The multitude was now excited, and a contest seemed likely to ensue.
The lictors had taken their stand around Icilius; nor did they, however, proceed beyond threats, when Appius said, “that it was not Virginia that was defended by Icilius, but that, being a restless man, and even now breathing the spirit of the tribuneship, he was seeking an occasion for a disturbance.
That he would not afford him material on that day; but in order that he may now know that the concession has been made not to his petulance, but to the absent Virginius, to the name of father and to liberty, that he would not decide the cause on that day, nor interpose a decree: that he would request of Marcus Claudius to forego somewhat of his right, and suffer the girl to be bailed till the next day.
But unless the father attended on the following day, he gave notice to Icilius and to men like Icilius, that neither the founder would be wanting to his own law, nor firmness to the decemvir; nor would he assemble the lictors of his colleagues to put down the promoters of sedition; that he would be content with his own lictors.”
When the time of this act of injustice was deferred, and the friends of the maiden had retired, it was first of all determined, that the brother of Icilius and the son of Numitorius, both active young men, should proceed thence straightforward to the gate, and that Virginius should be brought from the camp with all possible haste.
That the safety of the girl depended on his being present next day at the proper time, as her protector from injury. They proceed according to directions and with all speed carry the account to her father.
When the claimant of the maiden was pressing Icilius to become defendant, and give sureties,1
and Icilius said that that was the very thing he was doing, designedly spinning out the time, until the messengers sent to the camp might gain time for their journey, the multitude raised their hands on all sides, and every one showed himself ready to go surety for
Icilius. And he with tears in his eyes says, It is very kind of you; on to-morrow I will avail myself of your assistance; at present I have sufficient
sureties. Thus Virginia is bailed on the security of her relations. Appius having [p. 216]
delayed a short time, that he might not appear to have sat on account of the present case, when no one applied, all other concerns being given up by reason of their solicitude about the one, betook himself home, and writes to his colleagues to the camp, "not to grant leave of absence to Virginius, and even to keep him in
confinement. This wicked scheme was late, as it deserved to be; for Virginius, having already obtained his leave, had set out at the first watch, while the letter regarding his detention was delivered on the following morning to no purpose.