BOOK THE FOURTH
2. Chapter II
Across the small kitchen flitted many forms which the quick eye of the
master did not recognize.
'Oh! oh!' grumbled he to himself, 'that cursed Congrio hath invited a whole
legion of cooks to assist him. They won't serve for nothing, and this is
another item in the total of my day's expenses. By Bacchus! thrice lucky
shall I be if the slaves do not help themselves to some of the drinking
vessels: ready, alas, are their hands, capacious are their tunics. Me
The cooks, however, worked on, seemingly heedless of the apparition of
'Ho, Euclio, your egg-pan! What, is this the largest? it only holds
thirty-three eggs: in the houses I usually serve, the smallest egg-pan holds
fifty, if need be!'
'The unconscionable rogue!' thought Diomed; 'he talks of eggs as if they
were a sesterce a hundred!'
'By Mercury!' cried a pert little culinary disciple, scarce in his
novitiate; 'whoever saw such antique sweetmeat shapes as these?--It is
impossible to do credit to one's art with such rude materials. Why,
Sallust's commonest sweetmeat shape represents the whole siege of Troy;
Hector and Paris, and Helen... with little Astyanax and the Wooden Horse
into the bargain!'
'Silence, fool!' said Congrio, the cook of the house, who seemed to leave
the chief part of the battle to his allies. 'My master, Diomed, is not one
of those expensive good-for-noughts, who must have the last fashion, cost
what it will!'
'Thou liest, base slave!' cried Diomed, in a great passion--and thou costest
me already enough to have ruined Lucullus himself! Come out of thy den, I
want to talk to thee.'
The slave, with a sly wink at his confederates, obeyed the command.
'Man of three letters,' said Diomed, with his face of solemn anger, 'how
didst thou dare to invite all those rascals into my house?--I see thief
written in every line of their faces.'