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For The Temple by G. A. Henty

Chapter 18: Slaves.

John was roused from sleep by being roughly shaken. He sprang to his feet, and found a number of men -- some of whom were holding torches -- in the room. Two of these had the appearance of merchants. The others were armed and, by their dress, seemed to be Arabs.

|What are you doing here?| one of the men asked him.

|We are peaceful travellers,| John said, |injuring no one, and came in here to sleep the night.|

|You look like peaceful travellers!| the man replied. |You have two wounds yet unhealed on your head. Your companion has one of his arms bandaged. You are either robbers, or some of the cutthroats who escaped from Jerusalem. You may think it Iucky you have fallen into my hands, instead of that of the Romans, who would have finished you off without a question.

|Bind them,| he said, turning to his men.

Resistance was useless. The hands of John and Jonas were tied behind their backs, and they were taken outside the house. Several fires were burning in the road, and lying down were three or four hundred men and women; while several men, with spears and swords, stood as a guard over them. John saw, at once, that he had fallen into the hands of a slave dealer -- one of the many who had come, from various parts, to purchase the Jews whom the Romans sold as slaves -- and already the multitude sold was so vast that it had reduced the price of slaves throughout Italy, Egypt, and the East to one-third of their former value. There were, however, comparatively few able-bodied men among them. In almost every case the Romans had put these to the sword, and the slave dealers, finding John and Jonas, had congratulated themselves on the acquisition; knowing well that no complaint that the captives might make would be listened to, and that their story would not be believed, even if they could get to tell it to anyone of authority.

John and Jonas were ordered to lie down with the rest, and were told that, if they made any attempt to escape, they would be scourged to death.

|The villains!| Jonas muttered, as they lay down. |Is it not enough to drive one mad to think that, after having escaped the Romans, we should fall into the hands of these rogues!|

|We must not grumble at fate. Hitherto, Jonas, we have been marvellously preserved. First of all, we two were alone saved from Jotapata; then we, with ten others, alone out of six hundred escaped alive from Jerusalem. We have reason for thankfulness, rather than repining. We have been delivered out of the hands of death; and remember that I have the ring of Titus with me, and that -- when the time comes -- this will avail us.|

From the day the siege had begun, John had carried the signet ring of Titus; wearing it on his toe, concealed by the bands of his sandals. He knew that, were he to fall into the hands of the Romans, he would get no opportunity of speaking but, even if not killed at once, would be robbed of any valuable he might possess; and that his assertion that the ring was a signet, which Titus himself had given him would, even if listened to, be received with incredulity. He had therefore resolved to keep it concealed, and to produce it only when a favourable opportunity seemed to offer.

|At any rate, Jonas, let us practise patience, and be thankful that we are still alive.|

In the morning, the cavalcade got into motion. John found that the majority of his fellow captives were people who had been taken captive when Titus, for the second time, obtained possession of the lower city. They had been sent up to Tiberias, and there sold, and their purchaser was now taking them down to Egypt. The men were mostly past middle age, and would have been of little value as slaves, had it not been that they were all craftsmen -- workers in stone or metal -- and would therefore fetch a fair price, if sold to masters of these crafts. The rest were women and children.

The men were attached to each other by cords, John and Jonas being placed at some distance apart; and one of the armed guards placed himself near each, as there was far more risk of active and determined young men trying to make their escape than of the others doing so, especially after the manner in which they had been kidnapped. All their clothes were taken from them, save their loincloths; and John trembled lest he should be ordered also to take off his sandals, for his present captors would have no idea of the value of the ring, but would seize it for its setting.

Fortunately, however, this was not the case. The guards all wore sandals and had, therefore, no motive in taking those of the captives, especially as they were old and worn. The party soon turned off from the main road, and struck across the hills to the west; and John bitterly regretted that he had not halted, for the night, a few miles further back than he did, in which case he would have avoided the slave dealers' caravan.

The heat was intense, and John pitied the women and children, compelled to keep up with the rest. He soon proposed, to a woman who was burdened with a child about two years old, to place it on his shoulders; and as the guard saw in this a proof that their new captives had no idea of endeavouring to escape, they offered no objection to the arrangement which, indeed, seemed so good to them that, as the other mothers became fatigued, they placed the children on the shoulders of the male prisoners; loosing the hands of the latter, in order that they might prevent the little ones from losing their balance.

