How hee that was left behinde at Hippata did bring newes concerning the robbery of Miloes house, came home and declared to his Company, that all the fault was laid to one Apuleius his charge.
A soone as night was past, and the cleare Chariot of the Sunne
had spred his bright beames on every coast, came one of the company of the theeves, (for so his and their greeting together did declare) who at the first entry into the Cave (after hee had breathed himselfe, and was able to speake) told these tydings unto his companions in this sort. Sirs, as touching the house of Milo of Hippata, which we forcibly entred and ransackt the last day, we may put away all feare and doubt nothing at all. For after that ye by force of armes, had spoyled and taken away all things in the house, and returned hither into our Cave; I (thrusting my selfe amongst the presse of the people, and shewing my selfe as though I were sad and sorrowful for the mischance) consulted with them for the boulting out of the matter, and devising what meanes might be wrought for the apprehension of the theeves, to the intent I might learne and see all that was done to make relation thereof unto you as you willed me, insomuch that the whole fact at length by manifest and evident proofes as also by the common opinion and judgement of the people, was laid to one Lucius Apuleius charge as manifest author of this common robbery, who a few dayse before by false and forged letters and colored honesty, fell so farre in favour with this Milo, that he entertained him into his house, and received him as a chiefe of his familiar friends, which Lucius after that he had sojourned there a good space, and won the heart of Miloes Maid, by fained love, did thoroughly learne the waies and doores of all the house, and curiously viewed the cofers and chests, wherein was laid the whole substance of Milo: neither was there small cause given to judge him culpable, since as the very same night that this robbery was done he fled away, and could not be found in no place: and to the intent hee might cleane escape, and better prevent such as made hew and crie after him, he tooke his white horse and galloped away, and after this, his servant was found in the house, who (accused as accessary to the fellony and escape of his Master) was committed to the common gaole, and the next day following was cruelly scourged and tormented till hee was welnigh dead, to the intent hee should confesse the matter, but when they could wreast or learne no such thing of him, yet sent they many persons after, towardes Lucius Countrey to enquire him out, and so to take him prisoner. As he declared these things, I did greatly lament with my selfe, to thinke of mine old and pristine estate, and what felicity I was sometimes in, in comparison to the misery that I presently susteined, being changed into a miserable Asse, then had I no small occasion to remember, how the old and ancient Writers did affirme, that fortune was starke blind without eies, because she alwaies bestoweth her riches upon evil persons, and fooles, and chooseth or favoureth no mortall person by judgement, but is alwaies conversent, especially with much as if she could see, she should most shunne, and forsake, yea and that which is more worse, she sheweth such evill or contrary opinions in men, that the wicked doe glory with the name of good, and contrary the good and innocent be detracted and slandred as evill. Furthermore I, who by her great cruelty, was turned into a foure footed Asse, in most vile and abject manner: yea, and whose estate seemed worthily to be lamented and pittied of the most hard and stonie hearts, was accused of theft and robbing of my deare host Milo, which villany might rather be called parricide then theft, yet might not I defend mine owne cause or denie the fact any way, by reason I could not speake; howbeit least my conscience should seeme to accuse me by reason of silence, and againe being enforced by impatience I endevored to speake, and faine would have said, Never did I that fact, and verely the first word, never, I cried out once or twise, somewhat handsome, but the residue I could in no wise pronounce, but still remaining in one voice, cried, Never, never, never. howbeit I settled my hanging lips as round as I could to speake the residue: but why should I further complaine of the crueltie of my fortune, since as I was not much ashamed, by reason that my servant and my horse, was likewise accused with me of the robbery.
