The count of the Saxon shore


Material Information

The count of the Saxon shore or, The villa in Vectis. A tale of the departure of the Romans from Britain
The villa in Vectis, a tale of the departure of the Romans from Britain
Physical Description:
vi, 311 p. : front., plates. ; 20 cm.
Church, Alfred John, 1829-1912
Putnam, Ruth, 1856-1931 ( joint author )
G. P. Putnam's Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
New York
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile fiction -- Great Britain -- Roman period, B.C. 55-A.D. 449   ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1887   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1887
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York


Statement of Responsibility:
by the Rev. Alfred J. Church ... With the collaboration of Ruth Putnam ...
General Note:
Published simultaneously by Seely & Co., London.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 001602770
oclc - 02737094
notis - AHM7015
lccn - 06025401
System ID:

Full Text


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Entered at Stationers' Hall, London


Press of
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York


" COUNT OF THE SAXON SHORE was a title be-
stowed by Maximian (colleague of Diocletian in the
Empire from 286 to 305 A.D.) on the officer whose
task it was to protect the coasts of Britain and Gaul
from the attacks of the Saxon pirates. It appears
to have existed down to the abandonment of Britain
by the Romans.
So little is known from history about the last years
of the Roman occupation that the writer of fiction
has almost a free hand. In this story a novel, but,
it is hoped, not an improbable, view is taken of an
important event-the withdrawal of the legions.
This is commonly assigned to the year 410, when
the Emperor Honorius formally withdrew the
Imperial protection from Britain. But the usurper
Constantine had actually removed the British army
two years before; and, as he was busied with the
conquest of Gaul and Spain for a considerable time
after, it is not likely that they were ever sent back.
A. J. C.
R. P.


I. A BRITISH CESAR ... ... ... ... ... I

II. AN ELECTION ... ... ... .. ... 13

III. A PRIZE .. ... ...... ... ... 2 I


V. CARNA ........... ... 47

VI. THE SAXON ... .. ... ... ... 57


VIII. THE NEWS IN THE CAMP ... ... ... 83


X. DANGERS AHEAD ... ... ... ... 107

XI. THE PRIEST'S DEMAND ... ... ... ... 115

XII. LOST ... *** *** *** *** *** 124

XIII. WHAT DOES IT MEAN ? ... ... ... ... 135

XIV. THE PURSUIT ... ... ... ... ... 144

XV. THE PURSUIT (continued) .. ... ... ... 152

XVI. THE GREAT TEMPLE ... ... ... ... 164

XVII. THE BRITISH VILLAGE ... ... ... ... 173

XVIII. THE PICTS ... ... ... ... ... 182

XIX. THE SIEGE ... ... ... ... ... ... 194

XX. CEDRIC IN TROUBLE ... ... ... ... 207

XXI. THE ESCAPE ... ... ... ... ... 216

XXII. A VISITOR ... ... ... ... 224

XXIII. THE STRANGER'S STOR ... ... ... ... 234

XXIV. NEWS FROM ITALY ... ... ... ... 245

XXV. CONSULTATION ... .. ... ... ... 256

XXVI. FAREWELL! ... ... ... ... ... 266

XXVII. MARTIANUS ... ... ... ... ... ... 271

XXVIII. A RIVAL... ... ... ... ... ... 28I


XXX. AT LAST ... ... ... ... ... ... 306


THE BURNING OF THE VILLA ... ... ... Frontisfiece



JAVELIN THROWING ... ... ... ... 78




THE SACRIFICE ...... ... ... ... ... 166


CEDRIC'S FURY .................. 212




CARNA AND MARTIANUS ... ... ... ... ... 276

CARNA ON THE HILLSIDE ... ... ... ... ... 304





" HAIL Caesar Emperor, the starving salute thee !" "
and the speaker made a military salute to a silver
coin, evidently brand-new from the mint (which did
not seem, by the way, to turn out very good work),
and bearing the superscription, Gratianus Caesar
Imperator Felicissimus." He was a soldier of middle
age, whose jovial face did not show any sign of the
fate which he professed to have so narrowly escaped,
and formed one of a group which was lounging about
the Qucestorium, or, as we may put it, the paymaster's
office of the camp at the head of the Great Harbour.2

SA reference to the well-known salutation of the gladiators
as they passed the Emperor in his seat at the Public Games.
"Ave Caesar Imperator Morituri te salutant." Hail! Cesar
Emperor, the doomed to death salute thee.
"2 Now known all over the world as Portsmouth Harbour.


A very curious medley of nationalities was that group.
There were Gauls ; there were Germans from the
Rhine bank, some of them of the pure Teuton type,
with fair complexions, bright blue eyes, and reddish
golden hair, and remarkably tall of stature, others
showing an admixture of the Celtic blood of their
Gallic neighbours in their dark hair and hazel eyes;
there were swarthy Spaniards, fierce-looking men
from the Eastern Adriatic, showing some signs of
Greek parentage in their regular features and grace-
ful figures; there were two or three who seemed to
have an admixture of Asian or even African blood in
them; it might be said, in fact, there were repre-
sentatives of every province of the Empire, Italy only
excepted. They had been just receiving their pay,
long in arrear, and now considerably short of the
proper amount, and containing not a few coins which
the receivers seemed to think of doubtful value.
Let me look at his Imperial Majesty," said
another speaker; and he scanned the features of the
new Caesar-features never very dignified, and cer-
tainly not flattered by the rude coinage-with some-
thing like contempt. Well, he does not look
exactly as a Caesar should; but what does it matter ?
This will go down with Rufus at the wine-shop and
Priscus the sausage-seller, as well as the head of the
great Augustus himself."
Ah! said a third speaker, picking out from


a handful of silver a coin which bore the head of
Theodosius, "this was an Emperor worth fighting
under. I made my first campaign with him against
Maximus, another British Caesar, by the way; and
he was every inch a soldier. If his son were like
him I things would be smoother than they are."
Do you think," said the second speaker, after
first throwing a cautious glance to see whether any
officer of rank was in hearing-" do you think we
have made a change for the better from Marcus ?2
He at all events used to be more liberal with his
money than his present majesty. You remember he
gave us ten silver pieces each. Now we don't even
get our proper pay."
Marcus, my dear fellow," said the other speaker,
"had a full military chest to draw upon, and it was
not difficult to be generous. Gratianus has to squeeze
every denarius out of the citizens. I heard them
say, when the money came into the camp yesterday,
that it was a loan from the Londinium merchants.
I wonder what interest they will get, and when they
will see the principal again."
Hang the fat rascals! said the other. "Why

SHonorius and Arcadius, who ruled over the Western and
Eastern Empires respectively, were the weak sons of the
vigorous Theodosius.
2 Marcus was the first of three usurpers successively saluted
Emperor by the legions of Britain.


should they sleep soft, and eat and drink the best of
everything, while we poor soldiers, who keep them
and their money-bags safe, have to go bare and
hungry ? "
Come, come, comrades," interrupted the first
soldier who had spoken; no more grumbling, or
some of us will find the centurion after us with his
The group broke up, most of them making the
best of their way to spend some of their unaccustomed
riches at the wine-shop, a place from which they had
lately kept an enforced absence. Three or four of
the number, however, who seemed, from a sign that
passed between them, to have some secret under-
standing, remained in close conversation-a conver-
sation which they carried on in undertones, and
which they adjourned to one of the tents to finish
without risk of being disturbed or overheard.
The camp in which our story opens was a
square enclosure, measuring some five hundred
yards each way, and surrounded by a massive
wall, not less than four feet in thickness, in
the construction of which stone, brick, and tile
had, in Roman fashion, been used together.
The defences were completed by strong towers
of a rounded shape, which had been erected at
frequent intervals. The camp had, as usual, its
four gates. That which opened upon the sea-for


the sea washed the southern front-was famous in
military tradition as the gate by which the second
legion had embarked to take part in the Jewish War
and the famous siege of Jerusalem. Vespasian,
who had begun in Britain the great career which
ended in the throne, had experienced its valour
and discipline in more than one campaign,' and had
paid it the high compliment of making a special
request for its services when he was appointed to
conduct what threatened to be a formidable war.
This glorious recollection was proudly cherished in
the camp, though more than three centuries had
passed, changing as they went the aspect of the
camp, till it looked at least as much like a town as
a military post. The troops were housed in huts
stoutly built of timber, which a visitor would have
found comfortably furnished by a long succession of
occupants. The quarters of the tribune and higher
centurions were commodious dwellings of brick; and
the headquarters of the legate, or commanding
officer, with its handsome chambers, its baths, and
tesselated pavements, might well have been a mansion
at Rome. There was a street of regular shape, in
which provisions, clothes, and even ornaments could

SVespasian, appointed by C laudius in A.D 52 to the com m and
of the second legion, had made extensive conquests in Britain,
adding, among other places, the Isle of Wight (Vectis) to the


be bought. Roman discipline, though somewhat
relaxed, did not indeed permit the dealers to remain
within the fortifications at night, .but the shops were
tenanted by day, and did a thriving business, not
only with the soldiers, but with the Britons of the
neighbourhood, who found the camp a convenient
resort, where they could market to advantage, besides
gossiping to their hearts' content. The relations
between the soldiers and their native neighbours
were indeed friendly in the extreme. The legion had
had its headquarters in the camp of the Great
Harbour for many generations, though it had occa-
sionally gone on foreign service. Lately, too, the
policy which had recruited the British legion with
soldiers from the Continent, had been relaxed, partly
from carelessness, partly because it was necessary to
fill up the ranks as could best be done, and there was
but little choice of men. Thus service became very
much an inheritance. The soldiers married British
women, and their children, growing up, became
soldiers in turn. Many recruits still came from Gaul,
Spain, and the mouth of the Rhine, and elsewhere,
but quite as many of the troops were by this time,
in part or in whole, British.
Another change which the three centuries and a
half since Vespasian's time had brought about was in
religion. The temple of Mars, which had stood near
the headquarters, and where the legate had been


accustomed to take the auspices,' was now a Chris-
tian Church, duly served by a priest of British birth.
About a couple of hours later in the day a shout of
"The Emperor! the Emperor! was raised in the
camp, and the soldiers, flocking out from the mess-
tents in which most of them were sitting, lined in a
dense throng the avenue which led from the chief
gate to headquarters.
Gratianus, who was followed by a few officers of
superior rank and a small escort of cavalry, rode
slowly between the lines of soldiers. His reception
was not as hearty as he had expected to find. He
had, as the soldiers had hinted, made vast exertions to
raise a sum of money in Londinium-then, as now,
the wealthiest municipality in the island. Himself a
native of the place, and connected with some of its
richest citizens, he had probably got together more
than any one else would have done in like circum-
stances. But all his persuasions and promises, even
his offer of twenty per cent. interest, had not been
able to extract from the Londinium burghers the full
sum that was required; and the soldiers, who the
day before would have loudly proclaimed that they
would be thankful for the smallest instalment, were
now almost furious because they had not been paid
in full. A few shouts of Hail, Caesar Hail,
The observation of omens, or signs, supposed to indicate the
future, was one of the duties of a commanding officer.


