AT last, when it was almost too late, the guardians of
order appeared upon the scene. The watch, or, as we
should say, the police, which had the business of
keeping the peace in Rome, was a military force. It was
very effective when it was brought to bear upon any
disturbances, just as the military is in our own
country, but it was commonly very tardy in its
movements. The men who constituted it were not
dispersed over the city, but concentrated in a barrack.
Much time was lost in letting the officer in command
know that help was wanted, especially when the
disturbance took place in some remoter quarter of the
city; and not less in traversing the distance between
the barracks and the scene of action. In this case the
movements of the watch had been even unusually slow. At
first the officer did not understand that the situation
was serious. Jew-baiting was a recognised form of
amuse-  ment. The authorities did not interfere until the affair
seemed so grave as to threaten the public peace. So it
happened on the present occasion.
"Let them settle their own quarrel," the officer on
duty had said with a shrug of the shoulders; "it is
six of one and half a dozen of the other. The Jew has
been trying to cheat the Roman in one way, and the
Roman to cheat the Jew in another; one asks double the
right price for the goods, and the other wants to get
them for nothing at all."
A more urgent message, however, made it evident that
something had to be done. A company therefore was
equipped, as speedily as military formalities
permitted. It had just started when a third and still
more alarming summons had arrived. The men were then
ordered to go at the double, and, as has been said,
arrived just in time to prevent disaster.
The centurion in command found himself more interested
in the affair than he had expected to be. In the first
place the casualties had been numerous. Five of the
assailants had been killed, and two more so severely
wounded that their recovery was doubtful. The corpses
had to be removed and the wounded carried to their
homes, such as they were; the hospital to which they
 would nowadays be taken did not then exist. Then there
was the fact that the owner of the place which had been
attacked was a person of importance. Almost every one
in Rome knew the name of Manasseh, and public rumour
attributed to him wealth inferior only to that
possessed by the powerful freedmen of Caesar. A
millionaire, even though he was a Jew, was not to be
knocked about with impunity, as if he had been some
common man. Nothing less could be done than to provide
for his safe and speedy removal to his own home. This
was accordingly done, an escort, by way of greater
precaution, being furnished from the company.
The next thing was to obtain a trustworthy narrative of
what had happened, on which to base the report which
the centurion would have to make to his superior
officer. Obviously the Corsican was the right person to
tell the story. The centurion listened to it with
unflagging interest, and was not a little pleased to
find that the man was a compatriot and even a remote
"I am heartily glad to make your acquaintance," he said;
"you ought to have been a soldier. Not one man in a
thousand would have made such a defence; and your last
move was a masterpiece."
"You are very good," answered the captain,
 "but I am well content with my own profession of the
sea. I can't help feeling that you soldiers are too
much under command. Now when I am aboard my ship and
out of sight of land, I am as much my own master as any
man in the world. Not Caesar himself can meddle with me
there. He has got his ministers and his wife and I know
not who else to reckon with. No, no! I wouldn't change
places, no, not with Caesar himself."
"Well, well," returned the centurion, "we will talk
about this afterwards. Come back with me to barracks
after I have settled this business."
It was arranged for the present that the shop should be
put in charge of an optio, or deputy centurion,
with a guard of five men. Raphael was to put his seal
on such safes and lockers as had especially valuable
contents. Future arrangements were left for further
consideration. This done, the party bent their steps in
the direction of the barracks.
But the surprises of the day were not yet over. As they
were passing by the booksellers' stalls in the
Forum—traders were accustomed to congregate in Rome, as
they still do to a certain extent in modern cities—they
were attracted by the appearance of a particularly
sumptuous litter that was in waiting in front of one of
the stalls. The litter
 itself was richly upholstered in gold and silk; the
bearers, eight in number, were stout Bithynians, a race
which it had been the Roman fashion to employ for this
purpose for more than a century. The owner, a man
between fifty and sixty years, was examining the
contents of the bookstall, and talking to the
shopkeeper, who stood by in an attitude of profound
"That," said the centurion, in a whisper to his
companion, "is one of our richest men—Seneca."
