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Authors: Carolyn Hennesy

Pandora Gets Greedy

BOOK: Pandora Gets Greedy
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PANDORA

Gets Greedy

CAROLYN HENNESY

Contents

Chapter One
The Forum

Chapter Two
A Darkened Room

Chapter Three
Iole

Chapter Four
Insula, Sweet Insula

Chapter Five
The Theatre of Pompey

Chapter Six
Three Important Conversations in a Relatively Short Period of Time

Chapter Seven
Overheard

Chapter Eight
Into the Night

Chapter Nine
Rufina

Chapter Ten
Profit Rolls

Chapter Eleven
Candied Violets

Chapter Twelve
An Empty Room

Chapter Thirteen
Circus Sewerus

Chapter Fourteen
Flood

Chapter Fifteen
Cloacina

Chapter Sixteen
Prison

Chapter Seventeen
Hera and Juno

Chapter Eighteen
Delivery

Chapter Nineteen
Feast

Chapter Twenty
Chase

Chapter Twenty-One
Down The …

Chapter Twenty-Two
A Chat

Chapter Twenty-Three
Rufina. Again.

Chapter Twenty-Four
The Healing Touch

Chapter Twenty-Five
Greed

Chapter Twenty-Six
Gone

Glossary

Acknowledgments

Mythic Misadventures By Carolyn Hennesy

For Donald
EGO diligo vos, meus maritus!

And for Zoe Hankett …
who makes me want to write.

Chapter One
The Forum

If her mind had any less in it—any fewer thoughts—then she probably wouldn't have actually been able to process that it had become mostly … blank. She just had one or two random thoughts left to remind herself that she was really not thinking much at all.

Pandy stood in the hot sun fanning Varinia, wife of Lucius Valerius. Occasionally she exchanged glances with Alcie, who attended to Rufina, the senator's one and only daughter, or, as Alcie privately enjoyed calling her, “Pimple on Hades' Butt.” The entire family was seated as comfortably as possible in their very-important-politician section of the massive Forum of Rome, only a few meters away from the seating area of the great Julius Caesar himself.

The Forum, several large fields ringed by official buildings, temples, arches, columns, and obelisks, was
the very center and heart of Rome. When she walked through, it reminded Pandy of the Agora back in her beloved Athens, only it was larger and more open. It wasn't so much a marketplace as a gathering place for the entire populace, highborn and low. Today, though, a ring had been erected of sturdy but temporary tiers of wooden benches. Most of the benches held the general public, but some had been sectioned off for the more important families and of these, some, like Caesar's, had been covered with tents or boards to create shade. Lucius Valerius, however, had strangely decided that shade was an expense he didn't want and now Pandy felt her head baking.

A pageant was in progress on the largest field and thousands of spectators, peasants and noblemen alike, were watching the entertainment. A troop of children, having rehearsed for a week, were now presenting a reenactment of Caesar's recent defeat of Pompey, accompanied by acrobats flipping and tumbling in the background. The children waved their toy swords in the air as the child with the honor of playing Caesar, who couldn't have been older than six, pretended to thrust his tiny blade again and again into anyone who happened to be close by, including and mostly his own “troops.”

Caesar clapped his hands, throwing his head back in laughter.

“If I had done
that
,” he roared, “there would be no one to celebrate with me! No one to share the triumph of the day!”

The crowd around him applauded wildly. Then, when the child “Caesar” got terribly tangled in the blue strips of fabric that represented the Rubicon and fell on his backside, Caesar nearly fell off his golden traveling chair.

“I got wet, indeed,” he said, getting to his feet and clutching his sides in glee. “But not
that
wet!”

As she fanned Varinia, the sun making her slightly nauseated, Pandy stared down at the field; yes, it was amusing, but she knew she needed to be thinking about something else. That prospect, however, seemed to overwhelm her; fanning Varinia was boring but simple. So was scrubbing the house floors. So was serving as Lucius Valerius's page and water-girl when the senate was in session. Was she getting lazy? She
couldn't
be … she'd put Laziness in the box of great Evils weeks ago! She needed to find Greed! Why in the names of all the great Olympians had she stalled?

She instinctively squared her shoulders. Then she let them sag again, remembering …

It wasn't bad enough that she hadn't been able to talk to her father for days; that might be explained by the distance or the hour or whatever her father had been doing at the exact moments she'd called. But the
moment Homer had been separated from them, she and Alcie had become so thoroughly depressed, it was as if a lamp had been extinguished in them both. He was there one moment and gone the next. Where did he go? She couldn't ask Lucius, Varinia just shook her head if Pandy broached the subject, and Rufina only smirked. The unfairness of it all was too much. She knew she'd messed up months ago when she took the stupid box to school. Okay, she got it! But she was working like Hercules to make everything right; she was holding up her end and it just seemed like she couldn't catch a break … or her breath. She was tired of losing the people she loved. She was tired. Period. She cried herself to sleep every night and slapped herself awake each day. Now, she had no desire to laugh at a stupid, pretend kiddie-war when her quest was nowhere near complete and she was almost past caring.

