The observer abroad on this occasion, once attracted to the wearing of colours, would have very shortly decided that there were three in predominance- green, white, and the mixed scarlet and gold.
But let us from the streets to the palace on the island.
The five great chandeliers in the saloon are freshly lighted. The assemblage is much the same as that already noticed in connection with the place. The divan has its corps of sleepers and burden of garments, and the tables yet resound with the rattle and clash of dice. Yet the greater part of the company are not doing anything. They walk about, or yawn tremendously, or pause as they pass each other to exchange idle nothings. Will the weather be fair to-morrow? Are the preparations for the games complete? Do the laws of the Circus in Antioch differ from the laws of the Circus in Rome? Truth is, the young fellows are suffering ennui. Their heavy work is done; that is, we would find their tablets, could we look at them, covered with memoranda of wagers- wagers on every contest; on the running, the wrestling, the boxing; on everything but the chariot-race.
And why not on that? Good reader, they cannot find anybody who will hazard so much as a denarius with them against Messala.
There are no colours in the saloon but his.
No one thinks of his defeat.
Why, they say, is he not perfect in his training? Did he not graduate from an imperial lanista? Were not his horses winners at the Circensian in the Circus Maximus? And then- ah, yes! he is a Roman! In a corner, at ease on the divan, Messala himself may be seen. Around him, sitting or standing, are his courtierly admirers, plying him with questions. There is, of course, but one topic.
Enter Drusus and Cecilius.
“Ah!” cries the young prince, throwing himself on the divan at Messala’s feet, “ah, by Bacchus, I am tired!”
“Whither away?” asks Messala.
“Up the street; up to the Omphalus, and beyond- who shall say how far? Rivers of people; never so many in the city before. They say we will see the whole world at the Circus to-morrow.”
Messala laughed scornfully.
“The idiots! Perpol! They never beheld a Circensian with Caesar for editor. But, my Drusus, what found you?”
“Oh- ah! You forget,” said Cecilius.
“What?” asked Drusus.
“The procession of whites.”
“Mirabile!” cried Drusus, half rising. “We met a faction of whites, and they had a banner. But- ha, ha, ha!”
He fell back indolently.
“Cruel Drusus- not to go on,” said Messala.
“Scum of the desert were they, my Messala, and garbage-eaters from the Jacob’s Temple in Jerusalem. What had I to do with them?”
“Nay,” said Cecilius, “Drusus is afraid of a laugh, but I am not, my Messala.”
“Speak thou, then.”
“Well, we stopped the faction, and- “