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[74] Just as he was speaking, a cock crew. The noise upset Trimalchio, and he had wine poured under the table, and even the lamp sprinkled with pure wine. Further, he changed a ring on to his right hand, and said, “That trumpeter does not give his signal without a reason. Either there must be a fire, or some one close by is just going to give up the ghost. Lord, save us! So anyone who catches the informer shall have a reward.” He had scarcely spoken, when the cock was brought in from somewhere near. Trimalchio ordered him to be killed and cooked in a saucepan. So he was cut up by the learned cook who had made birds and fishes out of a pig a little while before, and thrown into a cooking-pot. And while Daedalus took a long[p. 147] drink very hot, Fortunata ground up pepper in a boxwood mill.

After the good things were done, Trimalchio looked at the slaves and said, “Why have you not had dinner yet? Be off, and let some others come and wait.” So another brigade appeared, and the old lot shouted,“Gaius, good-bye,” and the new ones, “Hail! Gaius.” After this, our jollity received its first shock; a rather comely boy came in among the fresh waiters, and Trimalchio took him and began to kiss him warmly. So Fortunata, to assert her rights at law, began to abuse Trimalchio, and called him a dirty disgrace for not behaving himself. At last she even added, “You hound.” Her cursing annoyed Trimalchio, and he let fly a cup in her face. She shrieked as if her eye had been put out, and lifted her trembling hands to her face. Scintilla was frightened too, and shielded her quivering friend with her arms. While an officious slave held a cool little jar to her cheek, Fortunata leaned over it and began to groan and cry. But Trimalchio said, “What is it all about? This chorus-girl has no memory, yet I took her off the sale-platform and made her one of ourselves. But she puffs herself up like a frog, and will not spit for luck; a log she is, not a woman. But if you were born in a slum you cannot sleep in a palace. Damn my soul if I do not properly tame this shameless Cassandra.1 And I might have married ten million, wretched fool that I was! You know I am speaking the truth. Agatho, the perfumer of the rich woman next door, took me aside and said, 'I entreat you not to let your family die out.' But I, being a good chap, didn't wish to[p. 149] seem fickle, and so I have stuck the axe into my own leg. Very well, I will make you want to dig me up with your finger-nails. But you shall understand what you have done for yourself straight away. Habinnas, do not put any statue of her on my tomb, or I shall have nagging even when I am dead. And to show that I can do her a bad turn, I will not have her kiss me even when I am laid out.”

1 Cassandra is a type of passion, and a Cassandra in topboots (caligaria) is a brutal, strong woman.

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