Disclaimer: I own nothing but my imagination.

And now, the adventure concludes.

Episode 12: Tavington's Atlantis, part 10

The Past is Prologue: November 150—May 151

The Cape Verde Islands were not unattractive, Tavington decided. There were stunning sea views, there were pristine white beaches. It would be easy to be seduced into thinking them yet another island paradise. And so they were, unless taxed too heavily by greedy humans. A fragile paradise, in fact: soil a little too thin; a little too easily exhausted.

Jack Gronewald guessed that ordinary cultivation might work for fifty years or so, before severe erosion compromised productivity. "You just can't cut the tree cover in these islands," he told Tavington, shaking his head. "The islands are too low and have too little rainfall. The regrowth rate would be too slow. We could come in and rape them for a generation, and then we'd see the effects pretty quickly. And any of our people who had come to depend on land holdings here would be screwed."

"Then it's clear that we cannot offer property on these islands for agriculture," Tavington shrugged. He had really not expected more. Ferguson's assessment, based on his researches at their Library, had been supported by scientific data gathered on the spot. The salt and clay deposits, however, were all they had hoped.

There it stood, until the survey crew's report was publicly disseminated. At the next Committee meeting, they were approached by the Forerunners.

Forerunners, Ltd. was a partnership established by—not surprisingly, four runners—four of the original workmen who had helped build New Atlantis and had hidden there to avoid being sent back to the hell of the labor camps in the 21st century. Three had been tracked down before the final Jump into the past. They had been offered the opportunity to stay with the Project, and had accepted. Two of them had had families: one a wife, a baby, and a sister; the other a mother and a younger brother. They had been brought into the Project and were prospering. The third had had no one and nothing, and thus nothing to lose by joining the other time travelers. He had gained a home, a family, and more.

Tavington found the fourth, Lee Park, the most interesting of all. He was a highly educated man: an engineer, condemned to hard labor for speaking out against the brutality of his politically powerful employer. His family had renounced him to save themselves. Park had hidden cleverly in the mountains of New Atlantis, and had shown great resourcefulness, successfully evading their patrols for over a year. He might have never been found, but Markham had stumbled upon him quite by accident during a routine training exercise. The dragoon's rations had proved too great a temptation to a man living off wild birds and a few edible plants. They had surprised him and run him down. No one was particularly angry with him: simply full of wonder to come across Robinson Crusoe on their own island. When he finally realized that no one intended to send him back to a labor camp, the man had fainted with relief. He had been assigned work, and a flat to be shared with another runner.

Tavington had not heard or thought of the man until recently, when he and his friends had formed their own construction company. It was they who had built the lookout cabins around the islands, doing quick, efficient, and reliable work. As the population grew, and more of the settlers wanted to build on their own property, Forerunners stepped forward to design and build any kind of dwelling: bartering, dealing, and somehow managing to make a little profit.

Lee Park and his partners asked to speak at the Committee meeting that day. For they wanted land on the Cape Verde Islands, but not to farm. "This stretch on Salt Island has not just salt, but limestone and gypsum," Park pointed out. "If we produce our own building stone, concrete, and cement, and gate them back home, we'll have good building materials that will result in fewer trees being cut for construction."

The rest of the presentation was equally matter of fact. Tavington was favorably impressed, and rearranged his own plans for a log house to a wood-framed one handsomely faced with stucco. It would suit the climate, he decided, and look very civilized. He could have a more classical design, even…

But that could wait. With some dickering, and with the civil authority of New Atlantis receiving its due share of the proceeds, the Forerunners were allowed to take a portion of their land grants in the rights to the designated parcels of property in the Cape Verde Islands. They were not alone: their glassmakers had wanted the rights to some fine white quartz sand along the coast of another island, the potters needed the kaolin. The scientists laid down the strict and predictable protections for the environment, but otherwise the arrangements went smoothly.

It had surprised Tavington, but not everyone wanted his or her full land grant. He identified wealth and security with owning land, but others did not feel the same. And so one of Paul Seevers' legal tasks was to work out just settlements: in place of 500 acres, perhaps 200 acres and rights to a shop, or 10 acres and a factory concession, or 100 acres and a new boat, or 200 acres and some dairy animals. People's needs were unique, and only a fraction of the settlers had so far presented their requests to the Committee. Some of the scientists did not need land at the present time, and intended to transfer their own rights to their children when those children's needs became known. So in the meantime, some Atlanteans had only asked for an acre or two, or a bit of beach, or a house property with a building of some sort. Paul worked through these complicated arrangements, amassing a body of legal precedents as he did so.

And in a day or two, the Reliant would reach the newly-named Chocolate Islands. Now there was a place that might arouse a land-fever. Practically dead on the equator, richly fertile; a land for growing crops that would be the agricultural equivalent of a gold mine. If he hadn't loathed hot weather, Tavington would have wanted some property there himself.

-----

Jennifer wanted to start the trees at least ten years in the past. She had trays of little seedlings already putting out tiny leaves under her growing lights. The survey team was told to stay on the coastal areas. She, Jack, and the biology team would do their own assessment of the island, and select areas to planted with cacao and vanilla, with nutmeg and cloves, with cinnamon, with rubber trees, and up in the hills, some coffee.

In the course of a week's stay, they would tend the seedlings with a rapid series of gates, first at weekly intervals, which would lengthen to monthly, and then yearly visits, and hope there had been no devastating storms in the past ten years. Once the trees had ten years' growth, they would open up the island for the other surveyors, and allow permanent structures to be built. If all went well.

A carefully designed settlement, with a processing facility for the crops, was planned. Luckily, all these products, once processed, would keep for long periods. Long enough to be sent home to New Atlantis. Long enough for journeys by sea, or to be discreetly gated to their ships in whichever port proved an especially good market.

All in all, New Atlantis was prospering in every material sense. Had it been an ordinary colony of his own time, Tavington would have been entirely satisfied with their well-ordered little world. Indeed, he was entirely satisfied, but for the obvious fact that many of the prominent Committee members, including his own wife, felt they still had far to go.

"Will," explained his wife a few nights before Christmas, "if trade and money were everything, we could grow a huge crop of opium and coca, get the world addicted to heroin and cocaine, and rake in obscene profits. People would sell themselves into slavery to us to get their fixes. Or we could grow tobacco, and get people addicted to that. But profit is not what we are about. It's not what I am about. I've had enough of greedy fascist exploiters. We left to get away from them." She pushed her hair back from her brow in a weary gesture. "And I really would rather die than become one of them."

