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[38] You must not suppose either that he buys anything. Everything is home-grown: wool, citrons, pepper; you can have cock's milk for the asking. Why, his wool[p. 59] was not growing of fine enough quality. He bought rams from Tarentum and sent them into his flocks with a smack behind. He had bees brought from Athens to give him Attic honey on the premises; the Roman-born bees incidentally will be improved by the Greeks. Within the last few days, I may say, he has written for a cargo of mushroom spawn from India. And he has not got a single mule which is not the child of a wild ass. You see all the cushions here: every one has purple or scarlet stuffing. So high is his felicity. But do not look down on the other freedmen who are his friends. They are very juicy people. That one you see lying at the bottom of the end sofa has his eight hundred thousand. He was quite a nobody. A little time ago he was carrying loads of wood on his back. People do say—I know nothing, but I have heard—that he pulled off a goblin's cap and found a fairy hoard.1 If God makes presents I am jealous of nobody. Still, he shows the marks of his master's fingers,2 and has a fine opinion of himself. So he has just put up a notice on his hovel: 'This attic, the property of Caius Pompeii's Diogenes, to let from the 1st of July, the owner having purchased a house.' That person there too who is lying in the freedman's place3 is well pleased with himself. I do not blame him. He had his million in his hands, but he has had a bad shaking. I believe he cannot call[p. 61] his hair his own. No fault of his I am sure; there is no better fellow alive; but it is the damned freedmen who have pocketed everything. You know how it is: the company's pot goes off the boil, and the moment business takes a bad turn your friends desert you. You see him in this state: and what a fine trade he drove! He was an undertaker. He used to dine like a prince: boars cooked in a cloth, wonderful sweet things, game, chefs and confectioners! There used to be more wine spilt under the table than many a man has in his cellars. He was a fairy prince, not a mortal. When his business was failing, and he was afraid his creditors might guess that he was going bankrupt, he advertised a sale in this fashion: “Caius Julius Proculus will offer for sale some articles for which he has no further use.”

1 Incubo was a goblin who guarded hid treasure. If one stole his cap, he was compelled to reveal the treasure.

2 On setting a slave free the master gave him a slap as a symbol of his former power over him.

3 Apparently a recognized place at table was assigned to a freedman invited to dine with free men. Its position is not known.

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