BOOK THE FOURTH
11. Chapter XI
'By Pollux! I should like to know as much as my master; but that is not to
be expected. Let me know, at least, whether I shall save enough to purchase
my freedom, or whether this Egyptian will give it me for nothing. He does
such generous things sometimes. Next, supposing that be true, shall I
possess myself of that snug taberna among the Myropolia, which I have long
had in my eye? 'Tis a genteel trade that of a perfumer, and suits a retired
slave who has something of a gentleman about him!'
'Ay! so you would have precise answers to those questions?--there are
various ways of satisfying you. There is the Lithomanteia, or
Speaking-stone, which answers your prayer with an infant's voice; but, then,
we have not that precious stone with us--costly is it and rare. Then there
is the Gastromanteia, whereby the demon casts pale and deadly images upon
the water, prophetic of the future. But this art requires also glasses of a
peculiar fashion, to contain the consecrated liquid, which we have not. I
think, therefore, that the simplest method of satisfying your desire would
be by the Magic of Air.'
'I trust,' said Sosia, tremulously, 'that there is nothing very frightful in
the operation? I have no love for apparitions.'
'Fear not; thou wilt see nothing; thou wilt only hear by the bubbling of
water whether or not thy suit prospers. First, then, be sure, from the
rising of the evening star, that thou leavest the garden-gate somewhat open,
so that the demon may feel himself invited to enter therein; and place
fruits and water near the gate as a sign of hospitality; then, three hours
after twilight, come here with a bowl of the coldest and purest water, and
thou shalt learn all, according to the Thessalian lore my mother taught me.
But forget not the garden-gate--all rests upon that: it must be open when
you come, and for three hours previously.'
'Trust me,' replied the unsuspecting Sosia; 'I know what a gentleman's
feelings are when a door is shut in his face, as the cookshop's hath been in
mine many a day; and I know, also, that a person of respectability, as a
demon of course is, cannot but be pleased, on the other hand, with any
little mark of courteous hospitality. Meanwhile, pretty one, here is thy