Concerned, he answered quite seriously. "I beg you not to imagine that I care for nothing but money. It is, however, a tangible measure of our success in establishing a comfortable existence for all our people. And there is this: the greater our wealth, the greater our reputation, and the more credible our claims to moral and intellectual authority. If we wish to influence this world, we must present ourselves as superior to them in a way they can understand."

"We're not superior—" his wife began helplessly. "I mean, our value as human beings is not greater than theirs. We have the advantage of two thousands years of history. It's not due to our own cleverness. We just know more than they do."

"Of course we do," agreed Tavington, happy to find a point of agreement. "And we are all in accord that this knowledge should be used for the betterment of the world at large. The question remains: how best to use our two thousand years of collective wisdom?"

The discussions continued, at the meetings and at dinner, in the Square, and on horseback, roaming the ravishing countryside of their little Eden. They continued on visits to the Cape Verde Islands, and finally on Big Chocolate (or Hot Chocolate, Tavington wryly termed it), the larger of their two new islands. Everyone had an opinion. But most thought that education, of one sort or another, was key.

Gretchen, stimulated by her semi-monthly visits to their new embassy in Alexandria, was strongly of the opinion that a medical school was absolutely a first priority. She, with her assistants, could treat only a limited number of patients. And the Alexandrian physicians were hounding her with questions, complaints, challenges. They wanted to observe, and there was only one of her. Mark and Carolyn, who ran the clinic two days a month out of Atlantis House in Rome, had exactly the same experiences.

"We need to set up an organized curriculum, and it will have to be in New Atlantis, where the facilities are best," was the final summation Mark gave the Committee.

It would mean bringing outsiders to New Atlantis, and allowing them to live among them for some time. Some simple lodgings were built for them: comfortable, and with decent sanitation, but with no electrical devices to bemuse the uninitiated. They would be served meals in the commissary, at different times than the regular inhabitants. Certain restrictions must be applied: their maps, their navigation, their weapons would have to be made secure.

Once that was achieved, a small number of students—perhaps five from each of the two cities—could be admitted. The applicants would be interviewed, screened, and would have to be approved. It would take years of study--of English, of basic literacy and numerancy skills, of elementary hygiene, before they could progress to the advanced topics that would bring them to the level even of say, decent nurse-practitioners. But it must be undertaken. The medical staff hoped to have their plans ready soon.

Meanwhile, Ferguson negotiated a partnership with a reputable pottery business in Rome. The no-slavery clause was a deal-breaker in some cases. Most Romans could not wrap their minds around the alien concept of eschewing slave labor altogether. And yet Ferguson would casually bring in marvels of Atlantean pottery, of superior hardness and thinness, with glorious glazes, and painted exquisitely. There were promises of lucrative contracts. Perhaps—even if they had to pay their laborers, they could make a profit from the superior wares they would produce.

In the end, the first partnership was formed with a family business. The potters were a man, his three sons, and two nephews. His unmarried daughters worked desultorily in the business, as did his married daughters and their husbands. The family owned slaves, but they were domestic servants, and the terms of the contract were well-known enough that it was not worthwhile to cheat. If they did, disgruntled rivals were certain to tattle. The contract began with roof and floor tiles. Atlantean potters visited, sharing nuggets of new technologies. They wanted to know these people and trust them before they told them anything more.

The next innovation was the introduction of flush toilets, which were made with the assistance of Roman plumbers. When this step was taken, the Atlanteans insisted on copper pipes, to the Romans' puzzlement. It was explained that lead pipes were a health hazard. It took quite a lot of persuading, but gradually the Romans were unhappily convinced that they had been poisoning their own water supply. Shortly thereafter, there was something of a dust-up at the Flavian Palace, as the entire plumbing system was ripped out, and replaced with shining copper. And shortly thereafter, further enhanced with the talked-about flush toilets.

-----

Marcus Aurelius returned from a brief journey to the German border, to find a number of changes in Rome. Some were subtle changes, and some, like the elegant new "water closets" installed in his own apartments, were arresting. He was a Roman, and approved of engineering innovations that would further public health.

But these were only symptoms of larger forces at work. The Atlanti were having a profound affect on his people. Once again, he considered the idea that they were gods. They appeared human, and had human needs and desires—and yet…

He and Demochares had discussed it over and over again. Demochares, after some thought, went back, as he often did, to the classics. "I think we should entirely review our interpretations of the Iliad and Odyssey—and nearly all tales of the gods and goddesses."

"How so?"

"Consider this, Caesar: the Atlanti say they came from another world. It is evident from their city that they have been in our world only a few years. They have awesome powers over matter, over distance, and over light itself. They wish to influence our world. How then, do they differ from the gods of Olympus, who also appeared to be human, had human needs and desires—sometimes excessively so—and meddled for hundreds of years in the affairs of mortals?"

"The Atlanti do not claim to be immortal, but I think I see what you mean." He did. These powerful beings, transplanted to Earth, were certainly as meddlesome as the Olympians. They did not demand worship, true: but they behaved as if respect was due them. And the consequences of defying them were catastrophic. "Perhaps the gods of years past could also have been visitors from another place. And they might have behaved differently in dealing with the primitive peoples they found themselves among. These Atlanti, finding us civilized, treat us accordingly."

They were not God: the mysterious driving force of the universe; but they might well be gods: beings with a stronger spark of divinity than the ordinary run of men.

And they were present in the city. Certainly, at least two days a month there was activity in the house given them. Their physicians, Marcus Magliorus and his wife Carolina, were performing marvels. There was talk of accepting pupils at a school of medicine on their island. Verguso was about the city, he and his men vividly scarlet in their splendid garments, as they met with craftsmen eager to learn the secrets of the Atlanti.

Another thing disturbed him. He had had the distinct impression that the Atlanti knew about him: about him personally. When their prince had first laid eyes on him, he had looked as one who recognizes a familiar face. Perhaps this was part of their divine nature. And they had chosen the Romans to visit: not the Parthians, not the Germans, not the faraway peoples of India. Which suggested that they liked the Romans, and wished to help them.

-----

They called the season winter, but it really had little meaning in the mild climate of New Atlantis. The weather remained pleasant, only raining more frequently and heavily. Whether observing Christmas or simply the winter solstice itself, the Atlanteans had a long period of pleasant celebrations: a school concert, a Yule ball, a screening of "A Christmas Carol," and a film Diana had not shown them before, "It's a Wonderful Life." The latter required more explanation than the former, but was still a touching story. And there was not a citizen of New Atlantis, but felt he or she had been given a second chance, just like George Bailey.

