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[115] We heard a strange noise, and a groaning like a wild beast, coming from under the master's cabin. So we followed the noise, and found Eumolpus sitting there inscribing verses on a great parchment. We were surprised at his having time to write poetry with death close at hand, and we pulled him out, though he protested, and implored him to be sensible. But he was furious at our interruption, and cried: “Let me complete my design; the poem halts at the close.” I laid hands on the maniac, and told Giton to help me to drag the bellowing bard ashore. . .

When this business was at last completed, we came sadly to a fisherman's cottage, refreshed our[p. 243] selves more or less with food spoilt by sea-water, and passed a very miserable night. Next morning, as we were trying to decide into what part of the country we should venture, I suddenly saw a man's body caught in a gentle eddy and carried ashore. I stopped gloomily, and, with moist eyes, began to reflect upon the treachery of the sea. “Maybe,” I cried, “there is a wife waiting cheerfully at home for this man in a far-offland, or a son or a father, maybe, who know nothing of this storm; he is sure to have left some one behind whom he kissed before he went. So much for mortal men's plans, and the prayers of high ambition. Look how the man floats.” I was still crying over him as a perfect stranger, when a wave turned his face towards the shore without a mark upon it, and I recognized Lichas, but a while ago so fierce and so relentless, now thrown almost under my feet. Then I could restrain my tears no longer; I beat my breast again and again, and cried, “Where is your temper and your hot head now? Behold! you are a prey for fish and savage beasts. An hour ago you boasted the strength of your command, and you have not one plank of your great ship to save you. Now let mortal men fill their hearts with proud imaginations if they will. Let misers lay out the gains they win by fraud for a thousand years. Lo! this man but yesterday looked into the accounts of his family property, and even settled in his own mind the very day when he would come home again. Lord, Lord, how far he lies from his consummation! But it is not the waves of the sea alone that thus keep faith with mortal men. The warrior's weapons fail him; another pays his vows to Heaven, and his own house falls and buries him in the act. Another slips from his coach and dashes out his eager soul: the glutton[p. 245] chokes at dinner, the sparing man dies of wait. Make a fair reckoning, and you find shipwreck everywhere. You tell me that for those the waters whelm there is no burial. As if it mattered how our perishable flesh comes to its end, by fire or water or the lapse of time! Whatever you may do, all these things achieve the same goal. But beasts will tear the body, you say, as though fire would give it a more kindly welcome! When we are angry with our slaves, we consider burning their heaviest punishment. Then what madness to take such trouble to prevent the grave from leaving aught of us behind!”. . .

So Lichas was burned on a pyre built by his enemy's hands. Eumolpus proceeded to compose an epitaph on the dead man, and looked about in search of some far-fetched ideas. . .

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