Book Excerpt:
The First Miracle

Tomorrow it would be 1 A.D., but nobody had told him.

If anyone had, he wouldn’t have understood, because he thought it was the forth-third year of the reign of the Emperor. And in any case, he had more important things on his mind.

His mother was still angry with him, and he had to admit that he had been naughty that day, even by the standards of a normal thirteen-year-old. He hadn’t meant to drop the pitcher when she had sent him to the well for water. He had tried to explain to her that it wasn’t his fault he had tripped over a stone – that bit was at least true. What he hadn’t told her was that he had been chasing astray dog at the time. And then there was that pomegranate: how was he meant to know that it was the last one and that his father had taken a liking to them?

The young Roman was now dreading his father’s return and the possibility that he might be given another leathering. He could still recall the last one: he hadn’t been able to sit down for two days without being reminded of the pain, and the thin red scars hadn’t completely disappeared for three weeks.

He sat on the window ledge in a shaded corner of his room, trying to think of some way he could redeem himself in his mothers’ eyes. He had spilt cooking oil all over his tunic and she had thrown him out of the kitchen. ‘Go and play outside,’ she had snapped, but playing outside wasn’t much fun if you were only allowed to play by yourself. Pater had forbidden him to mix with the local boys.

How he hated this uncivilised country! If only he could be back home among his friends, there would be so much for him to do. Still, only another three weeks and he would…

The door swung open and his mother bustled into the room.

Copyright © Jeffrey Archer