Tavington, himself, watching the scenes where George visits a world where his children had never been born, where his wife had never married, found himself reaching out to take Diana's warm hand in his. What if they had never met? He would have been rotting in a muddy hole in South Carolina, and she—it did not bear thinking of. He walked home with her later, quietly musing over the vagaries of fortune, and made ardent and tender love to her that night.

They were all very busy. Their new workmen were proving useful, whether processing cocoa, cutting cane, caring for their herds and flocks, or helping with needed construction. In the Laboratory, in the machine shops, among the craftsmen, thinking, creative people were learning to make do with the limitations of their new world.

The new aircraft were nearly complete and would soon be ready for tests. At the airfield, he greeted Lt. DeJong, over from Numenor for the day. She had great hopes for their new little ultralights, and hoped for bigger things eventually.

"Bill can fly, and we take turns sometimes with the Cessna, so he can keep his hand in, but I'd like to train more pilots. And for that we need more planes."

Tavington was on the point of suggesting that he himself might be a candidate, when she suddenly laughed. "I don't know if I ever told you about the expression on Agricola's face, the first time he had a good look at my plane. I think he's still a little afraid of it. And when he understood that I was the one flying it—well, he's never looked at me the same way again." More seriously, she added, "Traumatized by that day, probably. Sometimes I see him when I'm flying low over the island. He always stops to watch me, but he never comes to the airfield for a closer look."

"I thought you might have ferried him over the night of the party."

"Not him. He and Janie came over on the Reliant. He's nervous enough about motors, but the boat didn't seem as alien, I guess. Barb says he's a pretty good sailor, seeing him getting the hang of Janie's boat. He's caught on to modern sails, but the other stuff is just too much. But he's an OK guy otherwise. Anyway, Janie seems to like him."

Agricola was not the only one intimidated by modern inventions. All their old-timers were sometimes uneasy with aspects of their new life. Diana had quoted Clarke's Law one day on the subject, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Very true. The young Irishwomen at the Town Hall had been very, very frightened by electric lights, by the mysteries of the sanitation system (Tavington supposed that they thought that waste products simply disappeared), and most of all by the Laboratory. However, Polly and Sally had taken them in hand, and now they spent a great deal of their time in the huge clothing workroom there. However awful they thought the rest of the building, here were wonders they could comprehend.

There were human powered devices there, as well as electrical ones. Among them was a treadle spinning jenny that could make six skeins of thread at the same time. One of the Irish girls, Fingula, was enchanted with it, and had learned to operate the device. Now they could hardly keep her away from it—not that they particularly wanted to. Sally and Polly thought spinning dull work. "Fingula's welcome to it!"

Caitlin was teaching Ceindrych to make bobbin lace, a skill that appeared tedious to Tavington, seeing the girl one day with the pillow and pattern on her lap, and the complex matrix of threads attached to a dozen wooden bobbins. He could not make head or tail of what she was doing, but she seemed to enjoy it.

For the rest, they were weaving, sewing, embroidering, knitting, mending. Sally had confided in Tavington that the young women's skills had been rudimentary at first, but they were making great progress in what they saw as proper and worthy work for women of their station. One hardly saw Ceindrych without her beloved sewing basket in her hands. It kept the women usefully occupied for much of the day, which was most satisfactory.

Their philosophers were adjusting to the new devices a little better. Ptolemy spent much of his time at the observatory with the Kolbs. Julie had presented advanced theories of optics to him in a way that helped him comprehend telescopes very, very quickly. In fact, he was a brilliant man, who was dealing with a revolution in theoretical physics. Tavington was no scientist himself, and understood only parts of the excited discussions among the Greeks. They talked, in a confusing mix of Greek and English about the theory of motion, about focal lengths, about the worlds of the very large and the very small (which Merianis brought up, dealing as she did with optics in the form of a very simple microscope that had been found for her in the collection of historical scientific instruments.)

Truth be told, he did not understand much of the science or mathematics himself. He and his 18th century soldiers knew the machines were not magic, not because they understood how they worked, but because they did not believe in magic. Hugh Bordon, with his degree from Cambridge, and Pattie Ferguson, with his training as a military engineer at Woolwich, understood far more than he. His own education was fairly sketchy in comparison, not much beyond the traditional Latin and Greek, and some half-forgotten geometry. It did not matter: there were specialists to deal with the knotty details.

-----

There was a tapping at their door. Diana murmured sleepily, "Is that you, Iris?"

"It's Hugh, Diana. I think Clytie's near her time."

Tavington groaned crossly, but rolled out of bed a moment after his wife. A message was dispatched for a doctor, and Diana threw on some clothes, took a slumbering little Jason with her, and crossed the upper terrace to sit with the girl. Tavington quickly got dressed himself, quietly brought his friend a drink, and they took up quarters in the sitting room. The 21's seem to expect fathers to be present at the birth of their children, but men of the 18th century failed to see anything appealing about that. Childbirth was women's business, and the business of trained midwives and doctors. None of them could see how they would be of any use, though they were willing to remain nearby, ready to welcome their children and offer their gratitude and comfort to their wives after the birth.

By breakfast time, the Hall was stirring. Will bounced out of his room ahead of Iris, announcing that he couldn't find his shoes. When appealed to, Emily declared that she had to hurry to get ready for school, and dashed away. Tavington looked briefly, gave up the search, and took the children downstairs barefoot, promising to bring back something for Bordon. While getting the children fed, he dutifully spread the gossip. Ferguson yawned and expressed sympathy. Paul Seevers dispensed lengthy advice, and then departed for his office. The women all magically disappeared upstairs, thankfully taking Bordon a tray of food.

Markham and his womenfolk arrived shortly thereafter, and Tavington shared the latest news. Markham's women, the situation explained to them, ate a hasty meal and vanished as well.

Their housekeepers, the Griffith sisters, were standing just outside the kitchen door, glaring at them, wanting to get busy clearing the mess of dirty plates. Tavington took the broad hint, and decided to go upstairs as well and bear his friend company. Ferguson and Markham had duties to attend to, and left; with Markham seeking Pattie's advice about a house he intended to build on his land, and the best design for making a houseful of women comfortable.

Well, Pattie would know about a houseful of women!

His quarters revealed a scene of happy disorder: Berenike was attempting to supervise the mob of children, and was telling them a favorite story. Bordon was in his own sitting room, he was informed, and all the rest of the women were inthe Bordon'sbedchamber, hovering.