The caravan halted for the night at Sichem, and the next day crossed Mount Gerizim to Bethsalisa, and then went on to Jaffa. Here the slave dealers hired a ship, and embarked the slaves. They were crowded closely together, but otherwise were not unkindly treated, being supplied with an abundance of food and water -- for it was desirable that they should arrive in the best possible condition at Alexandria, whither they were bound.

Fortunately the weather was fine and, in six days, they reached their destination. Alexandria was at that time the largest city, next to Rome herself, upon the shores of the Mediterranean. It had contained a very large Jewish population prior to the great massacre, five years before and, even now, there were a considerable number remaining. The merchant had counted upon this and, indeed, had it not been for the number of Jews scattered among the various cities of the East, the price of slaves would have fallen even lower than it did. But the Jewish residents, so far as they could afford it, came forward to buy their country men and women, in order to free them from slavery.

When, therefore, the new arrivals were exposed in the market, many assuring messages reached them from their compatriots; telling them to keep up their courage, for friends would look after them. The feeling against the Jews was still too strong for those who remained in Alexandria to appear openly in the matter, and they therefore employed intermediaries, principally Greeks and Cretans, to buy up the captives. The women with children were the first purchased, as the value of these was not great. Then some of the older men, who were unfit for much work, were taken. Then there was a pause, for already many cargoes of captives had reached Alexandria, and the resources of their benevolent countrymen were becoming exhausted.

No one had yet bid for John or Jonas, as the slave dealers had placed a high price upon them as being strong and active, and fitted for hard work. Their great fear was that they should be separated; and John had, over and over again, assured his companion that should he, as he hoped, succeed in getting himself sent to Titus, and so be freed, he would, before proceeding home, come to Egypt and purchase his friend's freedom.

The event they feared, however, did not happen. One day a Roman, evidently of high rank, came into the market and, after looking carelessly round, fixed his eyes upon John and his companion, and at once approached their master. A few minutes were spent in bargaining; then the dealer unfastened the fetters which bound them, and the Roman briefly bade them follow him.

He proceeded through the crowded streets, until they were in the country outside the town. Here, villas with beautiful gardens lined the roads. The Roman turned in at the entrance to one of the largest of these mansions. Under a colonnade, which surrounded the house, a lady was reclining upon a couch. Her two slave girls were fanning her.

Illustration: 'Lesbia,' the Roman said, 'I have brought you two more slaves.'

|Lesbia,| the Roman said, |you complained, yesterday, that you had not enough slaves to keep the garden in proper order, so I have bought you two more from the slave market. They are Jews, that obstinate race that have been giving Titus so much trouble. Young as they are, they seem to have been fighting, for both of them are marked with several scars.|

|I dare say they will do,| the lady said. |The Jews are said to understand the culture of the vine and fig better than other people, so they are probably accustomed to garden work.|

The Roman clapped his hands, and a slave at once appeared.

|Send Philo here.|

A minute later a Greek appeared.

|Philo, here are two slaves I have brought from the market. They are for work in the garden. See that they do it, and let me know how things go on. We shall know how to treat them, if they are troublesome.|

Philo at once led the two new slaves to the shed, at a short distance from the house, where the slaves employed out of doors lodged.

|Do you speak Greek?| he asked.

|As well as my native language,| John replied.

|My lord Tibellus is a just and good master,| Philo said, |and you are fortunate in having fallen into his hands. He expects his slaves to work their best and, if they do so, he treats them well; but disobedience and laziness he punishes, severely. He is an officer of high rank in the government of the city. As you may not know the country, I warn you against thinking of escape. The Lake of Mareotis well-nigh surrounds the back of the city and, beyond the lake, the Roman authority extends for a vast distance, and none would dare to conceal runaway slaves.|

|We shall not attempt to escape,| John said, quietly, |and are well content that we have fallen in such good hands. I am accustomed to work in a garden, but my companion has not had much experience at such work; therefore, I pray you be patient with him, at first.|

John had agreed with Jonas that, if they had the good fortune to be sold to a Roman, they would not, for a time, say anything about the ring. It was better, they thought, to wait until Titus returned to Rome -- which he would be sure to do, after the complete conquest of Jerusalem. Even were they sent to him there, while he was still full of wrath and bitterness against the Jews -- for the heavy loss that they had inflicted upon his army, and for the obstinacy which compelled him to destroy the city which he would fain have preserved, as a trophy of his victory -- they might be less favourably received than they would be after there had been some time for the passions awakened by the strife to abate; especially after the enjoyment of the triumph which was sure to be accorded to him, on his return after his victory.

