While Eumolpus was talking privately to Bargates, a
crier came into the house with a municipal slave and quite a small crowd of other
people, shook a torch which gave out more smoke than light, and made this
proclamation: "Lost recently in the public baths, a boy aged about sixteen, hair
curly, low habits, of attractive appearance, answers to the name of Giton. A reward
of a thousand pieces will be paid to any person willing to bring him back or
indicate his where[p. 195]
abouts." Ascyltos stood close by the crier in
clothes of many colours, holding out the reward on a silver dish to prove his
honesty. I told Giton to get under the bed at once, and hook his feet and hands into
the webbing which held up the mattress on the frame, so that he might evade the
grasp of searchers by staying stretched out under the bed, just as Ulysses of old
clung on to the ram of the Cyclops.1
Giton obeyed orders at
once, and in a second had slipped his hands into the webbing, and surpassed even
Ulysses at his own tricks. I did not want to leave any room for suspicion, so I
stuffed the bed with clothes, and arranged them in the shape of a man about my own
height sleeping by himself.
Meanwhile Ascyltos went round all the rooms with a constable, and when he came to
mine, his hopes swelled within him at finding the door bolted with especial care.
The municipal slave put an axe into the joints, and loosened the bolts from their
place. I fell at Ascyltos's feet, and besought him, by the memory of our friendship
and the miseries we had shared, at least to show me my brother. Further to win
belief in my sham prayers, I said, “I know you have come to kill me, Ascyltos.
Else why have you brought an axe with you? Well, satisfy your rage. Here is my
neck, shed my blood, the real object of your pretended legal search.”
Ascyltos threw off his resentment, and declared that he wanted nothing but his own
runaway slave, that he did not desire the death of any man or any suppliant, much
less of one whom he loved very dearly now that their deadly dispute was over.