As he entered through the French doors, he heard a low, mysterious chant.

Bordon looked up, and smiled ruefully. "Ceindrych and her women are apparently trying to persuade the baby out by means of a charm."

Tavington laughed, and found a chair at the little table where his friend was busily working. "Designing a house?"

Bordon shrugged, "An amusement for an idle hour. It might be pleasant to have a little place of my own with a fine view of the sea…I could have a vineyard, or raise sheep. Or both."

"It does sound pleasant. For myself, I would like to breed horses, with perhaps a sideline in apples—and apple brandy."

"The horses we've seen are hardly better than scrubs." Bordon agreed. "Ours are far superior." He sat back in his chair. "Clytie talks about bee-keeping someday. She once belonged to an estate famous for its honey."

There was a hoarse moan from beyond the closed door. Bordon sighed. "Poor girl."

"She'll be a very happy girl, when the worst is over."

"Yes. She's needed a child of her own. Polly's been trying to get her to work on her baby linen, but Clytie is not much inclined to sewing. She was not taught it from childhood, like most women."

"Having the little one about will no doubt be an inspiration."

"Possibly."

Time ticked away. Bordon started another design, and Tavington found himself a book, Swiss Family Robinson. As the sun warmed the terrace, they moved out of doors. The shadows were shortening, and it was nearly noon when Polly came to get them.

In the crowded, close room, smelling of blood and women, Diana laid a small bundle in Bordon's arms. "You have a little daughter, Hugh."

"And a tough little wife," said Gretchen. "She'll be all right."

Clytie smiled weakly, and put out her arms for the baby. Tavington heard her anxious whisper, "You are not angry? It is only a girl."

"I am delighted, my dear. She is a beautiful child, and we shall call her Briseis, just as you wished."

"And we will keep her? Yes?"

Sally and Polly exchanged a pitying look. Diana was murmuring explanations to Ceindrych and her maids, who were full of questions about the significance of the name.

"Of course, of course, my dear. She is our child, and she will have the best of everything."

Outside the room, a crowd of children gathered, wanting to see the baby. Bordon sat with his wife, while she held the little mite close. Tavington thought it time to give his formal congratulations, and beat a retreat.

"A pretty child," he smiled. "May she be as happy and healthy as she is lovely." He bowed to his friends, and catching his wife's eye, whispered, "I'm off to the barracks, to look over the duty roster. Don't let them wear you out."

She smiled, and kissed him lightly, and then touched his arm in farewell. As he left, he heard her, gently admonishing the children to come in one at a time and to be quiet while they were admiring the baby.

----

They had a special celebration for Emily's sixteenth birthday in mid-February. To Tavington's disgust, Publius Vibius was in attendance, brought by Marianne, who sometimes took a little pleasure in irritating him. Perhaps it was not just that, he admitted to himself. She had taken a genuine maternal interest in the boy, who was really too old to formally adopt, and had given him work, and a place to live, and guidance. The boy dutifully attended every session of their adult school at night that he possible could, and had learned to make himself useful. He was much like any of the other boys, clothed the same, sharing the same jokes—only far handsomer. And Emily liked him.

But Emily, thankfully, had other concerns: concerns that would keep her from too-early entanglements. She had announced her desire to become a teacher—a teacher of little children, she explained. This would involve a minimum of three additional years of schooling, and a year as an apprentice teacher. Diana was pleased and proud, and told Emily how important such work was, with the growth of their population, and the huge increase in school-age children that was coming their way in the next few years.

Looking at the girl at the party, Tavington felt a certain pride himself. Emily was perhaps a little too serious, sometimes a bit overbearing with the other children, but she was a nice girl, with a good heart. Diana had been right to give her all the advantages of a home with them, and the girl had been a great help to them: acting the part of a true sister to the little ones, and repaying all Diana's affection in kind. And her decision to teach was agreeable too: very proper, very genteel—a ladylike vocation for their foster daughter.

His satisfaction must have been apparent, for Pattie looked amused as he came over to chat. Tavington was surprised to see him. Pattie had paid his regular visit to Rome, and had not returned this morning, as he usually did. They had received a radio message that they were having an emergency meeting and would come back as soon as possible.

"The very picture of a proud father. She's a fine lass, and you've done well. Now all you have to do is marry her off. A pity Jamie's a wee bit too young---"

Tavington laughed. "Just a bit. I thought you weren't coming. What did the Romans want?"

"Not the Romans. Just as we were about to return, a pair of priests from Epidauros came pounding on the door, begging us to admit them to the medical school. They seemed earnest, decent men, and they'd traveled all the way from Greece to see us. I couldna find it in me to tell them to come back in two weeks, so I let them in, and had Mark and Carolyn talk to them. The upshot was that they were told to go back to the temple where they were staying, fetch their gear, and they could come with us."

"They're here?" Tavington looked about the room.

"Well, not here. I didna think them appropriately dressed for a young lady's coming-out. They're at the guest lodgings for the night, and were told not to go wandering. It was a good thought to build them—and build them as simple as possible. Mark will take them to breakfast in the morning, and then they'll be given the Grand Tour. Poor buggers."

Tavington snorted, and then smiled as Emily saw them and waved. She was very fond of Pattie, and obviously glad that he had not missed her special night. They went over to her, so Pattie could tender his best compliments on her looks and the auspicious occasion. She did look very well in white, quite as she should. Diana was sitting with a little cluster of other matrons who had infants to care for, looking very well and happy herself. The little children were at the party too, but kept in a special corner of their own, with different women taking turns watching them, and teaching the dances to those children who wanted to learn. Luckily, the music was loud enough to cover the majority of the squealing.

Emily was asked to dance, and Tavington could continue his conversation with his friend. "Well, they're the first arrivals, but Gretchen has a group of five that will be arriving a few days. Once the rest of the Roman contingent arrives, our medical school will have its first class. Let's hope all goes well."

-----

And so, they soon had another group of old-timers to acclimate to their new surroundings: nine men and three women. Things went well—eventually, but there were difficulties to be overcome. This group was more cohesive—or at least cohesive along gender lines. A few of them had trouble with the food, which was richer than they were accustomed to. Some of them appeared to be having second thoughts. One of the women was suffering from extreme culture shock, and nearly "washed-out" (as Carolyn expressed it) within the first week.

Treated with great kindness and understanding, she managed to adjust, and began to catch up with her fellows. They were given a combination of classroom and clinical training, and at length were on their way to establishing a modus vivendi. Merianis, as a more advanced student, was of great assistance. But it was none of Tavington's affair, really, and he wished the medics all success from a safe distance.