The next day the ring, the badge of slavery, was fastened round the necks of the two new purchases. John had already hidden in the ground the precious ring, as he rightly expected that he would have to work barefooted. They were at once set to work in the garden. John was surprised at the number and variety of the plants and trees which filled it; and at the beauty and care with which it was laid out, and tended. Had it not been for the thought of the grief that they would be suffering, at home, he would -- for a time -- have worked contentedly. The labour was no harder than that on his father's farm; and as he worked well and willingly Philo, who was at the head of the slaves employed in the garden -- which was a very extensive one -- did not treat him with harshness.

Jonas, although less skilful, also gave satisfaction; and two months passed without any unpleasant incident. The Roman slaves, save in exceptional instances, were all well treated by their masters, although these had power of life and death over them. They were well fed and, generally, had some small money payment made them. Sometimes, those who were clever at a handicraft were let out to other masters, receiving a portion of the wages they earned; so that they were frequently able, in old age, to purchase their freedom.

There were four other slaves who worked in the garden. Two of these were Nubians, one a Parthian, the other a Spaniard. The last died, of homesickness and fever, after they had been there six weeks; and his place was filled up by another Jew, from a cargo freshly arrived.

From him, John learned what had taken place after he had left Jerusalem. The bands of Simon and John of Gischala were so much weakened, by death and desertion, and were so enfeebled by famine, that they could not hope to withstand the regular approaches of the Roman arms, for any length of time. The two leaders therefore invited Titus to a parley; and the latter, being desirous of avoiding more bloodshed, of saving the Palace of Herod and the other great buildings in the upper city, and of returning to Rome at once, agreed to meet them. They took their places at opposite ends of the bridge across the Tyropceon Valley.

Titus spoke first, and expostulated with them on the obstinacy which had already led to the destruction of the Temple, and the greater part of the city. He said that all the world, even to the distant Britons, had done homage to the Romans, and that further resistance would only bring destruction upon them. Finally, he offered their lives to all, if they would lay down their arms and surrender themselves as prisoners of war.

Simon and John replied that they and their followers had bound themselves, by a solemn oath, never to surrender themselves into the hands of the Romans; but they expressed their willingness to retire, with their wives and families, into the wilderness, and leave the Romans in possession of the city. Titus considered this language, for men in so desperate a position, to be a mockery; and answered sternly that, henceforth, he would receive no deserters, and show no mercy, and that they might fight their hardest. He at once ordered the destruction of all the buildings standing round the Temple.

The flames spread as far as the Palace of Helena, on Ophel, to the south of the Temple platform. Here the members of the royal family of Adiabene dwelt, and also in the Palaces of Grapte and Monobazus; and the descendants of Helena now went over to the Romans, and Titus, although he had declared that he would in future spare none, did not take their lives, seeing that they were of royal blood.

Simon and John of Gischala, when they heard that the Adiabene princes had gone over to the Romans, rushed to the Palace of Helena, sacked it, and murdered all who had taken refuge in the building -- seven thousand in number. They then sacked the rest of the outer lower town, and retired with their booty into the high town.

Titus, furious at this conduct, ordered all the outer lower town to be burned; and soon, from the Temple platform to the Fountain of Siloam, a scene of desolation extended. The Roman soldiers then commenced to throw up banks, the one against Herod's Palace, the other near the bridge across the valley close to the Palace of Agrippa.

The Idumeans, under Simon, were opposed to further resistance, and five of their leaders opened communication with Titus, who was disposed to treat with them; but the conspiracy was discovered by Simon, and the five leaders executed. Still, in spite of the watchfulness of Simon and John, large numbers of the inhabitants made their escape to the Romans who, tired of slaying, spared their lives, but sold the able-bodied as slaves, and allowed the rest to pass through their lines.

On the 1st of September, after eighteen days' incessant labour, the bank on the west against Herod's Palace was completed, and the battering rams commenced their work. The defenders were too enfeebled, by famine, to offer any serious resistance and, the next day, a long line of the wall fell to the ground.

Simon and John at first thought of cutting their way through the Roman ranks but, when they saw how small was the body of followers gathered round them, they gave up the attempt. They hesitated, for a moment, whether they should throw themselves into the three great towers, and fight to the last; or endeavour to fight their way through the wall of circumvallation.

