We were obliged by his august kindness, and when[p. 47]
we were in the dining-room, the slave for whom we had pleaded ran
up, and to our astonishment rained kisses on us, and thanked us for our mercy.
“One word,” he said, “you will know in a minute who owes you
a debt of gratitude: 'The master's wine is in the butler's gift.” ' . . .
At last then we sat down, and boys from Alexandria poured water cooled with snow over
our hands. Others followed and knelt down at our feet, and proceeded with great
skill to pare our hangnails. Even this unpleasant duty did not silence them, but
they kept singing at their work. I wanted to find out whether the whole household
could sing, so I asked for a drink. A ready slave repeated my order in a chant not
less shrill. They all did the same if they were asked to hand anything. It was more
like an actor's dance than a gentleman's dining-room. But some rich and tasty whets
for the appetite were brought on; for every one had now sat down except Trimalchio,
who had the first place kept for him in the new style. A donkey in Corinthian bronze
stood on the side-board, with panniers holding olives, white in one side, black in
the other. Two dishes hid the donkey; Trimalchio's name and their weight in silver
was engraved on their edges. There were also dormice rolled in honey and poppy-seed,
and supported on little bridges soldered to the plate. Then there were hot sausages
laid on a silver grill, and under the grill damsons and seeds of pomegranate.