Gratianus Hail, Britannicus greeted him on the
road to his quarters; but these came from the front
lines only, and chiefly from the centurions and
deputy-centurions, while the great body of the
soldiers maintained an ominous silence, sometimes
broken by a sullen murmur.
Gratianus was not a man fitted to deal with sudden
emergencies. He was rash and he was ambitious,
but he wanted steadfast courage, and he was
hampered by scruples of which an usurper must
rid himself at once if he hopes to keep himself safe
in his seat. He might have appealed frankly to the
soldiers-asked them what it was they complained
of, and taken them frankly into his confidence; or
he might have overawed them by an example of
severity, fixing on some single act of insubordination
or insolence, and sending the offender to instant
execution. He was not bold enough for either
course, and the opportunity passed, as quickly as
opportunities do in such times, hopelessly out of his
The temper of the soldiers grew more excited and
dangerous as the day went on. For many weeks
past want of money had kept them sober against
their will, and now that the long-expected pay-day
had come they crowded the wine-shops inside and
outside the camp, and drank almost as wildly as an
Australian shepherd when he comes down to the town


after a six months' solitude. As anything can set
highly combustible materials on fire, so the most
trivial and meaningless incident will turn a tipsy
mob into a crowd of bloodthirsty madmen. Just
before sunset a messenger entered the camp bringing
a'despatch from one of the outlying forts. One of
those prodigious lies which seem always ready to
start into existence when they are wanted for mis,
chief at once ran like wild-fire through the camp.
Gratianus was bringing together troops from other
parts of the province, and was going to disarm and
decimate the garrison of the Great Camp. The un-
fortunate messenger was seized before he could make
his way to headquarters, seriously injured, and
robbed of the despatch which he was carrying. Some
of the centurions ventured to interfere and endeavour
to put down the tumult. Two or three who were
popular with the men were good-humouredly dis-
armed; others, who were thought too rigorous in
discipline, were roughly handled and thrown into
the military prison; one, who had earned for himself
the nick-name of Old Hand me the other," was
killed on the spot. The furious crowd then rushed
to headquarters, where Gratianus was entertaining
SWhen one of the vine-sticks used in administering corporal
punishment to the Roman soldiers was broken on the culprit's
back, he would at once call for another. A milder disciplinarian
would probably consider that when the stick was broken the
punishment might end.


a company of officers of high rank, and clamoured
that they must see the Emperor. He came out and
mounted the hustings, which stood near the front of
the buildings, and from which it was usual to address
gatherings of the soldiers.
For a moment the men, not altogether lost to the
sense of discipline, were hushed into silence and
order by the sight of the Emperor as he stood on the
platform in his Imperial purple, his figure thrown
into bold relief by the torches which his attendants
held behind him.
What do you want, my children ? he said; but
there was a tremble in his voice which put fresh
courage into the failing hearts of the mutineers.
Give us our pay, give us our arrears! answered
a soldier in one of the back rows, emboldened to
speak by finding himself out of sight.
The cry was taken up by the whole multitude.
"Our pay Our pay !" was shouted from thousands
of throats.
Gratianus stood perplexed and irresolute, visibly
cowering before the storm. At this moment one of
the tribunes stepped forward and whispered in his
ear. What he said was this : Say to them, Follow
me, and I will give you all you ask and more.' "
It was a happy suggestion, one of the vague promises
that commit to nothing, and if the unlucky usurper
could have given it with confidence, with an air that


gave it a meaning, he might have been saved, at least
for a time. But his nerve, his presence of mind was
hopelessly lost. "Follow me-where ? Whither am
I to lead them ? he asked, in a hurried, agitated
His adviser shrugged his shoulders and was silent.
He saw that he was not comprehended.
Gratianus continued to stand silent and irresolute,
with his helpless, despairing gaze fixed upon the
crowd. Then came a great surging movement from
the back of the crowd, and the front ranks were
almost forced up the steps of the platform. The
unlucky prince turned as if to flee. The movement
sealed his fate. A stone hurled from the back of the
crowd struck him on the side of the face. Half
stunned by the blow, he leaned against one of the
attendants, and the blood could be seen pouring
down his face, pale with terror, and looking ghastly
in the flaming torchlight. The next moment the
attendant flung down his torch and fled-an example
followed by all his companions. Then all was in
darkness; and it only wanted darkness to make a
score of hands busy in the deed of blood.
As Gratianus lay prostrate on the ground the first
blow was aimed by a brother of his predecessor,
Marcus, who had been quietly waiting for an oppor-
tunity of vengeance. In another minute he had
ceased to live. His head was severed from the body


and fixed on the top of a pike. One of the murderers
seized a smouldering torch, and, blowing it into
flame, held it up while another exhibited the bleeding
head, and cried, The tyrant has his deserts But
by this time the mad rage of the crowd had subsided.
The horror of the deed had sobered them. Many
began to remember little acts of kindness which the
murdered man had done them, and the feeling of
wrong was lost in a revulsion of pity. In a few
moments more the crowd was scattered. Silent and
remorseful the men went to their quarters, and
the camp was quiet again. But another British
Caesar had gone the way of a long line of unlucky



THE camp next day was covered with gloom. The
soldiers moved silent and with downcast faces along
the avenues, or discharged in a mechanical way their
routine duties. The guards were turned out, the
sentries relieved, and the general order of service
maintained without any action on the part of
the officers-at least of those who held superior
rank. These remained in the seclusion of their
tents; and it may be said that those who were
conscious of being popular were almost as much
alarmed as those who knew that they were disliked.
If the latter dreaded the vengeance of those whom
they had offended, the others were scarcely less
alarmed by the possibility of being elected to the
perilous dignity which had just proved fatal to
Gratianus. The country people, whose presence
generally gave an air of cheerfulness and activity
to the camp, were too much alarmed to come. The


trading booths inside the gates were empty, and only
a very few stalls were occupied in the market, which
was held every day outside them.
The funeral of the late prince was celebrated with
some pomp. The soldiers attended it in crowds, and
manifested their grief, and, it would seem, their
remorse, by groans and tears. They were ready
even to give proofs of their repentance by the sum-
mary execution of those who had taken an active part
in the bloody deed. But here, one of the centurions,
whose cheerful, genial manners made him an un-
failing favourite with the men, had the courage
to check them. No, my men," said he ; we
were all mad last night, and we must all take the
Two days passed without any incident of import-
ance. On the third the question of a successor began
to be discussed. One of the other garrisons might
be beforehand with them, and they would have either
to accept a chief who would owe his best favours to
others, or risk their lives in an unprofitable struggle
with him. In the afternoon a general assembly of
the troops was held, the officers still holding aloof,
though some of them mixed, incognito, so to speak, in
the crowd.
Of course, the first difficulty was to find any one
who would take the lead. At last the genial cen-
turion, who has been mentioned above as a well-


established favourite with the soldiers, was pushed
to the front. His speech was short and sensible.
" Comrades," he said, I doubt whether what I have
to say will please you; but I shall say it all the
same. You know that I always speak my mind. We
have not done very well in the new ways. Let us
try the old. I propose that we take the oath to
Honorius Augustus."
A deep murmur of discontent ran through the
assembly, and showed that the speaker had pre-
sumed at least as far as was safe on his popularity
with the troops.
Does Decius," cried a burly German from the
crowd-Decius was the name of the centurion-
" does Decius recommend that we should trust to the
mercy of Honorius ? Very good, perhaps, for him.
self; for the giver of such advice could scarcely fail
of a reward; but for us it means decimation I at the
A shout of applause showed that the speaker had
expressed the feelings of his audience.
I propose that we all take the oath to Decius
himself! said a Batavian; he is a brave man and
an honest, and what do we want more ? "
The good Decius had heard undismayed the angry

1 Decimation was a common military punishment in cases
of mutiny or bad behaviour on the field of battle. Every tenth
man, taken by lot, was put to death.


disapproval which his loyal proposal had called
forth; but the mention of his name as a possible
candidate for the throne overwhelmed him with
terror. His jovial face grew pale as death; the
sweat stood in large drops upon his forehead; he
trembled as he had never trembled in the face of an
Comrades," he stammered, "what have I done
that you should treat me thus ? If I have offended
or injured you, kill me, but not this."
More than half possessed by a spirit of mischief,
the assembly answered this piteous appeal by con.
tinuous shouts of Long live the Emperor Decius! "
The good man grew desperate. He drew his
sword from the scabbard, and pointed it at his own
heart. "At least," he cried, "you can't forbid me
this escape."
The bystanders wrested the weapon from him;
but the joke had gone far enough, and the man was
too genuinely popular for the soldiers to allow him to
be tormented beyond endurance. A voice from the
crowd shouted, Long live the Centurion Decius "
to which another answered, Long live Decius the
subject!" and the worthy man felt that the danger
was over.
A number of candidates, most of whom were prob-
ably as little desirous of the honour as Decius, were
now proposed in succession.


I name the Tribune Manilius," said one of the
The name was received with a shout of laughter.
Let him learn first to be Emperor at home!'" cried
a voice from the back of the assembly, a sally which
had considerable success, as his wife was a well-
known termagant, and his two sons the most frequent
inmates of the military prison.
I name the Centurion Pisinna."
Very good, if he does not pledge the purple," for
Pisinna was notoriously impecunious.
I name the Tribune Cetronius."
Very good as Emperor of the baggage-guard."
Cetronius had, to say the least, no high reputation
for personal courage, and was supposed to prefer the
least exposed parts on the field.
A number of other names were mentioned only to
be dismissed with more or less contumely. Tired of
this sport-for it really was nothing more-the crowd
cried out for a speech from a well-known orator of
the camp, whose fluency, not unmixed with shrewd-
ness and humour, had gained him a considerable
reputation among his comrades.
Comrades," he began, "if you have not yet found
a candidate worthy of your suffrages, it is not because
such do not exist among you. Can it be believed that
Britain is less worthy to produce the Emperor than
Gaul, or Spain, or Thrace, or even the effeminate


Syria ? Was it not from Britain that there came forth
the greatest of the successors of Augustus, the Second
Romulus, Flavius Aurelius Constantinus ? '
The orator was not permitted to proceed any
further. The name Constantinus ran like an electric
shock through the whole assembly, and a thousand
voices took up the cry, Long live Constantinus,
Emperor Augustus! while all eyes were turned to
one of the back rows of the meeting, where a soldier
who happened to bear that name was standing.
Some of his comrades caught him by the arm, hur-
ried him to the front, and from thence on to the
hustings. He was greeted with a perfect uproar of
applause, partly, of course, ironical, but partly the
expression of a genuine feeling that the right man
had been found, and found by some sort of Divine
assistance. The soldiers were, as has been said, a
strange medley of men, scarcely able to understand
each other, and alike only in being savage, ignorant,
and superstitious. They had been unlucky in choos-
ing for themselves, and now it might be well to have
the choice made for them. And at least the new man
had a name which all of them knew and reverenced,
as far as they reverenced anything.

x It would seem that the myth which made the Empress
Helena, the mother of Constantine, into a British princess, had
already grown up. She was, in fact, the daughter of a tavern-
keeper, and in no way connected with Britain.

