thunderstruck at this blow. I bared my throat, and cried, “Ah, Fate, at last
you have smitten me hip and thigh.” For Giton, who was sprawling over me,
had already fainted. Then the sweat broke out on us and called us both back to life.
I took Eumolpus by the knees, and cried, “Mercy on us! We are dead men. Help
us, I implore you by our fellowship in learning; death is upon us, and we may
come to welcome death, unless you prevent us from doing so.”
Eumolpus was overwhelmed by this attack, and swore by gods and goddesses that he did
not understand what had happened, and had no sinister intentions in his mind, but
had taken us to share the voyage with him in perfect honesty and absolute good
faith; he had been meaning to sail himself some time before. “Is there any
trap here?” he said, “and who is the Hannibal we have on board?
Lichas of Tarentum is a respectable person. He is not only owner and captain of
this ship, but has several estates and some slaves in business. He is carrying a
cargo consigned to a market. This is the ogre and pirate king to whom we owe our
passage; and besides, there is Tryphaena, loveliest of women, who sails from one
place to another in search of pleasure.”
“But it is these two we are running away from,” said Giton, and poured
out the story of our feud, and explained our imminent danger, till Eumolpus shook.
He became muddled and helpless, and asked us each to put forward our views. “I
would have you imagine that we have entered the ogre's den,” he said.
“We must find some way out, unless we run the ship aground and[p. 205]
tree ourselves from all danger.”
“No,” said Gitoii,“persuade the helmsman to run the boat into
some harbour. Pay him well, of course, and tell him your brother cannot stand
the sea, and is at his last gasp. You will be able to hide your deception by the
confused look and the tears on your face. You will touch the helmsman's heart,
and he will do you a favour.” Eumolpus declared that this was impossible:
“These large boats only steer into landlocked harbours, and it is
incredible that our brother should collapse so soon. Besides, Lichas may perhaps
ask to see the sick man as a matter of kindness. You realize what a fine turn we
should do ourselves by leading the master up to his runaways with our own hands.
But supposing the ship could be turned aside from her long passage, and Lichas
did not after all go round the patient's beds; how could we leave the ship
without being seen by every one? Cover our heads, or bare them? Cover them, and
every one will want to lend his arm to the poor sick man! Bare them, that is
nothing more or less than proscribing ourselves.”