A day or two later Julia sent a slave with a message to Sempronius, and in the afternoon sallied out with a confidential attendant, who always accompanied her when she went abroad. In the Forum she met Sempronius, who saluted her.
“Sempronius,” she said coming at once to the purpose, “will you do me a favour?”
“I would do anything to oblige you, Lady Julia, as you know.”
“That is the language of courtesy,” Julia said shortly; “I mean would you be ready to run some risk?”
“Certainly,” Sempronius answered readily.
“You will do it the more readily, perhaps,” Julia said, “inasmuch as it will gratify your revenge. You have reason to hate Malchus, the Carthaginian slave.”
“Your suspicion was true, he loves the Gaulish slave; they have been questioned and have confessed it. I want them separated.”
“But how?” Sempronius asked, rejoicing inwardly at finding that Julia’s wishes agreed so nearly with his own.
“I want her carried off,” Julia said shortly. “When once you have got her you can do with her as you will; make her your slave, kill her, do as you like with her, that is nothing to me — all I want is that she shall go. I suppose you have some place where you could take her?”
“Yes,” Sempronius said, “I have a small estate among the Alban Hills where she would be safe enough from searchers; but how to get her there? She never goes out except with Lady Flavia.”
“She must be taken from the house,” Julia said shortly; “pretty slaves have been carried off before now, and no suspicion need light upon you. You might find some place in the city to hide her for a few days, and then boldly carry her through the gates in a litter. None will think of questioning you.”
“The wrath of Lady Flavia would be terrible,” Sempronius said doubtfully.
“My mother would be furious at first,” Julia said coldly; “but get her a new plaything, a monkey or a Nubian slave boy, and she will soon forget all about the matter.”
“But how do you propose it should be done?” Sempronius asked.
“My slave shall withdraw all the bolts of the back entrance to the house,” Julia said; “do you be there at two in the morning, when all will be sound asleep; bring with you a couple of barefooted slaves. My woman will be at the door and will guide you to the chamber where the girl sleeps; you have only to gag her and carry her quietly off.”
Sempronius stood for a moment in doubt. The enterprise was certainly feasible. Wild adventures of this kind were not uncommon among the dissolute young Romans, and Sempronius saw at once that were he detected Julia’s influence would prevent her mother taking the matter up hotly. Julia guessed his thoughts.
“If you are found out,” she said, “I will take the blame upon myself, and tell my mother that you were acting solely at my request.”