Porphyry was saved from replying by the hasty entrance of a bustling portly personage of loud voice and imperious manner, in whom Plotinus recognised Theocles, the chief of the Stoics.
Theocles returned often to the chamber, and the golden-haired Eunice appeared behind the raised curtain a number of times; finally cranes, reared in the gardens, began to call, heralding the coming day, but Vinicius was still embracing in his mind the feet of Christ, neither seeing nor hearing what was passing around him, with a heart turned into a thanksgiving, sacrificial flame, sunk in ecstasy, and though alive, half seized into heaven.
"Coward!" yelled well-nigh every voice in the amphitheatre. "No," answered the youth with a grave smile, "Christian." His shield and helmet followed his sword, he stood entirely defenceless before his adversary. "Throw him to my lion," cried Theocles. "Or thy lioness," suggested Hermon. This allusion to Leaena provoked a burst of laughter.
The misfortune of Vinicius was known to them perfectly; therefore their delight at seeing those victims which had been snatched from the malice of Nero was immense, and increased still more when the physician Theocles declared that Lygia had not suffered serious injury, and that when the weakness caused by prison fever had passed, she would regain health. Consciousness returned to her that night.
At command of Theocles they took her to the gardens of the villa after two days; in these gardens she remained for hours. Vinicius decked her litter with anemones, and especially with irises, to remind her of the atrium of the house of Aulus. More than once, hidden in the shade of spreading trees, they spoke of past sufferings and fears, each holding the other's hand.
Plotinus, helpless with his bonds and gag, looked on in impotent horror. Gallienus was often cruel, but could he intend such a revolting massacre? There must be something behind. The honour of developing the Emperor's purpose was reserved for Theocles, who, with admirable presence of mind, had ever since he found he must fight been engaged in trying to select the weakest antagonist.
"Thank Æsculapius we are rid of her," he added, as Leaena vanished from the apartment. "I wish I knew that," said Porphyry. And indeed after no long time a note came up from Theocles, who was sure that Plotinus would not refuse him that privilege of instructing a female disciple which had been already, with such manifest advantage to philosophical research, accorded to his colleague Hermon.
"How many gladiators, said you?" "Forty pairs, the best show Campania has seen time out of mind." "How has it all come about?" "Oh, news comes of the death of Postumus, killed by his own soldiers, and this passes as a great victory for want of a better, 'We must have a day of thanksgiving, says Theocles.
'Right, says Leaena, 'I am dying to see an exhibition of gladiators. Theocles demurs at first, expecting to have to find the money but Leaena tugs at his beard, and he gives in.
Just at the nick of time the right sort of fellow pops up nobody knows whence, a lanista with hair like curling helichryse, as Theocritus has it, and a small army of gladiators, whom, out of devotion to the Emperor, he offers to exhibit for nothing. Who so pleased as Theocles now?