A WOLF HUNT Shouts of welcome saluted Beric as with his party he crossed the rough bridge over the stream and descended the slope to the village. Some fifteen hundred men were gathered here, all armed for the chase with spears, javelins, and long knives. Their hair fell over their necks, their faces were, according to the universal custom, shaved with the exception of the moustache. Many of them were tattooed -- a custom that at one time had been universal, but was now dying out among the more civilized. Most of them were, save for the mantle, naked from the waist up, the body being stained a deep blue with woad -- a plant largely cultivated for its dye. This plant, known as Isatis tinctoria, is still grown in France and Flanders. It requires rich ground and grows to a height of three or four feet, bearing yellow flowers. The dye is obtained from the leaves, which are stripped two or three times in the season. They are partially dried, and are then pounded or ground, pressed into a mass with the hands or feet, and piled in a heap, when fermentation takes place. When this process is completed the paste is cut up, and when placed in water yields a blue dye. It can also be prepared by laying it in the water in the first place and allowing it to ferment there. The water, which becomes a deep blue, is drawn off and allowed to settle, the dye remaining at the bottom. Fresh water is then added to the leaves, which are again stirred up and the operation is repeated. Passing through the crowd of tribesmen, Beric entered his mother's abode, walked up to the dais, and saluted her by a deep bow. Parta was a woman of tall stature and of robust form. Her garment was fastened at each shoulder by a gold brooch. A belt studded and clasped by the same metal girded it in at the waist, and it then fell in loose folds almost to her feet. She had heavy gold bracelets on her arms. "You are late, Beric," she said sternly. "Our tribesmen have been waiting nigh an hour for you. I only heard at daybreak that Borgon had gone out to search for you with a party." "It was well that he did, mother, for Boduoc and I were besieged in a hut by a pack of wolves, who would shortly have made an end of us had not rescue arrived." "What were you doing in the hut?" she asked. "You told me you should leave the Romans' town before sunset and make your way straight back here." Beric shortly related the circumstances of the fight. "It is well that it is no worse," she said; "but Boduoc ought to have known better than to have allowed you to leave the trees, where you would at least have been safe from the wolves. What mattered the life of a woman in comparison to yours, when you know my hopes and plans for you? But stay not talking. Magartha has some roasted kid in readiness for you. Eat it quickly, and take a horn of mead, and be gone. An hour has been wasted already." A few minutes sufficed for Beric to satisfy his hunger. Then he went out and joined two or three minor chiefs of experience who had charge of the hunt. The greater portion of the tribesmen had already started. Almost every man had brought with him one or more large dogs trained in hunting the wolf and boar, and the woods beyond the swamp rang with their deep barking. Instructions had already been given to the men. These proceeded in parties of four, each group taking its post some fifty yards from the next. Those who had the farthest to go had started before daybreak, and it was another two hours before the whole were in position, forming a long line through the forest upwards of ten miles in length. A horn was sounded in the centre where the leaders had posted themselves, and the signal was repeated at points along the line, and then, with shouts on the part of the men and fierce barkings on that of the dogs, the whole moved forward. The right of the line rested on the Stour, the left upon the Orwell; and as they passed along through the forest the line contracted. At times wild boars made a dash to break through it. Many of these were slain, till the chiefs considered that there was a sufficient supply of food, and the rest were then allowed to pass through. No wolves were seen until they neared the point where the two rivers unite, by which time the groups were within a few paces of each other. Then among the trees in front of them a fierce snarling and yelping was heard. The dogs, which had hitherto been kept in hand, were now loosed, and with a shout the men rushed forward both on the bluffs in the centre and along the low land skirting the rivers on either side. Soon the wolves came pouring down from the wooded bluff, and engaged in a furious conflict with the dogs. As the men ran up, a few of the wolves in their desperation charged them and endeavoured to break through, but the great majority, cowed by the clamour and fierce assault, crouched to the earth and received their death blow unresistingly. Some took to the water, but coracles had been sent down to the point the evening before, and they were speedily slain. Altogether some four or five hundred wolves were killed. It was now late in the afternoon. Wood was collected and great fires made, and the boars' flesh was soon roasting over them. At daybreak they started again, and retracing their steps formed a fresh line at the point where the last beat had begun, this time beating in a great