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Whether he had anything but a name might have
seemed perhaps somewhat doubtful. He had reached
middle age, for he had two sons already grown up,
but had never risen above the rank of a private sol-
dier. It might be said, perhaps, that he had shown
some ability in thus avoiding promotion-not always
a desirable thing in troublous times; but there was
the fact that he was nearly fifty years of age, and was
not even a deputy-centurion. On the other hand, he
was a respectable man, ignorant indeed, for, like most
of his comrades, he could neither read nor write, but
with a certain practical shrewdness, so good-
humoured that he had never made an enemy, known
to be remarkably brave, a great athlete in his youth,
and still of a strength beyond the average.
His sudden and strange elevation did not seem to
throw him in the least off fiis balance. He had been
perfectly content to go without promotion, and now
he seemed equally content to receive the highest pro-
motion of all. He stood calmly facing the excited
mob, as unmoved as if he had been a private soldier
on the parade ground. A slight flush, indeed, might
have been seen to mount to his face when the cloak
of imperial purple was thrown over his shoulders,
and the peaked diadem put upon his head. He must
have been less than man not to have felt some thrill
either of fear or pride at the touch of what had brought
two of his comrades to their graves within the space


of less than half a year; but he showed no other
sign of emotion.
The officers, seeing the turn things had taken, had
now come to the front, and the senior tribune, taking
the new Emperor by the hand', led him to the edge of
the hustings, and said, Comrades, I present to you
Aurelius Constantinus, chosen by the providence of
God and the choice of the army to be Emperor of
Britain and the West. The Blessed and Undivided
Trinity order it for the best." A ringing shout of
approval went up in response. The tribunes then
took the oath of allegiance to the new Emperor in
person. These again administered it to the cen-
turions, and the centurions swore in great batches of
the soldiers. The new-made prince meanwhile stood
unmoved, it might almost be said insensible, so
strange was his composure in the face of his sudden
elevation. All that he said-the result, it seemed, of
a whisper from one of his sons-were a few words,
which, however, had all the success of a most eloquent
Comrades, I promise you a donative I within the
space of a month."
The assembly broke up in great good-humour, and
the newly-made Emperor, attended by the officers,
went to take possession of headquarters.
SA donative was a distribution of money made to the soldiers
on such occasions as the accession of an Emperor.



IT was a bright morning some three weeks after the
occurrences related in the last chapter, when a
squadron of four Roman galleys swept round the
point which is now known as the South Foreland.
The leader of the four, all of which, indeed, lay so
close together as to be within easy hailing distance,
bore on its mainmast the Labarum, or Imperial
standard, showing on a ground of purple a cross, a
crown, and the sacred initials, all wrought in gold.
It was the flagship, so to speak, of the great Count
himself, one of the most important lieutenants of the
Empire, whose task it was to guard the shores of
Britain and Northern Gaul from the pirate swarms
that issued from the harbours of the North Sea and
the Baltic. The Count himself was on board, coming
south from his villa on the eastern shore-for the
stations of which he had the charge extended as far
as the Wash-to his winter residence in the sunny
island of Vectis.


The Count was a tall man of middle age, and wore
over his tunic a military cloak reaching to the hips,
and clasped at the neck with a handsome device in
gold, representing a hunting-dog with his teeth fixed
in a stag. His head was covered with a broad-
brimmed hat of felt. The only weapon that he
carried was a short sword, which, with its plain hilt
and leather scabbard, was evidently meant for use
rather than show. His whole appearance and bearing,
indeed, were those of a man of action and energy.
His eyes were bright and piercing; his nose showed,
strongly pronounced, the curve which has always
been associated with the ability to command; the
contour of his chin and lips, as far as could be seen
through a short curling beard and moustache, worn
as a prudent defence against the climate, betokened
firmness. Still, the expression of the face was not
unkindly. As a great writer says of one whom
Britain had had good reason in earlier days both to
fear and to love, one would easily believe him to
be a good man, and willingly believe him to be great."
At the time when our story opens he was standing
in conversation with the helmsman, a weather-beaten
old sailor, whose dark Southern complexion had been
deepened by the sun and winds of more than fifty
years of service into an almost African hue.
The wind will hardly serve us as well as it has,"
said the Count, as his practised eye, familiar with


every yard of the coast, perceived that they were
well abreast of the extreme southern point of the
No, my lord," said the old man, "we shall have
to take as long a tack as we can to the south. There
is a deal of west in the wind-more, I think, than there
was an hour since. Castor and Pollux-I beg your
lordship's pardon, the blessed Saints-defend us from
anything like a westerly gale."
"Ah! old croaker," replied the Count, with a
laugh, I verily believe that you will be half disap-
pointed if we get to our journey's end without some
Good words, good words, my lord," said the old
man, hastily crossing himself, while he muttered
something, which, if it could have been overheard,
would have been scarcely suitable to that act of
devotion. Heaven bring us safe to our journey's
end! Of course it is your lordship's business to give
orders, and ours to go to the bottom, if it is to be so.
But I must say, saving your presence, that it is
against all rules of a sailor's craft as I have known
it, man and boy, for nigh upon threescore years, to
be at sea near about a month after the autumn
'Never let your keel be wet,
When the Pleiades have set;
Never let your keel be dry,
When the Crown is in the sky."


That is what my father used to say, and his fathers
before him, for I do not know how many generations,
for we have always followed the sea."
Very well for them, perhaps," said the Count,
" in the days when a man would almost as soon go
into a lion's den as venture out of sight of land.
But the world is too busy to let us waste half our
year on shore."
Yes, yes, I know all about that," answered the
old man, who was privileged to have the last word
even with so great a personage as the Count; but
there is a proverb, Much haste, little speed,' and I
have always found it quite as true by sea as by
Meanwhile the proper signals had been given to
the rest of the squadron, and the whole four were
now heading south, with a point or two to the west,
the Panther-for that was the name of the flagship-
still slightly leading the way, with her consorts in
close company. In this order they made about twelve
miles, the wind freshening somewhat as they drew
further away from the British shore, and, being nearly
aft, carrying them briskly along.
Fine sailing, fine sailing," said the old helms-
man, drawn almost in spite of himself into an ex-
clamation of delight, as the Panther, rushing through
the water with an almost even keel, began to widen
the gap between herself and her nearest follower.

e I ,


The short waves, which just broke in sparkling foam,
the brilliant sunshine, almost bringing back summer
with its noonday heat, and the sea with a blue which
recalled, though but faintly, the deep tint of his
native Mediterranean, combined to gladden the old
man's soul. But we need not put about now," he
said to himself. If this wind holds we shall fetch
Lemanis I without requiring to tack."
He was about to give the necessary orders to trim
the sails, when he was stopped by a shout from the
look-out man at the bow, A sail on the starboard
side Just within the range of a keen sight, in the
south-western horizon, the sunlight fell on what was
evidently a sail. But the distance was too great to
let even the keenest sight distinguish what kind of
craft it might be, or which way it was moving. The
Count, who had gone below for his mid-day meal,
was of course informed of the news. He came at
once upon deck, and lost no time in making up his
If she is an enemy," he said to the old helms-
man, she will be eastward bound; though I never
knew a pirate keep the sea quite so late in the year.
If she is a friend she will probably be sailing west-
ward, or even coming our way-but it does not
matter which. If she has anything to tell us, we

Lymne, in Kent, now some miles inward, on the edge of
Romney Marsh.


shall be sure to hear it sooner or later. But it will
never do to let a pirate escape if we can help it.
Any one who is out so late as the middle of October
must have had good reason for stopping, and can
hardly fail to be worth catching. Quintus, put her
right before the wind, and clap on every inch of
The course of the squadron was now changed to
nearly due south-east. All eyes, of course, were
bent on the strange craft, and before an hour had
passed it was evident that the Count had been right
in his guess. There were four ships; they were long
and low in the water, of the build which was only
too well known along the coasts of Gaul and Britain,
where no river or creek, if it gave as much as three or
four feet of water, was safe from their attack. In short,
they were Saxon pirates, and were now moving east-
ward with all the speed that sails and oars could give
them. The question that every one on board the
Panther was putting to himself with intense interest
was, Shall we be able to intercept them ?" For
the present the Count's ship had the advantage of
speed, thanks to the wind abaft the beam. But a
stern chase would be useless. On equal terms the
pirates were at least as quick as their pursuers.
The light, too, of the autumn day would soon fail,
and with the light every chance of success would
be gone.


For a time it seemed as if the escape of the pirate
was certain. Curse the scoundrels! cried the
Count, as he paced impatiently up and down the
after deck. If it would only come on to blow in
real earnest we should have them. Anyhow, I
would sooner that we should all founder together
than that they should get off scot free."
The Panther, which had left her consorts about a
mile in the rear, was now near enough for her crew
to see distinctly the outlines of the pirate ships, to
mark the glitter of the shields that were ranged
along the gunwales, and to catch the rhythmic rise
and fall of the long sweeping oars. The Saxons
were evidently straining every nerve to make good
their escape, and it seemed scarcely possible that
they could fail. Then came a turn of fortune-the
very thing, in fact, that the Count had prayed for.
For a time-only a very few moments-the wind
freshened to something like the force of a gale. The
masts of the Panther were strained to the utmost of
their strength; they groaned and bent like whips
under the sudden pressure on the canvas, but the
seasoned timber stood the sudden call upon it
bravely. How the Count blessed himself that he
had never passed over a piece of bad workmanship
or bad material! The good ship took a wild plunge
forward, but nothing gave way. But the last of the
four pirates was not so fortunate. She had one tall


mast, carrying a fore-and-aft sail, so large as to be
quite out of proportion to her size. The wind
struck her nearly sideways, and she heeled over till
her keel could almost be seen. For a moment it
was doubtful whether she would not capsize. Then
the mast gave. The vessel righted at once, but only
to lie utterly helpless on the water, with all her
starboard oars hopelessly entangled with the canvas
and rigging. What the Count would have done had
his ship been entirely in hand it is difficult to say.
No speedier or more effective way of dealing with
the enemy than running her down could have been
practised. The Panther had three or four times the
tonnage of her adversary, whose lightness and low
bulwarks made her easily accessible to this kind of
attack. Nor would the pirates have a chance of
showing the desperate valour which the Roman
boarding-parties had learnt to respect and almost to
fear. The only argument on the other side would
have been that prisoners and booty would probably
be lost. But, as a matter of fact, the Count had no
opportunity of weighing the pros and cons in the
matter. The Panther, driving as she was straight
before the wind, was practically unmanageable. She
struck the pirate craft with a tremendous crash
amidships, and cut her almost literally in half. One
blow, and one only, did the pirates strike at their
conquerors. When escape had become manifestly


M a

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g ....'
e7, N

& ** M Ws.



impossible by the fall of the mast, the Saxon warriors
had dropped their oars, and seizing their bows had
discharged a volley of arrows against the Roman
ship. The hurry and confusion of the moment did
not favour accurate aim, and most of the missiles
flew wide of the mark; but one seemed to have been
destined to fulfil the helmsman's expectations of evil
to come. It struck the old man on the left side,
inflicting a fatal wound. In the first confusion of the
shock the incident was not noticed, for the brave
fellow stuck gallantly to the tiller, propping himself
up against it while he kept the Panther steadily
before the wind. In fact, loss of blood had brought
him nearly to his end before it was even known that
he had been wounded. Then, in a moment, the
Count was at his side.
Carry him to my own cabin," he said.
The old man raised his hand in a gesture that
seemed to refuse the service which half a dozen stout
sailors were at once ready to render him. Nay,"
said he, it is idle; this arrow has sped me. But
let me die here, where I can see the waves and the
sky. I have known them, man and boy, threescore
years-aye, and more, for my father would take me on
his ship when I was a tiny chap of three feet high.
Nay, no cabin for me; 'tis almost as bad as dying
in one's bed."
His voice grew feeble. The Count stopped, and


asked whether there was anything that he could do
for him.
"Nay," said the old man, "nothing; I have
neither chick nor child. 'Tis all as well as I could
have wished. But mark, my lord, I was right about
sailing in October. Any one that knows the sea
would be sure that trouble must come of it."
The next moment he was past speaking or hearing.
It was his privilege, we must remember, to have
the last word.
The Panther meanwhile had been brought to the
wind. Her consorts, too, had come up, and a search
was made for any survivors of the encounter that
might be still afloat. Some had been killed outright
by the concussion; others had been so hurt that they
could make no effort to save themselves. They
would not, however, have made it if they could.
Those that had escaped uninjured evidently preferred
drowning to a Roman prison. With grim resolution
they straightened their arms to their sides and went
down. Only two survivors were picked up. These,
evidently twins from their close resemblance to each
other, were found clinging to a fragment of timber.
One had been grievously hurt, the other had not
suffered any injury.
The wounded man, who had received an almost
fatal blow upon the head, had lost the power to
move, and was holding on to life more than half un-


consciously; and his brother, moved by that pas-
sionate love so often found between twins, had
sacrificed himself-that is, the honour which he
counted dearer than life-to save him. Had he had
only himself to think of, he would have been the first
to go down a free man to the bottom of the sea; but
his brother was almost helpless, and he could not
leave him.
When it was evident that all further search would
be useless, the squadron set their sails for Lemanis,
which, thanks to a further change in the wind to the
northward, they were able to reach before midnight.



