Portia was distraught. She hardly knew what she was doing.
‘Go on, boy, run to the Senate House,’ she told Lucius. ‘Don’t wait to ask questions, just go. What are you waiting for?’
‘To know my errand, madam,’ he said.
‘I want you there and back again before I can tell you what I want you to do there.’
She shut her eyes and prayed for self-control. She wanted to have a huge mountain between her heart and her tongue to keep the secret to herself. She felt that she had a man’s strong mind but a woman’s weakness. It was too hard to keep Brutus’ secret.
‘Are you still here?’ she said.
‘Madam, what do you want me to do? Run to the Capitol and that’s all?’
‘Yes, bring me word if my lord looks well because he was sick when he left. And look to see what Caesar does and what petitioners approach him. Listen, boy, what noise is that?’
‘I don’t hear any, madam?’
‘Listen carefully. I hear a confused sound, like a fight, and the wind is bringing it from the Capitol.’
‘Really madam, I can’t hear anything.’
An old man, the fortune-teller, was passing by the gate.
‘Come here, fellow,’ said Portia. ‘Where have you come from?’
‘My own house, good lady.’
‘What’s the time?’
‘About nine, lady.’
‘Has Caesar gone to the Capitol yet?’
‘Not yet, madam. I’m going there to get a place to watch him pass by to the Capitol.’
‘Do you have some suit to Caesar?’
‘That I have, lady. If it will please Caesar to do himself a favour and listen to me I will beg him to be his own friend.’
‘Why? Do you know any harm that’s intended towards him?’
‘Nothing that I know about definitely but much that I fear may happen. Good morning to you. This street is narrow. The throng that will come along to follow Caesar will crush me almost to death. I’ll have to find a more spacious place and then speak to Caesar as he passes.’
‘I must go in,’ said Portia.
The old man continued down the road and Portia began pacing. Oh gods, how weak a thing a woman’s heart is! Oh Brutus! She prayed that Brutus’ enterprise would be successful. She was sure the boy knew! Brutus had a suit that Caesar would never grant. She felt faint.
‘Run Lucius, and give my love to my lord. Say I’m cheerful. Come back and tell me what he says.’