A. C. (Albert Carlton) Whitehead.

The standard bearer : a story of army life in the time of Caesar online

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Sannio. And the cohort had passed out of earshot.

The battle had raged for some hours. The Gauls
seemed no nearer to breaking the Roman lines than
ever before. Caius was just beginning to think the
battle would end without his cohorts' striking a blow.
Even as he thought, a storm of Gallic shouts broke upon



286 THE STANDARD BEARER

his ear from the rear, and turning, he beheld wave after
wave of Gauls rolling down from the gates of Alesia,
straight upon the point he was holding. He scarcely
had time to array his men at the townward wall before
arrows, stones, and heavy javelins thrown by the Gallic
soldiers and engines began to fall upon them. Under
cover of this storm of missiles the Gauls advanced with
a rush, under the command of Vercingetorix himself.
Besides their swords, spears, and shields, the first
ranks bore in their arms great bundles of brush and
hurdles. With these they filled the ditches and
scrambled over, mass upon mass crushing forward,
though hundreds fell to be trampled upon by still
others to come. Soon they approached the main
wall, and with hooks fastened on long poles, began to
tear away the wattled covers of the palisades. They
worked furiously, while from their rear the arrows,
stones, and javelins fell upon the little band of Caius
in an ever thicker hail. The Romans stood firm, hurled
their javelins, and cast stones and leaden bullets, but
the Gauls pressed on in such heavy masses, supporting
each other, pushing on up the face of the wall, that at
last their faces were beginning to appear above it, their
big blue eyes flashing with the rage and madness of
battle.

Then the Roman short swords began to weave back
and forth like the shuttles of so many looms. Titus
stabbed a Gaul who had reached the top of a scaling
ladder and stood ready to leap upon the wall. He fell
headlong, roaring and screaming, and dragged down
with him two others into the great ditch. And yet
others were not lacking to take their places, and still



THE MAN BECOMES A LIEUTENANT



287



they swarmed upward on their ladders, and still the
Roman swords worked, cut and thrust, edge and point,
and filled the ditch with the bodies of the Gallic slain.




But the Gallic missiles cast from the rear were not
failing to find marks among the legionaries. Almost
half the Romans were dead or wounded. A stone of a
pound weight broke the sword arm of Titus and killed



288 THE STANDARD BEARER

the legionary behind him. The Roman line constantly
fell thinner and more ragged, and ever the Gauls pressed
closer and harder.

Caius himself, dizzy and half crazed with pain from
a stone which had struck his head, ran up and down his
lines, encouraging his men, slaying a Gaul here and
another there, and seeming to be everywhere at once.

But now the lieutenant Brutus came to his aid, sent
by Caesar with six cohorts. The Gauls were driven
down from the wall, but again the masses pressed to-
gether, and came climbing up. The fresh soldiers
fought stoutly, encouraged by Brutus and Caius, but the
swords and missiles of the Gallic hosts began to thin
them down. Caesar, perceiving this from the tower,
sent the lieutenant Fabius with seven cohorts more.
The slaughter raged afresh, and now a scaling party
was led by Vercingetorix himself. The command of
the Romans at this point had fallen to Brutus and
Fabius, and Caius stood at the head of the few remain-
ing men and fought, sword in hand.

Then right in front of where he stood, Vercingetorix
himself appeared at the top of a ladder, shouting,
encouraging his men, and striking with all his might.
For an instant his fierce eyes rested upon Caius, and
with a savage yell he braced for a spring upon the
youth. Quick as a flash Caius had prized off the hook
of the ladder. With a long swing it reared and fell
backward, crashing with its load of Gallic warriors
among their companions on the ground, slinging the
chief far over among his rearmost followers. At once a
cry arose that Vercingetorix was killed, and the Gauls
ceased their efforts and fled.



THE MAN BECOMES A LIEUTENANT 289

Caius and his legionaries dropped on the ground
exhausted. But at the same instant they sprang up
again, for they saw the purple cloak of Caesar, passing
on horse, rushing breakneck to the northwest wall,
where the fighting had been hard. They saw the
Imperator reach the place, and they saw the Romans,
sword in hand, sally over the wall. A moment later
they saw the Gauls flying by thousands, closely pur-
sued by a large body of German cavalry which Caesar
had sent by a roundabout way to take the Gauls in
the rear. And then had begun one of those routs of
which Caesar was accustomed to write, "and many of
the enemy were cut down by ours." The Gauls fled
like mad, running over and trampling each other,
pursued, hacked, hewed, and ridden down by the hordes
of fierce, crested Germans.

