AN INFURIATED PEOPLE "A fresh misfortune has occurred," was the greeting with which Beric's mother met him on his return home. "Prasutagus is dead; and this is not the worst, he has left half his estates to the Roman Emperor." "To the Roman Emperor!" Beric repeated; "is it possible, mother?" "It is true, Beric. You know he has always tried to curry favour with the Romans, and has kept the Iceni from joining when other tribes rose against Rome. He has thought of nothing but amassing wealth, and in all Britain there is no man who could compare with him in riches. Doubtless he felt that the Romans only bided their time to seize what he had gathered, and so, in order that Boadicea and his daughters should enjoy in peace a portion of his stores, he has left half to Nero. The man was a fool as well as a traitor. The peasant who throws a child out of the door to the wolves knows that it does but whet their appetite for blood, and so it will be in this case. I hear Prasutagus died a week since, though the news has come but slowly, and already a horde of Roman officials have arrived in Norfolk, and are proceeding to make inventories of the king's possessions, and to bear themselves as insolently as if they were masters of all. Trouble must come, and that soon. Boadicea is of different stuff to her husband; she will not bear the insolence of the Romans. It would have been well for the Iceni had Prasutagus died twenty years ago and she had ruled our country." "The gods have clearly willed, mother, that we should rise as one people against the Romans. It may be that it was for this that they did not defend their shrines from the impious hands of the invaders. Nought else stirred the Britons to lay aside their jealousies and act as one people. Now from end to end of the island all are burning for vengeance. Just at this moment, comes the death of the Romans' friend Prasutagus, and the passing of the rule of the Iceni into the hands of Boadicea. With the Romans in her capital the occasion will assuredly not long be wanting, and then there will be such a rising as the Romans have never yet seen; and then, their purpose effected, the gods may well fight on our side. I would that there had been five more years in which to prepare for the struggle, but if it must come it must. This Catus Decianus is just the man to bring it on. Haughty, arrogant, and greedy, he knows nothing of us, and has never faced the Britons in arms. Had Suetonius been here he would not have acted thus with regard to the affairs of Prasutagus. Had Caius Muro not been absent his voice might have been raised in warning to the tyrant; but everything seems to conspire together, mother, to bring on the crisis." "The sooner the better," Parta exclaimed vehemently. "It is true that in time you might teach the whole Iceni to fight in Roman methods, but what is good for the Romans may not be good for us. Moreover, every year that passes strengthens their hold on the land. Their forts spring up everywhere, their cities grow apace; every month numbers flock over here. Another five years, my son, and their hold might be too strong to shake off." "That is so, mother. Thinking of ourselves I thought not of them; it may be that it were better to fight now than to wait. Well, whenever the signal is given, and from wheresoever it comes, we are ready." Since the news of the capture of Mona had arrived, the tribesmen had drilled with increased alacrity and eagerness. Every man saw that the struggle with Rome must ere long take place, and was eager to take a leading share in the conflict. It was upon them that the blow had fallen most heavily in the former partial rising, and they knew that the other tribes of the Iceni held that their defence of their camp should not have been overborne by the Romans as it was; hence they had something of a private wrong as well as a national one to avenge. Another fortnight was spent in constant work, until one day the news came that Boadicea's daughters had been most grossly insulted by the Roman officers, and that the queen herself had started for Camalodunum to demand from Decianus a redress of their wrongs and the punishment of the offenders. The excitement was intense. Every man felt the outrage upon the daughters of their queen as a personal injury, and when Beric took his place before the men of the tribe, who were drawn up in military order, a shout arose: "Lead us to Camalodunum! Let us take vengeance!" "Not yet," Beric cried. "The queen has gone there; we must wait the issue. Not until she gives the orders must we move. A rising now would endanger her safety. We must wait, my friends, until all are as ready as we are; when the time comes you will not find me backward in leading you." Three days later came news that seemed at first incredible, but which was speedily confirmed. Decianus had received the queen, had scoffed at her complaints, and when, fired with indignation, she had used threats, he had ordered his soldiers to strip and scourge her, and the sentence had actually