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THE DEATH OF VIRGINIA
THE next day, at the appointed hour, the client
appeared before Appius Claudius, and claimed Virginia
as his property, saying that her mother had once been
his slave. Now this was not true, and Virginia's uncle
protested against such a judgment; but Appius declared
at once that the girl must go with the client. He said
this because he had arranged that the man should give
Virginia to him; and he fancied that no one would guess
his motive or dare to resist.
The client laid hands upon the unwilling Virginia, and
was about to drag her away by force, when her
unfortunate father appeared. Breathless with the haste
he had made to reach Rome in time to save his child, he
began to plead with Appius Claudius to set her free. He
soon saw, however, that all his prayers were vain, and
that in spite of all he could say or do his daughter
would be taken away from him, and given over to the
mercy of those wicked men.
In his despair, he now asked that he might, at least,
be allowed to take leave of Virginia, and he sadly led
her to one side. He knew that none of the spectators
would have the courage to help him save her, and that
death was far better than the life which awaited her in
 house of Appius Claudius. All at once, he caught up
a knife from a neighboring butcher's shop, and stabbed
her to the heart, saying:
"Dear little daughter, only thus can I save you."
Then, drawing the bloody dagger from her breast, he
rushed through the guards, who did not dare to stop
him, and left Rome, vowing that he would be avenged.
When he reached the army, and told his companions about
the base attempt of Appius Claudius, they all swore to
him, and marched towards Rome.
The decemvirs had not expected a revolt, and had made
no preparations to defend the city. The army therefore
marched in unhindered, and Appius was flung into
prison. There he was found soon after, strangled to
death; but no one ever took the trouble to inquire how
The decemvirs were now entirely set aside, and the
government was restored as it had been before; but the
brazen tablets remained, and the laws which the tyrants
had chosen continued to be enforced, because they were,
in general, good and just for all the people.