- زمان مطالعه 17 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
The sound of marching feet broke the silence of night in the area around the Colosseum.
In his room Proximo was packing his bags, planning to leave Rome fast. He heard the marching feet coming toward the school and he knew then how he was going to die. He picked up his bunch of keys and hurried across to the prison rooms. He was almost there when the royal guards arrived and stopped in front of his gates.
“Open up in the name of the Emperor!” the captain called out loudly. For a few seconds Proximo paused, without turning to look at them. Then he continued toward the prisons.
Maximus had also heard the marching feet and knew their meaning exactly. He watched as Proximo appeared through the prison entrance, keys in hand.
“Everything is ready,” said Proximo. He handed the keys to Maximus. “It seems you’ve won your freedom.”
“Proximo,” said Maximus, as he took the keys, “are you in danger of becoming a good man?”
Proximo walked back to his rooms. The guards could see him through the gates, but he did not look across at them once.
“The Emperor commands you to open these gates, Proximo!” shouted the captain. “Do you want to die, old man? Tonight all enemies of the Emperor must die!” Proximo walked on, and up the stairs to his room. “Break the locks!” shouted the captain.
Maximus quickly unlocked his door. Then he and Juba let Haken and the others out.
The sound of metal hitting metal came from the gates. Maximus knew he had to go, now. He handed the bunch of keys to Juba.
Juba took them, understanding. “Go!” he said.
The gates to Proximo’s school flew open and the guards rushed in. Maximus ran for the back entrance. Juba, Haken, and the other gladiators threw themselves between the guards and Maximus and slowed them down enough for him to get away. By the back entrance Maximus found his army sword and armor waiting for him.
In the fighting, Juba was knocked to the ground and left for dead. Haken was first wounded by a Roman sword and then shot through the chest with four arrows. His enormous body fell, dead, at the bottom of the stairs.
The guards climbed over Haken’s body and raced up to Proximo’s room. When they broke through the door, they found him at his desk with his back to them. In his hand was the wooden sword Marcus Aurelius had given him with his freedom. He did not turn to see death coming. The end came quickly, with three deep wounds to his neck and back. He died with the wooden sword hanging at his side, held tightly in his hand.
Maximus came out of the back entrance to the school and waited quietly in the shadows. Suddenly, he heard a horse move. He looked toward the sound and moved out into the street. There were two horses waiting, one with a rider. As he got closer, he could see that it was Cicero.
But something felt wrong. Maximus hid behind some rocks and whispered Cicero’s name.
Cicero turned. “Maximus!” he shouted. “No!”
As he shouted, his horse suddenly ran and Cicero was pulled from it by a rope around his neck. He was left hanging from the tree above.
Maximus rushed forward and caught him by the legs. At the same time six arrows flew into Cicero’s chest, killing him immediately.
Maximus had his sword ready. But there were too many guards and he had no chance.
A voice called out, “Take him alive!” and the guards quickly caught him, making him a prisoner again.
At sunrise, even before their servants were awake, Senator Gaius and his wife were murdered in their bed by royal guards. Seven other senators were killed the same morning, also many private citizens. All these people had upset Commodus in some way. His secret police had done a good job.
Senator Gracchus was not killed, but the guards took him away from his home and threw him into prison.
In his room at the palace Falco came to tell Commodus the news. Commodus was pleased that so many of his enemies were finished. After Falco had gone, he spoke to Lucilla.
“Lucius will stay with me now,” he said, walking across the room toward her. “And if his mother even looks at me in a way that upsets me, he will die. If she decides to take her own life, he will die.” He smiled and touched her hair. “Kiss me, sister,” he said.
It was hot and dusty in the Colosseum. Hundreds of servants at the top of the arena were throwing red flowers down onto the sand. Fifty-five thousand Romans were waiting. They had been told to expect something special.
Maximus was also waiting. He knew there was only death ahead of him. But he still hoped for a soldier’s death, and he kept his back straight and his head up. On his way to the arena he passed a prison room where Juba and Proximo’s other gladiators were. When he saw Maximus, Juba stood in a silent salute to a brave man and a friend.
Under the floor of the Colosseum arena was a large elevator, operated by servants with ropes. It was the way the tigers had entered the arena when Maximus fought Tigris.
Maximus was led there now by Quintus and the royal guards. They fastened his chains to the elevator and Quintus himself checked them. As he bent to do this he whispered softly, “I’m a soldier. I obey.”
Someone was walking toward them. Quintus stood up again and moved back. Emperor Commodus suddenly appeared with a group of servants carrying armor. The Emperor himself was wearing his own gold armor. He wore this armor when he wanted to feel like a god.
Commodus and six of his guards joined Maximus on the elevator. Maximus expected to die immediately, but Commodus smiled at him.
“Listen to the crowd,” he said. “They are calling for you. The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who insulted an emperor.” He called his servants forward with the armor. “It’s a good story” he said. “And now the people want to know how the story ends. Only a great death will be good enough,” Commodus continued. “And what could be better than to fight the Emperor himself in the greatest arena?”
Maximus did not believe him. “You will fight me?”
“Why not?” Commodus said. “Do you think I’m afraid?”
The servants began to fix armor to Maximus’s body, first his arms, legs, and shoulders. They left the body armor until last.
“I think you’ve been afraid all your life,” Maximus answered. He knew Commodus would never have a fair fight with him. What would he do to make sure he won?
“Unlike Maximus the Brave, who knows no fear?” said Commodus.
“I’ve been afraid, But you took away from me everything I loved. Since then, you’re right, I have not known fear,” said Maximus.
“There is one thing left-you still have your life to lose,” said Commodus.
“I once knew a man who said, ‘Death smiles at us all. A man can only smile back,’” said Maximus.
