“If it be the will of God and your will, O you who may read this letter, haste, haste to help me, that I may escape the shame more sore than death which awaits me yonder in Rome.”
This letter she signed, “Miriam, of the house of Benoni,” but she did not write upon it the names of those to whom it was addressed, fearing lest it should fall into other hands and bring trouble upon them.
Then Gallus asked the man Samuel what money he needed for his journey and as a reward for his service. He answered that it was against his rule to take any money, who was bound to help those under the protection of the order without reward or fee, whereat Gallus stared and said that there were stranger folk in this land than in any others that he knew, and they were many.
So Samuel, having bowed before Miriam and pressed her hand in a certain fashion in token of brotherhood and fidelity, was led out of the camp again, nor did she ever see him more. Yet, as it proved, he was a faithful messenger, and she did well to trust him.
Next day, at the prayer of Miriam, Gallus also wrote a letter, which gave him much trouble, to a friend of his, who was a brother officer with the army at Jerusalem, enclosing one to be handed to Marcus if, perchance, he should have rejoined the Standards.
“Now daughter,” he said, “we have done all that can be done, and must leave the rest to fate.”
“Yes,” she answered with a sigh, “we must leave the rest to fate, as you Romans call God.”
In the evening they set sail for Italy, and with them much of the captured treasure, many sick and wounded men and a guard of soldiers. As it chanced, having taken the sea after the autumn gales and before those of mid-winter began, they had a swift and prosperous voyage, enduring no hardships save once from want of water. Within thirty days they came to Rhegium, whence they marched overland to Rome, being received everywhere very gladly by people who were eager for tidings of the war.
THE MERCHANT DEMETRIUS
When on that fateful night in the Old Tower Miriam sprang forward to strike the lantern from the hand of the Jew, Nehushta, who was bending over the fallen Marcus and dragging at his body, did not even see that she had left the door.
With an effort, the slope of the rocky passage beyond favouring her, she half-drew, half-lifted the Roman through the entrance. Then it was, as she straightened herself a little to take breath, that she heard the thud of the rock door closing behind her. Still, as it was dark, she did not guess that Miriam was parted from them, for she said:
“Ah! into what troubles do not these men lead us poor women. Well, just in time, and I think that none of them saw us.”
There was no answer. Sound could not pierce that wall and the place was silent as a tomb.