Nor did the Gauls stop at their camps. They dashed
right over and through them, and on into the forests
and hills. The combined forces of all Gaul were totally
defeated, and the siege of Alesia was over.

Thenceforth, Gallic liberty was at an end, and the
Gallic land but a Roman province. Never again would
the Roman matron dread the Gaul at the gates of
Rome.



CHAPTER VI
THE MAN RECEIVES HIS GREATEST JOY

ON the next morning quiet reigned about Alesia.
On the outer hills and in the great plain no Gaul was
seen except those who lay stark and dead, pierced,
hewn, crushed, or impaled upon the lilies. From the
town no shouts, no rattle of armor, no battle calls,
came down to the Romans. The legionaries swarmed
over the hills and the plain, burying their own dead,
and stripping from the fallen Gauls their gold and
silver ornaments and such other articles as struck
their cupidity or fancy. Roman traders were every-
where, eager to buy bargains in slaves and plunder from
the soldiers.

As Caius walked among the outer defenses, he came
upon Titus, tugging at a richly dressed Gaul who had
fallen upon a lily and been impaled upon the sharpened
stake. The fire-hardened point, now smeared with
blood and bits of blackened flesh, thrust forth from
his back. Caius came up just as Titus with his great
strength succeeded in dragging the body out on level
ground.

"What have you found here, Titus ?" he asked.

"A rich booty," grunted Titus, with a shrug of satis-
faction. "Enough to support me at Rome for a year."
And he fell to undoing a heavy collar of twisted gold
from the massive neck of the barbarian.

290



THE MAN RECEIVES HIS GREATEST JOY 29!

Something in the appearance of the Gaul caught the
attention of Caius, and turning the stiffened body so he
could see the face, he recognized Carvillax, his Nervian
rival and personal enemy. Caius quietly returned
to camp. Here, at last, was one enemy who would
trouble him no more.

After a time, Caesar, clad in a rich toga, came from
his tent. He mounted the tribunal, and busied himself
giving orders and dispatching messengers. Now, all
of a sudden, a single, long-drawn, doleful note from a
Gallic trumpet sounded upon the walls of Alesia. All
eyes turned up in that direction.

Presently there emerged from the gates a single
figure, mounted on a splendid white war horse. Calmly
and leisurely the figure rode down the hill, entered
the gates of the Roman camp, and circled slowly about
Caesar and his officers. When he had completed the
circuit, he brought his horse to a stand before the
Proconsul. For a moment he looked straight into the
eyes of Caesar, and then he said, "Caesar, you have
vanquished a brave man, you yourself the bravest of
all."

And every beholder believed him brave, and not one
but looked with admiration upon the handsome form
and noble bearing of this prince among the Gauls, the
bold and wily Vercingetorix, chief of the Arvernians.
He wore a finely wrought shirt of chain mail, richly
ornamented. On his legs were varicolored trousers,
the characteristic garment of his race. His head was
bare. From his well-formed features shone forth
clear, flashing, blue eyes. Great ringlets of long
waving hair hung upon his head, and a long tawny

STANDARD BEARER I



THE STANDARD BEARER

red mustache curled fiercely above his thin proud
lips. This was the one man of all Gaul who had shown
himself a worthy antagonist of even Caesar.

After his first words he sat his horse, still and silent
for some minutes, then slowly dismounted, drew off
his armor, and sat down on the ground at Caesar's
feet, saying never another word. This was his sur-
render. The first and the last organized resistance of
the Gauls against Roman dominion was forever broken.
In the hearts of the officers pity stirred for the misfor-
tune of so brave a foe, and they spoke no word till after
Caesar had ordered Vercingetorix to be led away and
placed in chains.

Then Caesar commanded the Gallic prisoners thus
surrendered to march out of the town and to pile their
arms within the Roman works. As the famished
thousands staggered past, with cries and curses they
cast their weapons, a mountain of steel and bronze
grew, and beneath it lay buried Gallic liberty. Food
was supplied to the starving Gauls, and then one was
given as a slave to each Roman soldier, who in most
cases immediately sold his Gaul to the traders to be dis-
posed of in the slave market at Rome.