semicircle and driving the wolves down on to the Stour. So for a fortnight the war went on. Only such deer and boar as were required for food were killed; but the wolves were slain without mercy, and at the end of the operations that portion of the country was completely cleared of these savage beasts, for those who had escaped the beating parties had fled far away through the forest to more quiet quarters. The work had been laborious; for each day some forty miles had been traversed in the march from the last place of slaughter to the next beat, and in the subsequent proceedings. It had, however, been full of interest and excitement, especially during the second week, when, having cleared all the country in the neighbourhood of the rivers, the men were ranged in wide circles some ten miles in diameter, advancing gradually towards a centre. Occasionally many of the wolves escaped before the lines had narrowed sufficiently for the men to be near enough to each other to oppose a successful resistance, but in each case the majority continued to slink from the approaching noises until the cordon was too close for them to break through. Altogether over four thousand wolves were slain. All those whose coats were in good condition were skinned, the skins being valuable for linings to the huts, for beds, and winter mantles. Many men had been bitten more or less severely by them, but none had been killed; and there was much rejoicing at the complete clearance from the district of a foe that had, since the arrival of the large packs from the north, made terrible inroads among the herds of cattle and swine, and had killed a considerable number of men, women, and children. The previous winter had been a very severe one, and had driven great numbers of wolves down from North Britain. The fighting that had been going on for years in the south and west, and at times in the midlands, had put a stop to the usual chases of wolves in those districts, and they had consequently multiplied exceedingly and had become a serious scourge even before the arrival of the fresh bands from the north. However, after so great a slaughter it was hoped that for a time at least they would not again make their appearance in that neighbourhood. Returning home at the end of their expedition Beric was surprised as he entered the hall to see a Druid standing upon the dais conversing with his mother, who was pacing up and down with angry gestures. That their conference was an important one he did not doubt; for the Druids dwelt in the recesses of the forests or near their temples, and those who wished to consult them must journey to them to ask their counsel beneath a sacred oak or in the circle of the magic stones. When great events were impending, or when tribes took up arms against each other, the Druids would leave their forest abodes, and, interposing between the combatants, authoritatively bid them desist. They acted as mediators between great chiefs, and were judges upon all matters in dispute. He was sure, therefore, that the Druid was the bearer of news of importance. He stood waiting in the centre of the hall until his mother's eye fell upon him. "Come hither, Beric," she said, "and hear the news that the holy Druid has brought. Think you not that the Romans have carried their oppression far enough when they have seized half the land of our island, enslaved the people, and exacted tribute from the free Britons? What think you, now? The Roman governor Severus, knowing that it is our religion as well as love of our country that arms us against them, and that the Druids ever raise their voices to bid us defend our altars and our homes, have resolved upon an expedition against the Sacred Island, and have determined to exterminate our priests, to break down our altars, and to destroy our religion. Ten days since the legion marched from Camalodunum to join the army he is assembling in the west. From all other parts he has drawn soldiers, and he has declared his intention of rooting out and destroying our religion at its centre." "The news is terrible," the Druid said, "but our gods will fight for us, and doubtless a terrible destruction will fall upon the impious men who thus dream of profaning the Sacred Island; but it may be otherwise, or perchance the gods may see that thus, and thus only, can the people of Britain be stirred to take up arms and to annihilate the worshippers of the false gods of Rome. Assuredly we are on the eve of great events, and every Briton must prepare to take up arms, either to fall upon the legions whom our gods have stricken or to avenge the insult offered to our faith." "It is terrible news, indeed," Beric said; "and though I am but a lad, father, I am ready when the call comes to fight in the front ranks of the Iceni with our people. My father fell fighting for his country by the sword of the Romans, and I am ready to follow his example when my mother shall say, 'Go out to war.'" "For the present, Beric, we must remain quiet; we must await news of the result of this expedition; but the word has gone round, and I and my brethren are to visit every chief of the Iceni, while the Druids of the north stir up the Brigantes; the news, too, that the time of their deliverance is at hand, and that they must hold themselves in readiness to rise against the oppressors, is passing through the Trinobantes