The Scarred Cross Lovers

In ancient Rome there were once two wealthy households whose only children were to be engaged to be married.

The two were impossibly stubborn and had rejected all offers of marriage so far under the greatest of protests. Both families feared that unless, by some miracle, they hit it off, then their hopes of a match for either would be ruined.

But from the very first moment of meeting, Julia and Julian were besotted with one another. The two houses were relieved and delighted, and they celebrated the forthcoming nuptials with a lavish feast. Amphoras of wine were drunk, dozens of cows slaughtered and the families dreamt dreams of a prosperous future together.

Then, one day, while browsing in the local marketplace with an entourage of slaves and servants, Julia caught sight of her fiancé. There he stood; proudly in his toga, atop a magnificent chariot pulled by two grey horses.

She called out to him, but Julian did not respond. Then as he tugged on his reigns to sharply pull the chariot forward, a stone shot out from under one of the chariot’s wheels. Poor Julia was hit in the face by the stone and when the wound had been cleaned, an impressive scar remained above her right eye.

Enraged by this slight, Julia insisted that she was too busy to see Julian later that day when he called at the family villa.

Julian in turn was confused and annoyed by this unwarranted snub and decided not to visit for several weeks by way of reprisal.

This coldness escalated and despite pleading from all sides neither would relent on their pride.

With heavy hearts, fearing the potential marriage now dead, Julia’s parents announced to her, without great hope, that she was to be betrothed to another.

Much to their surprise, Julia was delighted, for she believed that this would finally force the foolish Julian into an apology.

And, indeed, on hearing the news, Julian raced straight to Julia that very night.

Crouching below her balcony, due to his previous luck, he decided against the throwing of small stones to attract his lover’s attention.

Instead he tried to whistle softly, and the throttled sound of this strange bird brought a stern-faced Julia to the balcony’s edge.

“Fair Julia,” he whispered, “why are you to marry another, when deep down we both know that we still love one another?”

Julia scowled.

“That should be obvious Julian! For your arrogance and your insolence caused me this!” And she pointed to the scar above her right eye.

“But I could not hear you in that crowded marketplace my love. I only heard of your wound many hours later when I came to call upon you.”

Julia’s scarred frown began to soften but just as she uncrossed her arms, she knocked a vase full of flowers flying over the edge, which shattered on the unfortunate Julian’s forehead.

Wounded and furious, Julian fled the villa and, the very same night, marched straight into the chambers of his mother and father.

“I demand to be married to another. Tomorrow!”

Perplexed but pleased, his parents assented.

And they both lived miserably ever after, delighting only in the knowledge that their one true love was probably doing the same.

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