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[64] We were full of wonder and faith, and we kissed the table and prayed the Night-riders to stay at home as we returned from dinner.

By this time, I own, the lamps were multiplying before my eyes, and the whole dining-room was altering; then Trimalchio said, “Come you, Plocamus, have you got no story? Will you not entertain us? You used to be more pleasant company, and recite blank verse very prettily, and put in songs too. Dear, dear, all the sweet green figs are fallen!” “Ah, yes,” the man replied, “my galloping days are over since I[p. 121] was taken with the gout. In the days when I was a young fellow I nearly got consumption with singing. How I could dance and recite and imitate the talk in a barber's shop! Was there ever my equal, except the one and only Apelles?” And he put his hand to his mouth and whistled out some offensive stuff I did not catch: he declared afterwards it was Greek.

Then Trimalchio, after imitating a man with a trumpet, looked round for his favourite, whom he called Croesus. The creature had blear eyes and very bad teeth, and was tying up an unnaturally obese black puppy in a green handkerchief, and then putting a broken piece of bread on a chair, and cramming it down the throat of the dog, who did not want it and was sick. This reminded Trimalchio of his duties, and he ordered them to bring in Scylax, “the guardian of the house and the slaves.” An enormous dog on a chain was at once led in, and on receiving a kick from the porter as a hint to lie down, he curled up in front of the table. Then Trimalchio threw him a bit of white bread and said,“No one in the house loves me better than Scylax.” The favourite took offence at his lavish praise of the dog, and put down the puppy, and encouraged him to attack Scylax. Scylax, after the manner of dogs, filled the dining-room with a most hideous barking, and nearly tore Croesus's little Pearl to pieces. And the uproar did not end with a dog-fight, for a lamp upset over the table, and broke all the glass to pieces, and sprinkled some of the guests with hot oil. Trimalchio did not want to seem hurt at his loss, so he kissed his favourite, and told him to jump on his back. He mounted his horse at once and went on smacking Trimalchio's shoulders with his open[p. 123] hand, saying, “How many are we, blind man's cheek?”1 After some time Trimalchio calmed himself, and ordered a great bowl of wine to be mixed, and drinks to be served round to all the slaves, who were sitting at our feet, adding this provision: “If anyone refuses to take it, pour it over his head; business in the daytime and pleasure at night.”

1 Bucca was a child's game (Hoodman Blind in English) where one child was blindfolded and the others touched him on the cheek, and asked him how many fingers, or how many children, had touched him.

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