The Ring of the Druids
“Grandpa, why do you always look so sad when you look at that big gold ring with snakes on?” my little grandson Mark asked me today. I can’t tell him now. The story is sad. But I am old, my time is coming. When Mark is eleven, he will get the ring and this letter. Then he will understand.
I was born in Rome in AD 41 and, to me, it was the best place in the world. But when I was fifteen, my family moved to Britain - a dangerous island, full of wild Celts. We lived near Cambridge in a small house. Not far from our house there was a big wall.
Roman territory ended there. The wall was very long.
A Celtic tribe, the Iceni, lived behind it. They were not enemies, but they were not friends either.
One day I was sitting next to the wall, when a stone landed at my feet.
“Roman pig! Get out of our land!” (убирайся c нашей земли) a voice shouted. I looked up and saw a girl standing on the wall. Suddenly she slipped and fell right off (упала со стены)\ She didn’t move. I thought she was dead. But she opened her eyes and smiled.
“Nothing can happen to me,” she said. “I am wearing my father’s ring. ” She showed me a big gold ring on her finger.
“Who is your father?” I asked.
“He is a Druid!”
I was really scared then. My granddad told me about Druids. He was with Julius Caesar when the Romans first came to the British Isles. My granddad never forgot the tall, angry men with long white hair and long white clothes.
“They cursed (прокляли) us! Caesar had so much trouble with them that he soon went back to Rome!” the old man always said.
The girl read my mind (девчонка прочитала мои мысли).
“Don’t be stupid,” she said. “Druids are our doctors, teachers and leaders. They learn their magic from plants. By the way, I am Helori. What’s your name?”
We became friends and met near the wall or in the forest. We had wonderful talks about everything in the world. I knew a few Celtic words, but Helori’s Latin was better, so we spoke Latin. Helori told me about the trees, the birds and the animals in Britain and I told her about Rome and the great Roman roads and bridges.
There was only one cloud on the horizon. Helori’s mother was the sister of Boudicca, the queen of the Iceni tribe. Helori loved her aunt.
“She is strong and clever and fair,” Helori said.
“She will always fight for our freedom. ”
I didn’t like it when Helori spoke about Romans and Celts, and the trouble between them. One day I knew why: I was in love with her; I wanted to marry her. When I told Helori about my feelings, she said,
“I love you too. Let’s get married. ”
Three months later we had a secret wedding. We didn’t tell our parents or our friends. But our happiness was short. I was in the army, and our legion had to move to the north.
When I was saying a last goodbye to Helori, she suddenly said, “Come back alive, Patrick. Come back for your son (вернись ради своего сына)".
I was far away in the north when I heard the terrible news. The Romans were starting a war with the Iceni. They were killing their men, women and children.
“You must give us your money and your land,” the Romans said to Queen Boudicca. Boudicca started a revolt. She burnt the Roman capital, Colchester, and killed all the Romans there. Then she burnt Londinium. The woman had no mercy, but I could understand her. Our legion rushed back (поспешил назад) to Colchester. When we were near the town, we saw that it was too late. Our families and friends were dead. There was only one thing we wanted to do — find Boudicca and her people and kill them all. Our legion left the next morning. I had to go too. I was a soldier.
We found the Iceni not far from Londinium. There was a terrible battle. Romans and Celts were dying around me, but I wasn’t looking around. I was fighting for my mother, for my father and for my five little sisters. Suddenly I saw Helori. She was under a big oak tree. An old Druid was standing next to her. Roman arrows were flying around him, but he didn’t notice them. He had something in his arms.
I ran towards them. Helori was bleeding, but she smiled when she saw me.
“Why didn’t your father’s ring protect you?” I shouted.
“I don’t need it any more,” she said, and I saw tears in her eyes. “My life is in the life of the Iceni. Our tribe will die together. We cannot change that! But there is hope — our son. He is half Roman and half Celt. Take care of him! Goodbye my love!”And she died.
Suddenly the Druid spoke.
“I don’t like you, young Roman. But I can’t hate you. You are the father of my grandson. My daughter loved you. Here is your son. Be a good father to him. Take the ring too. The magic of the Druids will protect you. ” He gave me my son. Then he took the ring off his finger and put it into my hand. “Save your son,” he said. ‘And remember the Druids. ”
I ran into the forest. My son was crying in my arms. When I turned round, I saw the Druid under the big oak tree. He was dead.