and the tribes of the south and southwest. This time it must be no partial rising, and we must avoid the ruinous error of matching a single tribe against the whole strength of the Romans. It must be Britain against Rome -- a whole people struggling for their homes and altars against those who would destroy their religion and reduce them to slavery." "I would that it could have been postponed for a time, father," Beric said. "During the four years I passed as a hostage at Camalodunum I have been learning the tactics that have enabled the Romans to conquer us. I have learned their words of command, and how the movements were executed, and I hope when I become a man to train the Sarci to fight in solid order, to wheel and turn as do the Romans, so that we might form a band which might in the day of battle oppose itself to the Roman onset, check pursuit, and perhaps convert a reverse into a victory." "Heed not that," the Druid said enthusiastically. "It would be useful indeed, but there is but scant time for it now. Our gods will fight for us. We have numbers and valour. Our warriors will sweep their soldiers aside as a wave dashes over a rock." The conversation between the Druid and Parta had been heard by others in the hall, and the news spread rapidly among the tribesmen as they returned from the chase. Shouts of fury and indignation rose outside, and several of the minor chiefs, followed by a crowd of excited men, poured into the hall, demanding with loud shouts that war should be declared against the Romans. The Druid advanced to the edge of the dais. "Children," he said, "the time has not yet come, nor can the Sarci do aught until the word is given by Prasutagus, and the whole of the Iceni rise in arms, and not the Iceni alone, but Britons from sea to sea. Till then hold yourselves in readiness. Sharpen your arms and prepare for the contest. But you need a chief. In the ordinary course of things years would have elapsed before Beric, the son of your last brave prince, would have been associated with his mother in the rule of the tribe; but on the eve of such a struggle ordinary customs and usages must be set at nought. I therefore, in virtue of my sacred authority, now appoint Beric as chief next to his mother in the tribe, and I bid you obey him in all things relating to war. He has learned much of Roman ways and methods, and is thus better fitted than many far older than he to instruct you how best to stand their onset, and I prophesy that under him no small honour and glory will fall to the tribe, and that they will bear a signal share in avenging our gods and winning our freedom. Come hither, Beric;" and the Druid, laying a hand upon the lad's head, raised the other to heaven and implored the gods to bestow wisdom and strength upon him, and to raise in him a mighty champion of his country and faith. Then he uttered a terrible malediction upon any who should disobey Beric's orders, or question his authority, who should show faint heart in the day of battle, or hold his life of any account in the cause of his country. "Now," he concluded, "retire to your homes. We must give no cause or pretext for Roman aggression until the signal is given. You will not be idle. Your young chief will teach you somewhat of the discipline that has rendered the Roman soldiers so formidable, so that you may know how to set yourselves in the day of battle, how to oppose rank to rank, to draw off in good order, or to press forward to victory. The issue is ever in the hands of the gods, but we should do all we can to deserve it. It is good to learn even from our enemies. They have studied war for ages, and if they have conquered brave peoples, it has not been by superior valour, but because they have studied war, while others have trusted solely to their native valour. Therefore deem not instruction useless, or despise methods simply because you do not understand them. None could be braver than those who fought under Caractacus, yet they were conquered, not by the valour, but by the discipline of the Romans. It was the will of the gods that your young chief should dwell for four years a hostage among the Romans, and doubtless they willed it should be so in order that he might be fitted to be a worthy champion of his country, and so to effect what even the valour of Caractacus failed to do. The gods have spoken by me. See that you obey them, and woe to the wretch who murmurs even in his own heart against their decrees!" As he concluded a loud shout was raised throughout the crowded hall, and swelled into a mighty roar outside, for those at the open door had passed his words to the throng of tribesmen outside. When the shout subsided, Beric added a few words, saying, that although he regretted he had not yet come to his full strength, and that thus early he should be called upon to lead men, he accepted the decree of the gods, and would strive not to be wanting in the day of trial. In matters connected with war he had learned much from the Romans, who, oppressors as they were and despisers of the gods of Britain, were skilled beyond all others in such matters. In all other respects he had happily his mother's counsel and guidance to depend upon, and before assuming any civil authority he should wait until years had taught him wisdom, and should then go through all the usual ceremonies appointed