Render Unto Caesar
“It was given to me by my father, and his father before him,” The man reminisced as he reluctantly handed the gold signet ring to Marcus.
Marcus quickly wrapped the ring in cloth and placed it in his bag. He then looked down at the wax tablet in his left arm and marked next to the man’s name. His debt had been paid.
Without a further glance at the man Marcus turned and headed for the next address on his list.
“Is there a way I can buy it back when I have the coin?” The man yelled to Marcus as he walked away.
Marcus didn’t turn or to answer. There was so much work to be done.
The old timber door of the next home was so short it only reached Marcus’ chin.
“I’m here to collect,” he announced.
The door slowly opened revealing a slight woman, with tangled long brown hair and dark rings around her eyes. She gently bobbed up and down as she held a young baby in her arms. Marcus could never guess the age of children but this one seemed to be the age too young to speak.
“I’ve come to collect your sum owing, if it is not received today it will be considered overdue,” He said.
“Pardon sir,” the woman said confused. “There has been a mistake, I’ve never taken a loan.”
“We have a record here,” Marcus said perusing the wax tablet. “A loan of 30 denarii to one Atticus Rhodes. This is his home is it not?”
The woman’s tired eyes shot a glance at an empty sofa Marcus could see through the doorway.
“My husband passed away in a chariot accident not two weeks ago,” the she sighed forlornly. The widow then looked back up towards Marcus in a way that reminded him of when he abandoned his family dog. For a moment he wondered how many men had been manipulated by this look. Her husband, no doubt, had been one.
“You are his wife then?” Marcus questioned making no attempt to feign concern. The woman did not answer, so he continued. “The burden of repayment has been passed onto you as his next of kin.”
“Sir, I have no husband to provide for me,” she pleaded in response. Her face became visibly pained and fresh dribbles of water rolled down her cheeks. “I have no way of repaying.”
The woman’s whiny demeanour irritated Marcus.
“Well that’s not true,” he responded coldly. “You have at least one child I can see who would fetch two thirds the amount owed at the slave market. And no doubt a woman of your vitality could find other means of making up the difference.”
“Please,” the woman cried. She began to weep furiously, pleading between sobs.
“A man will be here to collect this evening.” Marcus interjected. He then turned and headed down the street.
He smiled to himself. Today had been a most productive day.
“I have the promotion in the bag,” he muttered proudly as he walked.
The cries of the wailing woman began to grow louder behind him. The crazy bitch was chasing him. Marcus immediately turned a corner and hid behind stack of amphorae until he was sure the screaming woman had passed by.
He then stood, brushed of his tunic and hurried towards the next address on his tablet. There was so much work to be done.