More pressing was planning their voyage to Ireland. Captain Aherne thought they could leave by late March. Many, many Atlanteans were anxious to hear about Kathleen. Speculations abounded as to her health and safety, and her success in dealing with the natives on her own. Markham felt strongly that he should return, and to Tavington's surprise, announced that his wife wanted to go along.

"Well, sir," he expostulated, responding to Tavington's surprise. "Naturally she wants to see her family again. And I think it's for the best. That way her brother doesn't imagine that she's been sold into slavery, or murdered, or—eaten. I don't know. It just seems like a good idea. She can tell them how great it is, and how everyone's been so nice to her. And she wants to show her sister-in-law—the King's wife—her sewing box. I don't think she likes her much. I found out," he confided with a slight blush, "that is was the sister-in-law's idea to marry Ceindrych off to me. They didn't get along, and the woman wanted her out of the house. And there we were, so it could be done with no loss of status, and Ceindrych would be completely out of the picture. Lucky for me, Ceindrych wanted to get away herself. She really likes it here. But she wants to show them her new clothes and her new things, and that she doesn't need them anymore."

"As long as she doesn't start a fight, Lieutenant," Tavington said in some alarm. "The point is to establish peaceful relations with these Hibernians."

"I know that, sir. Ceindrych knows that. She just wants to show off a little."

"And if you see any good prospects for settlers, try to persuade them to push their fortunes here. We've decided to offer small holdings to any immigrants who commit themselves to us for five years of satisfactory work. That might appeal to some."

So the plans were in motion, and by the end of March the Stargazer stood out from the port of New Atlantis and headed north on its week-long voyage to Cork Harbor.

"They don't call it that, of course, Aherne told me, " said Lesley Urquhart at the regular Committee meeting. "Something more like "Coraigh." And there's no town in the harbor. The island is completely bare, and somewhat marshy. But we know it can support good foundations, because the town of Cobh was located on the island in our own time. If Kathleen is all right, and if our agreement still holds, we should be able to put up a decent dock. We'd like some other buildings as well—a warehouse, a shelter, and maybe a market, too. We'll have to see how it goes."

She was preparing for her next voyage to the Mediterranean. It would be another long cruise, hitting both Rome and Alexandria, but also some cities they had not visited on the last trip. Southern Italy, Sicily, and the islands of the Aegean were on the itinerary. They had learned that Rhodes was a very fine trading town. It would be impractical to set up gate sites in every town they wanted to visit, and for purposes of trade, it was just as easy to use the ship and the crew. And less disconcerting for the locals, of course.

Serapion was traveling with her, to make a formal report to his master, the Governor of Egypt, and to enjoy her company on the cruise. Herb Schultz was their man in Alexandria, when he emerged from their embassy there, and the Egyptians could make of it what they would. Likewise, Patrick Ferguson was making himself available on the prearranged dates in Rome. Since he was already thoroughly engaged with that duty, Bordon would command the marines on the Enterprise.

Tavington anticipated no trouble with this cruise. They were regarded with fear and wonder by the Roman world. No one, other than the Emperor and his Caesars, might actually know the truth of what befell Marcus Vinicius and his invasion fleet, but it was known that he had meant to attack Atlantis, and it was known that neither he or his men had been seen or heard of since.

A new governor had been appointed, and the story circulated was that the fleet had been lost in a storm, but the awed gossip had trickled back to the Atlanteans. And eight days later, they had some welcome news.

-----

Other than a brief squall on the third night, their voyage had been without incident. When they at last sighted the familiar stretch of coast, Ceindrych and her servants had rushed to the deck, calling out excitedly, as they pointed to the landmarks. Standing closer in, and entering the mouth of the harbor, they were all struck with how different this place was from their own home: how big, how green, and with what a misty, lowering sky.

They weighed anchor late in the afternoon, and Aherne lowered a boat to the mainland. Markham and his landing party set out to assess the situation. Ceindrych and her women would go with them, since it was her own brother they were going to visit.

They had a long walk to the settlement of the Erainn before them. Markham had jotted down a map on their last visit, and they made their way through the long grass, through the woods, until they approached the little fortified hill that was their destination. Along the way, they saw a few huts of turf and rock, and were timidly greeted by the folk in them. One young woman rushed up and thrust a loaf of flattish oatbread into Ceindrych's hands, with a nod, and a whispered, friendly word.

There was a shout: they had been seen. Markham felt a little concern. He had been treated well enough on his last visit—more than well, considering how he and Ceindrych had hit it off, but it never paid to let down your guard.

But he need not have worried. Cathal, King of the Erainn, came out of his big longhouse and strode down to greet him. His wife was beside him, of course, looking glum. It crossed Markham's mind that she might think he had come to give Ceindrych back.

With them, looking thinner, was Kathleen Mackie. Wrapped in a thick woolen ruana, she could have been taken for one of the Erainn herself. She was surrounded by a crowd of women, obviously her entourage. She broke into a big smile of relief, as she hurried down with the King and Queen to meet them.

"You're all right!" Markham exclaimed. "They'll all be happy to hear it at home! I imagine the King will want to feast us, but get your things together so we can leave as soon as possible! You need some real food!"

Ceindrych was embracing her brother, and preening a little as she displayed her rich, green woolen gown, her jewelry, her beautifully made hooded cape. As a subtle joke, Caitlin had made her one based on a much later Irish style, a Kinsale-style cloak, with its flattering and exquisite lines. Ceindrych had even brought her sewing box, to show her brother and all the women of the Erainn the wealth of her husband's people, and how generous they were to her and her women.

Yes, they were gods, she told them. They had mighty powers, but were neither cruel nor capricious. Her husband had never raised a hand to her. The King and Queen had welcomed her like a daughter, and all of them were being taught their wisdom. She lived in luxury in their magnificent palace. She had gifts for them, and would show some of her new skills.

But they too had news for her. Their visitor, the good witch, was teaching them lore as well. No, they had nothing as fine as Ceindrych's sewing tools, but they too were being taught to spin on the sacred wheel, to sew with many kinds of stitches, and to knit warm cloth with the bone needles. These gods brought great gifts, and they did not wish Kathleen to leave them. She had the power of healing, and it would bring them misfortune, surely.

And to Markham's surprise, Kathleen was not particularly eager to leave herself. "They need me, Drew. I'm doing good work here. Women visit from lots of the other tribes, and they're listening to me."