by their religion, and receive his instalment solemnly in the temple at the hands of the Druids. That night there was high feasting at Cardun. A bullock and three swine were slain by order of Parta, and a number of great earthen jars of mead broached, and while the principal men of the tribe feasted in the hall, the rest made merry outside. The bard attached to Parta's household sang tales of the glories of the tribe, even the women from the villages and detached huts for a large circle round came in, happy that, now the wolves had been cleared away, they could stir out after nightfall without fear. After entertaining their guests in the hall, Parta and her son went round among the tribesmen outside and saw that they had all they needed, and spoke pleasantly even to the poorest among them. It was long before Beric closed his eyes that night. The events of the day had been a complete surprise to him. He had thought that in the distant future he should share with his mother in the ruling of the tribe, but had never once dreamed of its coming for years. Had it not been for the news that they had heard of the intended invasion of the Holy Isle he should not have regretted his elevation, for it would have given him the means and opportunity to train the tribesmen to fight in close order as did the Romans. But now he could not hope that there would be time to carry this out effectually. He knew that throughout Britain the feeling of rage and indignation at this outrage upon the gods of their country would raise the passions of men to boiling point, and that the slightest incident would suffice to bring on a general explosion, and he greatly feared that the result of such a rising would in the end be disastrous. His reading had shown him how great was the power of Rome, and how obstinately she clung to her conquests. His countrymen seemed to think that were they, with a mighty effort, to free Britain of its invaders, their freedom would be achieved; but he knew that such a disaster would arouse the Roman pride, and that however great the effort required, fresh armies would be despatched to avenge the disaster and to regain the territory lost. "The Britons know nothing of Roman power," he said to himself. "They see but twenty or thirty thousand men here, and they forget that that number have alone been sent because they were sufficient for the work, and that Rome could, if need be, despatch five times as many men. With time to teach the people, not of the Sarci tribe only, but all the Iceni, to fight in solid masses, and to bear the brunt of the battle, while the rest of the tribes attacked furiously on all sides, we might hope for victory; but fighting without order or regularity, each man for himself, cannot hope to prevail against their solid mass. "If I could have gained a name before the time came, so that my voice might have had weight and power in the councils of the chiefs, I might have done something. As it is, I fear that a rising now will bring ruin and slavery upon all Britain." Beric thought but little of himself, or of the personal danger he should encounter. The Britons were careless of their lives. They believed implicitly in a future life, and that those who fell fighting bravely for their country would meet with reward hereafter; hence, as among the Gauls, cowardice was an almost unknown vice. Beric had faith in the gods of his country, while he had none whatever in those of Rome, and wondered how a mighty people could believe in such deities; but, unlike the Britons in general, he did not believe that the gods interfered to decide the fate of battles. He saw that the Romans, with their false gods, had conquered all other nations, and that so far they had uniformly triumphed over his own. Therefore, mighty as he believed the gods to be, he thought that they concerned themselves but little in the affairs of the world, and that battles were to be won solely by valour, discipline, and numbers. Numbers and valour the British had, but of discipline they were absolutely ignorant, and it was this that gave so tremendous an advantage to the Romans. Hence Beric felt none of the exultation and excitement that most British lads of his age would have done on attaining to rank and command in the tribe to which they belonged. The Britons despised the Romans as much for their belief in many gods as for their luxury, and what they considered their effeminacy. The religion of the Britons was a pure one, though disfigured by the offering of human sacrifices. They believed in one great Supreme Spirit, whose power pervaded everything. They thought of him less as an absolute being than as a pervading influence. They worshipped him everywhere, in the forests and in the streams, in the sky and heavenly bodies. Through the Druids they consulted him in all their undertakings. If the answer was favourable, they followed it; if unfavourable, they endeavoured to change it by sacrifices and offerings to the priests. They believed firmly in a life after death, when they held that the souls of all brave and good men and women would be transported at once to an island far out in the Atlantic, which they called the Happy Island. The highest places would be theirs who had fought valiantly and died in battle; but there was room for all, and all would be happy. Holding this idea firmly, the Britons