"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."
The sally provoked a burst of laughter, under which the saloon rang and rang again. Messala alone kept his gravity.
"Go, thou," he said to Cecilius, "to the chamber whence we came, and bid the servants bring the amphorae here, and the cups and goblets. If these our countrymen, looking for fortune, have not purses, by the Syrian Bacchus, I will see if they are not better blessed with stomachs! Haste thee!"