Now they paraded me down the streets for all the populace to gaze upon. I recalled the story I had heard from the Christians among whom I had grown up, of Caesar bringing the captive Gaul, Vercigenteroux, home to Rome in a cage, exhibiting him in just such a spectacle. I wondered, had the Gaul abandoned all hope as he had gazed out at the mobs surrounding him? Did he, the way I did, go to meet his end with apathy? I hope he did so. Nothing can offer such cruelty to a condemned man as does hope.
The crowds did not abuse me as they would have abused the captive Gaul. There were a few who hurled rocks or rotted vegetables at me, but these were warned away by the soldiers accompanying the procession. Again, their fear afforded me better treatment than another could have expected. Some among the crowds shouted insults at me, but I found, at those times when I would locate the speaker and lock my gaze upon him or her, the shouter blanched and grew silent. The anonymity of the mob afforded security. No one among them, if removed from that security, desired to draw the attention of the werewolf, to have the monster made aware of his or her identity.
It remained a good two weeks before my next transformation, so the silver cage surrounding me, while I felt a queasiness from it, did not induce in me the more severe sickness I experienced near the zenith of the moon, though the bars still burned me if I chanced to touch them. The wagon bearing me onward made no great haste and the road offered few holes or ruts to threaten my balance. I stood steady and erect, then, cross-armed, and seldom brushed against the silver.
These sensations I remember: the racket of the crowds; the creaking of the wagon; the steps of the two horses pulling it, their iron-shod hooves clicking against the stones of the street; the sun, high overhead and intense in its gaze; the heat, and the beads of sweat that crawled down my naked back—my captors had stripped me, leaving me only my leather skirt and my boots, the latter as protection against the bottom of the cage.
I expect I did look the part of the wild man, the beast-man, to these pampered and so-called “civilized” Romans. My hair had grown long and lay bunched upon my shoulders, and my beard reached past the hollow of my throat.
Somewhere within the city a fire burned; smoke drifted on the air, thick and black, then dissipated. There were circling, hungry birds, flying too high overhead for me to note their coloring. At the head of the procession, a marching soldier beat heavy, steady steps upon a drum.
Yes, I said to myself, looking out at the nameless faces watching me. Gaze upon the monster! Feast your eyes upon the beast that, were it able, would soon enough feast on you!
I expected to soon suffer execution. It did not occur to me then that these people, with their sickness and debasement, their fear, like shame, evident in their eyes, would have ample opportunity yet to gaze upon the beast—when it would be loosed from its bondage to ravage to its black heart’s content in the Roman Coliseum.