sought rather than avoided death. Their lives in their separate tribes were quiet and simple, except when engaged in the chase or war. They were averse to labour. They were domestic, virtuous, frank, and straightforward. The personal property of a stranger was sacred among them, and the most lavish hospitality was exercised. It was not strange that a simple hardy people, believing firmly in the one supreme god, should have regarded with contempt alike the luxury of the Romans and their worship of many gods in the likenesses of men and women, and that the more Beric had seen of the learning and wisdom of the Romans in other directions, the more he should wonder that such a people should be slaves to what seemed to him childish superstitions. The next morning, after a consultation with some of the minor chiefs, a hundred men were summoned to attend on the following day. They were picked out from families where there were two or more males of working age, so that there would be as little disturbance of labour as possible. It was principally in companies of a hundred that Beric had seen the Romans exercised, and he had learned every order by heart from first to last. The manoeuvres to be taught were not of a complicated nature. To form in fighting order six deep, and to move in column, were the principal points; but when the next day the band assembled, Beric was surprised and vexed to find that the operations were vastly more difficult than he expected. To begin with, every man was to have his place in the line, and the tribesmen, though eager to learn, and anxious to please their young chief, could not see that it mattered in what order they stood. When, however, having arranged them at first in a line two deep, Beric proceeded to explain how the spears were to be held, and in what order the movements were to be performed, -- the exercise answering to the manual and platoon of modern days, -- the tribesmen were unable to restrain their laughter. What difference could it make whether the hands were two feet apart or three, whether the spears were held upright or sloped, whether they came down to the charge one after another or all together? To men absolutely unaccustomed to order of any kind, but used only to fight each in the way that suited him best, these details appeared absolutely ludicrous. Beric was obliged to stop and harangue them, pointing out to them that it was just these little things that gave the Romans their fighting power; that it was because the whole company moved as one man, and fought as one man, each knowing his place and falling into it, however great the confusion, however sudden the alarm, that made them what they were. "Why do they conquer you?" he said. "Chiefly because you can never throw them into confusion. Charge down upon them and break them, and they at once reunite and a solid wall opposes your scattered efforts. You know how cattle, when wolves attack them, gather in a circle with their horns outwards, and so keep at bay those who could pull them down and rend them separately. At present it seems ridiculous to you that every position of the hand, every movement of the arm, should be done by rule; but when you have practised them these will become a second nature; so with your other movements. It seems folly to you to do with measured steps what it seems you could do far more quickly by running together hastily; but it is not so. The slowest movement is really the quickest, and it has the advantage that no one is hurried, that everything is done steadily and regularly, and that even in the greatest heat and confusion of a battle every man takes his place, as calm and ready to fight as if no foe were in sight. Now let us try this again. At the end of the day I shall pick out some of those who are quickest and most attentive, and make of them officers under me. They will have more work to do, for they will have to understand and teach my orders, but also they will gain more honour and credit." For hours the drill went on; then they broke off for dinner and again worked until evening, and by that time had made sufficient progress in their simple movements to begin to feel that there was after all something more in it than they had fancied. For the first hour it had seemed to them a sort of joke -- a mere freak on the part of their young chief; but they were themselves surprised to find by the end of the day how rapidly they were able to change from their rank two deep into the solid formation, and how their spears rose and fell together at the order. Beric bade them by the next morning provide themselves with spears six feet longer. Britons were more accustomed to fight with javelin than with spear, and the latter weapons were shorter and lighter than those of the Romans. Beric felt that the advantage should be the other way, for the small shields carried by the Britons were inferior as defensive weapons to those of the Romans, and to preserve the balance it was necessary therefore to have longer spears; the more so since the Britons were taller, and far more powerful men than their foes, and should therefore be able, with practice, to use longer weapons. The next day Beric chose Boduoc as his second in command, and appointed ten men sub-officers or sergeants. After a week of almost incessant work that would have exhausted men less hardy and