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And what is it that so disheartens you?

I want to tell you first about myself—I did not do the deed, nor did I see the doer, [240] so it would be wrong that I should come to any harm.

Like a bowman you aim well at your target from a distance, and all around you hedge yourself off well from the deed. It is clear that you have some unheard-of thing to tell.

That I do, for terrible news imposes great hesitation.

Then tell it, will you, and so unburdened go away?

[245] Well, here it is. The corpse—some one has just given it burial and disappeared after sprinkling thirsty dust on the flesh and performing the other rites that piety demands.

What are you saying? What man dared do this?

I do not know. For there was no scar of a pickax to be seen there, [250] no earth thrown up by a mattock. The ground was hard and dry, unbroken, not rolled over by wheels. The doer was someone who left no trace. When the first day-watchman showed it to us, a discomforting amazement fell on us all. [255] The dead man was veiled from us—not shut within a tomb, but a light cover of dust was on him, as if put there by the hand of one who shunned a curse. And no sign was visible that any beast of prey or any dog had approached or torn him. Then evil words flew thick and loud among us, [260] guard accusing guard. It would even have come to blows in the end, nor was there anyone there to prevent it: every man was the culprit, and no one was plainly guilty, while all disclaimed knowledge of the act. We were ready to take red-hot iron in our hands, [265] to walk through fire and to swear oaths by the gods that we had neither done the deed, nor shared knowledge of the planning or the doing. At last, when our investigating got us nowhere, someone spoke up and made us all bend our faces [270] in fear towards the earth. For we did not know how we could argue with him, nor yet prosper, if we did what he said. His argument was that the deed must be reported to you and not hidden. This view prevailed, and so it was that [275] the lot doomed miserable me to win this prize. So here I stand, as unwelcome to you as I am unwilling, I well know. For no man delights in the bearer of bad news.

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