They chose the latter course, hurried down to the lower end of the upper city and, sallying out from the gate, they rushed at the Roman wall; but they had no engines of war to batter it, they were few in number and weakened by famine; and when they tried to scale the wall the Roman guards, assembling in haste, beat them back; and they returned into the city and, scattering, hid themselves in the underground caves.

The Romans advanced to the great towers, and found them deserted. Titus stood amazed at their strength and solidity; and exclaimed that God, indeed, was on their side for that by man, alone, these impregnable towers could never have been taken.

All resistance having now ceased, the Romans spread themselves through the city, slaughtering all whom they met, without distinction of age or sex. They were, however, aghast at the spectacle which the houses into which they burst presented. Some of these had been used as charnel houses, and had been filled with dead bodies. In others were found the remains of whole families who, with their servants, had shut themselves up to die of hunger. Everywhere the dead far outnumbered the living.

The next day, Titus issued an order that only such as possessed arms should be slain, and that all others should be taken prisoners; but the Roman soldiers were too infuriated at the losses and defeats they had suffered even to obey the orders of Titus, and all save the able-bodied, who would be of value as slaves, were slaughtered. A vast number of those fit for slaves were confined in the charred remains of the Women's Court and, so weakened were these, by the ravages of famine, that eleven thousand of them are said to have perished. Of the survivors, some were selected to grace the triumphal procession at Rome. Of the remainder, all under the age of seventeen were sold as slaves. A part of those above that age were distributed, among the amphitheatres of Syria, to fight as gladiators against the wild beasts; and the rest were condemned to labour in the public works, in Egypt, for the rest of their lives.

When all above the surface had been slain, or made prisoners, the Romans set to work methodically to search the conduits, sewers, and passages under the city. Multitudes of fugitives were found here, and all were slain as soon as discovered. Then the army was set to work, to raze the city to the ground. Every building and wall were thrown down, the only exception being a great barrack adjoining Herod's Palace -- which was left for the use of one of the legions, which was to be quartered there for a time -- and the three great towers -- Hippicus, Phasaelus, and Mariamne -- which were left standing, in order that they might show to future generations how vast had been the strength of the fortifications which Roman valour had captured.

John of Gischala and Simon had both so effectually concealed themselves thate for a time, they escaped the Roman searchers. At the end of some days, however, John was compelled by famine to come out, and surrender. Simon was much longer, before he made his appearance. He had taken with him into his hiding place a few of his followers, and some stone masons with their tools, and an effort was made to drive a mine beyond the Roman outposts. The rock however was hard, and the men enfeebled by famine; and the consequence was that Simon, like his fellow leader, was compelled to make his way to the surface.

The spot where he appeared was on the platform of the Temple, far from the shaft by which he had entered the underground galleries. He appeared at night, clad in white, and the Roman guards at first took him for a spectre; and he thus escaped instant death, and had time to declare who he was. Titus had already left; but Terentius Rufus -- who commanded the Tenth Legion, which had been left behind -- sent Simon in chains to Titus, at Caesarea; and he, as well as John of Gischala, were taken by the latter to Rome, to grace his triumph.

|It is strange,| John said, when he heard the story, |that the two men who have brought all these woes upon Jerusalem should have both escaped with their lives. The innocent have fallen, and the guilty escaped -- yet not escaped, for it would have been better for them to have died fighting, in the court of the Temple, than to live as slaves in the hands of the Romans.|

A month later, John learned the fate that had befallen the two Jewish leaders. Both were dragged in the triumphal procession of Titus through the streets of Rome; then, according to the cruel Roman custom, Simon was first scourged and then executed, as the bravest of the enemies of Rome, while John of Gischala was sentenced to imprisonment for life.

The day after the news of the return to Rome and triumph of Titus arrived, John asked Philo to tell Tibellus that he prayed that he would hear him, as he wished to speak to him on a subject connected with Titus. Wondering what his Jewish slave could have to say about the son of the emperor, Tibellus, upon hearing from Philo of the request, at once ordered John to be brought to him.

|Let me bring my companion, also, with me,| John said to Philo. |He is my adopted brother, and can bear evidence to the truth of my statements.|

When they reached the colonnade Philo told them to stop there and, a minute later, Tibellus came out.

|Philo tells me that you have something to say to me, concerning Titus.|

|I have, my lord,| John said, and he advanced and held out the ring.

