I do confess I can offer no justification for the continuation of my story. 
Once so fairly sped as I was on that long-distant day, thus recalled in such 
detail as I can remember, the natural and regular thing would be that there 
should be an end of me, with, perhaps, a page or two added by some 
kindly scribe to recall my too quickly smothered virtues. Nevertheless, I 
write again, not a whit the worse for a mischance which would have 
silenced many a man, and in a mood to tell you of things wonderful 
enough to strain the sides of your shallow modern skepticism, as new 
wine stretches a goat-skin bottle.

All the period between my death on the Druid altar and my reawaking 
was a void, whereof I can say but little. The only facts pointing a faint clew 
to the wonderful lapse of life are the brief phenomena of my reawaking, 
which came to hand in sequence as they are here set down.

My first consciousness was little better than a realization of the fact that 
practically I was extinct. To this pointless knowledge then came a dawning 
struggle with the powers of mortality, until very slowly, inch by inch, the 
negativeness was driven back, and the spark of life began to brighten 
within me. To this moment I can not say how long the process took. It 
may have been days or weeks or months, or ages as likely as not; but 
when the vital flame was kindled the life and self-possession spread more 
quickly, until at last, with little fluttering breaths like a new-born baby's, 
and a tingling;, trickle of warm blood down my shrunken veins, in one 
strange minute, four hundred years after the close of my last spell of living 
(as I afterward learned), I feebly opened my eyes, and recognized with dull 
contentment that I was alive again.

But oh! the sorrows attendant on it! Every bone and muscle in me ached to 
that awakening, and my every fiber shook to the stress of the making tide 
of vitality. You who have lain upon an arm for a sleepy hour or two and 
suffered as a result ingenious torments from the new-moving blood, think 
of the like sorrows of four hundred years' stagnation! It was scarcely to be 
borne, and yet, like many other things of which the like might be said, I 
bore it in bitterness of spirit, until life had trickled into all the unfamiliar 


of my clay, and then at length the pain decreased and I could think and 

In that strange and lonely hour of temporal resurrection almost complete 
darkness surrounded me, and my mind (with one certain consciousness 
that I had been very long where I lay) was a chaos of speculation and 
fancy, and long-forgotten scenes. But as my faculties came more 
completely under control, and my eyes accepted the dim twilight as 
sufficient and convenient to them, they made out overhead a dull, mossy 
roof of rock, rough with the strong masonry of mother earth, and 
descending in rugged sides to an uneven floor. In fact, there could be no 
doubt I was underground, but how far down, and where, and why, could 
not be said. All round me were cavernous hollows and midnight shadows, 
round which the weird gleam of rude pillars and irregular walls made a 
heavy, mysterious coast to a black, uncertain sea. I sat up and rubbed my 
eyes -- and as I did so I felt every rag of clothing drop in dust and shreds 
from my person -- and peered into the almost impenetrable gloom. My 
outstretched hands on one side touched the rough rocks of what was 
apparently the arch of a niche in this chamber of the nether world, and 
under me they discovered a sandy shelf, upon which I lay, some eight or 
ten feet from the ground, as near as could be judged. Not a sound broke 
the stillness but the gentle monotony of falling water, whereof one unseen 
drop twice a minute fell with a faint silver cadence on to the surface of an 
unknown pool. I did not fear, I was not frightened, and soon I noticed as a 
set-off to the gloom of my sullen surroundings the marvelous purity of the 
atmosphere. It was a preservative itself. Such an ambient, limpid element 
could surely have existed nowhere else. It was soft as velvet in its absolute 
stillness, and pure beyond suspicion. It was like some thin, sunless vintage 
that had mellowed endless years in the great vat of the earth, and it now 
ran with the effect of a delicate tonic through my inert frame. Nor was its 
sister and ally -- the temperature -- less conducive to my cure. In that 
subterranean place summer and winter were alike unknown. the trivial 
changes that vex the cuticle of the world were here reduced to an 
unalterable average of gentle warmth that assimilated with the soulless air 
to my huge contentment. You can not wonder, therefore, that I throve 
apace, and explored with increasing strength the limits of my strange 

