Quo Vadis, A Narrative of the Time of Nero
NEXT morning, Petronius had barely finished dressing in the unctorium when
Vinicius came, called by Tiresias. He knew that no news had come from the
gates. This information, instead of comforting him, as a proof that Lygia was still
in Rome, weighed him down still more, for he began to think that Ursus might
have conducted her out of the city immediately after her seizure, and hence
before Petronius's slaves had begun to keep watch at the gates. It is true that in
autumn, when the days become shorter, the gates are closed rather early; but it
is true, also, that they are opened for persons going out, and the number of these
is considerable. It was possible, also, to pass the walls by other ways, well
known, for instance, to slaves who wish to escape from the city. Vinicius had sent
out his people to all roads leading to the provinces, to watchmen in the smaller
towns, proclaiming a pair of fugitive slaves, with a detailed description of Ursus
and Lygia, coupled with the offer of a reward for seizing them. But it was doubtful
whether that pursuit would reach the fugitives; and even should it reach them,
whether the local authorities would feel justified in making the arrest at the
private instance of Vinicius, without the support of a pretor. Indeed, there had not
been time to obtain such support. Vinicius himself, disguised as a slave, had
sought Lygia the whole day before, through every corner of the city, but had been
unable to find the least indication or trace of her. He had seen Aulus's servants, it
is true; but they seemed to be seeking something also, and that confirmed him in
the belief that it was not Aulus who had intercepted the maiden, and that the old
general did not know what had happened to her.
When Tiresias announced to him, then, that there was a man who would
undertake to find Lygia, he hurried with all speed to the house of Petronius; and
barely had he finished saluting his uncle, when he inquired for the man.
"We shall see him at once, Eunice knows him," said Petronius. "She will come
this moment to arrange the folds of my toga, and will give nearer information
"Oh! she whom thou hadst the wish to bestow on me yesterday?"
"The one whom thou didst reject; for which I am grateful, for she is the best
vestiplica in the whole city."
In fact, the vestiplica came in before he had finished speaking, and taking the
toga, laid on a chair inlaid with pearl, she opened the garment to throw it on
Petronius's shoulder. Her face was clear and calm; joy was in her eyes.
Petronius looked at her. She seemed to him very beautiful. After a while, when
she had covered him with the toga, she began to arrange it, bending at times to
lengthen the folds. 1-Je noticed that her arms had a marvellous pale rose--color,
and her bosom and shoulders the transparent reflections of pearl or alabaster.
"Eunice," said he, "has the man come to Tiresias whom thou didst mention
"He has, lord."
"What is his name?"