I was astonished and shocked to find so strange a crime at my door, and I
asked her why she had flared up, and why she should be more sorry for the goose than
for me. But she beat her hands together and said,
“You villain, you dare to speak. Do you not know what a dreadful sin you
have committed? You have killed the darling of Priapus, the goose beloved of all
married women. And do not suppose that it is not serious; if any magistrate
finds out, on the cross you go. My house was spotless until to-day, and you have
defiled it with blood, and you have given any enemy of mine who likes the power
to turn me out of my priesthood.” . . .
“Not such a noise, please,” I said; “I will give you an ostrich to
replace the goose.” . . .
I was amazed, and the woman sat on the bed and wept over the death of the goose,
until Proselenos came in with materials for the sacrifice, and seeing the dead bird,
inquired why we were so depressed. When she found out she began to weep loudly, too,
and to compassionate me as if I had killed my own father instead of a common goose.
I grew tired and disgusted, and said, “Please let me cleanse my hands by
paying; it would be another thing if I had insulted you or done a murder. Look,
I will put down two gold pieces. You can buy both gods and geese for
that.” When Oenothea saw the money, she said,“Forgive me, young man, I
am troubled on your account. I am showing my love and not my ill-will. So we
will do our best to keep the secret. But pray the gods to pardon what you have
“Whoever has money sails in a fair wind, and directs his fortune at his own
pleasure. Let him take Danae to wife, and he can tell Acrisius to believe what
he told Danae. Let him write poetry, make speeches, snap his fingers at the
world, win his cases and outdo Cato. A lawyer, let him have his 'Proven' and his
Not proven,' and be all that Servius and Labeo were. I have said enough: with
money about you, wish for what you like and it will come. Your safe has Jupiter
shut up in it.” . . .
She stood a jar of wine under my hands, and made me stretch all my fingers out, and
rubbed them with leeks and parsley, and threw filberts into the wine with a prayer.
She drew her conclusions from them according[p. 313]
as they rose to the top
or sank. I noticed that the nuts which were empty and had no kernel, but were filled
with air, stayed on the surface, while the heavy ones, which were ripe and full,
were carried to the bottom. . . .
She cut the goose open, drew out a very fat liver, and foretold the future to me from
it. Further, to remove all traces of my crime, she ran the goose right through with
a spit, and made quite a fine meal for me, though I had been at death's door a
moment ago, as she told me. . . .
Cups of neat wine went swiftly round with it. . .