"What!" replied the captain, "is he back in Rome
"Yes, since last year," said the centurion; "but let us
move out of earshot." When they were at a safe
distance, he went on: "He is in high favour now:
Caesar's wife cannot make too much of him. He teaches
her son, is a sort of tutor to him, you know; works
with Burrhus, who is my chief, as I daresay you know.
But do you know him?"
"Know him?" replied the captain; "I should think so. I
had the taking of him to Corsica when he was banished.
This was nine years ago. I never had such a passenger;
he made trouble enough for a whole cohort of men. He
kept on crying that he was the most miserable of
mortals. What happiness was he leaving behind him! To
what wretchedness was he going! For
my-  self I do not see that it is so great a hardship to
exchange Rome for Corsica. You get a better climate,
excellent hunting, plenty to eat and drink, only you
must not be particular, and good neighbours, as long as
you keep on the right side of them. However, that was
not the way in which my passenger looked at the matter.
If he had been going to execution, he could not have
made more fuss, and probably would not have made so
much. And yet he was what they call a philosopher. And
what made it worse, he was terribly seasick. I don't
know what that feels like myself. I took to the sea
from a child. But I fancy that while it lasts it is as
bad as anything can be. Well, I did what I could for
him, and he was grateful, yes, and made me a handsome
present; you see, they had not taken away all his
money. He was not a bad fellow at bottom, but he seemed
to me to make a great trouble out of very little. Give
me five million sesterces a year—that
is what I heard he had—and send me to Corsica to
spend it, and I'll not ask for anything more. And so
 he is back in Rome and a great man, you tell me. Well,
I wonder whether he will know me again."
The two crossed the street again and waited outside the
shop. Seneca by this time had finished his inspection
of the book and was negotiating for its purchase with
the shopkeeper. The business was quickly arranged, for
he was an excellent customer, and his ways were well
known. To offer a good price and to stick to it was his
plan, and the booksellers had the good sense to fall in
with it. He was about to step into the litter, purchase
in hand, when he caught sight of the captain. He
recognised him immediately.
"Well met, my friend," he cried; "and what brings you
to Rome? What are you doing now? Still the sea, I
suppose? You sailors are always giving it up and taking
to it again.
Refits his shattered bark, and braves
Once more the vext Icarian waves,
as Horace has it."
"Yes, sir," replied the captain, "we are like the
politician who is always, I am told, forswearing
public affairs, and always meddling with them again.
And after all we must do something to live. It isn't
every one that has all that he wants without earning
"Ah, you have me there," returned the great man with a
smile. "But where are you now?
 When I made my journey back from the place you know of,
I asked the captain about you, but he could tell me
"I am captain and part owner of a wheat ship, one of
the Alexandrian fleet."
"And it is just what you like, I hope?"
"Well, it might be better and it might be worse. But I
don't complain. You see, I am not a philosopher."
Seneca laughed. "My dear friend," he said, "you are a
little hard on me. But you know the wise man is always
himself except when he has a bad cold, and, I think one
might add, except when he is seasick. But I can't wait;
I am due at my pupil's in a very short time. But come
and dine with me to-morrow, and bring with you your
friend, if he can put up with a philosopher's fare.
Will you do me the honour of introducing him?"
"Caius Vestinius, a centurion in the watch," said the
"You will be welcome, sir," said Seneca. "I am
delighted to make your acquaintance. We are not half
grateful enough to you gentlemen, whose courage and
diligence enable us to sleep sound in our beds. On the
third day, then, at four o'clock; you will excuse the
lateness of the hour, but I am a busy man."
 With a courteous gesture of farewell he stepped into
his litter and was carried off.
"That is a very polite person," said Vestinius, as the
two resumed their journey. "But I am scarcely disposed
to go. I shall be out of my element in such grand
"Nonsense!" said the captain. "There is nothing
particularly grand about him as far as I can see. And
besides, you must bear me company. It is not for a
brave soldier to desert his friend."
The rest of the day was spent in jovial fashion, and it
was only when Vestinius was ordered out again on duty
that the two friends parted.
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