been carried into effect. Then the rage of the tribesmen knew no bounds, and it needed the utmost persuasions of Parta herself to induce them to wait until news came from the north. "Fear not," she said, "that your vengeance will be baulked. Boadicea will not submit to this double indignity, of that you maybe sure. Wait until you hear from her. When measures are determined upon in this matter the Iceni must act as one man. We are all equally outraged in the persons of our queen and her daughters; all have a right to a share in avenging her insults. We might spoil all by moving before the others are ready. When we move it must be as a mighty torrent to overwhelm the invaders. Not Camalodunum only, but every Roman town must be laid in ruins. It must be a life and death struggle between us and Rome; we must conquer now or be enslaved for ever." It was not long before messengers arrived from Boadicea, bidding the Sarci prepare for war, and summoning Parta and her son to a council of the chiefs of the tribe, to be held under a well known sacred oak in the heart of the forest, near Norwich. Parta's chariot was at once prepared, together with a second, which was to carry Boduoc and a female attendant of Parta, and as soon as the horses were harnessed they started. Two long days' journey brought them to the place of meeting. The scene was a busy one. Already fully two score of the chiefs had arrived. Parta was received with great marks of respect. The Sarci were the tribe lying nearest to the Romans, and upon them the brunt of the Roman anger would fall, as it had done before; but her appearance in answer to the summons showed, it was thought, their willingness to join in the general action of the tribe. Beric was looked at curiously. His four years' residence among the Romans caused him to be regarded with a certain amount of suspicion, which had been added to by rumours that he had been impressing upon the tribe the greatness and power of Rome. Of late there had been reports brought by wandering bards that the Sarci were being practised in the same exercises as those of the Roman soldiers, and there were many who thought that Beric, like Cogidinus, a chief of the Regi of Sussex, had joined himself heart and soul to Rome, and was preparing his tribe to fight side by side with the legions. On the other hand many, knowing that Parta had lost her husband at the hands of the Romans, and hated them with all her heart, held that she would never have divided her power with Beric, or suffered him to take military command of the tribe, had she not been assured of his fidelity to the cause of Britain. Beric was dressed in the full panoply of a chief. He wore a short skirt or kilt reaching to his knees. Above it a loose vest or shirt, girt in by a gold belt, while over his shoulders he wore the British mantle, white in colour and worked with gold. Around his neck was the torque, the emblem of chieftainship. On his left arm he carried a small shield of beaten brass, and from a baldric covered with gold plates hung the straight pointless British sword that had been carried by his father in battle. Even those most suspicious of him could not deny that he was a stalwart and well built youth, with a full share of pith and muscle, and that his residence among the Romans had not given him any airs of effeminacy. The only subject of criticism was that his hair was shorter than that of his countrymen, for although he had permitted it to grow since he left Camalodunum, where he had worn it short, in Roman fashion, it had not yet attained its full length. Beric felt a stranger among the others. Since his return home there had been no great tribal gathering, for Prasutagus had for some time been ill, and had always discouraged such assemblages both because they were viewed with jealousy by the Romans and because he begrudged the expenses of entertaining. Parta, who was personally known to almost all present, introduced Beric to them. "My son is none the less one of the Iceni for his Roman training," she said; "he has learned much, but has forgotten nothing. He is young, but you will find him a worthy companion in arms when the day of battle comes." "I am glad to hear what you say, Parta," Aska, one of the older chiefs, said. "It would be unfair to impute blame to him for what assuredly was not his fault, but I feared that they might have taught him to despise his countrymen." "It is not so, sir," Beric said firmly. "Happily I fell into good hands. Caius Muro, the commander of the 12th Legion, in whose charge I was, is a just as well as a valiant man, and had me instructed as if I had been his own son, and I trust that I am none the less a true Briton because I except him and his from the hatred I bear the Romans. He never said a word to me against my countrymen, and indeed often bewailed that we were not treated more wisely and gently, and were not taught to regard the Romans as friends and teachers rather than oppressors." "Well spoken, young chief!" the other said; "ingratitude is, of all