The Roman took it, and examined it.

|It is a signet ring of Titus!| he said, in surprise. |How came you by this? This is a grave matter, slave; and if you cannot account satisfactorily as to how you came possessed of this signet, you had better have thrown yourself into the sea, or swallowed poison, than have spoken of your possession of this signet.|

|It was given to me by Titus, himself.| John said.

The Roman made a gesture of anger.

|It is ill jesting with the name of Caesar,| he said, sternly. |This is Caesar's ring. Doubtless it was stolen from him. You may have taken it from the robber by force, or fraud, or as a gift -- I know not which -- but do not mock me with such a tale as that Caesar gave one of his signets to you, a Jew.|

|It is as I said,| John replied, calmly. |Titus himself bestowed that ring upon me; and said that, if I desired to come to him at any time, and showed it to a Roman, it would open all doors, and bring me to his presence.|

|You do not speak as if you were mad,| Tibellus said, |and yet your tale is not credible.

|Are you weary of life, Jew? Do you long to die by torture? Philo has spoken well to me of you and your young companion. You have laboured well, and cheerfully, he tells me; and are skilled at your work. Do you find your lot so hard that you would die to escape it, and so tell me this impossible story? For death, and a horrible death, will assuredly be your portion. If you persist in this tale and, showing me this ring, say: 'I demand that you send me and my companion to Titus,' I should be bound to do so; and then torture and death will be your portion, for mocking the name of Caesar.|

|My lord,| John said, calmly, |I repeat that I mock not the name of Caesar, and that what I have told you is true. I am not weary of life, or discontented with my station. I have been kindly treated by Philo, and work no harder than I should work at my father's farm, in Galilee; but I naturally long to return home. I have abstained from showing you this ring before, because Titus had not as yet conquered Jerusalem; but now that I hear he has been received in triumph, in Rome, he would have time to give me an audience; and therefore I pray that I may be sent to him.|

|But how is it possible that Titus could have given you this ring?| Tibellus asked, impressed by the calmness of John's manner, and yet still unable to believe a statement which appeared to him altogether incredible.

|I will tell you, my lord, but I will tell you alone; for although Titus made no secret of it at the time, he might not care for the story to be generally told.|

Tibellus waved his hand to Philo, who at once withdrew.

|You have found it hard to believe what I have told you, my lord,| John went on. |You will find it harder, still, to believe what I now tell you; but if it is your command, I am bound to do so.|

|It is my command,| Tibellus said, shortly. |I would fain know the whole of this monstrous tale.|

|I must first tell you, my lord, that though as yet but twenty-one years old, I have for four years fought with my countrymen against the Romans.

|You see,| he said, pointing to the scars on his head, arms, and body, |I have been wounded often and, as you may see for yourself, some of these scars are yet unhealed. Others are so old that you can scarce see their traces. This is a proof of so much, at least, of my story. My companion here and I were, by the protection of our God, enabled to escape from Jotapata, when all else save Josephus perished there. This was regarded by my countrymen as well-nigh a miracle, and as a proof that I had divine favour. In consequence a number of young men, when they took up arms, elected me as their leader and, for three years, we did what we could to oppose the progress of the Roman arms. It was as if a fly should try to stop a camel. Still, we did what we could, and any of the Roman officers who served under Titus would tell you that, of those who opposed them in the field, there was no more active partisan than the leader who was generally known as John of Gamala.|

|You, John of Gamala!| Tibellus exclaimed. |In frequent letters from my friends with the army I have read that name, and heard how incessant was the watchfulness required to resist his attacks, and how often small garrisons and parties were cut off by him. It was he, too, who burned Vespasian's camp, before Gamala. And you tell me, young man, that you are that Jewish hero -- for hero he was, though it was against Rome he fought?|

|I tell you so, my lord; and my adopted brother here, who was with me through these campaigns, will confirm what I say. I say it not boastingly, for my leadership was due to no special bravery on my part, but simply because the young men of the band thought that God had specially chosen me to lead them.|

|And now, about Titus,| Tibellus said briefly, more and more convinced that his slave was audaciously inventing this story.

|Once, near Hebron,| John said, |I was passing through a valley, alone; when Titus, who was riding from Carmelia in obedience to a summons from Vespasian -- who was at Hebron -- came upon me. He attacked me, and we fought -- |

|You and Titus, hand to hand?| Tibellus asked, with a short laugh.