"Uh, Kathleen," he replied, concerned. "Have you looked at yourself lately? I don't mean to be rude, but you're really not looking very healthy. You need food and a decent night's sleep in an actual bed, and a—"

"—A bath. Yes, I know. At least I've gotten them to improve the way they dispose of their waste. I'm just about out of my medical supplies. What did you bring me?"

They talked more, over the roasted meats set before them at the King's table. They crowded together in the flickering light of the firepit, the rooftree above them grimy with soot. It was early spring, and the game animals were thin and tough. There was some oatbread, and some beer. Markham took the opportunity to present the gifts that had been prepared: a barrel of good Madeira wine, a big wheel of soft yellow cheese, a great basket of fruit (the pineapples were devoured with delight, the bananas more uneasily. Markham did not comprehend that they were perceived as a manifestation of male fertility).

There was splendid gold brooch for the King, and for his wife, something Polly Ferguson called a "housewife:" a soft envelope of cloth—in this case, a rich red velvet—that enclosed a sewing kit. While not as splendid as Ceindrych's, it was still superior to any woman other than Kathleen's; containing five needles, a gold thimble, a packet of pins, five spools of various colored thread, exquisite scissors of silver, and a measure.

King Cathal questioned Markham about their plans. A market would be declared, to be held on the little island the King had granted his friends the Atlanteans. It was a poor place, but since they wanted land by the sea in the inlet, it was the best he could do. Markham assured him that the island was perfectly suitable for their needs, and that they were going to build on it, a dock for their ships, and perhaps a building for their goods, and a lodging for the times they would stay.

When the Committee received the report, two days later, there were some serious decisions to be made. The Erainn were very unhappy with the idea of Kathleen leaving: unhappy enough that it might compromise future relations. Markham was encouraged to invite the king and his chosen followers to visit the island he had given them, to be the guest of the Atlanteans, and to find a resolution to their differences.

It was Diana who suggested the obvious way out of their dilemma. If Kathleen wished to stay and teach the Hibernian tribes, she should be able to do it in comfort. A house would be built for her on the little island, where she could live with proper conveniences. It should be large enough to house those she was teaching, as well.

Lyudmilla agreed. "It will make her a little more independent, while still being close to the Erainn. We should get on it right away. However, it should be a matter of record that this does not mean that we feel we have any further claims on Irish soil. We don't want to send future generations the idea that this is a foothold for colonization!"

Tavington refrained from observing that there was more than one way to colonize a people. Kathleen's friendship and high standing with this tribe, and Markham's ties by marriage, would indeed create a certain bond. Foundations would be laid, not just for a house, or a dock, but for a long and fruitful connection, he hoped.

And so, they got to work. All their construction resources were immediately diverted to the little island in the harbor. A structure that had been planned for Big Chocolate was to be built right away in Ireland. A huge gate was opened, machines dispatched to dig foundations and a well, and drive pilings for a dock that could even accommodate the Enterprise, as well as smaller craft.

The house itself, two storied, and solidly built, would showcase chimneys (unknown to the world in this time), running water, and a septic field for waste disposal. Everyone was quite excited about the new project, and pointed out that the little outpost would be a place for ideas that could improve the locals' way of life.

Jack Gronewald wanted to create a miniature farm. "Only an acre or two, but it would teach modern crop rotation, and feature all sorts of new foods that should do well in the climate."

Some young fruit trees were transplanted, and a garden laid out. Artisans contributed furnishings and things of beauty. And Dieter gated in to discuss security features of the little outpost with Markham. They were of one mind on the matter, and the defenses would be passive and nearly invisible, but highly effective.

By the time the Erainn came upon the scene, the house was nearly complete. The tribe watched in awe from the other bank of the river as the buildings grew as if by magic. Markham assured the King that the Atlanteans wanted no other land. They had more than enough of their own: but they could trade with their friends from here, and welcome them as guests, and Kathleen would live and teach in this place nearby, so that they could always call on her at need. And some of their poor-- dowerless daughters, young men seeking adventure and land of their own-- were welcome to journey to the mysterious land of the Atlanti, to seek their fortune.

Diana and Tavington came in person to see the site for themselves, and brought the children along. There was a happy reunion with Kathleen, and Diana took her aside for a long talk.

Later, she told Tavington, "The secure room for gating is a wonderful idea. We can visit her often, and she won't feel isolated that way. And Gretchen wants to monitor her health situation."

Emily wandered away briefly, and was seen conversing with one of the young girls of the Erainn, who had ferried over for a visit. Their foster daughter had learned quite a bit of the language from Ceindrych and her special friend among the maids, Aoife. When they returned home to the Town Hall, she seemed very thoughtful, and went to her room without saying anything more.

-----

Yes, they were all busy: and all full of ideas. Jennifer was particularly eager to find new projects. She was, for obvious reasons, looking markedly less skeletal. In fact, she was glowing, happy, and inspired. Her newest idea involved a voyage to their island neighbors, the uninhabited Azores.

"Michael can complain about them all he likes. We will have people living there someday, and so we should do a good survey, and plant some trees. That's what the Spanish did. Whenever they visited a new island, they would seed some fruit trees, so that when people came there to live, they found good things already provided for them."

Michael weighed in with the volcanic history of the islands, and finally agreed that settlement was not impossible. He would take core samples, and see which were safest from that standpoint. "And the soil will be fertile, at least. Volcanic islands nearly always are."

It took only two days from New Atlantis to reach the Azores. The cruise was pleasant and leisurely. Everyone was impressed favorably by the islands. They might sit on the junction of three continental plates, but even with the threat of earthquake, these were The Fortunate Isles indeed. Flowery as their own Atlantis, but with their own quirks: mountain lakes, hot springs, blue grottoes.

Nine habitable islands, the largest of which was as big as their own. They were easily reached by sailing vessels. There was plenty of room for their people to expand. Jennifer, looking like a pregnant fertility goddess, was busily planting on all the islands. Within a decade there would be mature orchards on all them. Diana alluded to the goddess Pomona, the lady of the orchards; or joked kindly about Johnny Appleseed.

Jennifer planted especially carefully on the island the Portuguese had for good reason named Flores. It was a magical place. There, one day, they came upon a slope of many-colored hydrangeas that captured the heart. They sat down there, watching the clouds for a timeless moment, and left reluctantly, not able to speak of it.

Tavington decided that once this little jaunt was over, Jennifer must really get some rest. Accordingly, he called on her the day after their return, ready to gently command her temporary retirement from her many activities. Surprisingly, she seemed inclined to agree.