All about me was fine deep dust and shreds, which even then smelled in 
my palm like remnants of fur and skins. At my elbow a shallow British 
eating-dish, with a little dust at


the bottom, and by it a broken earthenware pitcher such as they used for 
wine. On my other side, as I felt with inquisitive fingers, lay a handleless 
sword, one of my own I knew) but thin with age, the point all gone, rusty 
and useless. By it, again, reposed a small jar, heavy to lift and rattling 
suggestively when shaken. My two fingers thrust into the neck told me it 
was full of coins, and I could not but feel a flush of gratitude in that grim 
place at the abortive kindness which had put food and drink, weapons and 
money by my side, with a sweet ignorance, yet certainly, of my future 

But now budding curiosity suggested wider search, and, rising with 
difficulty, I cautiously dropped from my lofty shelf on to the ground. Then 
a wish to gain the outer air took possession of me, and, peering this way 
and that, a tiny point of light far away on the right attracted my attention. 
On approaching, it turned out to be a small hole in the cave out of reach 
overhead; but, feeling about below this little star of comfort, the walls 
appeared soft and peaty to the touch, so at once I was at work digging 
hard with a pointed stone; and the further I went the more leafy and 
rough became the material, while hope sent my heart thumping against 
my ribs in tune to my labor.

At last, impulsive, after half an hour's work, a fancy seized me that I could 
heave a way out with my shoulder. No sooner said than done. I took ten 
steps back, and then plunged fiercely in the darkness of the great cavern 
into the moldy screen.

How can I describe the result? It gave way, and I shot in a whirlwind of 
dust into a sparkling golden world! I rolled over and over down a 
spangled firmament, clutching in my bewilderment my hands full of blue 
and yellow gems at every turn, and slipping and plunging with a sirocco of 
color, red, green, sapphire, and gold flying round before my bewildered 
face. I finally came to a stop, and sat up. You will not wonder that I glared 
round me when I say I was seated at the foot of all the new marvels of a 
beautiful limestone knoll, clothed from top to bottom with bluebells and 
primroses, spangled with the young spring greenery of hazel and beech 
overhead, and backed by the cloudless blue of an April sky.

On top of this fairy mountain, at the roots of the trees that crowned it, 
hidden by bracken and undergrowth, was the round hole from which I 
had plunged; nor need I tell you how, remembering what had happened in 
there, I rubbed my eyes, and laughed and marveled greatly at the will of 
the Inscrutable, which had given me so wonderful a rebirth.


To you must be left to fill up the picture of my sensations and slowly 
recurring faculties. How I lay and basked in the warmth, and slowly 
remembered everything; to me belongs but the strange and simple 

One of my first active desires was for breakfast -- nor, as my previous 
meal had been four centuries earlier, will I apologize for this weakness. But 
where and how should it be had? This question soon answered itself. 
Sauntering hither and thither, the low shoulder of the ridge was presently 
crossed and a narrow footway in the woods, leading to some pleasant 
pastures, entered upon. Before I had gone far up this shady track, a pail of 
milk in her hand, and whistling a ditty to herself, came tripping toward me 
as pretty a maid as had ever twisted a bit of white hawthorn into her 
amber hair.

I let her approach, and then, stepping out, made the most respectful 
salutation within the knowledge of ancient British courtesy. But, alas! my 
appearance was against me, and Roman fancies had peopled the hills with 
jolly satyrs, for one of which no doubt the damsel took me. As I bowed 
low the dust of centuries cracked all down my back. I was tawny and grim 
and unshaved, and completely naked -- though I had forgotten it -- and 
even my excellent manners could not warrant my disingenuousness 
against such a damning appearance. She screamed with fear, and, letting 
go her milk-jar, turned and fled with a nimbleness which would have left 
even the hot old wood-god himself far in the rear.

However, the milk remained, and, peering into the pitcher, here seemed 
the very thing to recuperate me by easy stages. So I retired to a cozy dell, 
and, between copious draughts of that fine natural liquor, overwhelmed 
with blessings the sleek kine and the comely maid who milked them. 
Indeed, the stuff ran into my withered processes like a freshet stream into 
a long-dry country, it consoled and satisfied me, and afterward I slept as an 
infant all that night and far into another sun.