|Titus and I, hand to hand,| John repeated, quietly. |He had wounded me twice, when I sprang within his guard and closed with him. His foot slipped, and he fell. For a moment I could have slain him, if I would, but I did not.

|Then I fainted from loss of blood. Titus was shortly joined by some of his men, and he had me carried down to his camp; where I was kindly nursed for a week, he himself visiting me several times. At the end of that time he dismissed me, giving me his signet ring, and telling me that if ever again I fell into the hands of the Romans, and wished to see him, I had but to show the ring to a Roman, and that he would send me to him.|

|And to him you shall go,| Tibellus said, sternly; |and better would it have been that you had never been born, than that I should send you to him with such a tale as this.|

So saying, he turned away, while John and his companion returned to their work. The Roman officer was absolutely incredulous, as to the story he had heard; and indignant in the extreme at what he considered the audacity of the falsehood. Still, he could not but be struck by the calmness with which John told the story, nor could he see what motive he could have in inventing it. Its falsity would, of course, be made apparent the instant he arrived in Rome; whereas had he said, as was doubtless the truth, that he had obtained the ring from one who had stolen it from Titus, he might have obtained his freedom, and a reward for its restoration.

After thinking the matter over for a time, he ordered his horse and rode into the city. One of the legions from Palestine had returned there, while two had accompanied Titus to Rome, and a fourth had remained in Judea. Tibellus rode at once to the headquarters of the commander of the legion. He had just returned, with some of his officers, from a parade of the troops. They had taken off their armour, and a slave was pouring wine into goblets for them.

|Ah, Tibellus!| he said, |Is it you? Drink, my friend, and tell us what ails you, for in truth you look angered and hot.|

|I have been angered, by one of my slaves,| Tibellus said.

|Then there is no trouble in that,| the Roman said, with a smile; |throw him to the fishes, and buy another. They are cheap enough, for we have flooded the world with slaves and, as we know to our cost, they are scarce saleable. We have brought two or three thousand with us, and can get no bid for them.|

|Yes, but this matter can't be settled so,| Tibellus said; |but first, I want to ask you a question or two. You heard, of course, of John of Gamala, in your wars in Judea?|

There was a chorus of assent.

|That did we, indeed, to our cost,| the general said; |save the two leaders in Jerusalem, he was the most dangerous; and was by far the most troublesome of our foes. Many a score of sleepless nights has that fellow caused us; from the time he well-nigh burnt all our camp before Gamala, he was a thorn in our side. One never knew where he was, or when to expect him. One day we heard of him attacking a garrison at the other end of the country, and the next night he would fall upon our camp. We never marched through a ravine, without expecting to see him and his men appearing on the hills, and sending the rocks thundering down among us; and the worst of it was, do what we would, we could never get to close quarters with him. His men could march three miles to our one; and as for our Arabs, if we sent them in pursuit, they would soon come flying back to us, leaving a goodly portion of their numbers dead behind them. He was the most formidable enemy we had, outside Jerusalem; and had all the Jews fought as he did, instead of shutting themselves up in their walled towns, we might have been years before we subdued that pestilent country.|

|Did you ever see this John of Gamala? Do you know what he was like, personally? Was he another giant, like this Simon who was executed at the triumph, the other day?|

|None of us ever saw him -- that is, to know which was he, though doubtless we may have seen him, in the fights -- but all the country people we questioned, and such wounded men as fell into our hands -- for we never once captured one of his band, unharmed -- all asserted that he was little more than a lad. He was strong, and skilful in arms, but in years a youth. They all believed that he was a sort of prophet, one who had a mission from their God.

|But why are you asking?|

|I will tell you, presently,| Tibellus said; |but first answer me another question. Was it not your legion that was at Carmelia, with Titus, when Vespasian lay at Hebron?|

There was a general assent.