sins, the most odious, and you do well to speak up boldly for those who were kind to you. Among all men there are good and evil, and we may well believe, even among the Romans, there are some who are just and honourable. But I hear that you admire them greatly, and that you have been telling to your tribe tales of their greatness in war and of their virtues." "I have done so," Beric replied. "A race could not conquer the world as the Romans have done unless they had many virtues; but those that I chiefly told of are the virtues that every Briton should lay to heart. I spoke of their patriotism, of the love of country that never failed, of the stern determination that enabled them to pass through the gravest dangers without flinching, and to show a dauntless face to the foe even when dangers were thickest and the country was menaced with destruction. Above all, how in Rome, though there might be parties and divisions, there were none in the face of a common enemy. Then all acted as one man; there was no rivalry save in great deeds. Each was ready to give life and all he possessed in defence of his country. These were lessons which I thought it well that every Briton should learn and take to heart. Rome has conquered us so far because she has been one while we are rent into tribes having no common union; content to sit with our arms folded while our neighbours are crushed, not seeing that our turn will come next. It was so when they first came in the time of our forefathers, it has been so in these latter times; tribe after tribe has been subdued; while, had we been all united, the Romans would never have obtained a footing on our shore. No wonder the gods have turned away their faces from a people so blind and so divided when all was at stake. Yes, I have learned much from the Romans. I have not learned to love them, but I have learned to admire them and to regret that in many respects my own countrymen did not resemble them." There was a murmur of surprise among the chiefs who had by this time gathered round, while angry exclamations broke from some of the younger men; but Aska waved his hand. "Beric speaks wisely and truly," he said; "our dissensions have been our ruin. Still more, perhaps, the conduct of those who should have led us, but who have made terms with Rome in order to secure their own possessions. Among these Prasutagus was conspicuous, and we ourselves were as much to blame as he was that we suffered it. If he knows what is passing here he himself will see how great are the misfortunes that he has brought upon his queen, his daughters, and the tribe. Had we joined our whole forces with those of Caractacus the Brigantes too might have risen. It took all the strength of the Romans to conquer Caractacus alone. What could they have done had the Brigantes and we from the north, and the whole of the southern tribes, then unbroken, closed down upon them? It is but yesterday since Prasutagus was buried. The grass has not yet begun to shoot upon his funeral mound and yet his estates have been seized by the Romans, while his wife and daughters have been insulted beyond measure. "The young chief of the Sarci has profited by his sojourn among the Romans. The Druids have told me that the priest who has visited the Sarci prophesies great things of him, and for that reason decided that, young as he was, he should share his mother's power and take his place as leader of the tribe in battle, and that he foresaw that, should time be given him to ripen his wisdom and establish his authority, he might some day become a British champion as powerful as Cunobeline, as valiant as Caractacus. These were the words of one of the wisest of the Druids. They have been passed round among the Druids, and even now throughout Britain there are many who never so much as heard of the name of the Sarci, who yet believe that, in this young chief of that tribe, will some day be found a mighty champion of his country. Prasutagus knew this also, for as soon as Beric returned from Camalodunum he begged the Druids to find out whether good or evil was to be looked for from this youth, who had been brought up among the Romans, and their report to him tallied with that which I myself heard from them. It was for that reason that Boadicea sent for him with his mother, although so much younger than any here, and belonging to a tribe that is but a small one among the Iceni. I asked these questions of him, knowing that among some of you there were doubts whether his stay with the Romans had not rendered him less a Briton. He answered as I expected from him, boldly and fearlessly, and, as you have heard wisely, and I for one believe in the predictions of the Druids. But here comes the queen." As he spoke a number of chariots issued from the path through the forest into the circular clearing, in the centre of which stood the majestic oak, and at the same moment, from the opposite side, appeared a procession of white robed Druids singing a loud chant. As the chariots drew up, the queen and her two