The crowd was deeply moved and a conflict appeared to be imminent.
The lictors had surrounded Icilius, but had nevertheless gone no further than to threaten him, since Appius declared that it was not a question of Verginia's defence by Icilius, but of a turbulent fellow, who even now breathed the spirit of the tribunate, seeking an opportunity to stir up strife.
He would furnish him no excuse for it that day; but that he might know now that the concession had not been made to his own wantonness but to the absent Verginius, to the name of father, and to liberty, he would not pronounce judgment that day nor deliver a decision; he would request Marcus Claudius to waive his right and suffer the girl to remain at large until the morrow;
but unless the father should appear the next day, he gave notice to Icilius and to those like Icilius that the proposer of his law would not fail to support it, nor the decemvir be wanting in firmness; and in any case he should not call together his colleagues' lictors to repress the instigators of sedition, but rest content with his own.
The time for accomplishing the wrong having [p. 153]
been postponed, the girl's supporters went apart by1
themselves, and decided that first of all the brother of Icilius and the son of Numitorius, active young men, should proceed straight to the City gate and make all possible haste to the camp, to summon Verginius; for the maiden's safety turned on her protector's being at hand in time.
They set out the moment they got their orders, and galloping their horses, carried the message through to the father.
When the claimant of the girl pressed Icilius to furnish the sureties required of her guarantor, and Icilius said that it was precisely that which he was considering (though he was doing his best to consume time, that the messengers who had been dispatched to the camp might get a start on the way), the people began on every side to raise their hands, and every man of them to indicate his readiness to go bail for Icilius.
And Icilius said, with tears in his eyes, “I am grateful to you; to-morrow I will use your services; of sureties I now have enough.” So Verginia was surrendered, on the security of her kinsmen.
Appius waited a little while, that he might not appear to have sat for this case only, and when nobody applied to him —for all other matters were forgotten in men's concern over this, —he went to his house and wrote to his colleagues in camp that they should grant no furlough to Verginius, and should even detain him in custody.
His base design was too late, as it deserved to be; Verginius had already got his leave, and had set out in the fore-part of the night, nor was it until early the next morning that the letters for detaining him were delivered, to no purpose.