When Caesar had thus made disposition of the
prisoners, he looked around on his officers, and with a
smile said: "Fellow soldiers, you have all conducted
yourselves most soldier-like. Our arms have been
successful beyond our greatest expectations. Such
victories have not been won since Alexander con-
quered Asia. .The plunder and prisoners are yours.
Now, there is one other reward I wish to bestow in your
presence. Lictor, request Fannia, the wife of Tre-



THE MAN RECEIVES HIS GREATEST JOY 293

bonius, to bring the Nervian hostage that I intrusted
to her care."

Presently there issued from a large and splendid
tent near the tribunal the Roman matron, Fannia,
and with her two other women. One of them was
Trebonia. The other was clad in a soft robe of white
wool in the Roman style, bound about with a rich
tasseled girdle. She was a young woman of singularly
graceful and noble bearing. As they came nearer,
Caius could scarcely believe his eyes when he recog-
nized her as the beautiful Bridiga, paling and blushing
by turns, and her face growing soft and glad when her
eyes had lighted upon him.

"Here, fellow soldiers, is a rare jewel which I would
bestow in marriage upon our young soldier and officer,
Caius Volcatius Tullus. She is a Nervian princess, and
he a Roman patrician. They have been true to each
other in the greatest danger, and have in turn saved
each the other's life. Now may you all join me in
wishing them long happiness in their mutual love."
And there among the sights and sounds of war they were
married in accordance with the good old Roman
customs.

Trebonia, light and happy, wished them well, and
forgot them quickly, for she was busying herself in an
effort to enmesh the lieutenant, Antistius. And she
was rewarded. He loved her for six whole months.

As Caius and Bridiga walked about the camp in the
afternoon, old Matho, the merchant, met them, bowing
and smiling, and seeming almost beside himself with
joy.

"By all the gods, but here is my little Bridiga. She



294



THE STANDARD BEARER



is the one who nursed me back to life, Caius. I taught
her Latin, our tongue. And how you have grown ! I
never thought I should see you again. And here you




are the wife of my good friend, Caius. How glad I
am that this is so."

"I am so glad to see you, Matho, too," said Bridiga.
"And how do you fare ?"

"Ah, well enough, to-day," he said, trying hard to
subdue his joy to becoming soberness. "Truly the gods
have blessed me. Caesar paid me double for what I
lost in his service, and I have traded with it and made
much gain. To-day I bought many captives. When



THE MAN RECEIVES HIS GREATEST JOY 295

I sell them at Rome, I shall be rich, rich, rich, and my
daughter, Nigra, just your age, shall live in a palace."
And he laughed broadly, already forgetful of Caius
and Bridiga and everything else, save his own good
fortune. The young people passed on.

As all things were now settled, and Caius and his
mother were once more independent and likely to soon
come into possession of their former property, Caius
urged his mother with her household, Simmias and
Chloe, to come to Gaul to live. But she wished rather
to pass her last days in the comforts of the City, and
so removed to Rome.

Caius was appointed to high office in the province
under Caesar, and he, with Bridiga, dwelt in peaceful
content in Gaul, ruling with justness and moderation.
He was promoted from time to time, and did all in
his power to aid in improving the condition of the
Gauls, the people whom he had once so hated. He took
a most active part in spreading throughout Gaul the
civilization of Rome. He founded schools, built roads
and canals, encouraged improved agriculture, and es-
tablished law and order.

And in the culture and civilization which have al-
ways distinguished the land where Caius dwelt, may
still be traced much that is due to his efforts. For
to the work of Julius Caesar and his devoted followers
in Gaul is due the staying of the tide of barbarism rolling
down from the North, till Rome could spread her law
and culture, and thus prepare the ground for the
broader, richer, and nobler civilization which blossoms
in their stead.



CHAPTER VII
CONCLUSION

EIGHTEEN years after the taking of Alesia, on a
spring day, when all Italy grew fresh and sweet with
greening trees, bursting blossoms, and singing birds,
a portly Roman, clad in thetoga of a provincial governor,
entered a little shop near the cattle market at Rome.
He was followed by two stout youths, who, from
their fair features and robust forms, were evidently
his sons.

The keeper of the shop, an old man with the scarred
face and the erect carriage of a soldier, bowed low.
"Your humble servant, sir," he said. "What comfort
can my poor shop offer you ?"

The other peered hard into the old shopman's face
and said, "Do I again see Sannio?"