|Did you ever hear of a wounded Jew being brought in, and tended there by order of Titus?|

|We did,| the general said; |and here is Plancus, who was in command of that part of the horse of the legion which formed the bodyguard of Titus, and who brought him into the camp. He will tell you about it.|

|Titus had received a message from Vespasian that he wished to see him,| the officer signified by the general said, |and rode off at once, telling us to follow him. We armed and mounted, as soon as we could; but Titus was well mounted, and had a considerable start. We came up to him in a valley. He was standing by the side of his dead horse. He was slightly wounded, and his dirtied armour showed that he had had a sharp fight. Close by lay a Jew, who seemed to be dead. Titus ordered him to be carried back to the camp, and cared for by his own leech. That is all I know about it.|

|I can tell you more,| the general said, |for Titus himself told me that he had had a desperate fight with the Jew; that he had wounded him severely, and was on the point of finishing him, when the Jew sprang at him suddenly and the sudden shock threw him to the ground; and that, strange as it might seem, although knowing who he was, the Jew spared his life. It was a strange story, and anyone besides Titus would have kept it to himself; and run his sword through the body of the Jew, to make sure of his silence; but Titus has notions of his own, and he is as generous as he is brave. By what he said, I gathered that the Jew abstained from striking, believing -- as was truly the case -- that Titus was more merciful than Vespasian, and that he would spare Jerusalem and their Temple, if he could.

|And now, why all these questions?|

|One more on my part first: what became of the Jew, and what was he like?|

|That is two questions,| the general replied; |however, I will answer them. Titus let him go free, when he was recovered from his wounds. He was a young man, of some twenty years old.|

|And do you know his name?|

|I know his name was John, for so he told Titus; but as every other Jew one comes across is John, that does not tell much.|

|I can tell you his other name,| Tibellus said. |It was John of Gamala.|

An exclamation of astonishment broke from the officers.

|So that was John of Gamala, himself!| the general said. |None of us ever dreamt of it; and yet it might well have been for, now I think of it, the young fellow I saw lying wounded in the tent next to that of Titus answered, exactly, to the description we have heard of him; and the fact that he overcame Titus, in itself, shows that he had unusual strength and bravery.

|But how do you know about this?|

|Simply because John of Gamala is, at present, working as a slave in my garden.|

|You do not say so!| the general exclaimed. |We have often wondered what became of him. We learned, from the deserters, that he had entered into Jerusalem, and was fighting there against us. They all agreed that the men he had brought with him took no part in the atrocities of the soldiers of Simon, and John of Gischala; but that they kept together, and lived quietly, and harmed no man. It was they, we heard, who did the chief part in the three days' fighting at the breach of the lower town; but we never heard what became of him, and supposed that he must have fallen in the fighting round the Temple.

|And so, he is your slave, Tibellus! How did you know it was he, and what are you going to do? The war is over, now, and there has been bloodshed enough and, after all, he was a gallant enemy, who fought us fairly and well.|

|He told me, himself, who he was,| Tibellus said; |but I believed that he was lying to me. I had heard often of John of Gamala, and deemed that he was a brave and skilful warrior; and it seemed impossible that young man could be he. As to what I am going to do with him, I have nothing to do but what he has himself demanded -- namely, to be sent to Titus. He produced the signet ring of Caesar; said that it was given to him by the general, himself; and that he told him that, if he presented it to a Roman at any time, he would lead him to his presence. I believed that he had stolen the ring, or had got it from somebody that had stolen it; and he then told me of the story, very much as you have told it -- save that he said that, when he was well-nigh conquered by Titus, and sprang upon him, Caesar's foot slipped, and he fell -- hinting that his success was the result of accident, rather than his own effort. He spoke by no means boastingly of it, but as if it was the most natural thing in the world.|

|There he showed discretion, and wisdom,| the general said; |but truly this is a marvellous story. If he had not appealed to Caesar, I should have said, 'Give him his freedom.' You can buy a new slave for a few sesterces. This young fellow is too good to be a slave and, now that Judea is finally crushed, he could never become dangerous; but as he has demanded to be sent to Caesar, you must, of course, send him there. Besides, with the ideas that Titus has, he may be really glad to see the youth again.

|But we shall like to see him, also. We all honour a brave adversary, and I should like to see him who so long set us at defiance.|

|I will bring him down, tomorrow, at this hour,| Tibellus said; and then, taking leave of the officers, he mounted and rode back.

On reaching home, he at once sent for John.

|I doubted your story, when you told it to me,| he said, |and deemed it impossible; but I have been down to the officers of the legion which arrived, last week, from Judea. It chances to be the very one which was at Carmelia, when Vespasian lay at Hebron; and I find that your story is fully confirmed -- although, indeed, they did not know that the wounded man Titus sent in was John of Gamala -- but as they admit that he answered, exactly, to the description which they have heard of that leader, they doubt not that it was he.

|However, be assured that your request is granted, and that you shall be sent to Rome by the next ship that goes thither.|

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