A. C. (Albert Carlton) Whitehead.

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

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suitable clothing for a soldier. Let us forth and do
this before we eat."

"Well enough," replied Caius. "But I shall claim
the right to pay for them."

"I have orders to buy them at Caesar's expense,"



said Sannio. "So there's an end to all discussion of the


"Well, I shall keep an account of the cost against a
day of settlement," said Caius. "I have little money,
but neither Caesar nor any other man shall pay for the
clothes I wear."

"Keep all the accounts you may, young Proudheart,"
said Sannio. "I fancy you will have opportunity to
pay for all you wish, if you are to be a soldier. Most
of them end every year with exactly as much money
as they have when they begin it which is none."

They had now reached the end of an earthen street
leading toward the sea. They entered a small boat,
poled by a stout boatman, and after proceeding for
some distance, stopped at last at one of the shops near
the seaward end of the street. Here with the aid of
Sannio, Caius selected three tunics of light woolen stuff
and a like number of togas of similar material, white
with scarlet borders. Shoes and headdress to match
were bought, all paid for, and the two set out on their
return to the inn.

Just as they reached the landing, they saw Lanius
and a number of the other young Romans to whom
Sannio had referred as upstarts, in the crowd. As
Caius had had no occasion to come in contact with
Lanius since their meeting at Spoletum, he had con-
sequently not been again insulted. But now, Lanius,
with his air of haughty insolence, called out so his
companions could hear, "See, here is our shepherd who
wanted to be a soldier. I wager that we shall see him
in fine feathers to-morrow."

"Heed him not," whispered Sannio in Caius's ear.



"A brawl with him and his companions can be of no
help to you. Let us pass this way to the right and on
to the tavern." And so they stepped out of the boat


"% ;-

and were )ust turning away, when Lanius thrust him-
self before them.

"So our young soldier will not speak to me. You
have grown a great pride in a short time. Because of


weightier matters, have you forgotten your sheep and

i "
goats r

"No;" replied Caius, "and with apologies to all
other goats, it seems I am not to be allowed to forget a
certain goat."

"What do you mean?" shouted Lanius, now
enraged. "I will teach you." And he struck at the
face of Caius with his hand, but Caius evaded the blow,
and profiting by what instruction he had received from
old Simmias and his practice with Titus, he quickly
tripped Lanius, who stumbled forward headlong,
trying to keep his footing, and thus carried himself
face first into the muddy water. A burst of laughter
and applause arose on all sides. But Caius was already
dragging Lanius from the water, who had risen after
having at once sunk like a stone. The latter had no
sooner regained his feet than, dripping, bubbling, and
sputtering, he drew sword, and was rushing at Cams,
when a large man who had been standing near,
grasped the sword arm of the enraged Roman, and
stopped him short. "Hold!" he said quietly. :< You
had best think a moment. The other has just dragged
you from the water, and now would you stab him?"
" Yes, the plebeian upstart that he is !" shouted Lanius.

"Let me loose, or it will be the worse for you."

"Not yet," said the stranger, coolly. "Don't be in
such haste. He might give you another souse in the


"Sextius Baculus, by Hercules !" now cried Sanmo,
who had quickly stepped between Caius and Lanius ;
and addressing the big man who still held the wrist of
Lanius, he asked, "Where did you come from ?"


But there was no time for answers now; for in the
crowd which was pressing about, the form of the
lieutenant, Quintus Pedius, appeared, accompanied by
three or four legionary soldiers.

"What is the trouble here, Sannio ?" he asked calmly.

"This boorish upstart has insulted me," threw in
Lanius, not waiting to be questioned.

"I think he did," laughed a bystander. "He gave
you a ducking in the Adriatic."

"Speak when called upon, Lanius," commanded
Pedius. "Sannio, give me an account of this matter."

This Sannio briefly did. "And I as an old comrade
of Sannio and a soldier under Julius Caesar, know that
Sannio has spoken the truth about the matter," added
the man who had been called Baculus.

"Now what have you to say for yourself?" asked
Pedius, turning to Lanius.

When the latter could not bring forward a single
statement to his advantage, Pedius said, "Lanius,
since we left Rome, I have warned you more than once
that you would get into trouble. Here I have orders
from Caesar to take especial care of this youth. You
would have small favor from Caesar should word of
this affair come to his ears. If I hear of any more of
it, I shall report it to him, and then your hope of
military service in Gaul will vanish. Sannio, return
with the youth to your quarters."