Alcie, however, began to laugh with the rest of the crowd at the antics below—the first laughter Pandy had seen from her friend in a long time—and that distraction caused Alcie's fanning to slow down considerably.

“Fan faster, slave!” Rufina hissed at Alcie.

“Yes, mistress,” Alcie said and began fanning Rufina so fast that she, once or twice, lost control of the heavy rod capped with ostrich plumes and lightly tapped Rufina on the top of her head. Not entirely by accident.

“Daddy!” cried Rufina.

“What is it?” asked Lucius, his eyes scanning the crowd.

“She's beating me with the feathers. Can't I have her executed, pleeeease?”

“We'll see,” said Lucius, paying absolutely no attention to his daughter.

“Rufina, stop it,” said Varinia. Then she turned her attention to her husband. “Lucius, what are you looking for?”

“Not
what
, good wife,” he replied. “
Who.

At that moment, a cheer went up from the crowd as “Caesar” began his final assault on “Pompey.” Then, as the crowd watched in horror, the poor, confused little boy made the serious mistake of turning and running away when the child “Pompey” came out to meet him in battle. The little Caesar ran straight to his mother, who had been cheering from the side of the field. A hush fell over the crowd at the mere and unintentional hint that the actual Caesar might have shown any cowardice in the real battle. The mother turned ashen and she shooed her son back out onto the field, practically beating him about the ears, but the crying child wouldn't go. Julius Caesar stood as still as any of his many statues that had been hastily erected all over the city, his eyes in slits as he watched … his laughter stopped.
All
laughter had stopped. Some of the children stopped waving their swords and looked for their families in the crowd, some sat down on the field, and some ran to tumble with the acrobats.

“Jupiter, protect us all,” murmured Varinia.

Suddenly, his mother picked “Caesar” up in her arms and, grabbing his weapon, charged with him back onto the field and straight at the child “Pompey.” “Pompey” took one look at the large woman heading straight for him with a short wooden sword and sprinted as fast as his legs would carry him, screaming, into his own mother's arms.

No one, either standing or in the hundreds of seats surrounding the field, moved a muscle. No one breathed. The child would be severely punished, it was certain, but this affront to the new ruler might even call for death. All eyes were on Caesar.

He said nothing for a long time, his gray eyes narrowed and focused on something in the distance. Then he looked down and a smile slowly crept across his face. When he raised his head again he also raised his arms and gestured to take in the entire crowd. Even Pandy's wandering thoughts were brought up short as she stared at the handsome man in the spotless white toga and crown of gold laurel leaves, riveted as to what he would do next.

“I have always said it is the mother that truly makes the man,” he shouted. “My mother was with me in spirit that fateful day, urging me on to the greatness and glory you see here before you! It is her victory as much as mine. Well done, boy!”

Shaking with fear, her teeth chattering, the boy's mother held her child up for Caesar and the crowd to see. She took his little hand and waved it to all in the Forum, then she bowed low to Caesar. Clutching her child close, comforting him as he wept with exhaustion, she quickly left the Forum … in case Caesar should have a change of heart.

“Wow!” Alcie mouthed to Pandy.

Pandy nodded, her eyes wide. She didn't know of—or couldn't remember—any single person back in Athens with the kind of power that Julius Caesar had. Only Zeus—and maybe Apollo—had such an incredible ego.

The last of the child warriors were ushered from the field as Caesar called for bread and wine to be passed throughout the crowd. Hundreds of slaves appeared with baskets and pitchers, feeding the hungry Romans.

“Does the great Caesar not worry,” Lucius called out across his VIP section to the ruler, “that he will deplete the granaries with such a quantity of bread given freely to the unwashed masses?”

“My people will want for nothing,” Caesar replied.
“The empire will be founded on many things, not the least of which will be bread and circuses. Full bellies and happy minds, two of the bricks in the foundation, Lucius.”

“Got any idea what he just said?” Alcie asked Pandy out of the corner of her mouth.

“Something about going to the circus on a full tummy,” Pandy whispered, bowing her head toward Alcie.

“Do they always talk like this?” Alcie asked. “Even in the senate?”

“Especially in the senate,” Pandy replied. “They're politicians.”

“You two! Silence!” Rufina hissed.

Varinia looked at her husband, not for the first time in the past weeks, with a mixture of disgust and concern.

“Husband,” she said softly, “you are known to have the most generous of natures. Why do you care that Caesar gives bread to the crowd?”

“My taxes paid for that grain. I don't want it going to common people. And if Caesar is so free with grain,” Lucius said, low enough so as not to be heard, “how will he replenish the silos when they are empty? Perhaps he will tax us all even more! And since he just gives things away, what else of the noble Rome will he give to anyone who asks?”

BOOK: Pandora Gets Greedy
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