daughters alighted from them, with a number of chiefs of importance from the branches of the tribe near her capital. Beric had never seen her before, and was struck with her aspect. She was a tall and stately woman, large in her proportions, with her yellow hair falling below her waist. She wore no ornaments or insignia of her high rank; her dress and those of her daughters were careless and disordered, indicative of mourning and grief, but the expression of her face was that of indignation and passion rather than of humiliation. Upon alighting she acknowledged the greeting of the assembled chiefs with a slight gesture, and then remained standing with her eyes fixed upon the advancing Druids. When these reached the sacred tree they encircled it seven times, still continuing their chanting, and then ranged themselves up under its branches with the chief Druid standing in front. They had already been consulted privately by the queen and had declared for war; but it was necessary that the decision should be pronounced solemnly beneath the shade of the sacred oak. "Why come you here, woman?" the chief priest asked, addressing the queen. "I come as a supplicant to the gods," she said; "as an outraged queen, a dishonoured woman, and a broken hearted mother, and in each of these capacities I call upon my country's gods for vengeance." Then in passionate words she poured out the story of the indignities that she and her daughters had suffered, and suddenly loosening her garment, and suffering it to drop to her waist, she turned and showed the marks of the Roman rods across her back, the sight eliciting a shout of fury from the chiefs around her. "Let all retire to the woods," the Druids said, "and see that no eye profanes our mysteries. When the gods have answered we will summon you." The queen, followed by all the chiefs, retired at once to the forest, while the Druids proceeded to carry out the sacred mysteries. Although all knew well what the decision would be, they waited with suppressed excitement the summons to return and hear the decision that was to embark them in a desperate struggle with Rome. Some threw themselves down under the trees, some walked up and down together discussing in low tones the prospects of a struggle, and the question what tribes would join it. The queen and her daughters sat apart, none venturing to approach them. Parta and three other female chiefs sat a short distance away talking together, while two or three of the younger chiefs, their attitude towards Beric entirely altered by the report of the Druids' predictions concerning him, gathered round him and asked questions concerning the Romans' methods of fighting, their arms and power. An hour after they had retired a deep sound of a conch rose in the air. The queen and her daughters at once moved forward, followed by the four female chiefs, behind whom came the rest in a body. Issuing from the forest they advanced to the sacred oak and stood in an attitude of deep respect, while the chief Druid announced the decision of the gods. "The gods have spoken," he said. "Too long have the Iceni stood aloof from their countrymen, therefore have the gods withdrawn their faces from them; therefore has punishment and woe fallen upon them. Prasutagus is dead; his queen and his daughters have suffered the direst indignities; a Roman has seized the wealth heaped up by inglorious cowardice. But the moment has come; the gods have suffered their own altars to be desecrated in order that over the whole length and breadth of the land the cry for vengeance shall arise simultaneously. The cup is full; vengeance is at hand upon the oppressors and tyrants, the land reeks with British blood. Not content with grasping our possessions, our lives and the honour of our women are held as nought by them, our altars are cold, our priests slaughtered. The hour of vengeance is at hand. I see the smoke of burning cities ascending in the air. I hear the groans of countless victims to British vengeance. I see broken legions and flying men. "To arms! the gods have spoken. Strike for vengeance. Strike for the gods. Strike for your country and outraged queen. Chiefs of the Iceni, to arms! May the curse of the gods fall upon an enemy who draws back in the day of battle! May the gods give strength to your arms and render you invincible in battle! The gods have spoken." A mighty shout was raised by his hearers; swords were brandished, and spears shaken, and the cry "To arms! the gods have spoken," was repeated unanimously. As the Druids closed round their chief, who had been seized with strong convulsions as soon as he had uttered the message of the gods, Boadicea turned to the chiefs and raised her arm for silence. "I am a queen again; I reign once more over a race of men. No longer do I feel the smart of my stripes, for each shall ere long be washed out in Roman blood; but before action, counsel, and before counsel, food, for you have, many of you, come from afar. I have ordered a feast to be prepared in the forest." She