While I pondered with my selfe all these things, a great care [came] to my remembrance, touching the death, which the theeves provised for me and the maiden, and still as I looked downe to my belly, I thought of my poore gentlewoman that should be closed within me. And the theefe which a little before had brought the false newes against me, drew out of the skirt of his coate, a thousand crowns, which he had rifled from such as hee met, and brought it into the common treasury. Then hee carefully enquired how the residue of his companions did. To whom it was declared that the most valiant was murdred and slaine in divers manners, whereupon he perswaded them to remit all their affaires a certaine season, and to seeke for other fellowes to be in their places, that by the exercise of new lads, the terror of their martiall band might be reduced to the old number, assuring them that such as were unwilling, might be compelled by menaces and threatnings, and such as were willing might be incouraged forward with reward. Further be said, that there were some, which (seeing the profite which they had) would forsake their base and servile estate, and rather bee contented to live like tyrants amongst them. Moreover he declared, that for his part he had spoken with a certaine tall man, a valiant companion, but of young age, stout in body, and couragious in fight, whom he had fully perswaded to exercise his idle hands, dull with slothfullnesse, to his greater profit, and (while he might) to receive the blisse of better Fortune, and not to hold out his sturdy arme to begge for a penny, but rather to take as much gold and silver as hee would. Then everyone consented, that hee that seemed so worthy to be their companion, should be one of their company, and that they would search for others to make up the residue of the number, whereupon he went out, and by and by (returning againe) brought in a tall young man (as he promised) to whom none of the residue might bee compared, for hee was higher then they by the head, and of more bignesse in body, his beard began to burgen, but hee was poorely apparelled, insomuch that you might see all his belly naked. As soone as he was entred in he said, God speed yee souldiers of Mars and my faithfull companions, I pray you make me one of your band, and I will ensure you, that you shall have a man of singular courage and lively audacity: for I had rather receive stripes upon my backe, then money or gold in my hands. And as for death (which every man doth feare) I passe nothing at all, yet thinke you not that I am an abject or a begger, neither judge you my vertue and prowesse by ragged clothes, for I have beene a Captaine of a great company, and subdued all the countrey of Macedonia. I am the renowned theefe Hemes the Thracian, whose name all countreys and nations do so greatly feare: I am the sonne of Theron the noble theefe, nourished with humane bloud, entertained amongst the stoutest; finally I am inheritour and follower of all my fathers vertues, yet I lost in a short time all my company and all my riches, by one assault, which I made upon a Factor of the Prince, which sometime had beene Captaine of two hundred men, for fortune was cleane against me; harken and I will tell you the whole matter. There was a certaine man in the court of the Emperour, which had many offices, and in great favour, who at last by the envy of divers persons, was banished away and compelled to forsake the court: his wife Platina, a woman of rare faith and singular shamefastnes having borne ten children to her husband, despised all worldly Pompe and delicacy, and determined to follow her husband, and to be partaker of his perils and danger, wherefore shee cut off her haire, disguised her selfe like a man, and tooke with her all her treasure, passing through the hands of the souldiers, and the naked swords without any feare, whereby she endured many miseries, and was partaker of much affliction, to save the life of her husband, such was her love which she bare unto him. And when they had escaped many perillous dangers, as well by land as by sea, they went together towards Zacynthe, to continue there according as fortune had appointed. But when they were arived on the sea coast of Actium (where we in our returne from Macedony were roving about) when night came, they returned into a house not far distant from their ship, where they lay all night. Then we entred in and tooke away all their substance, but verely we were in great danger: for the good matron perceiving us incontinently by the noise of the gate, went into the chamber, and called up every man by his name, and likewise the neighbors that dwelled round about, insomuch that by reason of the feare that every one was in, we hardly escaped away, but this most holy woman, faithfull and true to her husband (as the truth must be declared) returned to Caesar, desiring his aid and puissance, and demanding vengeance of the injury done to her husband, who granted all her desire: then went my company to wracke, insomuch that every man was slaine, so great was the authority and word of the Prince. Howbeit, when all my band was lost, and taken by search of the Emperours army, I onely stole away and delivered my selfe from the violence of the souldiers, for I clothed my selfe in a womans attire, and mounted upon an Asse, that carryed barly sheafes, and (passing through the middle of them all) I escaped away, because every one deemed that I was a woman by reason I lacked a beard. Howbeit I left not off for all this, nor did degenerate from the glory of my father, or mine own vertue, but freshly comming from the bloody skirmish, and disguised like a woman, I invaded townes and castles alone to get some pray. And therewithall he pulled out two thousand crownes, which he had under his coate, saying: Hold here the dowry which I present unto you, hold eke my person, which you shall alwayes find trusty and faithfull, if you willingly receive me: and I will ensure you that in so doing, within short space I wilt make and turne this stony house of yours into gold. Then by and by every one consented to make him their Captaine, and so they gave him better garments, and threw away his old. When they had changed his attire, hee imbraced them one after another, then placed they him in the highest roome of the table, and drunk unto him in token of good lucke.