"Caius Volcatius Tullus, by Pluto !" almost shouted
Sannio, for it was he. "And what brings the governor
of Gaul into my poor shop ? And how have you been ?
And are these your boys ? And where is the princess
Bridiga?"

"Not so fast, Sannio," laughed Caius. "I cannot
answer all your questions at once, but I'll begin with
your first. I am in your shop because I wanted to see
an old friend, one who shared many a danger with me,
and one who helped me to learn to be a soldier. I have
been well, and I have prospered. I am in Rome to

296



CONCLUSION



297



place my sons to study under the famous rhetorician,
Porcius Latro, who has such crowds of young men
following him about the forum. I also came to take
possession of the property that was my father's. By



i




a law which Caesar secured, it fell to my mother. As
she is now no more, it is mine."

"Ah, that reminds me of that villain, Lanius, who
tried so often to kill you," exclaimed Sannio. "Bad
enough end came to him. You remember, he deserted
Caesar before the walls of Alesia and fled, no one knew
whither. Well, he joined Pompey in the hope of pro-
motion, and then lived fast for a year or two. He did



298 THE STANDARD BEARER

not get the office he wanted, and soon he deserted
Pompey, and attempted to get to Caesar again with
important letters of trust. But Pompey caught him
and had him crucified head downward along with
some common thieves."

Caius expressed no regrets, for he felt none. For-
giveness and love toward enemies were not traits of
Roman character.

"But tell me of yourself, Sannio," he said.

"Oh, I have lived along as best I could since I grew
too old for service in the army, and hung up my sword
in the temple of Mars. My mother died, and this little
place that I had given her, now serves me as a shop
where I may earn a living, though as the proverb
goes, my teeth sometimes grow too long for lack of use
on solid and plentiful food. But one glory I have.
I went through the wars with Caesar. Alas ! a black day
it was for Rome when he was struck down. We shall
not see his like again."

"No," said Caius. "Common men such as we are
not capable of estimating the greatness of Julius
Caesar. But tell me of Baculus."

"Ah, old Baculus," said Sannio. "By the Roman
eagles ! How he loved a fight ! He would leave the
richest plunder in any battle for one more stroke at
the enemy. He was a soldier, too. Such are not seen
in every legion. And he died a soldier's death. In a
battle. with the Parthians in Asia, he was attacked
by four light-armed Parthians. After he had killed
three of them, the last one ran and was so hard pressed
by Baculus that he dropped his spear. It lodged
point backward and up so that Baculus dashed head-



CONCLUSION 299

long upon it, and thus tore out his vitals. The other
soldiers grieved long and sorely for him."

And so they discussed others of their old comrades.
The two boys listened with wide-awake interest to the
stories these two old soldiers told of the many scenes
of blood and carnage they had seen in the Gallic land.

Late in the day, Caius and his sons bade Sannio
a reluctant farewell, and then departed to seek the
teacher of rhetoric, Porcius Latro.



APPENDIX



PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES



Africa (af'-ri-ca).
Alba (al'-ba).
Alesia (a-le'-shi-a).
Allobrogians (al-lo-bro'-gi-ans) .
Andronicus (an-dro-ni'-kus).
Antistius (an-tis'-ti-us).
Apennines (ap'-en-nines).
Ariovistus (a-ri-o-vis'-tus).
Arvernians (ar-ver'-ni-ans) .
Avaricum (a-va'-ri-cum).

B

Baculus (bSc'-u-lus).
Bagacuin (ba-ga'-cum).
Balbus (bal'-bus).
Bibracte (bi-brak'-te).
Bituriges (bi-tu'-ri-ges).
Boduagnotus (bod-u-og-no'-tus).
Bridiga (brid'-ig-a).
Bujorax (bu'-jo-rS,x).



Csesar (se'-zar).
Caius (ca'-yus) or (ka'-us).
Camilla (ca-mil'-la).
Campania (cam-pa'-ni-a).
Carnutes (kar'-nu-tez).
Carvillax (car-vil'-lax) .
Ceres (se'-rez).
Chseronaea (ke ro ne'a) .
Chloe (klo'-e).
Cimbrians (sim'-bri-ans).