led the way across the opposite side of the glade, where, a few hundred yards in the forest, a number of the queen's slaves had prepared a feast of roasted sheep, pig, and ox, with bread and jars of drink formed of fermented honey, and a sort of beer. As soon as the meal was concluded the queen called the chiefs round her, and the assembly was joined by the Druids. "War is declared," she said; "the question is shall we commence at once, or shall we wait?" There was a general response "At once!" but the chief Druid stepped forward and said: "My sons, we must not risk the ruin of all by undue haste; this must be a national movement if it is to succeed. For a fortnight we must keep quiet, preparing everything for war, so that we may take the field with every man capable of bearing arms in the tribe. In the meantime we, with the aid of the bards, will spread the news of the outrages that the Romans have committed upon the queen and her daughters far and wide over the land. Already the tribes are burning with indignation at the insults to our gods and the slaughter of our priests at Mona, and this news will arouse them to madness, for what is done here today may be done elsewhere tomorrow, and all men will see that only in the total destruction of the Romans is there a hope of freedom. All will be bidden to prepare for war, and, when the news comes that the Iceni have taken up arms, to assemble and march to join us. On this day fortnight, then, let every chief with his following meet at Cardun, which is but a short march from Camalodunum. Then we will rush upon the Roman city, the scene of the outrage to your queen, and its smoke shall tell Britain that she is avenged, and Rome that her day of oppression is over." The decision was received with satisfaction. A fortnight was none too long for making preparations, assembling the tribesmen, and marching to the appointed spot. "One thing I claim," Boadicea said, "and that is the right to fall upon and destroy instantly the Romans who installed themselves in my capital, and who are the authors of the outrages upon my daughters. So long as they live and lord it there I cannot return." "That is right and just," the Druid said. "Slay all but ten, and hand them over bound to us to be sacrificed on the altars of the gods they have insulted." "I will undertake that task, as my tribe lies nearest the capital," one of the chiefs said. "I will assemble them tonight and fall upon the Romans at daybreak." "See that none escape," the Druid said. "Kill them and all their slaves and followers. Let not one live to carry the news to Camalodunum." "I shall be at the meeting place and march at your head," the queen said to the chiefs; "that victory will be ours I do not doubt; but if the gods will it otherwise I swear that I shall not survive defeat. Ye gods, hear my vow." The council was now over, and the queen mingled with the chiefs, saying a few words to each. Beric was presented to her by his mother, and Boadicea was particularly gracious to him. "I have heard great things predicted of you, Beric. The gods have marked you out for favour, and their priests tell me that you will be one day a great champion of the Britons. So may it be. I shall watch you on the day of battle, and am assured that none among the Iceni will bear themselves more worthily." An hour later the meeting broke up, and Parta and Beric returned to Cardun, where they at once began to make preparations for the approaching conflict. Every man in the tribe was summoned to attend, and the exercises went on from daybreak till dusk, while the women cooked and waited upon the men. Councils were held nightly in the hall, and to each of the chiefs was assigned a special duty, the whole tribe being treated as a legion, and every chief and fighting man having his place and duty assigned to him. In Camalodunum, although nothing was known of the preparations that were being made, a feeling of great uneasiness prevailed. The treatment of Boadicea had excited grave disapproval upon the part of the great majority of the inhabitants, although new arrivals from Gaul or Rome and the officials in the suite of Decianus lauded his action as an act of excellent policy. "These British slaves must be taught to feel the weight of our arm," they said, "and a lesson such as this will be most useful. Is it for dogs like these to complain because they are whipped? They must be taught to know that they live but at our pleasure; that this island and all it contains is ours. They have no rights save those we choose to give them." But the older settlers viewed the matter very differently. They knew well enough that it was only after hard fighting that Vespasian had subdued the south, and Ostorius crushed Caractacus. They knew, too, that the Iceni gave but a nominal submission to Rome, and that the Trinobantes, crushed as they were, had been driven to the verge of madness by extortion. Moreover the legions were far away; Camalodunum was well nigh undefended, and lay almost at the mercy of the Britons