Then as Caius and Sannio pushed their way through
the crowd, accompanied by Baculus, Caius found him-
self wondering why Caesar had bought clothes for him
and why he had given especial orders concerning him.
But his mind was not permitted to dwell long on these


questions, for his attention was strongly drawn to
Baculus, whom he now observed closely. Meanwhile,
the latter and Sannio, as old comrades in arms are
wont to do, asked and answered questions as to where
they had been, what they were doing and were going
to do.

Baculus was tall, thick-set, well-formed, and straight
as a staff. He was fair, and had steely blue eyes set
in a hard but honest face. His straight carriage, steady
tread, and scarred face and hands showed him to be a
real soldier one who had been in the thick of battle,
where he had taken as well as given cuts and thrusts.

"And who is this stout youth whom Caesar wishes
well cared for, Sannio, and yet leaves to so funny and
reckless a fellow as you are?" asked Baculus as they
reached the tavern.

"Why should I not care for him as well as any big
fellow who looks more fierce and feels more gentle than
I do?" retorted Sannio. "But as you seem anxious
to know, so far as I can see, there can be no harm in
telling you. He is Caius Volcatius Tullus. He goes
with Pedius to Gaul at Caesar's request."

"I am right glad to know you, Caius," said Baculus.
"You gave the boaster a good ducking, and I hope it
will help his manners. You are very fortunate, too,
if you have come into Caesar's favor. He is a great
man and going to be greater."

"I am glad to know you, Baculus, for you look a
good soldier, and that is what I mean to be," said
Caius, simply.

"Well, here we are at our inn, and I am hungry,"
said Sannio. "My jaws have had a long vacation


and my teeth are dull for lack of use. Come, let's
eat." And then they pushed their way among the
soldiers and merchants that thronged the inn and sat
on low stools about a three-legged table, and ate
heartily of the bread, meat, and cheap wine which the
host placed before them.

"But let me tell you, Caius," went on Baculus as he
drained his horn cup, "you are likely to march long and
late, wake soon, and fight hard, if you serve under
Julius Caesar. You remember, Sannio, year before
last, don't you, in Spain, when a tribe of those Iberians
were making trouble and had collected a band fifty
thousand strong ? Well, when Caesar was informed,
he at once called his soldiers together and made a
speech to them. And such a speech ! It wasn't long
and it wasn't loud, but when he finished, the soldiers'
shouts rolled along the hills and valleys till you'd have
thought there were ten men instead of one of us.
And every man of them was ready to march on a solid
line of Spanish spears for Caesar. Then on his big
horse, long-footed and glossy-coated, he rode up and
down the lines, looking over his men, only six thousand
in all. * Baculus,' he said to me, he knew every
soldier by name, Caesar did, - - 'we can rout them, can't
we ?' 'Yes,' I shouted, 'with you to lead us."

"Sure, I remember," broke in Sannio. "He knew
me, too, and asked me if I didn't think it would be fun
to see them run. I remember, too, that he reminded us
of the glorious deeds of Paris at the siege of Alba Longa
and the bravery of Hannibal at the taking of Troy."

"Yes, and Caesar led us, too," said Baculus, failing
to notice Sannio's mixing of history. "We marched


after him all that night. We came to the barbarians'
camp a full hour before day. They were all asleep,
thinking Caesar was twenty-five miles away. We fell
on them so suddenly and fiercely that they hadn't
time to get their poor weapons. They fled in all
directions. We cut and slashed and hacked among
them, right and left, till day came and no more could
be found, except such likely youths and maidens as we
had taken prisoners to sell as slaves."

"But the plunder he gave us!" exclaimed Sannio,
smacking his lips over a morsel of meat. "Why, I
got enough gold and silver ornaments to buy my old
mother a little farm close by the Tiber, where the finest
nuts, grapes, and olives grow."

"And I got enough to keep myself living in plenty
from that day to this," laughed Baculus, "and besides,
three handsome boys that I sold at Rome. Yes,
Caesar's men must march and fight, but he knows them
and honors them and gives them plunder. And they
never fail him."

