‘I seize thy meaning,’ interrupted Sallust: ’arm the slaves instantly. The streets are empty. We will ourselves hasten to the house of Arbaces, and release the prisoners. Quick! quick! What ho! Davus there! My gown and sandals, the papyrus and a reed.’ I will write to the praetor, to beseech him to delay the sentence of Glaucus, for that, within an hour, we may yet prove him innocent. So, so, that is well. Hasten with this, Davus, to the praetor, at the amphitheatre. See it given to his own hand. Now then, O ye gods! whose providence Epicurus denied, befriend me, and I will call Epicurus a liar!’
Glaucus and Olinthus had been placed together in that gloomy and narrow cell in which the criminals of the arena awaited their last and fearful struggle. Their eyes, of late accustomed to the darkness, scanned the faces of each other in this awful hour, and by that dim light, the paleness, which chased away the natural hues from either cheek, assumed a yet more ashy and ghastly whiteness. Yet their brows were erect and dauntless—their limbs did not tremble—their lips were compressed and rigid. The religion of the one, the pride of the other, the conscious innocence of both, and, it may be, the support derived from their mutual companionship, elevated the victim into the hero.
’Hark! hearest thou that shout They are growling over their human blood,’ said Olinthus.
‘I hear; my heart grows sick; but the gods support me.’
’The gods! O rash young man! in this hour recognize only the One God. Have I not taught thee in the dungeon, wept for thee, prayed for thee?—in my zeal and in my agony, have I not thought more of thy salvation than my own?’
‘Brave friend!’ answered Glaucus, solemnly, ’I have listened to thee with awe, with wonder, and with a secret tendency towards conviction. Had our lives been spared, I might gradually have weaned myself from the tenets of my own faith, and inclined to thine; but, in this last hour it were a craven thing, and a base, to yield to hasty terror what should only be the result of lengthened meditation. Were I to embrace thy creed, and cast down my father’s gods, should I not be bribed by thy promise of heaven, or awed by thy threats of hell? Olinthus, no! Think we of each other with equal charity—I honoring thy sincerity—thou pitying my blindness or my obdurate courage. As have been my deeds, such will be my reward; and the Power or Powers above will not judge harshly of human error, when it is linked with honesty of purpose and truth of heart. Speak we no more of this. Hush! Dost thou hear them drag yon heavy body through the passage? Such as that clay will be ours soon.’
‘O Heaven! O Christ! already I behold ye!’ cried the fervent Olinthus, lifting up his hands; ’I tremble not—I rejoice that the prison-house shall be soon broken.’