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[65] After this display of kindness, some savouries were brought in, the memory of which, as sure as I tell you this story, still makes me shudder. For instead of a thrush a fat chicken was brought round to each of us, and goose-eggs in caps, which Trimalchio kept asking us to eat with the utmost insistence, saying that they were chickens without the bones. Meanwhile a priest's attendant1 knocked at the diningroom door, and a man dressed in white for some festivity came in with a number of others. I was frightened by his solemn looks, and thought the mayor had arrived. So I tried to get up and plant my bare feet on the ground. Agamemnon laughed at my anxiety and said, “Control yourself, you silly fool! It is Habinnas of the priests' college, a monumental mason with a reputation for making first-class tombstones.” I was relieved by this news, and lay down in my place again, and watched Habinnas' entrance with great astonishment. He was quite drunk, and had put his hands on his wife's shoulders; he had several wreaths on, and ointment was running down his forehead into his eyes. He sat down in the[p. 125] chief magistrate's place,2 and at once called for wine and hot water. Trimalchio was delighted at his good humour, and demanded a larger cup for himself, and asked him how he had been received. “We had everything there except you,” was the reply, “for my eyes were here with you. Yes, it was really splendid. Scissa was having a funeral feast on the ninth day for her poor dear slave, whom she set free on his deathbed. And I believe she will have an enormous sum to pay the tax-collector, for they reckon that the dead man was worth fifty thousand.3 But anyhow it was a pleasant affair, even if we did have to pour half our drinks over his lamented bones.”

1 The attendant on a Sevir Augusti. See note, p. 43.

2 The lowest seat on the middle couch, usually called the consul's seat, but here the highest official present took it.

3 She would pay a tax of 5 per cent, i.e. 2,500 sesterces, on his value.

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