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which were simply written his name and the words, “DORMIT IN PACE-He sleeps in peace," was cemented against the opening. With a trowel, a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom, was rudely traced in the yet unhardened cement, and the little company began to disperse.
“O sir,” cried the young Greek, clasping the hand of the venerable Primitius, “teach me more fully this excellent way." Gladly, my son," replied the benignant old
“ Cume hither to-morrow. For here," he added with a smile,"my friends insist that I must remain concealed till this outburst of persecution shall have passed.* Hilarus, the fossor, will be thy guide. He will now conduct thee back to thy friend Faustus, who is seeking thee."
By the dim light of a waxen taper which he carried, Hilarus led the Greek to the entrance to the Catacomb, where they found Faustus waiting in some alarm at the delav of his friend. In the bright moonlight they walked back to the city. Isidorus thought well to evade giving an account of his adventure in the Catacomb, and, to turn the conversation, asked how the Christians had obtained the body of Lucius from the public executioner.
* Liberius, Bishop of Rome, lay concealed in the Catacombs for a whole year, during a time of persecution.
"Oh, money will do anything in Rome,” said Faustus, at which the Greek visibly winced. “The Lady Marcella, in whose grounds the Catacomb is, devotes much of her wealth to burying the poor of the Church, and her steward had no difficulty in purchasing from Hanno, the executioner, the mangled remains of the martyr. 'Tis like, before long, that he will have many such to sell."
WITH HILARUS THE FOSSOR.
O one becomes vile all at once," said the
Roman moralist, and we would be unjust to the fickle, fawning Greek Isidorus, if we concluded that deliberate treachery was his purpose, as, at the invitation of Primitius, he repaired next day to the catacomb of St. Calixtus. His was a susceptible, impressionable nature, easily influenced by its environment, like certain substances that acquire the odour, fragrant or foul, of the atmosphere by which they are surrounded. Amid the vileness of the Roman court, his better feelings died, and he was willing to become the minion of tyranny, or the tool of treachery. Amid the holy influences of the Christian assembly, some chord responded, like an Eolian harp, to the breathings of the airs from heaven. It was, therefore, with strangely conflicting feelings, that he passed boneath the Capuan Gate, and along the Appian Way, toward the Villa Marcella. His better
re recoiled from his purposed treachery of the previous day. His heart yearned to know more of that strange power which sustained the Christian martyr in the presence of torture and of death.
He was recognized by the porter at the gate of the villa as the companion of Faustus, and on his inquiry for the house of Hilarus, the fossor, was directed to a low-walled, tile-roofed building, such as may be seen in many parts of the Campagna to the present day. About the house were many stone chippings, and numerous slabs of marble. Under a sort of arbour, covered with vine branches in full leaf, stood a grisly-visaged man, with close-cropped, iron-gray hair, chipping with mallet and chisel at a large sarcophagus, or stone coffin, upon a mason’s bench.
“Do I address Hilarus, the fossor ?” asked the Greek, with a graceful salutation.
“I am Hilarus, at your service, noble sir," replied the old man, with a kindly expression of countenance.
The young Greek then told of the invitation given him by the good presbyter, Primitius, and requested to be conducted to him.
“You are, of course, known to the porter, or you would not have obtained admission to these grounds," said Hilarus. “But you will first honour my poor roof by partaking some refreshment after your hot walk from the city.”
Thanks, good friend,” replied the Greek, "a draught of your native wine would not be amiss. Nay, I would prefer it here beneath the grateful shadow of this vine," he continued, as Hilarus courteously led the way to the open door of the cottage. This was quite small, and had alınost 110 furniture save some earthen pots for cooking at an open fireplace. In a moment the old man re-appeared with an earthen flagou of wine and a bronze salver, with bread and goat's milk cheese, and a bronze cup.
“Fór whom is this elegant sarcophagus?” asked Isidorus, as he sipped his wine.
“I pray it be not for her who orders it,” said the old man, devoutly; “ at least not for many a long day to come. The good Lady Marcella bade me exercise my best skill in setting forth the great truths of the Gospel, that in death as in life, she said, she might teach the doctrines of Christ. She often comes to see how I get on with it, and to describe how she wishes it to be.
* Just such a peasant's house the writer visited on the Appian Way, near this spot, and just such a repast he s'ared at the entrance of this very catacomb. “The wine," said the guide, “is necessary to guard against a chill.” The contrast between the temperature above ground and below was about 30°.