“I wonder,” said Commodus, “did your friend smile at his own death?”
“You must know,” Maximus replied. “He was your father.”
Commodus was silent, and they stared at each other.
“You loved my father, I know,” Commodus said. “But I did, too. That makes us brothers, doesn’t it?” He reached out his arms to Maximus and put them around him.
Maximus suddenly let out a cry of pain. The Emperor had a small, sharp knife in his hand. He had wounded Maximus in the side, cutting him deeply.
“Smile for me now, brother,” Commodus said, as he pulled the knife out. Quintus stared, shocked. “Now put on his body armor. Hide the wound,” Commodus said to his servants.
All eyes in the Colosseum watched the center of the arena as the elevator came up. Commodus stepped off and onto the sand. It was covered with red flowers.
Commodus took his sword from Quintus and turned slowly to all sides of the arena. Maximus stood straight, but he was in great pain. He looked up to the royal seats and saw Lucilla there with Lucius and Senator Gracchus. They were surrounded by guards.
Commodus raised his sword high and the sun shone off it.
Maximus slowly bent down and picked up some sand from the arena. Quintus threw Maximus’s sword down on the ground near his feet. Maximus picked it up, slowly, and stood facing the Emperor. And the fight began.
Commodus rushed at Maximus and knocked him to the ground. Maximus got to his feet with difficulty. The arena seemed to be turning around. The sun danced off the Emperor’s armor and blinded him. He heard the noise of the crowd-now it seemed to be far away, now close.
Standing behind the entrance, Juba saw a thin line of blood running out from under Maximus’s armor.
Lucilla watched him in fear. He seemed to be looking straight at her. Could he see her? She held out her hand and called his name.
Commodus struck him again. Then he raised his arms to the crowd. One or two people shouted, “Commodus!” The crowd loved a winner.
Maximus almost fell again. The sun was bright, very bright. And then suddenly, beyond all this, he saw the sun shining on a pink wall… He saw a gate in the wall… and a field of apple trees beyond it…
He pushed himself forward and, as he did so, he struck Commodus. The crowd cheered.
Commodus came forward again and knocked Maximus back to the ground. The crowd were silent. Only the sound of the two men could be heard.
Maximus saw something else now… A woman stood in the doorway of a pink stone house… There was a field of wheat behind the house…
Commodus stood over Maximus with his sword ready for the kill.
“Maximus!” One person in the crowd called out in the silence.
Commodus looked around, angrily. The crowd repeated the cry. “Maximus!” Commodus turned back and brought his sword down.
But the sound of the crowd had brought Maximus back to the arena and given him new strength. He pushed his sword up and knocked Commodus’s sword away. Suddenly he got to his feet and attacked the Emperor, forcing him back. The crowd cheered loudly.
Then Maximus saw an opportunity and pushed his sword forward. It caught Commodus under his arm and he dropped his sword.
Commodus called to Quintus. “Give me your sword!”
But Quintus just stared through him.
Commodus turned to the guards. “A sword! Give me a sword!”
Some started to come forward, but Quintus stopped them. “Put your swords away!” he ordered.
Commodus looked around, suddenly frightened. He saw the great crowd and heard the name of his enemy on all sides.
“Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!” they shouted. Senators joined in the cry. Juba and the gladiators shouted the name, too.
Lucilla stood in silence, her hand to her mouth.
But Maximus was dying. He could not stand. He dropped his own sword. He seemed to be reaching out toward something… a pink stone wall with a gate… a wheat field… the sound of a child’s laugh…
Commodus saw Maximus fall to his knees and he stood over him. He took the small knife in his hand again and lifted it, ready to strike Maximus one last time.
Maximus saw the knife coming toward him. He held Commodus’s arm and pulled him onto the ground. Suddenly finding power from somewhere, Maximus turned the knife around and pushed it deep into Commodus’s neck.
There was a look of surprise on the Emperor’s face, then he took one last breath and died.
Maximus slowly stood, took one step forward, and reached out a hand. Quintus went to him. “Maximus…”
“Quintus, free my men,” said Maximus.
The crowd was completely quiet.
Maximus saw his own hand on the gate, pushing it open… Walking away from him was a woman, and a child running… They looked back and smiled at him…
Maximus fell to the sand.
Out of the silence, Lucilla crossed the arena to the place where he lay. She took him in her arms. She could see that she could not save him, but she wanted him to hear her before the end.
“Maximus,” Lucilla said softly.
Maximus’s dying eyes opened again. “Lucius is safe?” he asked.
“Our sons live.”
Lucilla smiled. “Our sons live. And they are proud.” She kissed him, crying, and whispered, “Go to them. You’re home.”
Maximus walked through the wheat field… The beautiful woman stopped and turned. She called to the boy. He stopped running and looked back. The boy then started running back along the road, toward the man in the wheat field, toward his father, who was coming home at last.
Maximus died in Lucilla’s arms, as she placed him gently on the sand. When she stood up, the whole arena was watching her. She turned and spoke to the senators. “Rome is free again,” she said.
Lucilla stood over Maximus’s body as Gracchus and the senators came down onto the sand.
“He was a soldier of Rome,” Lucilla said. “Honor him.”
Quintus’s voice rang out, “Free the prisoners!”
A hand turned a key, and Juba led the last of Proximo’s gladiators into the silent arena.
Gracchus stood by the body. “Who will help me carry this man?”
A few voices broke the silence, calling Maximus’s name. Then many more voices joined in. The sound grew and filled the arena.
The gladiators picked Maximus up on their shoulders. Silent and proud, following Gracchus and the other senators in a slow march, they carried him out of the arena.
Lucilla stood for a long time, watching them go, while her mad brother lay dead on the bloody sand behind her.
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