should they attack. They, therefore, denounced the treatment of Boadicea as not only brutal but as impolitic in the extreme. The sudden cessation of news from the officials who had gone to take possession of the estate of Prasutagus caused considerable uneasiness among this section of the inhabitants of Camalodunum. Messengers were sent off every day to inquire as to what had taken place after the return of Boadicea, but none came back. The feeling of uneasiness was heightened by the attitude of the natives. Reports came in from all parts of the district that they had changed their attitude, that they no longer crouched at the sight of a Roman but bore themselves defiantly, that there were meetings at night in the forest, and that the women sang chants and performed dances which had evidently some hidden meaning. Decianus, conscious perhaps that his action was strongly disapproved by all the principal inhabitants of the town, and that, perhaps, Suetonius would also view it in the same light when it was reported to him, had left the city a few days after the occurrence and had gone to Verulamium. His absence permitted the general feeling of apprehension and discontentment more open expression than it would otherwise have had. Brave as the Romans were, they were deeply superstitious, and a thrill of horror and apprehension ran through the city when it was reported one morning that the statute of Victory in the temple had fallen to the ground, and had turned round as if it fled towards the sea. This presage of evil created a profound impression. "What do you think of it, Cneius?" Berenice asked; "it is terrible, is it not? Nothing else is spoken of among all the ladies I have seen today, and all agree it forbodes some terrible evil." "It may, or it may not," the old scribe said cautiously; "if the statue has fallen by the action of the gods the omen is surely a most evil one." "But how else could it have fallen, Cneius?" "Well, my dear, there are many Britons in the town, and you know they are in a very excited state; their women, indeed, seem to have gone well nigh mad with their midnight singing and wailing. It is possible -- mind, I do not for a moment say that it is so, for were the suggestion to occur to the citizens it would lead to fresh oppressions and cruelties against the Britons -- but it is just possible that some of them may have entered the temple at night and overthrown Victory's image as an act of defiance. You know how the women nightly shriek out their prophecies of the destruction of this town." "But could they destroy it, Cneius? Surely they would never dare to attack a great Roman city like this!" "I don't know whether they dare or not, Berenice, but assuredly Decianus is doing all in his power to excite them to such a pitch of despair that they might dare do anything; and if they dare, I see nothing whatever to prevent them from taking the city. The works erected after Claudius first founded the colony are so vast that they would require an army to defend them, while there are but a few hundred soldiers here. What could they do against a horde of barbarians? I would that your father were back, and also the two legions who marched away to join Suetonius. Before they went they ought to have erected a central fort here, to which all could retire in case of danger, and hold out until Suetonius came back to our assistance; but you see, when they went away none could have foreseen what has since taken place. No one could have dreamt that Decianus would have wantonly stirred up the Iceni to revolt." "But you don't think they have revolted?" "I know nothing of it, Berenice, but I can put two and two together. We have heard nothing for a week from the officials who went to seize the possessions of Prasutagus. How is it that none of our messengers have returned? It seems to me almost certain that these men have paid for their conduct to the daughters of Boadicea with their lives." "But Beric is with the Iceni. Surely we should hear from him if danger threatened." "He is with them," Cneius said, "but he is a chief, and if the tribe are in arms he is in arms also, and cannot, without risking the forfeit of his life for treachery, send hither a message that would put us on our guard. I believe in the lad. Four years I taught him, and I think I know his nature. He is honest and true. He is one of the Iceni and must go with his countrymen; but I am sure he is grateful for the kindness he received here, and has a real affection for you, therefore I believe, that should my worst fears be verified, and the Iceni attack Camalodunum, he will do his utmost to save you." "But they will not kill women and girls surely, even if they did take the city?" "I fear that they will show slight mercy to any, Berenice; why should they? We have shown no mercy to them; we have slaughtered their priests and priestesses, and at the storm of their towns have put all to death without distinction of age or sex. If we, a civilized people, thus make war, what can you expect from