Sophia looked at the little stars. They were twinkling at her, so she thought.
“Are those there the soldiers of the god who lives at the top of Mount Vesuvius?” she asked her grandmother who just like liked looking at the stars.
Her grandmother laughed and pulled her closer, wrapping her flabby arm round the slender girl.
“I can see that those twinkling things mesmerize you. Just like you I can’t help wondering how they got there or why they don’t fall on us. When I was young, we could sing “Twinkle, twinkle little star.
“Grandma, I never knew you could sing.” Sophia commented and laughed.
Marcus, the slave brought herbal tea to the elderly woman.
“Senora Margarita, kindly allow me to serve your herbal tea.” He bowed and placed the tray on the coffee table.
“Marcus, next time you come here, you must knock.” Paula ordered.
“Yes Miss,” the slave replied with a bowed head.
He left without raising his head and moved past the lounge towards the quarters. They slept in the wooden rooms next to the horse’ stable. Pablo was snoring loudly on the mat.
“Poor man, age has caught up with you as a slave. He spoke to himself. “Whatever happens, I will one day gain my freedom.”
He sprawled his fatigued body next to the pig. The sound was indeed disturbing. At times it was a Chariot of horses galloping uphill on a rocky path, then a cricket would give a shrill from his blocked nasal or a toad croaking from the bushy pond. He wished he could shake the elderly man so that he would interrupt the snoring, but thought against that. He put the oil lamp off and lay on his back envisioning the day’s activities.
“Marcus, next time you come here, you must knock.” Sophia’s words rung in his head. He used the bedsheet to wipe warm salty liquid from reaching his eardrum. She was engaged to Sir Roberto’s arrogant son and was equally arrogant. Her beauty captivated him but, what could a mere slave do to get his master’s only child? He remembered when he had to paddle a boat carrying Cornelius, Roberto’s son to Cumae on a business trip then to Naples on the same. Sophia travelled with him and shed tears at the mistreatment she got from him. Marcus had to offer a shoulder to cry on when she could not take any more insults and misbehaviour from the philandering drunkard.
“The laws should be change so that the societal attitude towards slaves and women are corrected.
Pablo coughed and sat up. “When did you come back here?” He asked. Marcus was relieved that the snoring had stopped and was determined to fall asleep before the next bout of snoring.
"About an hour ago.” He said then off he went to a dream haven.
The following morning as Pablo tended to the animals, he went to scrub his master’s back at the town’s sauna. The men were excitedly talking about the new laws. “Now we can own the slaves and their offspring.” Sophia’s father announced. He looked at Marcus. “Why the long face?”
Before Marcus could answer, the ground beneath them began shaking. People started running in confusion. He ran towards the sea and found Sophia stranded after being abandoned by her suitor. Her father followed right behind, obviously traumatized by the unfolding event. ”Stay away from me, you wicked tyrant. What makes you think that I must die a slave?” He thundered.
“There is no time Marcus, we will all perish.” Sophia cried out.
Marcus grabbed the kneeling man and threw him into the boat. Sophia jumped in. Marcus rowed the boat against the rough waves and was indeed lucky to have arrived at Cumae safely. He found Pablo who had paddled the kayak carrying other slaves who he aided to escape during the frenzy. They hugged and sang joyfully. Sophia and her father hugged crying hysterically.
Marcus took the jewellery bag which he had picked when people were trying to secure their lives .He took out two silver coins and rented a place at the Romania Inn, taking Sophia and her fatigued father.
The trio stayed mum for almost two weeks. They used their eyes to talk. Marcus used his jewellery to fend for them.
“Sophia, I want to go to the countryside, would you to come with me?” Marcus asked
“Yes, I would love to” she answered.
“Am I not wanted?” Her father asked”
“Let’s go.” Marcus said and stretched his arm to help the old man. He used his left arm to support to support him while the right hand held Sophia tightly. They met several refugees from POMPEII who had managed to escape the catastrophe.
“Good Heavens, Sophia, you also came!” Cornelius commented upon seeing them. Sophia clung to Marcus with both her hands.
“Don’t let him touch me!” She screamed
“You are supposed to be my bride." Cornelius retorted.
“You abandoned me and left me to die.” Sophia answered back.
“Stop this fuss, you are pulling the crowd.” Her father tried to calm them
“You!” Cornelius lost it. "You dare give your daughter to a slave after receiving coin from me.” He moved towards the old man. Marcus sprang and pushed, him making him to flop on the rocky ground.
“How much did you pay for abandoning her to the gods?” Marcus asked the now seated man.
“Two gold coins.” He answered while looking at the bruises on his palms.
“Here, you are.” Marcus said and handed two gold coins from the leather bag hanging next to his left thigh.
“He looked at Sophia who was smiling, then threw a gaze at her father who was nodding. As they continued with their journey, Cornelius came running after them, pleading to be given a chance. After realizing that his pleas were falling on deaf ears, he fell, rolled on the ground and cried.
“Sir Leonardo, I purchased this piece of land, where I intend to put up as soon as possible. What do you think? Is it suitable? “Marcus inquired from Sophia’s father.”
“Yes,” he answered
“Sophia, will you be my wife?” We can start all over after all.”
Sophia nodded, tears flowing from her sexy eyes. Marcus wiped the tears using his handkerchief. They kissed as her father clapped and danced.
After making their solemn vows, they took Sir Leonardo to find his property and family. All was left of his big house and its occupants, his vineyard, his horses, his jewellery and all that he owned at Pompeii, was a pile of dust and ash. He was devastated and wept uncontrollably.
“For my sake, the sake of my wife ; your daughter and most of all for the sake of my unborn child; your grandc-ild ,do calm down and forget your past and forge ahead. Let's turn a new leaf together.” Marcus pleaded.
They rowed silently back to Cumae.
After some months, Sophia delivered twins: Ronaldo and Caesars. Their grandfather always told them of Pompeii and the wrath of the gods at the peak of Mount Vesuvius on 79AD. .