The next day brought several needs with it. The chief of these were more 
food, more clothes, and a profession (since fate seemed determined to 
make me take another space of existence upon the world). All three were 
satisfied eventually. As for the first two, I was not particular as to fashion 
or diet, and easily supplied them. In the course of a morning stroll a 
shepherd's hut was discovered, and on approaching it cautiously the little 
shed turned out to be empty. However, the owner had left several 
sheepskin mantles and


rough homespun cloths on pegs round the walls, and to these I helped 
myself sufficiently to convert an unclothed caveman into a passable 
yeoman. Also I made free with his store of oat-cakes and coarse cheese, 
putting all not needed back upon his shelf.

Here I was again, fed and clothed, but what to do next was the question. 
To consider the knotty matter, after spending most of the day in 
purposeless wandering, I went up to the top of my own hill -- the one that, 
unknown to every one, had the cavern in it -- and there pondered the 
subject long. The whole face of the country perplexed me. It was certainly 
Britain, but Britain so amplified and altered as to be hardly recognizable. 
Wide fields were everywhere, broad roads traversed the hills and valleys 
with impartial straightness, the great woodlands of the earlier times were 
gone or much curtailed, while wonderful white buildings shone here and 
there among the foliage, and down away in the west, by a river, the 
sunbeams glinted on the roofs and temple fronts of a fine, unknown town. 
That was the place, it seemed to me at length, to refit for another voyage 
on the strange sea of chance; but I was too experienced in the ways of the 
world to travel cityward with an empty wallet. While meditating upon the 
manner in which this deficiency might be met, the golden store of coins left 
in the cave below suddenly presented themselves. The very thing! And, as 
heavy purple clouds were piling up round the presently sinking sun, earth 
and sky alike presaging a storm that evening, the cavern would be a 
convenient place to sleep in.

Finding the entrance with some difficulty, and noticing, but with no special 
attention, that it looked a little larger than when last seen, my first need 
was fire. This I had to make for myself. In the pouch of the shepherd's 
jerkin was a length of rough twine; this would do for matches, while as a 
torch a resinous pine branch, bruised and split, served well enough. Fixing 
one end of the string to a bush, I took a turn round a dry stick, and then 
began laboriously rubbing backward and forward. in half an hour the 
string fumed pleasantly, and something under an hour -- one was nothing 
if not patient in that age -- it charred and burst into flame.

Just as the evening set in, and the earth opened its pores to the first round 
drops of the warm-smelling rain that pattered on the young forest leaves, 
and the thunder began to murmur distantly under the purple mantle of 
the coming storm, my torch spluttering and hissing, I entered the vast 
gloomy chamber of my sleep, and, not without a sense of awe, stole up


along the walls, a hundred yards or more, to my strange couch.

The coins were safe, and shining greenly in their earthen jar; so, sticking 
the light into a cleft, I poured them on to the sand, and then commenced to 
tuck the stuff away, as fast as might be, into my girdle. It was strange, wild 
work, the only company my own contorted shadow on the distant rocks 
and such wild forms of cruel British superstition as my excited imagination 
called up, the only sound the rumble of the storm, now overhead, and the 
hissing drip of the red rosin gleaming on the wealth, all stamped with 
images of long-dead kings and consuls, that I was cramming into my 

By the time the task was nearly finished, I was in a state of nerves equal to 
seeing or hearing anything -- no doubt long fasting had shaken a mind 
usually calm and callous enough -- and therefore you will understand how 
the blood fled from my limbs and the cold perspiration burst out upon my 
forehead, when, having scarified myself with traditions of ghouls and 
cave-devils, I turned to listen for a moment to the dull rumble of the 
thunder and the melancholy wave-like sough of the wind in the trees even 
here audible, and beheld, twenty paces from me, in the shadows, a vast 
shaggy black form, grim and broad as no mortal ever was, and red and 
wavering in the uncertain light, seven feet high, and possessed of two 
fiery, gleaming eyes that were bent upon my own with a horrible fixity.