"I am told that Caesar himself had some plunder in
Spain," said an old man who had been sitting at a
nearby table, sipping his wine and listening. The
others now turned and saw a small, droop-shouldered,
man, with a leathery, wrinkled face, and, under heavy
lashes, a pair of glittering black eyes that seemed to
be always searching for something they never found.

"You are told wrongly," said Baculus, with warmth.
"Caesar only collected taxes, as is allowed to Roman
governors in the provinces. If the tax was rich, so
much the better for Caesar. And if he gave over a few
thousand rebellious savages to be plundered by his


good soldiers who restored the peace of the province,
who is to say that Caesar himself plundered ?"

"Come, come," said the old man. "I meant no

" If Caesar collected great tax, he paid a worthy debt,
one made by himself for the Roman people," said
Sannio. : 'The games he provided while aedile of the
City have never been surpassed."

"There you are right," exclaimed Baculus. "I have
seen games for a whole week and enough gladiators to
furnish over three hundred separate fights. As many
gladiators, bears, lions, and the like were slain as would
last the vultures on the Esquiline Hill for a month.
And the people why, they worshiped him. He could
hardly appear on the streets without a crowd trooping
at his heels eager to do his slightest wish."

"I see you think Caesar a very great man, but I
believe he will not take much money away from Gaul,"
said the old man.

"No one believes the hare-brained, hot-headed,
fighting, quarreling Gauls have much money," said
Sannio. "They are too busy making trouble to make
much money or other wealth. Brave as mad bulls,
but poor as the priests of a new god."

Baculus laughed and Caius smiled.

"In that you are mistaken, my friend," returned
the old man. "I am Marcus Pomponius Matho.
My father's grandfather was a merchant and trader
before me. He was made a praetor when the Romans
warred with Hannibal. He was once sent by the state
with a golden crown of two hundredweight to consult
the oracle of Delphi. I have his name and I am proud


of it. I also am a merchant, and have traveled in all
parts of Gaul, so I ought to know what I speak of.
The Gauls have many walled cities, rich and prosperous.
Why, Bibracte, the capital of the Haeduans, would be a
surprise to any one who thinks them unskilled bar-
barians. The Gauls are good farmers and fertilize
their soil with marl. They raise the best horses, the
largest cows, the finest oxen, and hogs without number.
They make the best cheese, and every year thousands
of cartloads of dried bacon are sent out of Gaul. They
weave strong cloth and dye it in beautiful colors.
They dig gold, iron, and copper from the mines, and
have more skill in tempering brass than any other peo-
ple in the world. They mint money after the Greek
style and carry on some commerce though not very
much, since they have about all they need at home,
and do not want to learn the bad customs of other
nations. But let me tell you," the old man went on,
"the Gauls mean to keep what they have. If Caesar
should trouble them, good general though he be, he will
find a task not like that among the Spaniards. Caesar
would do well to pray the gods not to put it into the
heads of the Gauls to attack Rome again. The Gauls
are fighters. Their religion teaches them that they
will live again in a happier world, and so they do not
fear to die. Why, don't you know that they swarmed
into Italy and burned Rome itself over three hundred
years ago ? Don't you know they have broken over
the Alps time and again and have kept the Roman
people under dread of them most of the time since ?
Don't you remember that the Gauls were among the
most stanch of Hannibal's allies? My father's



grandfather told him so, and he told me. Don't you
know that a great weight of gold is yet kept in the
treasury at Rome to buy them off should they ever
appear before the walls again ?" The old man stopped
and looked over the group that had gathered about
him with the air of one who had convinced all hearers.
He was a Roman himself, but knowing something of
the history of the Gauls, and having been much among
them, he was not sure that they would be so easily
subdued by Roman arms.

Caius began to think that perhaps he was going into
a very unsafe country one where a soldier's fame
might not be so easily and quickly won as he had fancied.

"But Rome has grown great in three hundred years,"
urged Baculus, with energy, "and besides, the Gauls
have never met Julius Caesar in battle."

"I think they may not wish to meet him after the
first time, either," laughed Sannio.

"Why should it be thought certain that there is
going to be war with the Gauls because Caesar is pro-
consul to Cisalpine Gaul ?" asked Caius. "Is not that
province entirely separate from Gaul beyond the Alps ?"

