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[19] The whole place rang with farcical laughter, while we kept looking first at each other and then at the women, not understanding how they could have changed their tune so quickly. . . .

“I forbade any mortal man to enter this inn to-day, just so that I might get you to cure me of my tertian ague without interruptions.” When Quartilla said this, Ascyltos was struck dumb for a moment, while I turned colder than a Swiss winter, and could not utter a syllable. But the presence of my friends saved me from my worst fears. They were three weak women, if they wanted to make any attack on us. We had at least our manhood in our favour, if nothing else. And certainly our dress was more fit for action. Indeed I had already matched our forces in pairs. If it came to a real fight, I was to face Quartilla, Ascyltos her maid, Giton the girl. . .

But then all our resolution yielded to astonishment, and the darkness of certain death began to fall on our unhappy eyes. . . .

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