I and that monstrous shadow glared at each other until my breath came 
back, when, leaning a moment more against the side of the cavern, I 
suddenly snatched the torch from its cleft with a yell of consternation that 
was multiplied a thousand times by the echoes until it was like the battle-
cry of a legion of bad spirits, and started off in the supposed direction of 
the entrance. But before ten yards had been covered in that headlong rush, 
I tripped over a loose stone, and in another moment had fallen prone, 
plunging thereby the spluttering torch into one of the many little pools of 
water with which the floor was pitted. With a hiss and a splutter the light 
went out, and absolute darkness enveloped everything.

Just where I had fallen stood a round bowlder, a couple of yards broad, it 
had seemed, and some five feet high. I sprang to this, instinctively 
clutching it with my hands, just as those abominable green eyes, brighter 
than ever in the vortex, got to the other side, and hesitated there in doubt. 
Then began the most dreadful game I ever played, with a forfeit attaching 
to it not to be thought of. You will understand the


cave was absolute sterile blackness to me, a dim world in which the only 
animated points were the twin green stars of the cruel ghoul, my 
unknown enemy. As those glided round to the one side of the little rock, I 
as cautiously edged off to the other. Then back they would come, and back 
I went, now this way and now that -- sometimes only an inch or two, and 
sometimes making a complete circle -- with every nerve at fullest stretch, 
and every sense on tiptoe.

Why, all this time, it may be asked, did I not run for the entrance? But in 
reply, the first frightened turn or two round the bowlder had made chaos 
of my geography, and a start in any direction then might have dashed me 
into the side of the cave prone at the mercy of the horrible thing, whose 
hot, coarse breath fanned me quicker and quicker, as the game grew 
warm and more exciting. So near was it that I could have stretched out my 
hands if I had dared and touched the monstrous being that I knew stood 
under those baleful planets that glistened in the black firmament, now here 
and now there.

How long exactly we dodged and shuffled and panted round that stone in 
the darkness can not be said -- it was certainly an hour or more; but it went 
on so long that even in my panting stress and excitement it grew dull after 
a time, so monotonous was it, and I found myself speculating on the 
weather while I danced vis-a-vis to my grim partner in that frightful 

"Yes," I said; "a very bad storm indeed (once to the left), and nearly 
overhead now (right). It is a good thing (twice round and back again) to be 
so (a sharp spin round and round -- he nearly had me) conveniently under 
cover (twice to the left and then back by the opposite side)!"

Well, it could not have lasted forever, and I was nearly spent. The bowlder 
seemed hot and throbbing to my touch, and the floor was undulating 
gently, as it does when you land from a voyage; already fifty or sixty 
green eyes seemed circling in fiery orbits before me, when an 
extraordinary thing befell.

The thunder and lightning had been playing wildly overhead for some 
minutes, and the rain was coming down in torrents (even the noise of 
rushing hill-streams being quite audible in that clear resonant space), 
when, all of a sudden, there came a pause, and then the fall of a Titanian 
hammer on the dome of the hill, a rending, resounding crash that shook 
mother earth right down to her innermost ribs.

At the same instant, before we could catch our breath, the whole side of 
the cave opposite to us, some hundreds of paces


of rugged wall, was deluged with a living, oscillating drapery of blue 
flame! That magnificent refulgence came down from above, a glowing 
cascade of light. It overran the rocks like a beautiful gauze, clinging 
lovingly to their sinuousness, and wrapping their roughness in a tender, 
palpitating mantle of its own winsome brightness. It ran its nimble fiery 
tendrils down the veins and crevices, and leaped in fierce playfulness from 
point to point, spinning its electric gossamers in that vacuum air like some 
enchanted tissue spread between the crags; it ran to the ledges and trickled 
off in ambient, sparkling cascades, it overflowed the sandy bottom in 
tender sheets of blue and mauve, feeling here and there with a million 
fingers for the way it sought, and then it found it and sunk as silent, as 
ghostly, as wonderful, as it had come!

