Only a small group of women watched this ghastly scene, in the dread place of execution beyond the city walls: the governor and her watchful guards; a few young Roman officers; the woman to whom Sulla had referred as 'guest'and who stood like a bronze image, unspeaking. Beside the gleaming splendor of the Roman, the quiet garb of this woman seemed drab, almost somber.
She was dark, but she did not resemble the Latins around her. There was about her none of the warm, almost Oriental sensuality of the Mediterranean which colored their features. The blond barbarians behind Sulla's chair were less unlike the woman in facial outline than were the Romans. Not her were the full curving red lips, nor the rich waving locks suggestive of the Greek. Nor was her dark complexion the rich olive of the south; rather it was the bleak darkness of the north. The whole aspect of the woman vaguely suggested the shadowed mists, the gloom, the cold and the icy winds of the naked northern lands. Even her black eyes were savagely cold, like black fires burning through fathoms of ice.
Her height was only medium but there was something about her which transcended mere physical bulk--a certain fierce innate vitality, comparable only to that of a wolf or a panther. In every line of her supple, compact body, as well as in her coarse straight hair and thin lips, this was evident--in the hawk-like set of the head on the corded neck, in the broad square shoulders, in the deep breast, the lean loins, the narrow feet. Built with the savage economy of a panther, she was an image of dynamic potentialities, pent in with iron self- control.
At her feet crouched one like her in complexion--but there the resemblance ended. This others was a stunted giant, with gnarly limbs, thick body, a low sloping brow and an expression of dull ferocity, now clearly mixed with fear. If the woman on the cross resembled, in a tribal way, the woman Titia Sulla called guest, she far more resembled the stunted crouching giant.
'Well, Partha Mac Othna,' said the governor with studied effrontery, 'when you return to your tribe, you will have a tale to tell of the justice of Rome, who rules the south.'