"I feel like I can settle down for awhile, now that I've done something about the Azores. They were really preying on my mind. I kept thinking about them, so close, and so uncared for." She laughed at herself. "Listening to me babbling. But really, aren't they beautiful? And in years to come, we can settle them, one at a time. I wish I could see it. And someday, New Zealand. Such beautiful places for our grandchildren to live…" She was silent for a little while, smiling in a little reverie.

Tavington sat with her in her little bare sitting room, and acknowledged that she seemed much more comfortable with him as her time approached. A natural instinct, of course. And the room itself was no longer quite so bare. It was full of projects, and was decorated with potted plants of all sorts, though many were high on ledges. She saw his glance around the room.

"All the toxic plants are out of reach. I remember my mother telling me how I scared her when I was a baby. She didn't know I could crawl, and she turned her back on me, and right away I made a beeline for an orchid in bloom and started stuffing the flowers into my mouth. She didn't know if they would kill me or not, and she called the doctor, and he just laughed at her. She used to say that she knew then that I would always love flowers…."

She was silent again. Finally, she said, "I miss my mother. You know I'm going to have a girl."

He nodded. Gretchen had informed him of it some time ago.

Jennifer said softly, "I've decided to name her Lily, after my mother. I wish she were here to see this baby."

"We all miss our mothers, Jennifer," Tavington replied. He pulled his chair closer, and took her hand. "At least they will live on in our children."

-----

Before the Enterprise could set out for its latest adventure, Ferguson returned from a visit on the Ides of May to announce that Caesar Marcus Aurelius wished to visit them.

"And it appears it willna be a courtesy call of a quarter-hour. He really wants to see more of our clever lads and lassies. He's heard of the Observatory, and he wants to know if our medical students are making progress. And it seems his brother Caesar, Lucius, wants to come as well."

"Probably to flirt with Lesley and stuff himself with chocolate," Tavington snorted.

"Oh, he's young, surely, but not a bad sort. And dinna forget, Will, that he may not die young this time!"

It had, in fact, occurred to Tavington, as well as to the historians, that they were already changing history. While no one knew for certain what had killed Lucius Verus, there was a possibility that modern medicine might save him. In any case, it was prudent to establish friendly ties with both the Caesars.

The historians had been meeting in closed, special sessions recently. Diana brooded after the meetings, lost in thought. She and Marianne, with Alan and Keith, had a constant running debate going. Whenever they saw one another, it would start again, the murmurings, the anxious speculation.

When quizzed about the subject of their discussions, Diana finally said, "The Imperial Succession, of course. Even if Verus dies, we'll have twenty years of Marcus Aurelius, twenty of the best-governed years not only in the history of the Roman Empire, but of any place on earth. But he's going to be assailed with a mountain of difficulties: a plague, political trouble in Armenia, invasions across the German border."

She pulled a volume from her personal bookshelf, and opened it to a marked page. "And then, to cap it off, he leaves the Empire in the hands of a manifestly unqualified heir."

"His son, Commodus."

"Yes. And it's downhill for the Empire from that point. Oh, it lasts for hundred of years, and there are triumphs along with the tragedies. But with Commodus' misgovernment and assassination, there's never again a long period of enlightened rule. The succession becomes determined by the whim of the Praetorian Guards, by murder and violence: the thread of legitimacy is broken forever. And the Empire shrinks, constantly on the defensive." She sat back frowning.

"He's coming for dinner the day after tomorrow."

"He? Who?"

Tavington laughed at her puzzlement. "Marcus Aurelius and his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, as well. They want to visit and to pry a little, in their well-bred and discreet way."

Diana was not much amused. "Maybe they'll find out things they never wanted to know." Again lost in thought, she said she needed to talk to Alan, and headed off to his office in the Laboratory, giving Tavington and the children absent-minded kisses, clearly preoccupied.

But by the day of their guests' visit, she was herself, and in particularly good spirits. Tavington supposed that she had sorted out some intellectual problem that had been troubling her. On asking her, she told him frankly what she had decided would be best; and later, after heated debate, the Committee was brought around to her point of view.

And the Caesars very much enjoyed their visit: exploring the school, touring the Laboratory (a small portion of it anyway). Their official visit to the medical college was a great event for the students. They wandered through the Museum, not understanding much, but pausing before the skeleton of a monstrous creature. While Michael gave an interested Marcus Aurelius a lecture on the immense age of the earth, Marianne brought out colored pictures of more dinosaurs for an enraptured Lucius Verus.

And of course, there was the state dinner that night. The Caesars were not unaccustomed to sitting a table, rather than reclining. They often did so when on campaign, or in the country.

For the meal, Summer had given some thought to showing off the produce of New Atlantis, and to exposing their visitors to unusual foods. Thus, the Caesars tasted a rich concoction of avocados, fascinated with the idea of a kind of cheese that grew on trees. They experienced pasta for the first time: tender linguine (considerately cut short by Summer) tossed with a delicate white clam sauce, and they were taught to eat it in the Atlantean style. To showcase other uses of chocolate, there was a savory dish of chicken in mole sauce. There was soft, light bread, there were unknown vegetables, the most interesting to the Romans being the potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary.

There were exotic fruits: papayas and mangoes, bananas and kiwi. There was crème brulee, which greatly amused Lucius Verus.

"I like to crack the top," he said, with a delighted smile, tapping the crusty sugar glaze with a silver spoon.

The dinner, though elegant and plentiful, did not attempt to rival the opulence and excess of a Roman feast. That style seemed vulgar and distasteful to Summer, and she thought it pointless to compete with something she personally disapproved of.

The Romans, however, were not disappointed. The novelties were interesting enough for Lucius, and his brother Marcus was well entertained, discussing the various foods, and wondering which could be grown successfully in their own lands. He struck up a lengthy conversation with the agronomist, Jack Gronewald, and obtained a promise from the scholar to visit Rome and advise them about improved farming methods and the cultivation of the potato.

After the skies grew darker, there was a pleasant stroll up to the Observatory, where the Alexandrian Claudius Ptolemy was presented to the Caesars, and where Julie Kolb displayed her telescopes. Luckily, it was the night of a first quarter moon, which proved an excellent beginning subject for observing through a telescope.

The craters, the maria, the valleys: everything was observed with awe and fascination. They wanted to study her moon maps and learn the names of some of the larger features. They stayed quite late, in fact, getting a good general introduction to the theory of modern astronomy, some of which was comprehensible, and some of which was a mighty puzzlement.

