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[54] Just as Trimalchio was speaking the boy slipped and fell [against his arm]. The slaves raised a cry, and so did the guests, not over a disgusting creature whose neck they would have been glad to see broken, but because it would have been a gloomy finish to the dinner to have to shed tears over the death of a perfect stranger. Trimalchio groaned aloud, and nursed his arm as if it was hurt. Doctors rushed up, and among the first Fortunata, with her hair down, and a cup in her hand, calling out what a poor unhappy[p. 97] woman she was. The creature who had fallen down was crawling round at our feet by this time, and begging for mercy. I was very much afraid that his petition was leading up to some comic surprise. The cook who had forgotten to gut the pig had not yet faded from my recollection. So I began looking all round the dining-room, in case any clockwork toy should jump out of the wall, especially after they had begun to beat a servant for dressing the bruise on his master's arm with white wool instead of purple. And my suspicions were not far out. Instead of punishment there came Trimalchio's decree that he should be made a free man, for fear anyone might be able to say that our hero had been wounded by a slave.

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load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
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