COUNT ZELIUS was a man of the best Roman type,
a man of primitive virtue," as the classical writers
would have put it, though this virtue had been
softened, refined, and purified by civilizing and in-
structing influences, of which the old Roman heroes
-the Fabiuses, the Catos, the Scipios-had known
nothing. In the antiquity of his lineage there was
scarcely a man in the Empire who could pretend
to compare with him. For the most part, the old
houses from which had come the Consuls and Dicta-
tors of the Republic had died out. The old nobility
had gone, and the new nobility had followed it.
The great name of Fabius, saved by an accident from
extinction, when its three hundred gallant sons,
each of them fit to command an army," perished
in one day by the craft of the Etruscan foe, had
passed away. There was no living representative
of the conqueror of Carthage, or of the conqueror


of Corinth. Even the parvenus of the Empire had in
their turn disappeared. The generals and senators,
both of the old Rome and of the new, bore
names which would have sounded strange and
barbarous to Cicero or even to Tacitus. An ZElius
then, one who claimed to trace his descent to a time
even earlier than the legendary age, to a race 'which
was domiciled in Italy long before even AEneas had
brought thither the gods of Troy, was an almost
singular phenomenon in a generation of new men.
And nothing less than this was the pedigree claimed
by the zElii. Their remotest ancestor-the Count
never could hear an allusion to it without a smile-
was the famous cannibal king who ruled over the
Laestrygones, a tribe of Western Italy,2 and from
whose jaws the prudent Ulysses so narrowly escaped.
The pride of ancient descent is not particular as
to the character of a progenitor, so he be suffi-
ciently remote; and one branch of the AElii had
always delighted to recall by their surname their
connection with this man-eating hero. But the race
had not lacked glories of its own in historical times.
They had had soldiers, statesmen, and men of letters
among them. One of them had been made immortal
by the friendship of Horace. Another, an adopted

2 His capital is said to have been near the ancient Caieta and
modern Gaieta.


son, it was true, better known by the famous name
of Sejanus, had nearly made himself master of the
throne of the Caesars. About a hundred years later
this crowning glory of human ambition had fallen to
it in the person of Hadrian, third in the list of the
" five good Emperors ";I though indeed there were
purists in the matter of genealogy who stoutly denied
that this great soldier and scholar had any of the real
AElian blood in him.
The Count's father had held civil office at Carthage,
and the young ZElius had there, for a short time,
been a pupil of Aurelius Augustinus, then known
as an eloquent teacher of rhetoric, afterwards to
become the most famous doctor of the Western
Church. But his bent was not for the profession
of the law, and his father, though disappointed at his
preference for a soldier's career, would not stand in
his way. His first experience of warfare was gained
on a day of terrible disaster. His father's influence
had secured him a position which seemed in every
way desirable. He was attached to the staff of
Trajanus, a general of division in the army of the
Emperor Valens. By great exertions, travelling
night and day, at the hottest period of the year, the

S The "five" are, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius,
and Marcus Aurelius, whose united reigns extended from 97 to
18o A.D.-a period of peace and prosperity such as Rome never
enjoyed again.


young ZElius contrived to report himself to his com-
mander on the eve of the great battle of Adrianople.
He had borne himself with admirable courage and
self-possession during that terrible day, more disas-
trous to the Roman arms than even Cannae itself.
He had helped to carry the wounded Emperor to a
cottage near the field of battle, and had barely
escaped with his life, cutting his way with desperate
resolution through the enemy, when this place of
refuge was surrounded and burnt by the barbarians.
After this unfortunate beginning he betook himself
for a time to the employment of peace, obtaining an
office under Government at Milan, where he renewed
his acquaintance with his old teacher, Augustine.
Then another opening, in what was still his favourite
profession, presented itself. The young soldier's
gallant conduct on the disastrous day of Adrianople
had not been forgotten by some who had witnessed
it, and when Stilicho, then the rising general of the
Empire, was looking about for officers to fill posts
upon his staff, the name of ZElius was mentioned to
him. Under Stilicho he served with much dis-
tinction, and it was on Stilicho's recommendation
that he was appointed to the post which, when our
story opens, he had held for nearly twenty years.
His position during this period had been one of
singular difficulty. The tie between the Empire
and Britain was very loose. More than once during


AElius' tenure of office it had seemed to be broken
altogether. Pretender after pretender had risen
against the central power, and had declared his
province independent, and himself an Emperor.
The Count of the Saxon Shore had contrived to
keep himself neutral, so to speak, during these
troubles. His own office, that of defending the
eastern and southern shores of the island against the
attacks of the Saxon pirates, he had filled with re-
markable vigilance and skill. And the usurpers had
been content to leave him undisturbed. His sailors
were profoundly attached to him, and any attempt
to interfere with him would have thrown a consider-
able weight into the opposite scale. And he and his
work were necessary. Whether Britain was subject
to Rome or independent of it, it was equally im-
portant that its coasts should not be harried by
pirates. If /Elius would provide for this-and he
did provide for it, with an almost unvarying success-
he might be left alone, and not required to give in his
allegiance to the new claimant of the throne. This
allegiance he never did give in. He was always the
faithful servant of those who appointed him, and,
whoever might happen to be the temporary master
of Britain, regularly addressed his despatches and
reports to the central authority in Italy. On the
other hand, he did not feel himself bound to take
direct steps towards asserting that authority in the


island. He had to keep the pirates in check, and
that was occupation quite sufficient to keep all his
energies employed. Thus, as has been said, he
observed a kind of neutrality, always loyal to the
Roman Emperor, but willing to be on friendly terms
with the rebel generals of Britain as long as they
left him alone, let him do his work of defending the
coast, and did not make any demands upon him
which his conscience would not allow him to satisfy.
Having thus sketched the career of the Count, we
must now say something about the house, which
now-it was early in the afternoon of the day follow-
ing the events described in the last chapter-was
just coming into sight.
The villa was the Count's private property, and
had been purchased by him immediately on his
arrival in the island, for a reason which will be given
hereafter. It was a handsome house, and complete
in its way, with all that was necessary for a comfort-
able residence, but not one of the largest of its kind.
Indeed, it may be said that what may be called the
" living" part of it was unusually small for the
dwelling of so distinguished a person as the Count.
It had been found large enough by its previous
owners, men of moderate means and, it so happened,
of small families; and the Count, feeling that his
occupation of it might be terminated at any time,
had not cared to add to it. Its situation was re-


markably pleasing. Behind it was a sheltering range
of hills,1 keeping off the force of the south-westerly
winds, and then richly covered with wood. It was
not too near the sea, the Romans not finding that
the ceaseless disturbance of rising and falling tides
was an element of pleasure, though they could not
get too close to their own tideless Mediterranean;
but it was within an easy distance of the Haven.2
The convenience of this neighbourhood had indeed
been one of the Count's reasons for selecting this
spot. But if the harsh, grating sound of the waves
upon the shingle did not reach the ears of the
dwellers in the villa, and the force of the sea winds
was somewhat broken for them by intervening cliffs,
they still enjoyed all the freshness and vitality of an
air that had come across many a league of water.
The climate, too, was genial, mild without being too
soft, mostly free from damp, though not exempt from
occasional mist, seldom troubled by frost or snow,
and, on the whole, not unlike some of the more
temperate regions of Italy.
The villa, with its belongings, occupied three sides
of a square, or rather rectangle, and was built nearly
to the points of the compass. The eastern side of
the square was open, thus giving a prospect sea-
x The hills that run as far as Arreton and the valley of the
2 Brading Haven.


wards. The western contained the principal living
rooms. The northern, too, was partly occupied by
bed-chambers and sitting-rooms, for which there
was no room in the comparatively small portion
which had been originally intended for the residence
of the owner and his family. Some of the workmen
employed lived in cottages outside the villa enclosure.
The southern was devoted to storehouses, work-
shops, and all the miscellaneous buildings which
made a Roman villa, as far as possible, an establish-
ment complete in itself. The open space was
occupied by a pretty garden, which will be more
particularly described hereafter.'
The eastward front of the villa was occupied for
the greater part of its length by a colonnade or
corridor. A low wall of about four feet in height
separated this from the garden; above the wall it was
open to the air ; but an overhanging roof helped
greatly to shelter it, while the view into the garden
was unimpeded. The floor was adorned with a
handsome tesselated pavement, the principal device

SThe villa consisted, it will be seen, of the three parts which
were commonly found in establishments of this kind. These
were called respectively the Urbana, containing the rooms in
which the family resided, and including also the garden
terraces, &c. ; the Rustica, occupied by slaves and workmen,
but in this case, as will be seen, partly used for another purpose ;
and the Fructuaria, containing cellars for wine, &c., barns,
granaries, and storehouses of various kinds.


of which was a representation of the favourite sub-
ject of Orpheus attracting beasts and birds by his
lyre. The proprietor from whom the Count had
purchased the villa had brought it from Italy. He
was a Christian of artistic tastes, and, like his fellow-
believers, had delighted to trace in the old myth a
spiritual meaning, the power of the teaching of
Christ to subdue to the Divine obedience the savage,
animal nature of man. He had displaced for it the
original design, which, indeed, was nothing better
than a commonplace representation of dancing
figures which had satisfied the earlier owners. The
artist had included among the listeners animals,
some of which, as the monkey, the Thracian minstrel
could hardly have seen, and, with a certain touch of
humour, he had adorned the monkey's head with a
Phrygian cap, like that which Orpheus himself
wore, to indicate probably that the monkey is the
caricature of man. The inner wall was ornamented
with a bold design of Caesar's first landing in
Britain, worked in fresco. Seats and tables were
arranged along it at intervals, and the whole corridor
was thus made to furnish a pleasant promenade in
winter and a charming resort when the weather was
At the south end of the corridor was the Count's
own apartment, or study, as it would be called in a
modern house. One window looked into the corridor,


into which a door also opened; another, which was
built out into the shape of a bow, so as to catch as
much of the sun as the aspect allowed, looked into
the garden. Part of it was formed of lattices, which
admitted of being completely closed when the weather
required such protection; the rest was glazed with
glass, which would have seemed rough to the present
generation, but was quite as good as most people
were content to have in their houses fifty years ago.
The pavement was tesselated, and presented various
designs, a Bacchante, and a pair of gladiators among
them. These, however, were commonly covered with
thick woollen rugs, the villa being chiefly used as a
winter residence. The Count had not forgotten his
early studies, and some handsome bookcases con-
tained his favourite authors, among which were to
be found the great classic poets of Rome, Tacitus,
for whom he had a special regard, some writers on
the military art, Cato and Columella on agriculture,
and, not least honoured, though some, at least, of
their contents had but little interest for him-for,
sincere Christian as he was, he cared little for
controversy-the numerous treatises of his friend
and teacher, Augustine. Behind this room was a
simple furnished bed-chamber, showing in an almost
bare simplicity the characteristic tastes of a soldier.
At the other end of the corridor was a door
leading to the principal chamber in this part of the


villa. This measured altogether close upon forty feet
in length, but it was divided, or rather could be divided,
into two by columns which stood about halfway down
its longer sides, and between which a curtain could be
hung. When the chamber was occupied in summer
it might be used as a whole; in the winter the
smaller part, which looked out into the garden, could
be shut off from the rest by drawing the curtain, and
so made a comfortable room, warmed from below by
hot air from the furnace, which had been constructed
at the western end of the northern wing of the villa.
Much artistic skill had been expended on the pave-
ments of the apartment, and the smaller chamber
was very richly decorated in this way. In the
middle was a large head of Medusa, and the rest
was filled with beautifully-worked scenes illustrating
the pleasures of a pastoral life. It was the custom
of the Count's family to use the larger portion of the
whole chamber as a dining-room, the smaller as a
ladies' boudoir. On the rare occasion of some large
entertainment being given, the whole was thrown
into one.
The ladies of the family, of whom we shall hear
more hereafter, had their own apartments at the
western end of the north wing, part of which was
shut off for their occupation and for their immediate
attendants. A covered way connected this with the
portion occupied by the Count.


