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“ [67] But tell me, Gaius, why is Fortunata not at dinner?” “Do you not know her better?” said Trimalchio.“Until she has collected the silver, and divided the remains among the slaves, she will not let a drop of water pass her lips.” “Oh,” replied Habinnas, “but unless she is here I shall take myself off,” and he was just getting up, when at a given signal all the slaves called “Fortunata” four times and more. So she came in with a high yellow waist-band on, which allowed a cherry-red bodice to appear under it, and twisted anklets, and white shoes embroidered with gold. She wiped her hands on a cloth which she had round her neck, took her place on the sofa, where Scintilla, Habinnas's wife, was lying, kissed her as she was clapping her hands, and said, “Is it really you, dear?”

Fortunata then went so far as to take the bracelets off her fat arms to exhibit them to Scintilla's admiring gaze. At last she even took off her anklets[p. 129] and her hair-net, which she said was eighteen carat. Trimalchio saw her, and ordered the whole lot to be brought to him. “There,” he said, “are a woman's fetters; that is how we poor fools1 are plundered. She must have six pounds and a half of gold on her. I have got a bracelet myself, made out of the percentage which I owe to Mercury, that weighs not an ounce under ten pounds.” At last, for fear we should think he was lying, he ordered the scales to be brought, and had the weight carried round and tested. Scintilla was just as bad. She took off a little gold box from her neck, which she called her lucky box. Then she brought out two earrings, and gave them to Fortunata to look at in her turn, and said, “Thanks to my husband's kindness, nobody has finer ones.” “What?” said Habinnas, you bullied me to buy you a glass bean. I declare if I had a daughter I would cut off her ears. If there were no women, we should never trouble about anything: as it is, we sweat for them and get cold thanks."

Meanwhile the tipsy wives laughed together, and gave each other drunken kisses, one prating of her prudence as a housewife, the other of the favourites of her husband and his inattention to her. While they were hobnobbing, Habinnas got up quietly, took Fortunata by the legs, and threw her over on the sofa. She shouted out, “Oh! goodness!” and her dress flew up over her knees. She took refuge in Scintilla's arms, and buried her burning red face in a napkin.

1 Barcala is akin to bardus and baro, meaning “a blockhead.”

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