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THE ROSES FROM PARADISE
 EARLY in the fourth century after Christ, a group of
girls were living in the city of Cæsarea on the coast
of Palestine. They were all Christians, and most of
them came of noble families, and had played together on
the shores of the Mediterranean since their childhood.
Now, they had little heart for games, as Fabricius, the
Roman governor, was seeking out the Christians in his
province, and offering them the choice between death
and sacrifice to the gods of Rome. Many had failed to
stand the test—a test which the girls were aware might
be put to them at any moment. Would they be stronger
than these others when the trial came? Would they fail
It was not long before they knew, for two of them,
Agnes and Lucy by name, were betrayed to the governor,
dragged from their homes, and thrown into prison. In a
few days they were brought before Fabricius, and called
upon to deny their faith or die for it. Now that the
dreaded instant was actually before them, they wore no
longer afraid. Christ Himself seemed standing by them,
and their eyes were steady and their voices calm, as
they answered the governor.
"Take them away," he said after he had asked a few
questions. "Take them away, and do with them even as
unto the others," and he left the court to be present
at a banquet.
The evil tidings soon reached the ears of Dorothea,
 who was born of noble parents, and held to be the most
beautiful maiden in all Cæsarea; and while she rejoiced
that they had stood fast and gone gladly to their
deaths, she trembled greatly for herself lest, when her
turn came, as come it surely would, she might prove too
weak to face the sword, and be herself a castaway. It
was horrible to think of, yet all her life she had
shrunk from pain, and how was she to bear what
certainly lay before her? Then she knelt and prayed for
strength, and waited.
"Dorothea, Fabricius the governor has sent for thee."
The summons soon came, and Dorothea was almost
thankful, for the strain of expecting something day
after day is very hard to endure. She rose at once and
accompanied the officer, who was in such haste that he
hardly allowed her to say farewell to her parents, and
in a few minutes she was in the governor's house and in
the presence of Fabricius.
The Roman was a hard man, not wantonly cruel perhaps,
but not permitting anything to interfere with his duty,
and he prided himself on the manner with which he
carried out his orders from Rome. Yet when Dorothea
stood before him in the beauty whose fame had spread
far and wide, his heart suddenly melted, and a strange
feeling came over him that was quite new. He tried to
shake it off; to recall to his mind all the lovely
women he had seen in Rome and in Greece, lovelier
surely than this Christian girl. But it was the
Christian girl and not they who made his pulses throb,
and he kept his eyes fixed on the floor, as he put the
"Remove her to the prison," he said at last, "and,
Marcellus, bid the keeper treat her well, or he shall
answer for it to me," so, with her hands unchained and
her head held high, Dorothea walked between her guards
 to her cell, while Fabricius watched her from the
window. She sank down with relief as the door was
locked behind her. The first part, perhaps the worst,
of the trial was over, and out of her weakness she had
been made strong. Now there only remained, the
scaffold; for she never dreamed that she would see
Fabricius again, still less of what he would say to
The gaoler brought her some food and wine, which she
ate gladly, for she was much exhausted; then she fell
asleep, and was awakened by the noise of the key grating
in the door. Had the moment come? But there only
entered two women, strangers to her.
Tired though she was, Dorothea noticed something odd in
their manner, for they appeared shy and troubled, yet
to be making an effort to be bold and at ease. Dorothea
spoke to them gently, and inquired if they had any
message for her, and who had sent them.
Their reply did not help her much. They stammered and
hesitated, and interrupted each other, but at last
Dorothea understood with horror who they were and what
they wanted—they were apostates, who had denied Christ,
and they were offering her money to deny Him also!
THE LADIES TEMPT DOROTHEA.
Dorothea gasped, and for a while the words seemed to
die in her throat. The women saw the depths of the
shame that possessed her, and knew it was for them,
that they should have sunk so low. Suddenly they beheld
themselves with Dorothea's eyes, and covered their
faces with their hands.
"I did not mean to pain you," she said when at last she
spoke. "I dread my own weakness too much. Who knows if
I shall be any stronger than you," and she told them
how her friends had died and how fervently she prayed
to follow in their footsteps, till the faith the
apostates had forsworn was born in them again, and with
it a courage which never had been theirs.
 "Enough; we will go to Fabricius," they said at length,
"and will tell him that you have given our souls back to
us. Farewell, for never shall we meet in this world
Yet meet they did, as Fabricius, burning with love for
Dorothea, and rage at the failure of his plan, ordered
them to be burnt in the public square, and bade the
gaoler take care that Dorothea was present, that she
might learn what fate awaited her. It was a sore trial,
but when the maiden beheld the faces of the two poor
women brighten as they caught sight of her, she
rejoiced at the cruelty which had brought her there,
and encouraged them with her prayers and brave words
till their sufferings were ended.
"Dorothea, Fabricius the governor has sent for thee." A
second time the summons came, and she was led into the
governor's house. Long and earnestly he pleaded with
her; she should be his wife, he said, and a great Roman
lady, and have servants and slaves and all that she
could desire, if only she would sacrifice to the gods.
It was such a little thing he asked of her, merely to
throw some incense on the altar of the emperor, and
that only once. Was it reasonable that she should throw
her life away for nothing? She had, he knew, spent many
hours visiting the poor of her own people. Well, the
Romans had their poor too; and she might help them if
she wished, and would she not listen to him, who loved
her, and would fain save her.
"I am the bride of Christ," answered Dorothea, "and am
content with roses from the heavenly garden, which fade
When Fabricius saw that nothing he could say would move
her, his love turned to fierce wrath, and he called a
centurion and bade him tell the headsman to be ready
 at sunset, as there was work for him to do. After that
he shut himself up in his own room and would see
The streets of Cæsarea were crowded with people as
Dorothea walked through them on the way to the
scaffold. The story of the sudden love that Fabricius
had felt for her, and her answer to his offer of
marriage, had somehow got abroad, and all were anxious
to see the girl who had preferred death to marriage
with a Roman governor.
In the chief street, where the throng was thickest, a
young man, Theophilus by name, stepped in front of her,
and mockingly cried, loud enough for all to hear:
"Goest thou to join thy Bridegroom, fair maiden? Do
not forget me, I pray thee, but send me some of the
fruit and flowers from the heavenly garden, of which
"Thy prayer is granted, O Theophilus," replied
Dorothea, and the young man and his friends laughed
again and lost themselves in the crowd.
The scaffold was set up in the square, where Dorothea
had stood only yesterday watching the death of the two
poor women. She went quickly up the steps of the little
platform surrounded by soldiers, where the headsman
awaited her, and, kneeling, covered her face with her
hands for a short prayer. Then she looked up at the
headsman, in token that she was ready, and she saw
between him and her a boy holding out to her a basket
full of apples and roses, sweeter and more beautiful
than any she had ever seen before.
"The Roses from Paradise."
"Take them to Theophilus," she said, "and tell him that
Dorothea has sent them, and that they come from the
heavenly garden whither she is going, and where he will
one day find her."
 Theophilus and his friends were feasting and making
merry when the boy appeared at his side.
"Whence comes he?" asked one of the young men. "His
face is not of this country nor yet is he Roman. And as
for his apples and roses, tell me where they grow that
I may get some, for never have I seen the like."
Then the boy spoke and delivered his message, and the
tongues of all were silent.
For a time Theophilus was seen no more in Cæsarea; but
one day he came back and confessed himself a Christian,
and was sent by the governor to pluck the roses of the