Quo Vadis, A Narrative of the Time of Nero
WHEN they alighted in front of the arbiter's house, the chief of the atrium
answered them that of slaves sent to the gates none had returned yet. The
atriensis had given orders to take food to them, and a new command, that under
penalty of rods they were to watch carefully all who left the city.
"Thou seest," said Petronius, "that they are in Rome, beyond doubt, and in that
case we shall find them. But command thy people also to watch at the gates, --
those, namely, who were sent for Lygia, as they will recognize her easily."
"I have given orders to send them to rural prisons," said Vinicius, "but I will recall
the orders at once, and let them go to the gates."
And writing a few words on a wax-covered tablet, he handed it to Petronius, who
gave directions to send it at once to the house of Vinicius. Then they passed into
the interior portico, and, sitting on a marble bench, began to talk. The golden-
haired Eunice and has pushed bronze footstools under their feet, and poured
wine for them into goblets, out of wonderful narrow-necked pitchers from
Volaterr~ and Qecina.
"Hast thou among thy people any one who knows that giant Lygian?" asked
"Atacinus and Gulo knew him; but Atacinus fell yesterday at the litter, and Gulo I
"I am sorry for him," said Petronius. "He carried not only thee, but me, in his
"I intended to free him," answered Vinicius; "but do not mention him. Let us
speak of Lygia. Rome is a sea--"
"A sea is just the place where men fish for pearls. Of course we shall not find her
to-day, or to-morrow, but we shall find her surely. Thou hast accused me just
now of giving thee this method; but the method was good in itself, and became
bad only when turned to bad. Thou hast heard from Aulus himself, that he
intends to go to Sicily with his whole family. In that case the girl would be far from
"I should follow them," said Vinicius, "and in every case she would be out of
danger; but now, if that child dies, Poppae will believe, and will persuade Caesar,
that she died because of Lygia."
"True; that alarmed me, too. But that little doll may recover. Should she die, we
shall find some way of escape."
Here Petronius meditated a while and added, -- "Poppae, it is said, follows the
religion of the Jews, and believes in evil spirits. Caesar is superstitious. If we
spread the report that evil spirits carried off Lygia, the news will find belief,
especially as neither Caesar nor Aulus Plautius intercepted her; her escape was
really mysterious. The Lygian could not have effected it alone; he must have had
help. And where could a slave find so many people in the course of one day?"
"Slaves help one another in Rome."
"Some person pays for that with blood at times. True, they support one another,
but not some against others. In this case it was known that responsibility and