All this was but the work of an instant, but an instant of such concentrated 
brightness that I saw every detail, as I have told you, of that beautiful 
thing. More; in that second of glowing visibility, while the blue torch of the 
storm still shone in the chamber of the underground, I saw the stone by 
me, and beyond it, towering amazed and stupid, with his bulky strength 
outlined against the light, a great cave-bear in all his native ruggedess! 
Better still, a bowshot on my right was the narrow approach of the 
entrance -- and as the gleam sunk into the nether world, almost as quick as 
that gleam itself, with a heart of wonder and fear, and a foot like the foot 
of the night wind overhead, I was gone, and down the sandy floor, and 
through the gap, and into the outer world and midnight rain I plunged 
once more, grateful and glad!

After such hair-breadth escapes there was little need to bemoan a wet coat 
and an evening under the lee of a heathery scar.

When the morning arrived clear and bright, as it often does after a storm, I 
felt in no mood to hang about the locality, but shook the rain from my 
fleece, and, breakfasting on a little water from the brook, a staff in my 
hand, and my dear-bought wealth in my belt, set out for the unknown 
town, whose wet roofs shone like molten silver over the dark and dewy 
oak woods.

Five hours' tramping brought me there; and truly the city astonished me 
greatly. Could this, indeed, be Britain? was the constant question on my 
tongue as I trod fair white streets, With innumerable others opening down 
from them on either hand, and noticed the evidence of such art and luxury 
as, hitherto, I had dreamed the exclusive prerogative of the capital


of the older empires. Here were baths before which the Roman youth 
dawdled; stately theaters with endless tiers of seats, from whose rostra 
degenerato sons of the soil, aping their masters in dress and speech, recited 
verse and dialogue trimmed to the latest orator in fashion by the Tiber. 
Mansions and palaces there were, outside which the sleek steeds of consuls 
and praetors champed gilded bits, while waiting to carry their owners to 
gay procession and ceremonial; temples to Apollo, and shrines to Venus, 
dotted the ways, forums, market-places, and the like in bewildering 

And among all these evidences of the new age thronged a motley mixture 
of people. The thoughtful senator, coming from conclave with his toga and 
parchments, elbowed the callow British rustic in the rude raiment of his 
fathers. The wild, blue-eyed Welsh prince upon his rough mountain pony 
would scarce give right of way to the bronzed Roman mercenary from the 
Rhine; Umbrians and Franks, pale-haired Germans and olive Tuscans 
laughed and chaffered round the booths and fountains, while here and 
there legionaries stood on guard before great houses, or drank on the 
tressels of wayside wine-shops. Now and again two or three soldiers came 
marching down the street with a gang of slaves, or a shock-headed 
chieftain from the wild north, fierce and sullen, on his way to Rome; and 
over all the varied throng the crows and kites circled in the blue sky, and 
the little sparrows perched themselves under the lintel and in the twisted 
column tops of their mistress's fane.

Half the day I stared, and then, having eaten some dry Etrurian grapes -- 
the first for four hundred years -- I went to the bath, and threw down a 
golden coin on the doorkeeper's marble slab.

"Why, my son," said that juvenile official of some trivial fifty summers, 
"where, in the name of Mercury, did you pick up this antique thing?" and 
he handled it curiously. But being in no mind to tell my tale just then, I put 
him off lightly, and passed on into the great bathing-place itself. Stage by 
stage "balneum," "concamerata," "sudatio," "tepidarium," "frigidarium," and 
all their other chambers I went through, until in the last a mighty slave, 
who had rubbed me with the strength of Hercules himself for half an hour, 
suddenly stopped, and, surveying me intently, exclaimed:

"Master! I have scrubbed many a strange thing from many a Roman body, 
but I will swallow all my own towels if I can get this extraordinary dirt 
from you, and he pointed to my bare and glowing chest. There, to my 
astonishment, revealed


for the first time, was a great serpent-like mark of tattoo and woad circling 
my body in two wide zones! What it meant, how it came, was past my 
comprehension. Shrunk and shriveled as I was with long abstemiousness, 
it seemed but like a gigantic smudge meandering down my person -- a 
smudge, however, that with a little goodly living, might stretch out into an 
elaborate design of some nature. Of course, I knew it was thus the British 
warriors were accustomed to adorn themselves; but who had been thus 
purposely decorating one that had never knowingly submitted to the 
operation, and to what end, was past my guessing.