It would be needless to describe the rest of the
villa. It was like the houses of its kind, houses
which the Romans erected wherever they went in as
close an imitation as they could make of what they
were accustomed to at home.
The garden, however, must not be wholly passed
over. Spacious and handsome as it was, it in part
presented a stiff and unnatural appearance, looking,
in fact, somewhat theatrical, as contrasted with the
pastoral sunniness of the landscape. A Roman gar-
dener had been brought from Rome-one skilled in all
the arts of his craft. It was he who had terraced the
slope with so much regularity, had planted stiff box
hedges-and, above all, it was his taste which led him
to cut and train box and laburnum shrubs into fan-
tastic imitations of other forms. The poor trees were
forced to abandon their own natural shapes, and to pose
as vases, geometrical figures, and animals of various
kinds. There was even a ship of box surrounded
by a broad channel of water, so that the spectator,
making large demands on his imagination, might
imagine that the little mock vessel was moored on a
still sheet of water. Among the box trees were stone
fountains badly copied from classic models. But
these had not remained in their bare crudity. The
loving British ivy had crept close around them, and
added a grace which the sculptor had failed to give.
The Roman gardener would have liked to banish


this intruder, or to at least train it into the positions
prescribed by horticultural rules, but he had been
bidden to let it run at its own sweet will; and so it
had, and had flourished, well nursed by the soft and
humid atmosphere.
Scattered at regular intervals through the green
were flower-beds stocked with plants, which were
either native to the island, or had been brought
hither with great care from the capital. There were
roses in several varieties, strange-shaped orchids,
which had been found growing wild at lower levels
of the island, and adopted into this civilized garden
to ornament it with their unique beauty. Gay
geraniums and other flowers made throughout the
summer bright patches of colour in striking contrast
to the dark green.
These beds were enclosed by borders. Between
these enclosures were curiously-cut letters of growing
box, which perpetuated-at least for the life-time of
the shrub-the gardener's own name or that of his
master, or classic titles, to serve as designations for
certain portions of the place. In the midst of the
garden several luxuriant oaks and graceful elms had
been allowed to retain in their native freedom the
shapes into which they had been growing for so
many years. They cast wide shadows, and gave a
softened aspect to the unnatural shapes of the
trained growths.


Beyond the floral division of the garden was
another enclosure for pear and apple trees. They
stood on a green sward, soft as velvet, and of a
deeper hue than Italian suns permit to the grass on
which they smile. Here, too, were foreign em-
bellishments. The monotony of the uniform rows
of fruit trees was varied by pyramids of box, and the
whole orchard was surrounded by a belt of plane
A circle of oaks had been left at the summit of-one
of the terraces. Thick hedges were planted between
the trees, making a dense wall, in which openings
were cut for the view, so that the vista was visible,
like a picture set in a dark frame. This green room,
roofed by the sky, was paved with a mosaic of the
bright coloured chalk from the cliffs at the western
end of the island, and contained an oblong basin of
water shaped like a table. The water flowed
through so gently that the surface always seemed
at rest, and yet never grew warm. Couches were
placed at this fountain table, and from time to time
repasts were served here, certain viands being placed
in dishes shaped like swans or boats, which floated
gracefully on the watery surface. The more solid
meats were placed on the broad marble edges of the
This sylvan retreat seemed made for a meeting
of naiads and nereids. In short, the spot was so


sheltered, the outlook over sea and land both near
and across the strait so fair, that one could well
believe even Pliny's famed Tuscan garden, which
may have suggested some features of this British
one, was not more happily placed.



WHEN ZElius had come, some eighteen years before
the beginning of our story, to take up his command
on the coast of Britain, he had brought with him
his young wife. This lady, always delicate in
health, had not long survived her transplantation to
a northern climate. Six months after her arrival in
Britain she had died in giving birth to a daughter.
The child was entrusted to the care of a British
woman, wife of the sailing master of one of the
Roman ships, who had reared her together with her
own daughter. When little ZElia was but a few
weeks old her foster-mother had become a widow,
her husband having met with his death in a desperate
encounter with one of the Saxon cruisers. This
misfortune had been followed by another, the loss of
her two elder children, who had been carried off by
a malarious fever. The widow, thus doubly bereaved,
had thankfully accepted the Count's offer that she


should take the post of mother of the maids in his
household. Her foster-daughter, a feeble little thing,
whom she had the greatest difficulty in rearing, was
as dear to her as was her own child, and the new
arrangement ensured that she should not be separ-
ated from her. For ten years she was as happy
as a woman who had lost so much could hope to be.
She had the pleasure of seeing her delicate nursling
pass safely through childhood, and grow into a
handsome, vigorous girl. Then her own call came;
and feeling that her earthly work was done, she had
been glad to meet it. The Count, who was a frequent
visitor to her deathbed, had no difficulty in promising
her that the two children should never be separated.
Indeed he could not have divided the pair even had
he wished. Every wish of the ten-year-old 2Elia
was as a law to him, and LElia would have simply
broken her heart to lose her playmate and sister
The two friends were curiously unlike in person
and disposition. ,Elia was a Roman of the Romans.
Her hair was of a shining blue-black hue, and so abun-
dant that when unbound it fell almost to her knees.
Her black eyes, soft and lustrous in repose, and
shaded with lashes of the very longest, could give an
almost formidable flash when anything had roused
her to anger. Her complexion was a rich brown,
relieved by a slight ruddy tinge; her features regular,


less delicately carved, indeed, than the Greek type,
but full of expression, which was tender or fiery,
according to her mood. Her figure was somewhat
small, but beautifully formed. If Alia was unmis-
takably Roman, Carna showed equally clearly one of
the finest British types. She was tall, overtopping her
companion by at least a head; her hair, which fell in
curls about her shoulders, was of a glossy chestnut;
her eyes of the very deepest blue; her complexion,
half-way between blonde and brunette, mantled with
a delicate colour, which deepened, when her emotions
were touched, into an exquisite blush; her forehead
was somewhat low, but broad, and with a rare
promise both of artistic power and of intelligence;
her nose would have been pronounced by a casual
observer to be the most faulty feature in her face;
and it is true that its outline was not perfect. But
the same observer, after a brief acquaintance, would
probably have retracted his censure, and owned that
this feature suited the rest of her face, and would have
been less charming if it had been more perfect. 2Elia
was impulsive and quick of temper, honest and affec-
tionate, but not caring to go below the surface of
things, and without a particle of imagination. Carna,
on the other hand, seemed the gentlest of women.
Those blue eyes of hers were ready to express affec-
tion and pity; but no one-not even .Elia, who could
be exceedingly provoking at times-had ever seen a


flash of anger in them. But her nature had depths
in it that none suspected to be there; it was richly
endowed with all the best gifts of her Celtic race.
She had a world of her own with which the gay
Roman girl, whom she loved so dearly, and with
whom she seemed to share all her thoughts, had
nothing to do. Music touched her soul in a way of
which ZElia, who could sing very charmingly, and
play with no little expression on the cithara, had no
conception. And though she had never written, or
even composed, a verse, and possibly would never
write or compose one, she was a poetess. At present
all her soul was given to religion, religion full of the
imagination and enthusiasm which has made saints
of so many women of her race. The good British
priest, to whose flock she belonged, a worthy man
who eked out his scanty income-, by working a small
farm, was perplexed by her enthusiasm. She was not
satisfied with the duties of adorning the little church
where he ministered, and its humble altar-cloths
and vestments, by the skill of her nimble fingers,
of aiding the chants with the rich tones of her beauti-
ful voice, of ministering to the sick. She performed
these, indeed, with devotion, but she demanded more,
and the good man did not know how to satisfy her.
In addition to her other gifts Carna had that of being
SThe British bishops were notoriously poor, and their clergy
were doubtless still more slenderly provided for.


a born nurse. It was her first impulse to fly to the help
of anything-whether it was man, or beast, or bird-
that was sick or hurt, just as it was ,Elia's impulse,
though she mastered it at any strong call of duty, to
avoid the sight of suffering. She had now heard that
a prisoner had been brought in desperately wounded,
and she could not rest till she knew whether she
could do anything for the poor creature's soul or
body. .Elia was as scornful as her love for her foster-
sister allowed her to be.
My dearest Carna," she cried, what on earth
can make you trouble yourself in this fashion about
this miserable creature? They are the worst plagues
in this world, these Saxons, and it would be a bless-
ing to the world if it were well quit of the whole race
of them! A set of pagan dogs!"
Oh, sister," said Carna, her eyes brimming with
tears, that is the worst of it. A pagan, who has
never heard of the Blessed Lord, and now, they say,
he is dying! What shall we do for him ? "
But surely," returned the other, "he is no
worse off than his threescore companions who went
to the bottom the other day."
God be good to them," said Carna, but then
we did not know them, and that seems to make a
difference. And to think that this poor creature
should be so near to the way and not find it. But I
must go and see him."


It will only tear your poor, tender heart for no
purpose. You had far better come and talk to
Carna was not to be persuaded, but hurried to the
chamber to which the wounded man had been borne.
It was evident at first sight that the end was not
far off. The dying Saxon lay stretched on a rude
pallet. He was a young man, who could scarcely
have seen as many as twenty summers, for the down
was hardly to be seen on his upper lip and chin.
His face, which was curiously fair for one who had
followed from infancy an outdoor life, was deadly
pale, a pathetic contrast with the red-gold hair which
fell in curly profusion about it. His eyes, in which
the fire was almost quenched, were wide open, and
fixed with an unchanging gaze upon a figure that
stood motionless at the foot of the bed. This was
his brother, who had been permitted by the humanity
of the Count to be present. They had been ex-
changing a few sentences, but the dying man was
now too far gone to speak, and the two could only
look their last farewell to each other. It was a piti-
ful thing to see the twins, so like in feature and form,
but now so different, the one, prisoner as he was, full
of life and strength, the other on the very threshold
of death.
By the side of the wounded man stood the house-
hold physician, a venerable-looking slave, who had


acquired such knowledge of medicine and surgery
as sufficed for the treatment of the commoner
ailments and accidents. This case was beyond his
skill, or indeed the skill of any man. He could do
nothing but from time to time put a few drops of
cordial between the sufferer's lips. Next to the
physician stood the priest, and his skill, too, seemed to
be at fault. A messenger, sent by Carna, had warned
him that a dying man required his ministrations, but
had added no further particulars, and the worthy
man, who was busy at the time in littering down his
cattle, had hastily changed his working dress for his
priestly habiliments, and had come ready, as he
thought, to administer the last consolations of the
Church to a dying Christian. The case utterly per-
plexed him. He had tried the two languages with
which he was familiar, and found them useless. No
one had been able to understand a single word of the
dialogue which had passed between the brothers.
The dying stranger was as hopelessly separated from
him and the means of grace that he could com-
mand as if he had been a thousand miles away.
He could not even venture-for his theology was of
the narrowest type-to commend to the mercy of God
the passing soul of this unbaptized heathen.
Carna understood the situation at a glance. She
saw death in the Saxon's face; she saw the hopeless
perplexity in the expression of the priest.