She showed them the round forms of the planets, the rings of Saturn, double stars, globular clusters glittering in the dark sky like little diamonds scattered on blue velvet, spiral galaxies—island universes like their own, unthinkably vast, and unimaginably distant.

By the time they left the Observatory, both young men were over-stimulated and exhausted. They were welcomed back into the comfort of the room of state at the Atlantean Capitol. They sank gratefully into the luxurious chairs, which were cushioned and covered with velvet. Marcus smiled tolerantly as his brother dozed off almost immediately. He himself was tired, but not entirely willing for the evening to end.

At a little writing table near him, the Lady Diana was paging slowly through one of their codices. He rose, wishing to get a better look. He had not had more than a glimpse of the printing press, but was enthusiastic about the beauty and clarity of the writing. Every letter was the same: the spacing was exquisite. The margins were pure, and more even than the work of the best scribes. The press could do the work of hundreds of copyists, and do it perfectly every time. The beauty of the codex was such that he did not immediately notice the substance of the words. They were in good Latin, and once comprehended, they struck him like a thunderbolt.

"The mildness of Marcus, which the rigid discipline of the Stoics was unable to eradicate, formed, in the same time, the most amiable, and the only defective, part of his character. His excellent understanding was often deceived by the unsuspecting goodness of his heart. Artful men, who study the passions of princes, and conceal their own, approached his person in the disguise of philosophic sanctity, and acquired riches and honours by affecting to despise them…It has been objected to Marcus, that he sacrificed the happiness of millions to a fond partiality for a worthless boy…"

He gasped, unable to control the shock. The lady looked him gravely in the eye, with the wisdom of countless ages in her glance. His fate was written in this book! Her husband the prince was watching him with concern.

With an effort, Marcus found his voice, "Is this what must be?"

"No," she murmured gently. "Nothing is unalterable." With a mysterious smile, she told him, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." She laughed softly, and added, "And so how much more a Caesar."

"You came to help me," he said, full of wonder. "I always knew it, somehow."

The tall Prince of the Atlanti, William Tavington, clad in red, armed like a soldier as was always his custom, smiled coolly. "We shall help one another, and our future will be the better for it."

-----

Epilogue:

(Letter from Gaius Ulpius Naso to Lucius Didius, continued)

And so, my dear Lucius, if I survive my imprisonment at all, I am to be exiled to a minor outpost in Lower Moesia, facing the barbarians across the Danube. While I do not dare accuse the Divine Emperor of injustice, I can say to you what I did to him: whatever I did, I did with the best intentions. No doubt I shall never trust a superior as I did Marcus Vinicius.

As to the Governor's fate, it is unknown. Still broken in spirit, if healed in body, I was taken by the Atlanti and thrust through a door of blue light. I was seized by more of the accursed race, and when I was dragged out of their habitation, I saw to my wonder, that I was in Rome. They took me to the Palace, and surrendered me to the Emperor's judgement. I inquired about Vinicius, but neither Atlanti nor Roman would speak of it. One can only presume that he, the Western Fleet, and the entire 31st Legion were lost. It haunts me, haunts me to imagine the terrible manner in which they met their deaths.

However, I was warned by Caesar Marcus Aurelius to say nothing of this. I could not bear to hold these secrets inside me, and so I have confided in you, my old friend. But perhaps it would be best if you did not allow this letter to fall into indiscreet hands. When this letter finally reaches you, and you have read it, I urge you to burn it. I would not have you lose everything, as I have.

Apparently the Atlanti remain in high favor with the Emperor. Their physicians visit both Rome and Alexandria regularly, appearing mysteriously in houses that the Emperor, and that over-refined, grecophil governor of Egypt have bestowed upon them. They have even inveigled some poor fools to travel to their perilous island.

I must confess that other Romans have been released by them: I received word eventually that my unhappy men, who were taken prisoner at the Battle at the Pillars of Hercules, were abandoned on the desolate shore of Africa, and fought their way back to civilization. A handful of wounded men returned as well: at least ten abruptly appeared in a deserted alley in Gades.

While I was a prisoner in the hands of the Atlanti, I was convinced they were gods. Now, so far away, I am not so certain. Demi-gods, perhaps: minor deities who have resolved to interfere with our affairs. Their influence is spreading: that damnable "white lightning" that they once gave me has made its appearance. Any soldier who can persuade a coppersmith to make him a piece of spiral tubing can "distill" the monstrous stuff. Even the wild barbarians desire it, though they are easily stupefied by the smallest amounts. That at least has been useful to those on the frontier.

I take comfort from the fact that they have made no inroads on many good old Roman customs, despite their haughty contempt for them. The public still wants its Games, and slavery is in no danger of being abolished. At least in my lifetime, I do not fear the complete corruption of everything that makes us Romans.

Vale, then, dear old friend. I give you a last piece of advice: shun these strangers as you would a noxious disease. They are an evil influence, and may they long stay far away from all decent Roman citizens!

The most unfortunate,

Gaius Ulpius Naso

Lucius Didius reread the epistle, laughing a little to himself. Gaius was always reluctant to embrace anything new. Poor, poor fellow. He rose, and went over to the brazen tripod, which gave the opulent tablinium its welcome warmth. Carefully, he laid the parchment over the burning coals and watched it catch fire. The letters curled, distorted, and with a faint odor of burning skin, turned to ash. There. All was safe.

He returned to his desk, needing to continue with the business at hand. He sat, and sipped thoughtfully at the delicious Atlantean wine, held in an etched goblet of heavenly blue, exquisitely thin glass. Before him was a book, sent to him from the Emperor himself. He would study it, and soon he would begin mastering the exotic and divine language that held so many wonderful secrets. Lucius felt that a moment of self-congratulation was in order. He, at least, had never feared the future.

-----

Finis

-----

Notes: Epidauros was the site of a famous temple of Aesculapius, the god of healing. People traveled from all over the world for cures.

In my opinion, Kinsale cloaks are the most beautiful ever devised. Google them and see for yourself. The Hibernian tribesmen who saw her in her cloak certainly admired it. Perhaps that is why a new folk tale spread slowly into the interior of the island in the next few years, and across the narrow sea to Britain, along with other rumors. Perhaps you can imagine the story of "How Ceindrych the King's Daughter Went to Faery" for yourselves.

Diana had translated and printed for Marcus Aurelius a few pages of Chapter Four of Edward Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Thank you, my readers. I hope you have enjoyed this (lengthy) time-travel adventure!