Circus (sir'-kus).
Cisalpine (sls-al'-pine).
Considius (kon-sid'-i-us).
Coprax (ko'-praks).
Cornelia (cor-nel'-i-a).
Cornelius (cor-nel'-i-us).
Cotta (cot'-ta).
Coturix (co-tu'-rix).
Crassus (cras'-sus).
Crispina (cris-pl'-na).
Critognatus (krit-og-na'-tusV
Crixus (criks'-us).
Curo (koor'-o).



Delphi (del'-fi).
Deverra (de-ver'-ra).
Diviciacus (div-i-shi-a'-kus).
Dumnorix (dum'-no-riks).

E

Eredox (g'-red-ox).
Esquiline (es'-kwi-lm).



Fannia (fan'-ni-a).
Flaminia (flam-m'-i-a).
Forum (fo'-rum).



Galba (gal'-ba).
Gaul (gall).
Geneva (je-ne'-va).



303



304



PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES



Gergovia (ger-gov'-i-a).
Gitus (git'-us).
Gracchus (grak'-kus).

H

Hseduans (hed'-u-ans).
Hannibal (han'-ni-bal).
Hercules (her'-ku-lez).
Hercynian (her-sm'-i-a).
Heus (he'-us).
Hilda (hll'-da).
Hirtius (hlr'-ti-us).



I



Intercidona (m-ter'-cid-o'-na).



Jugurtha (ju-gur'-tha).
Julius (jul'-yus).
Jura (jur'-a).



Labienus (la-bi-e"'-nus).
Lanius (lan'-i-us).
Latro (la'-tro).
Libra (ll'-bra).
Lingones (lin'go-nez).
Lollius (lol'-li-us).
Longa (long' -a).
Lucan (liic'-an).
Lucius (lu'-hius).

M

Magetobriga (ma-j e-tob'-ri-ga) .

Mandubians (man-du'-bi-ans).

Marcus (mar'-kus).

Marian (ma'-ri-an).

Marius (ma'-ri-us).

Mars (mars).

Matho (ma'-tho).



Menapians (men-a'-pi-ans) .
Mercator (mer-ka'-tor) .
Metius (me'-shius).
Meturio (met-u'-ri-6).
Mithridates (mith-ri-da'-tez).
Moselle (mos-gl').
Mutilus (mu'-ti-lus).

N

Neptune (ne"p'-tune).
Nervians (ner'-vi-aus) .

O

Ognius (6g'-ni-us).
Oppius (6p'-pi-us).
Ouadd (ou'-ad).



Pansa (pin'-sa).
Parisii (par'-i-si).
Parthians (par'-thi-ans).
Pedius (ped'-i-us).
PhcBnician (fe'-m'-shians).
Pilumuius (pil-um'-ni-us).
Pluto (plu'-to).
Pollux (pol'-luks) .
Poraponia (pom-po'-ni-a).
Pomponius (pom-po'-ni-us).
Porcius (por'-shus).
Procillus (pro-sil'-lus).
Publius (pub'-li-us).
Pullo (pul'-6).

Q

Quintus (kwin'-tus).



Raudian (raw'-dl-an).
Rauracians (ra-ra'-shans).
Ravenna (ra-ven'-na).
Rhine (rine).



PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES



305



Sabis (sa'-bis).
Sannio (san'-ni-o).
Segibo (seg'-i-bo).
Senones (sen'-o-nez).
Sequanians (se-kwan'-yans).
Sextius (seks'-ti-us).
Simmias (sim'-mi-as).
Spoletum (spo-le'-tum).
Styx (stlks).
Sulla (sul'-a).



Tarann (tar'-Sn).
Tencteri (tengk'-te-ri).
Teutons (tu'-tons).
Tiber (tl'ber).
Tiberius (ti-be'-ri-us) .



Titus (ti'-tus).
Trebonia (tre-b5n'-ya) .
Trebonius (tre-bon'-yus).
Tullus (tiil'-lus).

U

Umbria (um'-bri-a).
Usipite^ (u-sip'-e-tez).



Venus (ve'-nus).
Verbigeni (ver-bij'-e-nl).
Vercingetorix ( ver-sin- j 6t'-o-riks ) .
Vertico (ver'-ti-ko) .
Vesontio (ve-son'-sho) .
Volcatius (vol-ka'-shus).
Vorenus (vo'-re'-nus).



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Online LibraryA. C. (Albert Carlton) WhiteheadThe standard bearer : a story of army life in the time of Caesar → online text (page 16 of 16)