“We took you for a bandit.”
“And I am only a king,” said Antipater, proudly. “I am summoned to take the crown of my father.”
“And is he dead?”
“Nay, but ill and weary of his burden.”
Appius removed his helmet as he made answer:
“The gods give you health, honor, and wisdom, O king! Will you ride with us?”
“Already the gods give me honor,” said the prince, bowing politely as the troop made way for him. “I doubt not they will add health and wisdom. But there is a blessing I put above either.”
They started slowly, Antipater riding between Arria and her brother in advance of the troop.
“And shall we ask the gods to grant it?” said Arria.
“Yes, for it is your favor, sweet girl. I adore you, and shall have no other queen.”
“I cannot give you my heart,” said she, frankly. “It is impossible—I cannot bear to speak of it.”
“And you would not share my power and glory with me?” said Antipater, turning, with a look of surprise.
“Once before I have told you, my worthy prince, that whom the emperor chooses she will wed.”
“Think not of that—I shall make terms with him,” said Antipater. “She shall never wed a weak-hearted tribune.”
“You speak lightly of my friend,” said Appius. “I like it not, good sire.”
“Son of Herod,” said Arria, drawing rein, “we cannot longer enjoy your company.”
Appius halted the troop.
For a little Antipater was dumb with astonishment. He drew aside, and when he spoke his voice trembled with ire, it was near bursting into fury.
“Sweet girl,” said he, caressing the neck of his horse, “not even the power of Rome shall forbid me to love you, and I swear, by the god of my fathers, no man shall live between us!” He turned quickly, and a fierce look came into his eyes and he added, in a hoarse half-whisper, “You shall be my wife, sister of Appius.”
The young Roman wheeled his horse between them. Antipater backed away, threatening with his lance. He shouted to his trumpeter, his troop being hard by, and quickly a call sounded. Then spur went to flank, and the followers of the Jew passed in a quick rush and went thundering off, Antipater at the head of their column. He rode to Athens in ill humor and was at Piraeus three hours in advance of Arria and Appius. The sun had set and the sea lay calm in a purple dusk. He went aboard his trireme at once and called his pilot to him.
“Go find the vessel waiting here for one Appius of Rome,” he commanded.
“It is she that lies near us,” said the other.
“And you know her pilot?”
“Ay, ’tis Tepas the Idumaean. He knows the broad sea as one may know his own vineyard.”
“Bring him to me.”
When Tepas came, Antipater took him aside and spread before him a chart of the vast, purple sea which beat upon the shores of Hellas. He put his finger on a little spot some leagues from the coast of Africa.