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"Such goodness as thine, sweet mistress,” said the slave, affectionately kissing her hand, “it would be impossible to spoil.”
“Dost know, Callirhoë," said the young Empress, with a smile of bewitching swectness,“ that I have a surprise for thee? It is, thou knowest, my birthday, and in my lionour is the banquet given to-day. But I have a greater pleasure than the banquet can bestow. I give thee this day thy freedom. Thou art no more a slave, but the freedwoman of the Empress Valeria. See, here are the papers of thy manumission,” and she drew from the girdle of her robe a sealed and folded parchment, which she handed to the now emancipated slave.
Dearest mistress !” exclaimed the faithful creature, who had thrown herself on the marble pavement and was kissing the sandaled feet of the beautiful Empress, but an outburst of sobs and tears choked her utterance.
“ What! weeping !” exclaimed Valeria. “Are you sorry then?”
“Nay, they are tears of joy," exclaimed the girl, smiling through her tears, like the sun shining through a shower; "not that I tire of thy service; I wish never to leave it. But I rejuice that my father's daughter can serve the no longer as thy slave, but as thy freed woman.”
“I should indeed be sorry to lose thee," said the august lady with a wistful smile. “If I thought I should, I would almost regret thy manumission ; for believe me, Callirloë, I have need of true friends, and thou, I think, wilt be a faithful one.”
“ Wliat ! I, but this moment a poor slave, the friend of the fairest and most envied lady in all Rome! Nay, now thou laughest at me; but believe me I am still heart and soul and body thy most devoted servant.”
“I do believe it, child,” said the Empress ; “but tell me, pray, why thou speakest in that proud melancholy tone of thy father ? Was he a freedman ?”
"Nay, your Majesty, he was free-born; neither he nor his fathers were ever in bondage to any
,”—and the fair face of the girl was suffused with the glow of honest pride in the freeborn blood that flowed in her veins.
"Forgive me, child, if I touched a sore spot in thy memory. Perchance I may heal it. Money can do much, men say."
“In this case, dearest mistress, it is powerless. But from thee I can have no secrets, if you care to listen to the story of one so long a slave.”
“I never knew thou wert aught else, child. My steward bought thee in the slave market in the Suburra. Tell me all.”
“ 'Tis a short story, but a sad one, your
Majesty," said the girl, as she went on braiding her mistress's hair. “My father was a lIebrew merchant, a dealer in precious stones, well esteemed in his nation. Ile lived in Damascus, where I was born. He nained me after the beautiful fountain near the Jordan of his native land."
“I thought it had been from the pagan goddess," interrupted the Empress.
“Nay, 'twas from the healing fountain ou Callirhoë, in Judæa," continued the girl. “When
" my mother died, my father was plunged into inconsolable grief, and fell ill, well-nigh to death. The most skilled physician in Damascus, Eliezer hy name, brought him back to life; but his friends thought he had better let him die, for he converted him to the hated Christian faith. Persecuted by his kinsmen, he came to Antioch with my brother and myself, that he might join the great and flourishing Christian Church in that city.* While on a trading voyage to Smyrna, in which we children accompanied our father, we were captured by Illyrian pirates, and carried to the slave market at Ravenna. There I was purchased by a slave dealer from Rome, and my father and brother were suld I know not whither.
Shortly after this time, that Church numbered 100,000 persons.
I never saw them again,”—and she heaved a weary and hopeless sigh.
“Poor chill!” said the Empress, a tear of syinpathy glistening on her cheek, “I fear that I can give thee little help. 'Tis strange how my heart went out toward thee when thou wert first brought so tristful and forlorn into my presence. "Tis a sad world, and even the Emperors can do little to set it right.”
“ There is One who rules on lighi, dear lady, the God of our fathers, by whom kinys rule and princes decree judgment. He doeth all things well.”
“Yes, child, I am not ignorant of the God of the Jews and Christians. What a pity that there should be such bitter hate on the part of your countrymen towards those who worship the same
“Yes," said Callirhoë, “Llindness in part hath happened to Israel. If they but kuew how Jesus of Nazareth fulfils all the types and prophecies of their own Seriptures, they would hail Him as the true Messiah of whom Moses and the prophets did write."
“Well, child, I will help thee to find thy father, if possible, though I fear it will be a difficult task. Ask me freely anything that I can do. As my freedwoman, you will, of course, bear my
name with your own. Now send my slave Juba to accompany me to the banquet-hall."
Callirhoë, or as we may now call her, after the Roman usage, Valeria Callirhoë, fervently kissed the outstretched hand of her august mistress and gracefully retired.
It may excite some surprise to find such generous sentiments and such gentle manners as we have described attributed to the daughter of a persecuting Emperor and the wife of a stern Roman general. But reasons are not wanting to justify this delineation. Both Valeria and her mother Prisca, during their long residence at Nicomedia, where the Emperor Diocletian had established his court, became instructed in the Christian religion by the bishop of that important see. Indeed, Eusebius informs us that among them there were many Christian converts, both Prisca and Valeria, in the Iinperial palace, Diocletian and his truculent son-in-law, Galerius, were bigoted pagans, and the mother of the latter was a fanatical worshipper of the goddess Cybele. The spread of Christianity even within the precincts of the palace provoked her implacable resentment, and she urged on her son to active persecution. A council was therefore held in the palace at Nicomedia, a joint edict for the extirpation of Christianity was decreed, and the magnificent Christian basilica was razed to the