“Have done with your boasting,” said Domitian, “and hide those scratches. You were taken prisoner by the Jews—it is enough. You have your prayer, your case shall go to Caesar. If the tale you tell is true you would produce that woman who is said to have rescued you from the Jews and whom you purchased as a slave. When you do this we will take her evidence. Till then to your prison with you. Guards, remove the man Marcus, called the Fortunate, once a Prefect of Horse in the army of Judaea.”
THE BISHOP CYRIL
On the morning following the day of the Triumph Julia, the wife of Gallus, was seated in her bed-chamber looking out at the yellow waters of the Tiber that ran almost beneath its window. She had risen at dawn and attended to the affairs of her household, and now retired to rest and pray. Mingled with the Roman crowd on the yesterday she had seen Miriam, whom she loved, marching wearily through the streets of Rome. Then, able to bear no more, she went home, leaving Gallus to follow the last acts of the drama. About nine o’clock that night he joined her and told her the story of the sale of Miriam for a vast sum of money, since, standing in the shadow beyond the light of the torches, he had been a witness of the scene at the slave-market. Domitian had been outbid, and their Pearl-Maiden was knocked down to an old woman with a basket on her back who looked like a witch, after which she vanished with her purchaser. That was all he knew for certain. Julia thought it little enough, and reproached her husband for his stupidity in not learning more. Still, although she seemed to be vexed, at heart she rejoiced. Into whoever’s hand the maid had fallen, for a while at least she had escaped the vile Domitian.
Now, as she sat and prayed, Gallus being abroad to gather more tidings if he could, she heard the courtyard door open, but took no notice of it, thinking that it was but the servant who returned from market. Presently, however, as she knelt, a shadow fell upon her and Julia looked up to see Miriam, none other than Miriam, and with her a dark-skinned, aged woman, whom she did not know.
“How come you here?” she gasped.
“Oh! mother,” answered the girl in a low and thrilling voice, “mother, by the mercy of God and by the help of this Nehushta, of whom I have often told you, and—of another, I am escaped from Domitian, and return to you free and unharmed.”