Father," she cried, "can you do nothing, nothing
at all for this poor soul ? "
My daughter," said the priest, I am helpless.
He knows nothing; he understands nothing."
Can you not baptize him ? "
Baptize him without a profession of repentance,
without a confession of faith Impossible "
Will you let him perish before your eyes without
an effort to save him ? "
Child," said the priest, with some impatience in
his tone, "I have told you that I am helpless. It
was not I that brought these things about."
The girl cast an agonized look about the room, as
of one that appealed for help, and seized a crucifix
that hung upon the wall. She threw herself upon
her knees by the bedside, and after pressing the
symbol of Redemption passionately to her lips, held
it to the mouth of the dying man. The Saxon, on
his first entrance into the room, had removed his
look from his brother and fixed it steadfastly on this
beautiful apparition. Clad in white from head to
foot, with a golden girdle about her waist, her eyes
shining with excitement, her whole face transfigured
by a passion of pity, she seemed to him a vision from
another world, one of the Walhalla maidens of
whom his mother had talked to him in days gone by.
His lips closed feebly on the crucifix which she held
to them; a smile lighted up his fading eyes, and he

muttered with his last breath Valkyria." The girl
heard the word and remembered without understand-
ing it. The next moment he was dead, and one of
the women standing by stepped forward and closed
his eyes.
Carna burst into a passion of tears.
He is gone," she cried, amidst her sobs, he
is gone, and we could not help him."
The priest was silent. He had no consolation to
offer. Indeed, but that he recognized the girl's saint-
liness-a saintliness to which he, worthy man as he
was, had no pretensions-he would have thought her
grief foolish. But the old physician could not keep
Pardon me, lady," he said, "if I seem to reprove
you. I pray you not to suffer your zeal for the sal-
vation of souls to overpower your faith. Do you
think that the All-Father does not love this poor
stranger as well as you, nay, better than you can love
him ? that He cannot care for him as well ? that
you, forsooth, must save him out of His hands ? Nay,
my daughter-pardon an old man for the word-do
not so distrust Him."
You are right, father, as always," said the girl.
"I have been selfish and faithless. I was angry, I
suppose, to find myself baffled and helpless. You
must set me a penance, father," she added, turning
to the priest.


The Saxon meanwhile had contrived by his gestures
to make his guards understand that he wished to
take his farewell of his dead brother. They allowed
him to approach the bed. He stooped and kissed the
lips of the dead, and then, choking down the sobs
which convulsed his breast, turned away, seemingly
calm and unmoved. But as he passed Carna he con-
trived to catch with his manacled hands one of the
flowing sleeves of her white robe, and to lift the
hem to his lips.



IT was not easy to know what should be done with
the survivor of the two Saxon captives. The villa
had no proper provision for the safe custody of
prisoners; and the problem of keeping a man under
lock and key, without a quite disproportionate
amount of trouble, was as difficult as it would be in
the ordinary country house of modern times.
I shall send him to the camp at the Great
Harbour," said the Count, a few days after the scene
described in our last chapter. It is quite impossible
to keep him unless we chain him hand and foot, or
set half a dozen men to guard him; and even then
he is such a giant that he might easily overpower
them. At the camp they have got a prison, and
stocks which would hold him as fast as death."
Carna's face clouded over when she heard the
Count's determination, but she said nothing. The
lively zElia broke in-


"My dear father, you will break poor Carna's
heart if you do anything of the kind. She is bent
on making a convert of the noble savage. And any-
how, whatever else she may induce him to worship,
he seems ready, from what I have seen, to worship
her. And besides, what harm can he do? He has
no arms, and he can't speak a word of any language
known here. If he were to run away he would
either be killed or be starved to death."
Well, Carna," said the Count, with a smile,
" what do you say ? Will you stand surety for this
young pagan ? Or shall I make him your slave, and
then, if he runs away, it will be your loss ? "
I hope," said the girl, that you won't send
him to the camp, where, I fear, they hold the lives
of such as he very cheap."
"Well," replied the Count, "we will keep him
here, at all events for the present, and I will give
the bailiff orders to give him something to do in the
safest place that he can think of."
Accordingly the young Saxon was set to work at
the forge attached to the villa, and proved himself a
willing and serviceable labourer. No more suitable
choice, indeed, could have been made. That he was
a man of some rank at home everything about him
seemed to show-nothing more than his hands,
which were delicate, and unusually small in pro-
portion to his almost gigantic stature. But the

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av ,, :., .

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.'.EDRI AT.-, TH FORGE'.,_,, .


greatest chief among his people would not have
disdained the hammer and anvil. Was not Thor a
mighty smith ? And was it not almost as much a
great warrior's business to make a good sword as to
wield it well when it was made? So the young
man, whose mighty shoulders and muscular arms
were regarded with respect and even astonishment
by his British fellow-workmen, laboured with a will,
showing himself no mean craftsman in the black-
smith's art. Sometimes, as he plied the hammer, he
would chant to himself, in a low voice, what sounded
like a war-song. Otherwise he remained absolutely
silent, not even attempting to pick up the few
common words which daily intercourse with his
companions gave him the opportunity of learning.
There was an air of dignity about him which seemed
to forbid any of the little affronts to which a prisoner
would naturally be exposed; his evidently enormous
strength, too, was a thing which even the most
stupid of his companions respected. Silent, self-
contained, and impassive, he moved quietly about his
daily tasks; it was only when he caught a glimpse
of Carnathat his features were lighted up for a moment
with a smile.
The idea of opening up any communication with
him seemed hopeless, when an unexpected, but still
quite natural, way out of the difficulty presented
itself. An old peddler, who was accustomed to


supply the inmates of the villa with silks and
jewellery, and who sometimes had a book in his
pack for Carna, paid in due course one of his perio-
dical visits. The old man was a Gaul by birth, a
native of one of the States on the eastern bank of
the Rhine, and in youth he had been an adventurous
trader, extending his journeys eastward and north-.
ward as far as the shores of the Baltic. The
risk was great, for the Germans of the interior
looked with suspicion on the visits of civilized
strangers; but, on the other hand, the profits were
considerable. Amber, in pieces of a size and clear-
ness seldom matched on the coasts of Gaul and
Britain, and beautiful furs, as of the seal and the
sea-otter, could be bought at very low prices from
these unsophisticated tribes, and sold again to the
wealthy ladies of Lutetia' and Lugdunum 2 at a very
considerable advantage. In these wanderings
Antrix-for that was the peddler's name-had
acquired a good knowledge of the language-sub-
stantially the same, though divided into several
dialects-spoken by the German tribes; and, indeed,
without such knowledge his trading adventures
would have been neither safe nor profitable. As he
approached old age Antrix had judged it expedient
to transfer his business from Gaul to Britain. Gaul

S Lutetia Parisiorum, now Paris. 2 Now Lyons.


he found to be a dangerous place for a peaceable
trader, having lost more than once all the profits of
a journey, and, indeed, a good deal more, by one of
the marauding bands by whom the country was
periodically overrun. Britain, or at least the
southern district of Britain, was certainly safer, and
it was this that for the last ten years he had been
accustomed to traverse, till he had become a well-
known and welcome visitor at every villa and settle-
ment along the coast.
Here then chance, or, as Carna preferred to think,
Providence, had provided an interpreter; and it so
happened that, whether by another piece of good
fortune, or an additional interposition, his services
were made permanently useful. The old man had
found his journeys becoming in the winter too
laborious for his strength, and it was not very
difficult to persuade him to make his home in the
villa for two or three months till the severity of the
season should have passed. Every one was pleased
at the arrangement. Antrix was an admirable teller
of tales, and his had been an adventurous life, full
of incident, with which he knew how to make the
winter night less long. The Count saw a rare
opportunity, such as had never come to him before,
of learning something about the hardy freebooters
whom it was his business to overawe; and Carna
had the liveliest hopes of making a proselyte, if she


could only make herself, and the message in which
she had so profound a faith, understood.
The young Saxon's resolution and pride did not
long hold out against the unexpected delight of being
able once more to converse in his own language, and
he soon began to talk with perfect freedom -for,
he had no idea of having anything to conceal-
about his home and his people. He was the son,
they learnt from him, of the chief of one of the Saxon
settlements near the mouth of the Albis.' The people
lived by hunting and fishing, and, more or less, by
cultivating the soil. But life was hard. The settle-
ments were crowded; game was growing scarce, and
had to be followed further afield every year; the
climate, too, was very uncertain, and the crops
sometimes failed altogether. In short, they could
not live without what they were able to pick up in
their expeditions to richer countries and more tem-
perate climates. On this point the young Saxon was
perfectly frank. The idea that there was anything
of which a warrior could possibly be ashamed in
taking what he could by the strong hand had evi-
dently never crossed his mind. To rob a neighbour
or fellow-tribesman he counted shameful-so much
could be gathered from expressions that he let drop;
as to others, his simple morality was this-to keep
what you had, to take what others could not keep.
SThe Elbe.


The Count found him curiously well informed on
what may be called the politics of Europe. He
was well aware of the decay of the Roman power.
Kinsmen and neighbours of his own had made their
way south to get their share in the spoil of the
Empire. Some, he had heard, had stopped to take
service with the enemy; some had come back with
marvellous tales of the wealth and luxury which
they had seen. About Britain itself he had very
clear views. The substance of what he said to the
Count was this: You won't stop here very long.
My father says that you have been weakening your
fleet and armies here for years past, and that you
will soon take them away altogether. Then we shall
come and take the country. It will hardly be in his
time, he says. Perhaps it may not be in mine. It
is only you that hinder us; it is only you that we
are afraid of. We shall have the island; we must
have it. Our own country is too small and too
barren to keep us."
Of his own adventures the young Saxon had little
to say. This was the first voyage that he and his
brother had taken. Their father was in failing health,
and their mother, who had but one other child, a girl
some ten years younger, had kept them at home, till
she had been unwillingly persuaded that they were
losing caste by taking no part in the warlike excursions
of their countrymen. We had a fairly successful


time," went on the young chief, with the absolute un-
consciousness of wrong with which a hunter might
relate his exploits; "took two merchantmen that had
good cargoes on board, and had a right royal fight
with the people of a town on the Gallic coast. We
killed thirty of them; and only five of our warriors
went to the Walhalla. Then we turned homeward,
but our ship struck on a rock near some islands far
to the west,' and had almost gone to the bottom.
With great labour we dragged her ashore, and set to
work repairing her; but our chief smith and carpenter
had fallen in the battle, and we were a long time in
making her fit for sea. This was the reason why
we were going home so late, and also why we
lagged behind our comrades when you were chasing
us. By rights we were the best crew and had the
swiftest ship, but she had been clumsily mended, and
dragged terribly in the water."
The Count listened to all this with the greatest
interest, and plied the speaker with questions, all of
which he answered with perfect frankness. He found
out how many warriors the settlement could muster,
what were the relations with their neighbours, whether
there had been any definite plans for a common ex-
pedition. On the whole, he came to the conclusion
that though there was no danger of an overpowering
SProbably the Channel Islands, always a dangerous place for


migration from this quarter such as Western and
Southern Europe had suffered from in former times,
these sea-faring tribes of the East would be an in-
creasing danger to Britain as years went on. Per-
sonally the prospect did not concern him greatly;
his fortunes were not bound up with the island. Still
he loved the place and its people; it troubled him to
see what dark days were in store for them. And
taking a wider view-for he was a man of large sym-
pathies-he was grieved to see another black cloud in
an horizon already so dark. Would anything civilized
be left, he thought to himself, when every part of
Europe has been swept by these hosts of barbarians ?
Before long another source of interest was dis-
covered in the young Saxon. The Count happened
to overhear him chanting to himself, and though he
could not distinguish the words, he recognized in the
rhythm something like the camp-songs that he had
often listened to from German warriors in Stilicho's
camp. Here again the peddler's services as an inter-
preter were put in requisition, and though the old
man's Latin, which went little beyond his practical
wants as a trader, fell lamentably short of what was
wanted, enough was heard to interest the villa family,
which had a literary turn, very much. What the
young man had sung to himself was an early Saga,
a curious romance I of heroes fighting with monsters,
1 Perhaps something like the early Saxon poem which we
know under the name of Beowulf.


