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“Who would think he was so wicked ?” said a poor freed-woman who sold sugar barley in the Forum. “Sure he looks innocent enough."
“He is innocent," replied her neighbour, who kept a stall for the sale of figs and olives. “'Tis that wretch who is wicked,” looking fiercely at the Prefect as he moved from the court.
“ You are right,” said a grave-looking man, speaking low, but with a look of secret understanding; “but be careful. You can do the brave Lucius no good, and may betray the others into jeopardy,” and he passed swiftly through the throng
" 'Tis time all these Atheists were exterminated,” said Furbo, a sort of hanger-on at the neighbouring temple of Saturn. “The gods are angry, and the victims give sinister auspices. To-day when the priest slew the ram for the sacrifice, would you believe it? it had no heart; and the sacred chickens refused their food.”
“And they certainly are to blame for the floods of the Tiber, which destroyed all the olives and lentils in my shop," said Fronto, the oil and vegetable seller.
“ And the rain rusted all the wheat on farm," said Macer, the villicus or land-steward.
“ And the fever has broken out afresh in the Suburra,” croaked a withered old Egyptian crone, like a living mummy, who told fortunes and sold
spells in that crowded and pest-smitten quarter, where the poor swarmed like flies.
“ And the drought has blighted all the vines," echoed Demetrius, the wine-merchant.
“I never knew trade so dull,” whined Ephraim, the Jewish money-lender. “We'll never have good times again till these accursed Christians are all destroyed."
“So say I,” “And I,” “And I,” shouted one after another of the mob, till the wild cry rang round the Forum, “ Christiani ailleones “ The Christiaus to the lious.”*
*“If the Tiber over flows its banks,” says Tertullian, “ or if the Nile does not; if there be drought or earthquakes, famine or pestilence, the cry is raised, 'the Christians to the lions.' But I pray you,” he adds, in resutation of these absurd charges, “were misfortunes unknown before Tiberius? The true God was not worshipped when Hannibal conquered at Cannæ, or the Gauls filled the city.”—Tertul. A pol., X.
wormed his way into the confidence of Faustus, a servant of Adauctus, by professing to be, if not a Christian, at least a sincere inquirer after the truth, and an ardent hater of the edict of persecution. Faustus had therefore promised to conduct him to a private meeting of the Christians, where he might be more fully instructed by the good presbyter, Primitius. In the short summer twilight they therefore made their way to the villa of the Christian matron Marcella, on the Appian Way, about two miles from the city gates. A high wali surrounded the grounds. In this was a wicket or door, at which Faustus knocked. The whitehaired porter partly opened the door, and recognizing the foremost figure, admitted him, but
gave a look of inquiry before passing his companion.
“It is all right," said Faustus. “ He is a good friend of mine," and so they passed on.
The grounds were large and elegant, fountains flashed in the soft moonlight, the night-blooming cereus breathed forth its rare perfume, and masses of cypress and ilex cast deep shadows on the pleached alleys. But there was a conspicuous absence of the garden statuary invariably found in pagan grounds. There was no figure of the god Terminus, nor of the beautiful Flora, or Pomona, nor of any of the fair goddesses which to-day people the galleries of Rome In the spacious atrium, or central apartment o' the house, which was partially lighted by bronze candalabra, was gathered a company of nearly a hundred persons, seated on couches around ihe hall—the men on the right and the women on the left. A solemn stillliess brooded over the entire assembly. Near a tall cadalabrum stood a venerable figure with a suowy beard -the presbyter Primitius. From a parchment scroll in his band he read in impressive tones the holy words of hope and consolation, “Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me," and the rest of that sweet, parting counsel of the world's Redeemer.
Before he was through, a procession with