"Never mind, sir; don't despond," said the slave; "we will have another 
essay;" and, hitching me on to the rubbing-couch, he knelt upon my 
stomach -- these bath attendants were no more deferential then than they 
are now -- and exerted his magnificent strength, armed with the stiffest 
towel that ever came off a loom, upon me, until I fairly thought that not 
only would he have the tattoo off but also all the skin upon which it was 
engrossed. But it was to no purpose. He rose presently, and sulkily 
declared I had had my money's worth. "The more he rubbed the bluer 
those accursed marks became." This might well be, so I tossed him an extra 
coin, and, dressing hastily, covered my uninvited tattoo and went forth, 
fully determined to examine and read it -- for those things were nearly 
always readable -- more closely on a better and more private opportunity.

My next visit was to an Etruscan barber, who was shaving all and sundry 
under a green-white awning, in a pleasant little piazza. To him I sat, and 
while he reaped my antique stubble, with many an exclamation of surprise 
and disgust at its toughness, my thoughts wandered away to the train of 
remembrances the bath slave's discovery had started. Again I thought of 
Blodwen and my little one; the seaport, with its golden beaches, and the 
quiet pools where the trout and salmon of an evening now and again 
shattered the crystal mirror of the surface in their sport as she and I sat 
upon some grassy bank and talked of village statecraft, of conquests over 
petty princelings, of crops and harvests, of love and war. Then, again, I 
thought of the Roman galleys, and Caesar the penman autocrat; of the 
British camp; and, lastly, the great mischance which had, and yet had not, 
ended me.

"Ah! that was a bad slash, indeed, sir, wasn't it?" queried the barber in my 
ear. "May I ask in what war you took it?"

This very echo of my fancy came so startlingly true, I sprung to my feet, 
and glowered upon him.


"Oh, culler of herbs," I said, "oh, trespasser along the verge of mystery and 
medicine" -- pointing to the dried things and electuaries with which, in 
common then with his kind, his booth was stocked -- "where got you the 
power of reading minds?"

He shook his head vaguely, as though he did not understand, pointing to 
my neck, and replying he knew naught of what my thoughts might have 
been, but there, on my shoulder, was obvious evidence of the "slash" he 
had alluded to.

I took the steel mirror he offered me, and, sure enough, I saw a monstrous 
white seam Upon my tawny skin, healed and well, but very obvious after 
the bath and shaving.

"Why, sir, I have dressed many a wound in my time, but that must have 
been about as bad a one as a man could get and live. How did it happen?"

"Oh! I forget just now."

"Forget! then you must have a marvelously bad memory. Why, a thing 
like that one might remember for four hundred years!" said the sagacious 
little barber, bending his keen eyes on me in a way that was 
uncomfortable. In fact, he soon made me so ill at ease, being very reluctant 
that my secret should pass into possession of the town through his 
garrulous tongue, that I hastily paid him another of those antique green 
coins of mine, and passed on again down the great wide street.

Even he who lives two thousand years is still the serf of time, therefore I 
can not describe all the strange things I saw in that beautiful foreign city set 
down on the native English land. But presently I tired, and, having become 
a Roman by exchanging my sheepskins for a fine scarlet toga, over a 
military cuirass of close-fitting steel, inlaid, after the fashion, with turquoise 
and gold enamel, sandals upon my feet, and a short sword at my side, I 
sought somewhere to sleep. First, I chanced upon a little house set back 
from the main thoroughfare, and over the door a withered bush, and, 
underneath it, on a label was written thus:

Hic Habitat Felicitas.

"Ah!" I said, as I hammered at the portal with the brass knob of my 
weapon, "if indeed happiness is landlord here, then Phra the Phoenician is 
the man to be his tenant!" But it would not do. Bacchus was too bibulous in 
that little abode,


and Cupid too blind and indiscriminate. So it was left behind, and presently 
an open villa was reached where travelers might rest, and here I took a 
chamber on one side of the square marble court-yard, facing on a garden 
and fountain, and looking  over a fair stretch of country.