as unlike as can be conceived to anything to be found
in Roman poetry-verse in its rudest shape, but still
making itself felt as a real poet's work.
Lastly, Carna, now that she had found a way of
communicating her thoughts, threw herself with
ardour into the work of proselytizing the stranger.
Here the peddler was more at home in his task as
interpreter. Carna used the dialect of South Britain,
with which he was far more familiar than he was with
Latin-it differed indeed but little from his native
speech. The topics too were familiar, for he had
been brought up in the Christian faith, and though he
scarcely understood the girl's zeal, he was quite
willing to help her as much as he could.
Carna found her task much more difficult than she
had expected. She had thought in her simple faith
that it would be enough for her to tell to the young
heathen the story of the Crucified Christ for him to
fall down at once and worship. He listened with
profound attention and respect. This, perhaps, he
would have accorded to anything that came from her
lips; but, beyond this, the story itself profoundly
interested him. But it must be confessed that there
was a good deal in it which did not commend. itself
to his warrior's ideal of what the God whom he could
worship should be. He was a soldier, and he could
scarcely conceive of anything great or good that
was outside a soldier's virtues. The gods of his own


heaven, Odin and Thor and Balder, were great con-
querors, armed with armour which no mortal blow
could pierce, wielders of sword and hammer which
were too heavy for any mortal arm to wield. He
could bow down to them because they were greater,
immeasurably greater than himself, in the qualities
and gifts which he most honoured. Now he was
called upon to receive a quite different set of ideas, to
set up a quite different standard of excellence. The
story of the Gospels touched him. It roused him
almost to fury when he heard how the good man who
had gone about healing the sick and feeding the hun-
gry had been put shamefully to death by His own
countrymen, by those who knew best what He had
done. If Carna had bidden him avenge the man
who had been so ungratefully treated, he would have
performed her bidding with pleasure. But to worship
this Crucified One, to depose for Him Odin, Lord of
Battles-that seemed impossible.
Still-he was impressed, and impressed chiefly by
the way in which the preacher seemed to translate
into her own life the principles of the faith which she
tried to set forth to him. She had told him that this
Crucified One had died for him. He could not under-
stand why He should have done so, why He should
not have led His twelve legions of angels against the
wicked, swept them off from the face of the earth,
and established by force of arms a kingdom of justice.


Still the idea of so much having been given, so much
endured for his sake touched him, especially when he
saw how passionately in earnest was this wonderful
creature, this beautiful prophetess, as, with the Ger-
man reverence for women, he was ready to regard
her, how eager she was to do him good, how little, as
he could not but feel, she thought of herself in com-
parison with others.
As long as Carna dwelt on these topics she made
good way; when she wandered away from them, as
naturally she sometimes did, she was not so success-
ful. One day it unluckily occurred to her that she
would appeal to his fears.
Do not refuse to listen," she said to him, "for if
He is infinitely good to those who love Him, He can
also be angry with those who love Him not."
"What will He do with them ?" asked the young
He will send them to suffer in everlasting fire."
Ah answered the youth, I have heard from
our wise men of such a place into which Odin drives
cowards, and oath-breakers, and such as are false to
their friends. But they say it is a place of ever-
lasting cold, and this indeed seems to me to be worse
than fire."
Yes," said Carna, there is such a place of tor-
ment, and it is kept not only for the wicked, as you
say, but for all who do not believe."


"Will the Lord Christ then banish thither all who
do not own Him as their Master, and call themselves
by His name ? "
Yes-and think how terrible a thing it would be
if it should happen to you."
And that is why you are so anxious to persuade
me ?"
And why you were so troubled about my brother
when you could not make him understand before he
died ? "
Yes. Oh! it was dreadful to think he should
pass away when safety was in his reach."
And you think that the Lord Christ has sent him
to that place because he did not know Him ? "
I fear that it must be so."
Then He shall send me also. For how am I
better because I have lived longer ? No-I will be
with my brother, whom I loved, and with my own
And neither for that day nor for many days to come
would he speak again on this subject. Carna was
greatly troubled; but she began to think whether
there might not be something in what the young man
had said.



OUR story must now go back a little, and take up
the course of events at the camp, where the look
of affairs was not promising. The donative promised
by Constantine on the day of his election had been
paid, but this had been done only after the greatest
exertions in wringing money out of unlucky traders,
farmers, and even peasants, who had been already
squeezed almost dry. All that had any coin left
were beginning to bury it,' and though the collectors
of taxes, or loans, or gifts, or whatever else the
frequent requisition of money might be called, had
ingenious ways of discovering or making their owners
give up these hoards, it was quite evident that very
little more could be got out of Britain. The military
chest meanwhile was becoming alarmingly empty,

I Possibly the reason why so much buried money belonging
to the later days of the Roman occupation of Britain has been


and though money was still found somehow for the
larger camps, some of the less important garrisons had
been left for months with almost nothing in the way of
pay. What was to be done was a pressing question,
which had to be answered in some way within a few
days. If it was not so answered, it was tolerably
plain that Constantine would meet the fate of Marcus
and Gratianus. The Emperor himself (if we are to
give him this title) seemed to be very little troubled
by the prospect, and remained stolidly calm. His
elevation indeed had made the least possible differ-
ence to him. He drank a better kind of wine, and
perhaps a little more-for his cups had been limited
by his means-but he did not run into excess. He was
still the same simple, contented, good-natured man
that he had always been. But his sons were of
another temper, though curiously differing from each
other. Constans the elder was an enthusiast, almost
a fanatic, a man of strong religious feeling, who
would have followed the religious life if it had been
possible, and who now, finding himself possessed of
power, had schemes of using it to promote his
favourite schemes. Julian the younger had ambitions
of a more commonplace kind. But both the brothers
were agreed in holding on to the power that had
been so strangely put into their father's hands,
hands which, as he had very little will of his own,
were practically theirs.


A council was held at which Constantine, his two
sons, and three of the officers of highest rank were
present, and the urgent question of the day was
anxiously debated.
Julian began the discussion.
The army," he said, "must be employed, or it
will find mischief to do at home which all of us will
be sorry for."
I have some one to introduce to your Majesty,"
said one of the officers present, "who may have
something to say which will influence your decision.
He is from lerne,' and brings me a letter from the
commander at Uriconium. He came last night."
Let him enter," said Constantine, with his usual
dull phlegmatic voice.
The tribune went to the door of the chamber, and
despatched a message to his quarters. In a few
minutes the stranger was introduced into the council.
He was a man verging upon middle age, somewhat
short of stature, with a great bush of fiery-red hair,
which stood up from his head with a very fierce look,
a long, shaggy beard of the same colour, eyes of the
deepest blue, very bright and piercing, but with a
x Ireland. A similar incident is mentioned by Tacitus in his
life of Agricola. An Irish petty king, driven from his throne
by internal troubles, came to the Roman general and promised,
if he were restored, to bring the island under the dominion of
Rome. This is the first notice of the country that occurs in


wandering and unsteady look in them, and a ruddy
complexion which deepened to an intense colour on
his cheek bones and other prominent parts of his face.
Around his neck he wore a heavy twisted collar of
remarkably red gold. Massive rings of the same
metal adorned his fingers. His dress was of un-
dyed wool, and very rudely shaped, a curious contrast
to the richness of his ornaments. He was followed
into the room by an interpreter, a young native of
Northern Britain, who had been carried off by Irish
pirates from one of the ecclesiastical schools. He
had been taught Latin before his captivity, and, while
a captive, had made himself acquainted with the Irish
language, which indeed did not differ very much
from that spoken in Britain.' His task of interpreter
was not by any means an easy one to fulfil. The
Prince broke out into a rapid torrent of complaint,
invective, and entreaty, which left the young man,
who was not very expert in either of the languages
with which he had to deal, hopelessly behind. Then
seeing that he was not followed, he turned on his
unlucky attendant and dealt him a blow upon the
ear that sent him staggering across the room. Then
he seemed to remember himself, and began to tell
his story again at a more moderate rate of speed,
though he still from time to time, when he came to

SThis was exactly what had happened not many years before
to St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland.


some peculiarly exciting part in the tale of his
wrongs, broke out into a rapid eloquence that
baffled all interpretation. The upshot of the story
was this-
He was, or rather had been, a small king in South-
eastern Ireland,, the eldest of four brothers, having
succeeded his father about ten years before. There
had been a quarrel about the division of some
property. The Prince was a little obscure in his
description of the property; indeed it was a matter
about which he was shrewd enough to say as little
as possible. But his hearers had no difficulty in
presuming that it consisted of spoil carried off from
Britain. The quarrel had come to blows. All the
nation had been divided into parties in the
dispute. Finally he had been compelled by his un-
grateful subjects to fly for his life. Would the
Emperor bring him back? He was liberal, even
extravagant, in his offers. He would bring the
whole island under his dominion. (As a matter of
fact, his dominions had never reached more than
seventy miles inland, and he had contrived to make
himself so hated during his ten years' reign that he
had scarcely a friend or follower left.) And what an
island it was! There never was such a place. The
sheep were fatter, the cows gave more milk than in
any other place in the whole world. And there was
Probably somewhere near Wexford.


gold too, gold to be had for the picking up; and
amber on the shores, and pearls in the rivers. In
short, it was a treasure-house of wealth, which was
waiting for the lucky first-comer.
Are you a Christian ? asked Constans.
The exiled chief would have gladly said that he
was, and indeed for a moment thought of the
audacious fiction that his attachment to the new
faith had been one of the causes of his expulsion.
He was, in fact, a savagely bigoted pagan, and had
dealt very roughly with one or two missionaries who
had ventured into his neighbourhood. But he
reflected that the falsehood would infallibly be
detected, and would inevitably do him a great deal
of harm.
No !" he exclaimed; "would that I were. But
there is nothing that I so much desire if only I
could attain to that blessing. But I promise to be
baptized myself, and to have every man, woman, and
child within my dominions baptized within a month,
if you will only bring me back to them."
Even Constans thought this zeal to be a little
And how many men can you bring into the
field ?" asked the more practical Julian; and what
money can you find for the pay of the soldiers ? "
The stranger was taken aback at these direct


"All my subjects, all my treasures are yours," he
said, after a pause.
I don't believe," said one of the tribunes in Latin
to Julian, "that he has any subjects besides this
wretched interpreter, or any treasure beyond what he
wears on his neck and his fingers."
Shall he withdraw ? said Julian to his father.
Constantine, who never spoke when he could avoid
speaking, answered by a nod, and the Irish Prince
Let us have nothing to do," said the practical
Julian, "with these Irish savages. They may cut
their own throats, and welcome, without our helping
them. The men, too, would rebel at the bare
mention of lerne. It is out of the world in their
eyes, and I think they are about right. And as to
the gold and pearls, I don't believe in them."
Perhaps you are right," said Constans; "but it
would be a great work to bring over a new nation to
the orthodox faith."
Julian answered with a laugh. My good brother,
we are not all such zealous missionaries as you. I
am afraid that preaching is not exactly the work
which our friends the soldiers are looking out for."
What does your Majesty say to an expedition to
chastise those thieving Picts? They grow more
insolent every day."
This was the suggestion of one of the tribunes.