the men upon whom we have inflicted such countless injuries?" The fall of the statue of Victory was succeeded by other occurrences in which the awestruck inhabitants read augury of evil. It was reported that strange noises had been heard in the council house and theatre, while men out in boats brought back the tale that there was the appearance of a sunken town below the water. It was currently believed that the sea had assumed the colour of blood, and that there were, when the tide went out, marks upon the sand as if dead bodies had been lying there. Even the boldest veterans were dismayed at this accumulation of hostile auguries. A council of the principal citizens was held, and an urgent message despatched to Decianus, praying that he would take instance measures for the protection of the city. In reply to this he despatched two hundred soldiers from Verulamium, and these with the small body of troops already in the city took possession of the Temple of Claudius, and began to make preparations for putting it into a state of defence. Still no message had come from Norwich, but night after night the British women declared that the people of Camalodunum would suffer the same fate that had already overwhelmed those who had ventured to insult the daughters of the queen of the Iceni. A strange terror had now seized the inhabitants of the town. The apprehension of danger weighted upon all, and the peril seemed all the more terrible inasmuch as it was so vague. Nothing was known for certain. No message had come from the Iceni since the queen quitted the town, and yet it was felt that among the dark woods stretching north a host of foes was gathering, and might at any moment pour down upon the city. Orders were issued that at the approach of danger all who could do so were to betake themselves at once to the temple, which was to act as a citadel, yet no really effective measures were taken. There was, indeed, a vague talk of sending the women and children and valuables away to the legion, commanded by Cerealis, stationed in a fortified camp to the south, but nothing came of it; all waited for something definite, some notification that the Britons had really revolted, and while waiting for this nothing was done. One evening a slave brought in a small roll of vellum to Cneius. It had been given him at the door, he said, by a Briton, who had at once left after placing it in his hands. The scribe opened it and read as follows: -- "To Cneius Nepo, greeting -- Obtain British garb for yourself and Berenice. Let her apparel be that of a boy. Should anything unusual occur by night or day, do you and she disguise yourselves quickly, and stir not beyond the house. It will be best for you to wait in the tablinum; lose no time in carrying out this instruction." There was no signature, nor was any needed. "So the storm is about to burst," Cneius said thoughtfully when he had read it. "I thought so. I was sure that if the Britons had a spark of manhood left in them they would avenge the cruel wrongs of their queen. I am rejoiced to read Beric's words, and to see that he has,. as I felt sure he had, a grateful heart. He would save us from the fate that he clearly thinks is about to overwhelm this place. The omens have not lied then -- not that I believe in them; they are for the most part the offspring of men's fancy, but at any rate they will come true this time. I care little for myself, but I must do as he bids me for the sake of the girl. I doubt, though whether Beric can save her. These people have terrible wrongs to avenge, and at their first outburst will spare none. Well, I must do my best, and late as it is I will go out and purchase these garments. It is not likely that the danger will come tonight, for he would have given us longer notice. Still he may have had no opportunity, and may not have known until the last moment when the attack was to take place. He says 'lose no time.'" Cneius at once went to one of the traders who dealt with the natives who came into the town, and procured the garments for himself and Berenice. The trader, who knew him by sight, remarked, "Have you been purchasing more slaves?" "No, but I have need for dresses for two persons who have done me some service." "I should have thought," the trader said, "they would have preferred lighter colours. These cloths are sombre, and the natives, although their own cloths are for the most part dark, prefer, when they buy of me, brighter colours." "These will do very well," Cneius said. "just at present Roman colours and cloths are not likely to be in demand among them." "No, the times are bad," the trader said; "there has been scarce a native in my shop for the last ten days, and even among the townspeople there has been little buying or selling." Cneius returned to the house, a slave carrying his purchases behind him. On reaching home he took the parcel from him, and carried it to his own cubicule, and then ordered a slave to beg Berenice to come down from her apartment as he desired to speak with her.