"To be sure it is," replied the old merchant, quickly.
"But Rome and Roman governors always find excuse
to meddle in the affairs of the peoples adjoining Roman
provinces, and conquer them sooner or later. From
all you say of Julius Caesar, I have no doubt that there
will soon be war with the Gauls. It is reported that
even now the Helvetians, a Gallic tribe, are planning a
move that will bring a clash with Rome."

u The sooner it comes, the better it will suit me and
all the other soldiers of Caesar," said Sannio. "I


hope it will come on and not take a backward turn
like a calf's tail."

u Yes, and I'll soon be found under Caesar's eagles
again, I think," said Baculus. "I am tired of this
easy quiet way of life. The bolder and fiercer the
Gauls, the freer the fight and the richer the plunder."

Caius, remembering all the evil he had heard of the
Gauls, and knowing all his family had suffered from
them, could only hope there would be a war, and that a
very destructive one to the Gauls. He was eager and
ready to do his part in converting all Gaul into a single
Roman province. He had realized his hatred of the
Gauls, and his desire for revenge formed his leading
motive in life just now.

Baculus, watching the face of Caius, seemed to under-
stand what was passing in his mind. "It will soon
come, friend Caius," he said. "You will be a soldier,
and I hope you and I may see fighting under the same
eagle. Perhaps Caesar will enroll new legions and put
us both in the same one."

"I could wish nothing better," returned Caius, for
he had come to admire the kindly strength and whole-
some heartiness of big old Baculus.

"Well, it is late, Caius, and we must stir early,"
said Sannio. "Let us to sleep."

"Then, farewell, Sannio, and my young friend,
Caius," said Baculus. "If Caesar makes war in Gaul
and raises new legions, you will see old Baculus again
before long." And he strode away, snapping his big
fingers and whistling a merry tune.


THE fertile plains of the Po passed, the party of
Pedius, moving northward, began to ascend a higher
region, and to wind over gentle slopes and through
little valleys all covered with grass, dotted with
flocks, and comfortable with the humble homes of
farmers and shepherds. Then, far away, over the
green grasslands, beyond the smaller hills, beyond the
larger hills thick grown with trees, Caius felt himself
awed at the sight of the snowcapped Alps, rising up-
ward, upward, and losing their whitened peaks in the
misty grayness of the upper sky.

Although it was spring, the passage over the snows
of the Alps was cold, but without mishap, and about
dark of the sixth day after leaving Ravenna, the party
arrived at Geneva, where Caesar himself was posted.
This was a considerable town of the Allobrogians, at
the southern end of Lake Geneva.

Just on the outskirts of the place, Caesar was en-
camped with a single legion, the one called the Tenth.
Pedius led his party directly to this camp, and at once
reported to Caesar in his tent.

In a short time a messenger came to Caius where he
was waiting, and said, "The Proconsul Caesar desires
Caius Volcatius Tullus to come to his tent without

The youth obeyed and went to a large leathern tent,



from the top of which floated a white flag, the mark of
the general's quarters. When he had entered he ob-
served that the floor was covered with beautiful tiles ;
for in Cesar's baggage always went these tiles for
flooring his tent.

"Well, Caius, I see that your mother was willing tor
you to come with me to Gaul," quietly said Caesar,
upon the entrance of Caius.

"Sir, she was glad for me to come with the noble
Julius. I think I now know why I was honored with
the invitation to come, and I am sure I know why my
mother gladly consented," said Caius.

"I asked you to come, Caius, chiefly because I
thought I saw in you a good soldier and a true man,"
returned Oesar, rather firmly. "There might be other
reasons, too, but let us get to business and not say too
much about that at present. Now that you are here,
would you choose to do real service as a soldier, with a
prospect of promotion if worthy, or do you prefer to be
one of the hangers-on about the camp, depending upon
the favors of Fortune to raise you to place and wealth ?

"With your leave, sir, I should choose to serve in the
ranks till I can learn to be a real soldier, and then I
may be able to show myself worthy."

"Your decision is good," said Caesar. "I shall raise
new legions and place you in one of them. In the
meantime, you may be a tent fellow with Sannio, and
report with him for service to-morrow. I shall keep you
in mind, and I expect you to show yourself a man and a
soldier. Come and consult with me should you find it
necessary." And then he dismissed Caius and turned
to other affairs.