No sooner had I eaten than, very curious to understand the nature of the  
bath slave's discoveries upon my skin, I went to the disrobing-room of the 
private baths, and, discarding my gorgeous cuirass, and piling the gilded 
arms and silken wrappings with which a new-born vanity had swathed 
me, in a corner, I stood presently revealed in the common integument -- 
the one immutable fashion of humanity. But rarely before had the naked 
human body presented so much diversity as mine did. I was mottled and 
pictured, from my waist upward, in the most bewildering manner, all in 
blue and purple tints, just as the slave had said. There were more pictures 
on me than there are on an astrologer's celestial globe; and as I turned 
hither and thither, before my great burnished metal mirror, a whole 
constellation of dim uncertain meaning rose and set upon my sphere! Now 
this was the more curious, because, as I have said, I had never in my life 
submitted me for a moment to the needle and unguents of those who in 
British times made a practice of the art of tattooing. I had seen young 
warriors under that painful process, and had stood by as they yelled in 
pain and reluctant patience while the most elaborate designs grew up, 
under the stolid draughtsman's bands, upon their quivering cuticle. But, to 
Blodwen's grief, who would have had me equal to any of her tribesmen in 
pattern as in place, I had ever scorned to be made a mosaic of superstition 
and flourishes. How, then, had this mighty maze, this pictorial web of blue 
myth and marvel, grown upon me during the night-time of my sleep? On 
studying it closely it evolved itself into some order, and, though that night 
I made not very much of it, yet, as time went on and my body grew sleek 
and fair with good living, the design came up with  constantly increasing 
vigor. Indeed, the narrative I translated from it was so absorbingly 
interesting to one in my melancholy circumstances that again and again I 
would hurry away to my closet and mirror to see what new detail, what 
subtle deduction of stroke or line, had come into view upon the scroll of 
the strangest diary that ever was written.

For, indeed, it was Blodwen's diary that circled me thus.

It began in the small of my back with the year of my demise upon the 
Druid altar, and ever as she wrote it she must have rolled, with tender 
industry, her journal over and over, and


so worked up from my back, in a splendid widening zone of token and 
hieroglyphic, for twenty changing seasons, until my chest was reached, 
and there the tale ran out in a thin and tremulous way, which it made my 
heart ache to understand.

There is no need to describe exactly the mode of deduction or how I came 
to comprehend without key or help the sense of the things before me, but 
you will understand my wits were sharp in the quest, and once the main 
scheme of the idea was understood, the rest came easily enough. The 
princess, then, had taken a sheaf of corn as her symbol of the year. There 
were twenty of them upon me, and I judge I their very varying sizes were 
intended to indicate good or bad harvest seasons in the territories of my 
careful chieftainess. Round these central signs she had grouped such other 
marks or outlines as served to hint the changing fortunes of the times. 
There were heads of oxen by each sheaf, varying in size according to the 
conditions of her herds, and fishes, big or small, to indicate what luck her 
salmon spearsmen had met with by the tuneful rapids of that ancient 
stream I knew so well.

Following these early designs was one that interested me greatly. The 
gentle chieftainess had, when I left her, expectation of another member to 
her tribe of her own providing. I had thought then we should have beaten 
the Romans to hurry back, and mayhap to be in time to welcome this little 
one, but you know how I was prevented; and now here upon my skin, 
nigh over to my heart, was the sketch and outline of what seemed a small 
new-born maid, all beswaddled in the British fashion and very lovingly 
limned. But what was more curious was that its wraps were turned back 
from its baby shoulder, and there, to my astonished interpretation that 
silent maternal narrative was just the likeness, broad, lasting, indelible, of 
the frightful scar I wore myself! Long I pondered upon this. Had that red-
haired slave-princess by some chance received me back -- perhaps at 
Sempronius's compassionate hands -- all hurt as I was, and had that 
portentous wound set its seal during anxious vigils upon the unborn babe? 
I could not guess -- I could ~ but wonder -- and, wondering still, pass on to 
what came next.

