She threw his hand off and stepped back into the full light, with all the evil of her nature collected in her eyes and voice.

“Thou drinker of lees, feeder upon husks! To think I could love thee, having seen Messala! Such as thou were born to serve him. He would have been satisfied with release of the six talents; but I say to the six thou shalt add twenty- twenty, dost thou hear? The kissings of my little finger which thou hast taken from him, though with my consent, shall be paid for; and that I have followed thee with affectation of sympathy, and endured thee so long, enter into the account not less because I was serving him. The merchant here is thy keeper of moneys. If by to-morrow at noon he has not thy order acted upon in favour of my Messala for six-and-twenty talents- mark the sum!- thou shalt settle with the Lord Sejanus. Be wise and- farewell.”

As she was going to the door, he put himself in her way.

“The old Egypt lives in you,” he said. “Whether you see Messala to-morrow or the next day, here or in Rome, give him this message. Tell him I have back the money, even the six talents, he robbed me of by robbing my father’s estate; tell him I survived the galleys to which he had me sent, and in my strength rejoice in his beggary and dishonour; tell him I think the affliction of body which he has from my hand is the curse of our Lord God of Israel upon him, more fit than death for his crimes against the helpless; tell him my mother and sister whom he had sent to a cell in Antonia that they might die of leprosy, are alive and well, thanks to the power of the Nazarene whom you so despise; tell him that, to fill my measure of happiness, they are restored to me, and that I will go hence to their love, and find in it more than compensation for the impure passions which you leave me to take to him; tell him- this for your comfort, O cunning incarnate, as much as his- tell him that when the Lord Sejanus comes to despoil me he will find nothing; for the inheritance I had from the duumvir, including the villa by Misenum, has been sold, and the money from the sale is out of reach, afloat in the marts of the world as bills of exchange; and that this house and the goods and merchandise, and the ships and caravans with which Simonides plies his commerces with such princely profits, are covered by imperial safeguards- a wise head having found the price of the favour, and the Lord Sejanus preferring a reasonable gain in the way of gift to much gain fished from pools of blood and wrong; tell him if all this were not so, if the money and property were all mine, yet should he not have the least part of it, for when he finds our Jewish bills, and forces them to give up their values, there is yet another resort left me- a deed of gift to Caesar- so much, O Egypt, I found out in the atria of the great capital; tell him that along with my defiance I do not send him a curse in words, but, as a better expression of my undying hate, I send him one who will prove to him the sum of all curses; and when he looks at you repeating this my message, daughter of Balthasar, his Roman shrewdness will tell him all I mean. Go now- and I will go.”