As the youth left the tent, he met near the door a
number of the gayer young men in brazen armor, who
had come in the party under Pedius. Among them
strutted Lanius. He looked at Caius with wonder,
and almost stopped short before him in his surprise ;
but Caius gave no heed, and hurried on. However,
he was not rapid enough to miss hearing one of them
say, "Lanius, your young shepherd seems more in
favor with Caesar than we are."

Caius slept soundly that night in a leather army tent,
with Sannio and seven or eight others the usual
number assigned to a tent in the Roman army at that
time. At daybreak, he was awakened by the hoarse
blare of a bugle.

"Ah," cried Sannio, jumping up. "That seems like
old times in Spain. We must now get something to
eat and be ready for the next thing no one knows
what that will be where Caesar commands."

When Caius looked forth from the tent he saw the
camp alive with soldiers clad only in their tunics and
shoes, all hurrying in one direction. At the same
moment, one of his own tent mates brushed out past
him with a basket of grain on his shoulder. To Caius's
look of wonder, Sannio explained, "They are going to
the quaestorium where the hand mills are kept to grind
the barley so it can be made into bread or broth. The
men who tent together take turns at grinding the

After Caius had washed down with cold water the
simple and slight meal thus referred to, he heard the
notes of the bugle again peal forth.

"That means," said Sannio, "that we are to assemble


at once in the praetorium. Caesar doubtless has some-
thing of importance to say." And together they hurried
out to be quickly mingled with hundreds of soldiers
wearing their arms and armor, all pushing toward a
large open square near the end of the camp. I hey
found Caesar already mounted upon his earthen tri-

The soldiers had collected in an incredibly short
time, and before Caius hardly realized it, quiet had
ensued, and Caesar was speaking: "Fellow soldiers,
the Helvetians, one of the most powerful and warlike
peoples of all Gaul, are now threatening to march in a
body through our province. They are planning to
leave their own somewhat narrow territories and take
up their abode in a new region. Should they do this,
it would not only be a danger to the safety of the prov-
ince, but also an insult to the dignity of Caesar, your-
selves, and the whole Roman people. To prevent this
I propose to make a wall and ditch from Lake Geneva
to Mt. Jura, a distance of nineteen miles.

"As to the Gauls themselves, we need not dread
them ; for the Romans have overcome them in numer-
ous battles for the last two hundred years. True, they
attack with fierce yells, a dreadful rattle and clangor
of their arms, and incredible speed and bravery,
if stoutly and steadily withstood, they soon give way
and fly. Gallic rage can never stand against Roman

valor. . ,.

"I know of your courage and fortitude, especially
that of the Tenth legion. I am sure it is not necessary
to make an appeal to you on this occasion,
that I can depend upon you. Let us build these


works as rapidly as possible while our other men collect.
I think we shall soon have more lively and mayhaps
more profitable tasks. Let us do our duty, and our
rewards will come."

This short speech was delivered with such energy
of manner and such magnetism of gesture and expres-
sion, and especially were the last two sentences uttered
with such insinuating grace, that Caesar was greeted
with shouts and cheers. He quickly silenced this
applause by a motion of the hand and at once began
giving orders to his officers, who had gathered around

Trumpets sounded, and immediately all were in
motion. In a few moments, Caius saw thousands of
soldiers marching out of camp, with picks, shovels,
axes, and dirt baskets to build the wall and ditch.

While watching these depart, Caius was approached
by Lanius, who was making an effort to smile pleas-
antly. "I did not know that you were under the
especial care of Caesar, my friend," he said. "I hope
you will pardon my little jokes and be friends with
me. I assure you I meant no harm."

"I fail to see why your ignorance of Caesar's small
but kindly interest in me should have anything to do
,with the unprovoked insults you have ofFered me,"
replied Caius, rather coldly. "But as to being friends,
I can say that I shall make no effort to do you harm."

"I am a free man among free men," flashed Lanius.
"I owe no man and I shame to face no man. I own
three villas and much money. I feed fifty crops,
six dogs, and a couple of horses. I drink the best wine,
and always find myself welcome among the ladies."


"I care nothing for your wealth," said Caius. "But
we can be friends if you show yourself really friendly.''

Lanius, though eager to repair what seemed a mis-
take, could hardly bear the cool and determined manner
with which Caius met his advances. So he said with

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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 3 of 16)