Here was a graphic picture, no bigger than the palm of my hand, and not 
hard to unriddle. An eagle no doubt the Roman one -- engaged in fierce 
conflict with a beaver -- that being Blodwen's favorite tribal sign, for there 
were many of those animals upon her river. Jove! how well 'twas done! 
There were the flying feathers, and the fur and the turmoil and the litter of 
the fight, and well I guessed the proud Roman


bird -- that day he brought my gallant tribe under the yoke -- had lost 
many a stalwart quill, and damaged many a lordly pinion!

And, besides these main records of this fair and careful chancelloress of her 
state, there were others that moved me none the less. Yes! by every 
gloomy spirit that dwelt in the misty shadows of the British oaks, it gave 
me a hot flush of gratified revenge to see -- there by the symbol of the first 
year -- a severed, bleeding head, still crowned with the Druid oak.

"Ho! ho! Dhuwallon, my friend," I laughed, as I guessed the meaning of 
that bloody sign, "so they tripped you up at last, my crafty villain. By all 
the fiends of your abominable worship, I should like to have seen the 
stroke that made that grisly trophy! Well, I can guess how it came about! 
Some slighted tribesman who saw me die peached upon you. Liar and 
traitor! I can see you stand in that old British ball, strong in your sanctity 
and cunning, making your wicked version of the fight and my undoing, 
and then methinks I see Blodwen leap to her feet, red and fiery with her 
anger. Accursed priest! how you must have sickened and shrunk from her 
fierce invective, the headlong damnation of her bitter accusation with all 
the ready evidence with which she supported it. Mayhap your cheeks were 
as pale that day, good friend, as your infernal vestments, and first you 
frowned and pointed to the signs and symbols of your office, and pleaded 
your high appointment before the assembled people against the 
answering of the charge. And then, when that would not do, you whined 
and cringed and called her kinswoman. Oh, but I can fancy it, and how my 
pretty princess -- there upon her father's steps -- scorned and cursed you 
before them all, and how some ready faithful hands struck you down, and 
now they tore your holy linen from you and dragged you screaming to 
the gate-way, and there upon the threshold log struck your wicked head 
from your abominable shoulders! By the sacred mistletoe, I can read my 
Blodwen's noble anger in every puncture of that revenge-commemorating 

Here again, in the years that followed, it pleasured me to sec her little state 
grow strong and wide. At one time she typified the coming and 
destruction of two peak-sailed southern pirates, and then the building of a 
new stockade. She also made (perhaps to the worship of my manes!) a 
mighty circle. It began with a single upright on my side. The next year 
there were two. In the summer that followed she crossed them by a third 
great slab, and so on for ten years the tribesmen seemed to have toiled 
and labored until they had such a


temple of the sun as must have given my sweet heathen vast pleasure to 
look upon! She feared cornets and portents much, and punctured me with 
them most exactly; she kept her memoranda of corn-pots and stores of 
hides upon me like the clever, frugal mother of her tribe she was; and now 
and then she acquired territory or made new alliances printing the special 
tokens of their heads in a circle with her own, until I was illustrated from 
waist to shoulder -- a living lexicon of history.

Many were the details of that strange blue record I have not mentioned; 
many are the strokes and flourishes that still expand and contract to the 
pulsations of my mighty life -- undeciphered, unintelligible. But I have said 
enough to show you how ingenious it was -- how sufficient in its variety, 
how disappointing in its pointless end. For, indeed, it stopped suddenly at 
the twentieth season, and the cause thereof I could guess only too well 

There, in that Roman hotel, I stayed reflecting. It was in this rest-house, 
from the idle gossip of the loungers and chatter of Roman politicians, that I 
came to comprehend the extent of my sleep in the cave, and as the truth 
dawned upon me, with a consciousness of the infinite vacuity of my world, 
I went into the garden, and there was no light in the sunshine, and no color 
in the flowers, and no music in the fountain, and I threw my toga over my 
head and grieved for my loneliness, with the hum of the crowd outside in 
my ears, and mourned my fair princess and all the ancient times so young 
in memory yet so old in fact.

Many days I sorrowed purposeless, and then my grief was purged by the 
good medicine of hardship and more adventure.


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Chapter 4