. May their god not send misfortun_n the city. Semaxii! that is a dreadful punishment!"
"I would rather see it, for there will not be blood," answered Chilo. "Comman_ slave to hold the goblet to my mouth. I wish to drink, but I spill the wine; my hand trembles from age."
Others also were speaking of the Christians. Old Domitius Afer reviled them.
"There is such a multitude of them," said he, "that they might raise a civi_ar; and, reiiiemnber, there were fears lest they might arm. But they die lik_heep."
"Let them try to die otherwise!" said Tigellinus.
To this Petronius answered, "Ye deceive yourselves. They are arming."
"That is a new kind of weapon."
"True. But can ye say that they die like common criminals? No! They die as i_he criminals were those who condemned them to death, — that is, we and th_hole Roman people."
"What raving!" said Tigellinus.
"Hic Abdera!"[](footnotes.xml#footnote_12) answered Petronius. But others, struck by the justice of his remark, began to look at one another wit_stonishment, and repeat, — "True! there is something peculiar and strange i_heir death." "I tell you that they see their divinity!" cried Vestinius, fro_ne side. Thereupon a number of Augustians turned to Chilo, — "Hal, old man, thou knowest them well; tell us what they see." The Greek spat out wine on hi_unic, and answered, — "The resurrection." And he began to tremble so that th_uests sitting nearer burst into loud laughter.