"In the great chest up in the citadel I have five talents coin current in the markets, and here are the receipts for them."
From his tunic he drew a roll of paper, and, flinging it on the table, continued, amidst breathless silence, every eye having him in view fixed on his, every ear listening:
"The sum lies there the measure of what I dare. Who of you dares so much! You are silent. Is it too great? I will strike off one talent. What! still silent? Come, then, throw me once for these three talents--only three; for two; for one--one at least--one for the honor of the river by which you were born--Rome East against Rome West!--Orontes the barbarous against Tiber the sacred!"
He rattled the dice overhead while waiting.
"The Orontes against the Tiber!" he repeated, with an increase of scornful emphasis.
Not a man moved; then he flung the box upon the table and, laughing, took up the receipts.
"Ha, ha, ha! By the Olympian Jove, I know now ye have fortunes to make or to mend; therefore are ye come to Antioch. Ho, Cecilius!"
"Here, Messala!" cried a man behind him; "here am I, perishing in the mob, and begging a drachma to settle with the ragged ferryman. But, Pluto take me! these new ones have not so much as an obolus among them."