vigorous, Beric was satisfied. The company had now come to take great interest in their work, and were able to go through their exercises with a fair show of regularity. Even the older chiefs, who had at first shaken their heads as they looked on, acknowledged that there was a great deal to be gained from the exercises. Parta was delighted. It was she who had foreseen the advantages that might be derived from Beric's stay among the Romans, and she entered heartily into his plans, ordering the men engaged to be fed from the produce of her flocks and herds. When the week was over two hundred more men were summoned, a sufficient number of the brightest and most intelligent of the first company being chosen as their sub- officers. Before the drill commenced, however, the first company were put through their exercises in order that the newcomers might see what was expected of them, and how much could be done. This time several of the chiefs joined the companies in order that they might learn the words of command and be fitted to lead. This greatly encouraged Beric, who had foreseen that while he himself could command a company, he could do nothing towards controlling ten or fifteen companies unless these had each officers of rank and influence enough to control them. The exercises after the first company had been drilled were carried on in the forest some miles away from the village, the men assembling there and camping beneath the trees, so that no rumour of gatherings or preparations for war should reach the Romans, although at present these were not in a position to make any eruption from Camalodunum, as the greater portion of the legionaries had marched with Suetonius. Returning one day to Cardun with Boduoc, Beric was surprised to hear loud cries of lamentation. The women were running about with dishevelled hair and disordered garments. Fearful that something might have happened to his mother, he hurried on to the hall. Parta was sitting on the ground rocking herself to and fro in her grief, while the women were assembled round her uttering cries of anguish. "What is the matter?" Beric asked as he hurried forward. The bard stepped forward to answer the question. "My son," he said, "misfortune has fallen on the land. The gods have hidden their faces and refused to fight for their children. Woe and desolation have come upon us. The altars are thrown down and the priests slaughtered." "Mona is taken!" Beric exclaimed. "Yes, my son, Mona is taken. The Druid Boroc but an hour ago brought the news. The Romans having reached the strait, constructed flat bottomed boats, and in these approached the island, the horsemen towing their horses behind them. There were assembled the women of the Silures and the Druids from all parts of Britain, with many fugitives who had fled for shelter to the island. The Druids remained by their altars offering up human sacrifices, the men and women assembled on the beach waving torches, hurling imprecations upon the invaders, and imploring the gods to aid them and to crush the impious foe. For a time the Romans paused in mid channel, terrified at the spectacle, and the hopes of all that the gods had paralysed their arms rose high; but, alas! the halt was but temporary. Encouraging each other with shouts, they again advanced, and, leaping from their boats, waded through the water and set foot on the sacred soil. "What was there to do? The men were few, and though the women in their despair rushed wildly at the enemy, it was all in vain; men and women were alike slaughtered; and then, moving forward, they advanced against the holy circle and slew the Druids upon the altars of the gods they served, and yet the gods were silent. They saw, they heard, but answered not; neither the clouds rained fire upon the invaders nor the earth shook. Ah! my son, evil days have fallen upon the land. What will be the end of them?" Throughout the length and breadth of Britain a thrill of horror was felt at the news of the massacre of Druids at Mona, and everywhere it was followed by a stern determination to prepare for battle to clear the land of the Romans. The Druids went from tribe to tribe and from village to village stirring up men's hearts; the women, even more deeply excited than the men at the news of the calamity, behaved as if possessed, many going about the country calling upon the men to take up arms, and foretelling victory to the Britons and destruction to the Romans; even in the streets of Camalodunum at night their voices were heard crying out curses upon the Romans and predicting the destruction of the city. A week after the news came, Beric, in fulfilment of the promise he had given to Berenice, paid another visit to Camalodunum. There were no signs in its busy streets of uneasiness or fear. The new propraetor Catus Decianus, who commanded in the absence of Suetonius, was holding a sort of court there, and the bearing of the Romans seemed even more arrogant and insolent than usual. The news of the destruction of the Druids at Mona had by them been hailed as a final and most crushing blow to the resistance of the Britons. Since their gods could not protect their own altars what hope could there be for them in the future? Decianus, a haughty tyrant who had been sent to Britain by Nero as a mark of signal favour, in order that he might enrich himself by the spoils