Quo Vadis, A Narrative of the Time of Nero
BUT he began also to fear that some outside force might disturb his delight. Chilo
might give notice of his disappearance to the prefect of the city, or to his
freedmen at home; and in such an event an invasion of the house by the city
guards was likely. Through his head flew the thought, it is true, that in that event
he might give command to seize Lygia and shut her up in his house, but he felt
that he ought not to do so, and he was not capable of acting thus. He was
tyrannical, insolent, and corrupt enough, if need be he was inexorable, but he
was not Tigellinus or Nero. Military life had left in him a certain feeling of justice,
and religion, and a conscience to understand that such a deed would be
monstrously mean. He would have been capable, perhaps, of committing such a
deed during an access of anger and while in possession of his strength, but at
that moment he was filled with tenderness, and was sick. The only question for
Vinicius at that time was that no one should stand between him and Lygia.
He noticed, too, with astonishment, that from the moment when Lygia had taken
his part, neither she herself nor Crispus asked from him any assurances, just as
if they felt confident that, in case of need, some superhuman power would defend
them. The young tribune, in whose head the distinction bctwcen things possible
and impossible had grown involved and faint since the discourse of the Apostle in
Ostrianum, was also not too far from supposing that that might take place. But
considering things more soberly, he remembered what he had said of the Greek,
and asked again that Chilo be brought to him.
Crispus agrecd, and they decided to send Ursus. Vinicius, who in recent days,
before his visit to Ostrianum, had sent slaves frequently to Chilo, though without
result, indicated his lodgings accurately to the Lygian; then writing a few words
on the tablet, he said, turning to Crispus, -- "I give a tablet, for this man is
suspicious and cunning. Frequently when summoned by me, he gave directions
to answer my people that he was not at home; he did so always when he had no
good news for me, and feared my anger."
"If I find him, I will bring him, willing or unwilling," said Ursus. Then, taking his
mantle, he went out hurriedly.
To find any one in Rome was not easy, even with the most accurate directions;
but in those cases the instinct of a hunter aided Ursus, and also his great
knowledge of the city. After a certain time, therefore, he found himself at Chilo's
He did not recognize Chio, however. He had seen him but once in his life before,
and moreover, in the night. Besides, that lofty and confident old man who had
persuaded him to murder Glaucus was so unlike the Greek, bent double from
terror, that rio one could suppose the two to be one person. Chio, noticing that
Ursus looked at him as a perfect stranger, recovered from his first fear. The sight
of the tablet, with the writing of Vinicius, calmed him still more. At least the
suspicion that he would take him into an ambush purposely did not trouble him.
He thought, besides, that the Christians had not killed Vinicius, evidently because
they had not dared to raise hands on so noted a person.