"What is to be got ? was Julian's answer.
Glory answered the tribune.
Glory What is that ?-the men want pay and
plunder. These bare-legged villains haven't so much
as a rag that you can take from them, and they have
a shrewd way of giving at least as many hard blows
as they take. No !-we will leave the Picts alone,
and only too thankful if they will do the same for us! "
"The Count of the Shore has not yet taken the
oath to his Majesty," said an officer who had not
spoken before. We might give some employment
to the men in bringing him to reason."
Constantine spoke for the first time since the
council had begun its sitting-" The Count is a
good man and does his business well. Leave him
Other suggestions were made and discussed with-
out any sensible approach to a conclusion, and the
council broke up, but with an understanding that it
should meet again with as little delay as possible.
On the afternoon of that very day an incident
occurred which convinced every one-if further con-
viction was needed-that delay would certainly be
A party of soldiers was practising javelin throwing,
and Constantine, who had been particularly expert
in this exercise in his youth, stood watching the
game. He had stepped up to examine the mark


made by one of the weapons on the wooden figure
at which the men were throwing, when a javelin
passed most perilously near his head and buried itself
in the wood. It could not have been an accident;
no one could have been so recklessly careless as to
throw under the circumstances. Constantine was
as imperturbable as usual. Without a sign of fear
or anger, he said, Comrades, you mistake; I am
not made of wood," and, signing to his attendants,
walked quietly away. The incident, however, made
a great impression upon him, and a still greater
upon his sons.
The consultation was renewed and prolonged far
into the night, and, as no conclusion was reached,
continued on the next day. About noon an un-
expected adviser appeared upon the scene.
A message was brought into the council-chamber
that a merchant from Gaul had something of im-
portance to communicate to the Emperor. The
man was admitted, after having been first searched
by way of precaution. His dress was sober in cut
and colour, and he had a small pack such as the
wandering dealers in jewellery and similar light
articles were accustomed to carry. Otherwise he
was little like a trader; indeed, it did not need a very
acute or practised hand to detect in him a soldier's
bearing, and even that of one who was accustomed
to command.

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You have something to tell us ?" said Julian.
Yes, I have," said the stranger, "but let me first
show you my credentials."
He spoke in passable Latin, but with a decided
accent, which, strongly marked as it was, was not
recognized by any of those present. At the same time
he produced from a silken purse, which he wore like
a girdle round his waist, a small square of parch-
ment. It was a letter written in a minute but very
clear hand, and it had evidently been put for the
security of the bearer, who could thus more easily
dispose of it in case of need, into the smallest
possible compass. This was handed to Constantine,
who, in turn, passed it on to his elder son Constans,
he being the only one present who could read and
write with fluency. It ran thus:
"A laric, the son of Baltha, King of the Goths,
Emperor of the World, to Marcus, Emperor of Britain
and the West, greeting."
A grim smile passed over Constantine's face as he
heard this address. He muttered to himself,
"' Marcus,' indeed! Those who write to the
Emperor of Britain must have speedy letter-car-
riers." The letter proceeded thus:
I desire friendship and alliance with the nations who
are wearied and worn out with the oppressions and cruel-
ties of Rome, and for this purpose send this present by my


trusty kinsman and counsellor A tualphus, to you who are,
I understand, asserting against the common tyrant of the
world the liberty of Britain and the West. I have not
thought it fit to trust more to writing, but commend to
you the bearer hereof, the aforesaid A tualpihus, who is
acquainted with the mind and furfose of myself and of
my people, and with whom you may conveniently concert
such plans as may best serve our common welfare. Fare-
well. Given at my camp at AEmona."

Marcus is no more," said Julian. He was
unworthy of his dignity. You are in the presence of
the most excellent Constantine, Emperor of Britain."
"It matters not," said the Goth, with a haughty
smile. "My lord the king will treat as willingly
with one as with another, so he be an enemy of
And what does he propose ? What would he
have us do ? "
Make common cause with him against Honorius
and Rome."
What shall we gain thereby ?"
Half of the Empire of the World."
How shall that be ? "
The King will march into Italy and attack the
Emperor in his own land. The Emperor will with-
draw all the legions that he yet controls for his own
defence. With them the King will deal. Then


comes your opportunity. What does it profit you to
remain in this island, where nothing is to be won
either of glory or of riches. Cross over into Gaul
and Spain, which, wearied with oppression and
desiring above all things to throw off the Roman
yoke, will gladly welcome you. Your Caesar shall
reign on this side of the Alps and the Pyrenees.
The future may bring other things, but that may
suffice for the present."
The plan, so bold, and yet, it would seem, so
feasible, and presenting a ready escape out of a
situation that seemed hopeless, struck every one
present with a delighted surprise. Even the phleg-
matic Constantine was roused. It shall be done,"
he said.
Some further conversation followed, which it is
not necessary to relate. Ways and means were
discussed. Questions were asked about the strength
and temper of the forces in Gaul and Spain, about
the feeling of the towns, and a hundred other matters,
with all of which Atualphus showed a curiously
intimate knowledge. When the Goth retired from
the council, he left very little doubt or hesitation
behind him.
"They are heretics-these Goths," grumbled
Constans; obstinate Arians every one of them, I
You shall convert them, my brother," answered


Julian, when you are Bishop of Rome. When we
divide the West between us, that shall be your
"It shall be done," said Constantine again, as he
rose from his chair.



THAT afternoon a banquet, which was as handsomely
set out as the very short notice permitted, was given
to all the officers in the camp. When the tables
were removed,' Constantine, who had been carefully
primed by his sons with what he was to say, ad-
dressed his guests. His words were few and to the
point. Britain," he said, has been long enough
ruled by others. It is now time that she should
begin herself to rule. It was the error of those who
went before me to be content with the limits of this
island. But here there is not enough to content us.
Beyond the sea, separated from us by only a few
hours' journey, lie wealthy provinces which wait for
our coming. A kindlier sky, more fertile fields,
richer and fairer cities than ours are there. We
have only to show ourselves, in short, to be both

I With us tables are cleared after a meal; with the Romans
they seem to have been actually removed.


welcomed and obeyed. Half the victories which we
have won here to no profit over poverty-stricken
.barbarians would have sufficed to give us riches even
beyond our desires. Henceforth let us use our arms
where they may win something for us beyond empty
honour and wounds. Follow me, and within a year
you shall be masters both of Gaul and Spain."
The younger guests received this oration with
shouts of applause ; visions of promotion and prize-
money, and even of the spoil of some of the wealthy
cities of the mainland floated before them. The older
men did not show this enthusiasm. Many of them
were attached to Britain by ties that they were very
loth to break. They had little to hope, but much to
fear, from a change. Still, they saw the necessity for
doing something; another year such as that which
had just passed would thoroughly demoralize the
army of Britain. Legions that get into the habit
of making emperors and killing them for their pastime
must be dealt with by vigorous remedies, and the
easiest and best of these was active service. In any
case it would have been impolitic to show dissent.
Many feigned, therefore, a joy which they did not
feel, and shouted approval when the Senior Tribune
exclaimed, Comrades, drink to our chief, Constan-
tine Augustus, Emperor of Britain and the West."
The revel was kept up late into the night, the young
Goth distinguishing himself by the marvellous depth


of his draughts and the equally marvellous strength
of his head.
The Emperor retired early from the scene, and
Constans, who had little liking for these boisterous
scenes, followed his example, as did most of the older
men. One of these, the cheery centurion, who has
been mentioned more than once, we may follow to his
Outside the camp had grown up a village of con-
siderable size, though it consisted for the most part
of humble dwellings. There were two or three
taverns, or rather drinking-shops, where the soldiers
could carouse on the thin, sour wine of the British
vineyards, or, if the length of their purses permitted,
on metheglin, a more potent drink, made from the
fermentation of honey. A Jew, driven by the restless
speculation of his race, had established himself in a
shop where he sold cheap ornaments to the soldiers'
wives, and advanced money to their husbands on the
security of their pay. A tailor displayed tunics and
cloaks, and a shoemaker sold boots warranted to
resist the cold and wet of the island climate. There
were a few cottages occupied by the grooms and
stablemen who attended to the horses employed in
the camp, by fishermen who plied their trade in the
neighboring waters, and other persons of a variety of
miscellaneous employment in one way or other con-
nected with the camp. But just outside the main


street, at the end nearest to the camp, stood a house
of somewhat greater pretensions. It was indeed a
humble imitation of the Roman villa, being built
round three sides of an irregular square, which was
itself occupied by a grass plot and a few flower beds.
It was to this that the Centurion Decius bent his
steps after the conversation related in the last chap-
ter. It was evidently with the reluctant step of the
bearer of bad news that he proceeded on his way.
As soon as he entered the enclosure his approach
was observed from within. Two blooming girls,
whose ages may have been seventeen and fifteen
respectively, ran gaily to meet him. A woman some
twenty-five years older, but still youthful of aspect
and handsome, followed at a more sober pace.
What is the matter, father ? cried the elder of
the girls, who had been quick to perceive that all was
not right.
The centurion held up his hand and made a signal
for silence. Hush," he said; I have something to
tell you, but it must not be here. Let us go indoors."
Shall the children leave us alone ? said the
centurion's wife, who had now come up.
No," he answered, wearily, let them be with us
while they can," he added in a low voice, which only
the wife's ears, made keenly alive by affection and
fear, could catch.
The gaiety of the young people was quenched,


for, without having any idea of what had happened,
they could see plainly enough that something was
disturbing their parents ; and it was with fast beating
hearts that they waited for his explanation.
Our happy days here are over, my dearest," said
the centurion, drawing his wife to him, and tenderly
kissing her, as soon as they were within doors.
You mean," said she, that the order has come."
"Yes," he answered, we are to leave as soon
as the transports can be collected. The reso-
lution was made to-day and will be announced to the
army to-morrow. It is no secret, I suppose, or will
not be for long."
And where are we to go ? cried the elder of the
girls, whose face brightened as the thought of seeing
a little more of the world, of a home in one of the
cities of Gaul, possibly in Rome itself, flitted across
her mind.
The poor centurion changed colour. The girl's
question brought up the difficulty which he knew had
to be faced, but which he would gladly have put off
as long as he could.
We shall go to Gaul, certainly; where I can-
not say," he answered, after a long pause, and in a
hesitating voice.
Oh, how delightful !" cried the girl; "exactly
the thing that Lucia and I have been longing for.
And Rome ? Surely we shall go to Rome, father ?