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 THE little community that remained in the
neighbourhood of the villa after the departure of the
Count and his household had plenty to occupy their
thoughts and hands. The Count had behaved with a
liberality and a discretion that were both equally
characteristic of him. All the stock of what may be
called the home farm, all the agricultural implements,
the cattle, sheep, and pigs, and as much of the stores
of corn that he could spare, he had made over to the
priest and two other principal persons in the
settlement for the benefit of the community at large.
This was an excellent start, and removed all immediate
anxiety for the future. The stores of provisions had
been increased by opportune purchases before the
resolution to go had been taken, and enough was left to
last, if managed with due economy, over the coming
Carna found plenty of employment of the kind in
 which she found her greatest pleasure. There was indeed
a terrible gap in her life; not only had she lost those
whom she had loved all her life as father and sister,
but her intellectual interests had dropped away from
her. Many of the books at the villa had indeed been
left with her, but then there was no one to whom to
talk about them. The old priest never opened a volume
except it was a service book; his wife could not even
read. But the time never hung heavily upon her hands,
for there was plenty of work to do among the sick and
sorry. As the autumn went on an epidemic, which a
modern doctor would probably have described as
measles, broke out among the children, and Carna spent
her days and nights in ministering to the little
sufferers. The one relief that she allowed herself—and
there was no little sadness mixed with the pleasure
which it gave her—was to spend an hour, when she could
snatch one from her many cares, in the deserted rooms
of the villa. The indulgence was rare, not only because
her leisure was infrequent, but because she was
conscious of feeling somewhat relaxed after it for the
effort of her daily life; but when it came it was
precious. Not a room, not a picture on the walls, not a
pattern in the tesselated pavements, that did not call
up a hundred associations, and make the past in which
she had enjoyed so much happiness live again in her
fancy. The dwelling was under the charge of an old
 gladly kept it clean in exchange for the shelter of two
or three of the rooms, and Carna was free to wander
about it as she would, while she felt a certain
security in the knowledge that the place was not wholly
The autumn and winter passed without any incident of
importance. News from the Continent had never been very
regular during that season of the year, and now it came
only at the rarest intervals. All that the settlement
heard went to show that there was but little chance of
the return of the legions. Constantine, after some
changes of fortune, had made himself master of Gaul and
Spain, and had established a kingdom which looked so
much as if it might last, that he had been regularly
acknowledged by Honorius as a partner in the Empire.
But it would be long before he could spare money or men
for adding Britain to his dominions. From Britain
itself the news was mostly of the most dismal kind. The
Picts, indeed, were not as troublesome as usual.
Happily for their neighbours on the south, their
attention had been occupied by the tribes on the north,
who had been driven by a season of unusual scarcity to
forage for themselves. The robbers, in fact, had been
obliged to defend themselves against being robbed, and
Britain had had in consequence a quiet time. But the
people used it to quarrel among themselves. There were
scores of chiefs who had each
 his pedigree, by which he traced his lineage to some
king of the pre-Roman days, and which gave him, he
fancied, a title to rule over his neighbours. And
besides these personal jealousies, there was a great
division which split the nation into two hostile
factions. There were Britons, who held to Roman ways,
and among them, to the religion which Rome had given,
and there were Britons who looked back to the old
independent days, and to the faith which their
forefathers had held long before the name of Christ
had been heard out of or in the land of His birth. The
former party was by far the more numerous, but its
adherents were those who had suffered most by Britain's
four centuries of servitude; in the latter the virtues
of freedom had been kept alive by a carefully cherished
tradition. They were few in number; but they were
vigorous and enthusiastic, even fanatical. It was clear
that this strife within would cause at least as much
trouble as would come from enemies without.
It was about seven months after the Count's departure
when Carna paid one of her customary visits to the
villa. She had been unusually busy for three or four
weeks previously, and had not found time to come. As
she passed through the garden, on her way to the house,
she noticed that the place looked somewhat neater and
less neglected than usual. This, however, did not
surprise her, as she had gently remonstrated with the
old keeper for
 doing so little, and, in her usual kindly way, had
followed up her reproof with a little present.
Accordingly she passed on without thinking more of the
matter to the little sitting-room which she had once
shared with Ælia, and prepared to spend an hour of
quiet enjoyment with a book. Her books, indeed, she
kept for these visits to the villa. Not only was her
time elsewhere closely occupied, but her hostess,
kindly and affectionate as she generally was, could not
conceal her dislike of the volumes which Carna loved so
In the midst of her reading she was startled by the
unaccustomed sound of footsteps. She lifted her eyes
from the page and saw a sight so unexpected that for a
few moments she could not collect her thoughts or
believe her eyes.
The British chief Martianus stood before her.
