Ascyltos now cleverly stopped their laughter by calling
for silence and saying, “Well, you see, every one has an affection for his own
things. If they will give us our shirt, they shall have their cloak.” The
countryman and the woman were satisfied with this exchange, but by this time some
policemen had been called in to punish us; they wanted to make a profit out of the
cloak, and tried to persuade us to leave the disputed property with them and let a
judge look into our complaints the next day. They urged that besides the
counter-claims to these garments, a far graver question arose, since each party must
lie under suspicion of thieving. It was suggested that trustees should be appointed,
and one of the traders, a bald man with a spotty forehead, who used sometimes to do
law work, laid hands on the cloak and declared that he would produce it to-morrow.
But clearly the object was that the cloak should be deposited with a pack of thieves
and be seen no more, in the hope that we should not keep our appointment, for fear
of being charged.
It was obvious that our wishes coincided with his, and chance came to support the
wishes of both sides. The countryman lost his temper when we said his rags must be
shown in public, threw the shirt in Ascyltos's face, and asked us, now that we had
no grievance, to give up the cloak which had raised the whole quarrel. . . .
We thought we had got back our savings. We hurried away to the inn and shut the door,
and then had a laugh at the wits of our false accusers and at the dealers too, whose
mighty sharpness had returned our money to us. “I never want to grasp what I
desire at once, nor do easy victories delight me.”