of the Britons, was levying exactions at a rate hitherto unknown, treating the people as if they were but dirt under his feet. His lieutenants, all creatures of Nero, followed his example, and the exasperation of the unfortunate Trinobantes, who were the chief victims, had reached such a point that they were ready for revolt whensoever the signal might come. On arrival at the house of Caius Muro, Beric found Berenice at home; she received him with joy. "I am glad that you have come, Beric; it is so dull now that father has gone away to the war. I have been expecting you here for the last fortnight. I suppose you have been amusing your- self too much to give a thought to me." "I have been very busy, Berenice. I am a chief now, and have had much to do in the tribe. Among other things we have been having great war with the wolves." "Yes, you told me when you were last here that you were going to set out next day on an expedition against them." "They began first, as it turned out," he said smiling, "and very nearly made a meal of me that night on my way homeward." "Sit down and tell me all about it," she said. "You know I love stories." Beric recited to her the story of the fight at the hut. "And there was a woman there! How terrible it must have been for her to be alone with her children before you arrived, and to think of her killing wolves with the spear. How different your women must be from us, Beric, for we are only taught to embroider, to dress ourselves, and to care for pretty things. Why, I should be frightened out of my life at the sight of a wolf if I were all alone and had no one to protect me." "Our women are brought up differently, Berenice. We regard them as altogether our equals, and many of our tribes are ruled by women. My own, you know, for example. They do not go into battle with the men; but when a camp is attacked they are ready to fight in its defence, and being brought up to lead a vigorous life, they are well nigh as strong as we are. Among all the Gaulish nations the women are held in high respect. Of course with you this is so sometimes. Your father was wont to listen to the opinions of your mother; but you know that is not often so, and that with many Romans women are looked upon as inferior creatures, good only for dress and pleasure, useful in ordering a house and in managing the slaves, but unfit to take part in public life, and knowing nothing of aught save domestic affairs. And what has been going on here, Berenice?" "Nothing," the girl said; "at least I have been doing nothing. I went to the footraces the other day, and saw the propraetor, but I don't like him. I think that he is a bad man, and I hear stories among the ladies of his being cruel and greedy; and there have been mad women going about at night shrieking and crying; I have heard them several times myself. Some of the ladies said they wish that my father was back here with his legion, for that there are but few soldiers, and if Decianus continues to treat the people so badly there may be trouble. What do you think, Beric?" "I cannot say," he replied. "It seems to me that the Romans are bent upon crushing us down altogether. They have just captured our Holy Island, slaying the priests and priestesses, and overthrowing the altars, while Nero's officers wring from the people the last coin and the last animal they possess. I fear that there will be trouble, Berenice. No men worthy of the name could see their gods insulted and themselves despoiled of all they possess without striking a blow in defence." "But they will only bring more trouble upon themselves," the girl said gravely. "I have heard my father lament that they forced us to fight against them, though you know he held that it was our fault more than theirs, and that if they were ruled kindly and wisely, as were the people in Southern Gaul, where the legion was stationed before it came over here, they would settle down and live peaceably, and be greatly benefited by our rule." "If you treat a man as you would a dog you must not be surprised if he bites you," Beric said. "Some of your people not only think that we are dogs, but that we are toothless ones. Mayhap they will find their mistake some day." "But you will never fight against us, Beric," the girl said anxiously, "after living so long among us?" "I would not fight against your father or against those who have treated me well," he replied; "but against those who ill treat and abuse us I would fight when my countrymen fought. Yet if I could ever do you a service, Berenice, I would lay down my life to do it." The event seemed so improbable to the girl that she passed over the promise without comment. "So you are a chief, Beric! But I thought chiefs wore golden bracelets and ornaments, and you are just as you were when you came here last." "Because I come here only as a visitor. If I came on a mission from the queen, or as one of a deputation of chiefs, I should wear my ornaments. I wear them at home now, those that my father had." Beric stayed for some hours chatting with Berenice, and his old instructor, who had been left by Caius in charge of the household. As he walked home he wondered over the careless security of the Romans, and vowed that should opportunity occur he would save Berenice from the fate that was likely to fall upon all in Camalodunum should the Britons rise.