THE Archon was not a little struck by the energy and
intelligence of the new comer, and proposed a further
conference on the matter. The two accordingly retired
to the magistrate's private apartment. What had
happened was sufficiently plain. If the magistrate had
entertained any lingering doubts, these were dissipated
when the Corsican related to him what Rufus had said.
"He would be here to repeat it," he went on, "but he
has his prejudices, and just now he doesn't feel quite
at ease when he sees a magistrate and his lictors and
the other paraphernalia of a court. We may take it for
granted, therefore, that the young man has been seized
by the brigands. The question is—what is to be done?"
"The scoundrels will follow their usual course," said
the Archon, "and will demand a ransom; And the ransom
will have to be paid. It is not likely to be
unreasonably large. The fellows
 know their business too well to ask impossible sums.
Indeed, I have often wondered how nicely they suit
their demands to what they are likely to get."
"I daresay," remarked the Corsican with a smile, "they
have more friends in Corinth than anybody knows. They
must certainly have some well-informed person to give
them a hint."
"And the ransom will have to be paid," the Archon went
on. "It is a hateful necessity. Again and again I have
felt my blood boil when I had to make a treaty, as it
were, with these low-bred villains. I do think that if
Rome takes away our arms, she ought to protect us. When
Corinth was her own mistress, these scoundrels would
have been swept off the face of the earth before the
month was out. All this, however, is beside the
purpose. The ransom must be paid, and if the young
man's friends have any difficulty in raising the money,
I shall be glad to contribute."
"That is very kind of you," said the Corsican, "and
what you say about paying the ransom is quite true. But
there is another side to the affair which, if you will
allow me to say it, you do not seem to have taken into
"Go on," said the magistrate; "I never supposed that I
was infallible. A man must be a
 sad fool if he can sit in a court of justice for ten
years, as I have done, without finding out that he can
"This, sir," replied the Corsican, "is not a common
case of holding to ransom. These betting fellows are
mixed up with it. Their object, of course, is to keep
Eubulus from running.
They tried to do it with poison,
unless I am very much mistaken, and failed; now they
have had recourse to another dodge, and I am afraid
they are very likely to succeed."
At this moment Cleonicé, who was something of a spoiled
child, and felt no hesitation about entering her
father's sanctum, came into the room. The magistrate,
who knew that it was his business to accept her will
and pleasure, invited her to hear the matter in
discussion. "And indeed," he went on, "we shall be very
glad if you can throw any light upon it. My good friend
here and I are very much perplexed. Perhaps you will be
able to suggest something, and it ought to interest
you, for it concerns the young man who pulled you out
of the water the other day. To put the matter shortly,
the brigands have laid hold of him, and we want to know
how to get him out of their hands."
Cleonicé was quite sure that the matter did concern
her. She was a little vexed at feeling
 the blush that rose to her face, but she did not
pretend to any lack of interest.
"They will ask a ransom," she said, "and the ransom
will have to be paid. There will be no difficulty, I
suppose, about that. Eubulus has good friends in
"Very true," replied her father, "but as my friend
here points out, it is a matter of time. Eubulus must
be back before the race is run, and that is now but a
few days off. These ransom affairs cannot be finished
quickly. Neither side trusts the other. And if the
brigands choose to make delay, they easily can."
Cleonicé, after considering the problem to be solved,
was obliged to confess that it puzzled her. Her father
suggested a rescuing expedition, but soon allowed that
it was impracticable. In the first place the city,
though fairly well furnished with ordinary guardians of
the peace, had no disciplined force at command, and
this was a service, too, in which even an effective
force may very easily fail. When the soldier is pitted
against the brigand, he is very apt to be beaten. It is
true that a State resolutely determined to clear its
territory of banditti is bound to succeed sooner or
later. But the success comes later rather than sooner.
And, as has been said before, this was a question, and
a very urgent question,
 of time. The brigands might be driven from their usual
haunts, but they would find others. Wherever they
went, they would take their prisoner with them; and if
pushed too hard, they might kill him. It would not be
the best policy to do so, but temper, always a force
not easy to calculate, and especially violent in men
used to deeds of violence when they feel themselves
driven into a corner, has to be reckoned with. The
Corsican suggested that possibly the bearer of the
false message might be made use of. He was a
scoundrel, but still it might be made worth while even
for a scoundrel to act straight. There was much to be
said against the plan, but it might be better than
nothing, and so might be used in the last resort.
Cleonicé left her father and the Corsican still
debating, and retired to her chamber to think the
matter over by herself. A little further reflection
showed her that the first thing to be done was to
communicate with Priscilla. That lady had showed so
friendly and so practical an interest in the welfare of
Eubulus, that it was her right to be at least informed
of what had happened. To her accordingly the girl
repaired without further delay.
But Priscilla, with all her acuteness, common sense and
readiness of resource, could add nothing
 in conference. The dilemma still presented itself in
all its cruel cogency. Force was inapplicable, and no
adequate stratagem could be devised. The idea of
employing the fraudulent messenger was hardly worth
The situation had been discussed for half an hour or
more without making any apparent progress when an idea
suddenly presented itself to the girl's mind. She smote
her hands together, and cried "By Hermes!" then she
paused and excused herself to her companion, "I know
that you don't like this way of talking, but it is an
old habit, and the words were out of my mouth before I
was aware. But it is really a happy thought, a godsend,
if there ever was one. You know, or rather I should
say, you don't know, that my foster-mother lives in one
of the villages which lie near to the brigand
head-quarters. Her husband is the chief man of the
place, and though he is supposed to be on the side of
order, and would not, I am sure, lift his hand against
a traveller, yet he is on good terms with the brigands.
This is a kind of alliance that holds good, I take it,
all the world over. The villagers, whose lot, after
all, is a hard one—they do all the work and get but
little for it—are paid for what they do, and the
robbers, on the other hand, could not carry on without
 goodwill. This good woman loves me as much as if I were
her own child, and I am sure that she, and for the
matter of that, her husband, would do anything they
possibly could to help me. Yes! I will see whether I
can't get Manto to do something for that unlucky young
"But how will you get at her," asked Priscilla. "Where
is your messenger? Whom can you trust? Not that
scoundrel, surely, who brought the forged letter?
"No!" replied the girl, "certainly not. I would not
trust him an inch further than I can see. No, I would
sooner take the message myself."
"Well!" said Priscilla, "that would be one way of
doing it. But let me tell my husband; perhaps he may be
able to think of something."
Cleonicé was more serious than her friend imagined in
what she said. "Yes, yes, tell him, and if he suggests
anything, let me know at once." And she hurried back to
her father's house.