She had seen him last at the Great Temple, and the
recollections of those days and nights of horror, her
capture, her hurried journey, and the interrupted
sacrifice, crowded upon her, and almost overpowered
her. Nor could she help giving one thought to the
question—if this man's presence recalls such horrors in
the past, what does it not mean for the future? Still,
the courage which had supported her so bravely before
did not fail her now. She rose from her seat and calmly
faced the intruder, while she waited for him to speak.
 Martianus began in a tone of the deepest respect.
"Lady, I am truly glad that you condescend to honour
this poor house of mine with your presence."
"This house of yours!" repeated the girl, with
CARNA AND MARTIANUS.
"Lady, doubtless you do not know that this villa was
built by its former owner on land which belonged to my
family, and which was taken from them by force. I do
not speak of the Count—he was too honourable a man to
do anything of the kind—I speak of the former owner, or
so-called owner, from whom he purchased it. In the
Count's time I said nothing of my claim. I would not
have troubled him for the world. But now that he has
gone, and practically given up the place, I am
justified, I think, in asserting my ownership."
"I know nothing of these matters," said Carna, coldly,
"but I will take care not to intrude again."
"Intrusion!" said the chief. "Did I not say that there
is no one who would be more welcome here? We were
friends once, in the good Count's time; why should we
not be so again? and more," he added in a whisper.
"Friends with you! Surely that is impossible. You
cannot wish it yourself, after what has happened. You
seem to forget."
Lady, Carna—I used to call you Carna when you were a
child—I do try to forget that dreadful
 night. I was overborne by those double-dyed villains,
Carausius and Ambiorix. Believe me, it was against my
will that I took any part in that dreadful business.
And you will remember I never lifted a hand against
you, no, nor against that base champion of yours. You
will do me that justice. Carausius, thank Heaven! has
got his deserts, and I have broken with Ambiorix.
Carna remained silent.
Martianus resolved to try another appeal, and,
presuming that the girl's recollections of the scene
might be confused by fear, did not scruple to depart
considerably from the truth.
"I implore you to believe that I could not have allowed
that horrible deed to be accomplished. If that base
fellow who had the privilege of saving you had not
appeared, I was ready myself to interfere. I know that
I ought to have done so before; it has been a ceaseless
regret to me that I did not. But I wanted to keep on
terms with those two, and I held back till the last
moment. Forgive me my irresolution, Carna, but do not
believe that I could have been one of the murderers."
The girl's recollections of the scene, which were quite
free from the confusion which Martianus had imagined,
did not agree with this account of his behaviour, but
she did not think it worth while to argue the point.
 "Let it be as you will," she said, with a cold
dignity, "but you can imagine that these recollections
are not pleasing to me. And now I will bid you
She stepped forward as she spoke with the intention of
at once leaving the room, but Martianus barred the way.
Dropping on one knee, he caught her hand. For a moment
Carna, who had still something of the child in her,
felt a strong impulse to use the hand that was still
free in dealing him a vigorous blow. But her womanly
dignity prevailed: she only wrenched her hand away with
something like violence. There was something in the
foppish appearance and insincere manner of Martianus
that set her more decidedly against him than even the
recollection of the plot in which he had been
"I will listen to what you have to say, but do not
"You give me little encouragement," Martianus began,
"but still I will speak. I say nothing about myself,
only about my country—your country and mine. I know how
you love it. We have all heard what sacrifices you have
made for it, how you gave up home and friends sooner
than leave it. Make, if I must put it so, one sacrifice
more. You are the heiress of the great Caradoc, the
noblest king that Britain ever had, whom even the
com-  pelled to admire. I can reckon among my ancestors Cunobelin.
Apart our claims might be disputed; together they will
make a title which no one can dispute to the crown of
Yes, Carna, it is nothing less than that—the crown of
Britain that is in question."
"A crown does not tempt me," said Carna, looking the
speaker straight in the face.
"Ah! it is not that," replied the suitor; "you mistake
me. I never dreamed of tempting you. I know only too
well that it would be impossible. But think what a
British crown really means. It means a united Britain,
strong against the Picts, strong against the Saxons;
and without it—think what that would mean. Every
tribe—for we should split up into tribes again—for
itself; every chief working for his own hand; the Picts
plundering the inland, the Saxons harrying the coast.
Oh, Carna! as you love your country—I don't speak of
myself, though that, too, might come in time, if a
man's devotion is of any avail—but if you love your
country, do not say no."
It was a powerful appeal, and touched Carna's heart at
the point where it was most accessible. And she was so
candid and transparent a soul that what she felt in her
heart she soon showed in her face.
Martianus saw his advantage, but, happily for
 Carna, did not press it as he might have done. The fact
was that he was so conscious of his own insincerity and
falsehood that his courage failed him, and he dared not
press his suit any further. Had he gone on, he might
have entangled the girl in a promise which her feeling
for truth would not have permitted her to break, which
would have made her even shut her eyes to the truth. As
it was, he thought it his best policy to rest content
with the progress that he had made. He raised Carna's
hand respectfully to his lips, and, with a low
salutation, opened the door.