By Wallace Nichols. In Classical Whodunnits, ed. Mike Ashley.
The Slave Detective knew that he would have to make his choice — and at once, for the silence was growing painful and the Prefect was looking at him in puzzled disbelief in his institutional efficiency.
‘Licinius,’ he snapped suddenly, ‘arrest Dacia!’
A cry of anguish went up, but it was not hers.
‘Fool, O Slave Detective – it was not she, but I!’
Out from the line broke Albinus, striding menancingly up to Sollius. The Centurion plucked him back.
‘Melissa was a goddess’ – he spoke with a slight foam at the corners of his lips – ‘how sweet at first, and then how evil! But I loved her – beyond my peace I loved her, so deeply that I became unclean to myself. I saw the devastation she had caused in the house and in my own heart. It came to pass that I must either take her, or destroy her. All our lives had become shadowed as from the Furies’ wings! I chose to destroy the pest!’
He broke into a wild sob, and would have fallen had the Centurion not supported him.
‘Take him!’ ordered the Prefect. ‘And release the others.’
Sollius grinned at him when they were alone together.
‘I had in the end to guess at the lever of his affections – his wife or his daughter. I had to accuse one of the two. As it was, I guessed rightly. That is all there is to it, Prefect!’ he added in mock modesty, and limped out.