BOOK THE THIRD
6. Chapter VI
The curving road, which in that direction leads from Pompeii to Herculaneum,
wound out of sight amidst hanging vines, above which frowned the sullen
majesty of Vesuvius.
'Hast thou heard the news, old Medon?' said a young woman, with a pitcher in
her hand, as she paused by Diomed's door to gossip a moment with the slave,
ere she repaired to the neighboring inn to fill the vessel, and coquet with
'The news! what news?' said the slave, raising his eyes moodily from the
'Why, there passed through the gate this morning, no doubt ere thou wert
well awake, such a visitor to Pompeii!'
'Ay,' said the slave, indifferently.
'Yes, a present from the noble Pomponianus.'
'A present! I thought thou saidst a visitor?'
'It is both visitor and present. Know, O dull and stupid! that it is a most
beautiful young tiger, for our approaching games in the amphitheatre. Hear
you that, Medon? Oh, what pleasure! I declare I shall not sleep a wink
till I see it; they say it has such a roar!'
'Poor fool!' said Medon, sadly and cynically.
'Fool me no fool, old churl! It is a pretty thing, a tiger, especially if
we could but find somebody for him to eat. We have now a lion and a tiger;
only consider that, Medon! and for want of two good criminals perhaps we
shall be forced to see them eat each other. By-the-by, your son is a
gladiator, a handsome man and a strong, can you not persuade him to fight
the tiger? Do now, you would oblige me mightily; nay, you would be a
benefactor to the whole town.'
'Vah! vah!' said the slave, with great asperity; 'think of thine own danger
ere thou thus pratest of my poor boy's death.'