‘Well, who could have thought our blind Nydia had been so honored!’ said the virago, wiping her heated brow.
Glaucus looked up at Burbo.
‘My good man,’ said he, ’this is your slave; she sings well, she is accustomed to the care of flowers—I wish to make a present of such a slave to a lady. Will you sell her to me?’ As he spoke he felt the whole frame of the poor girl tremble with delight; she started up, she put her disheveled hair from her eyes, she looked around, as if, alas, she had the power to see!
‘Sell our Nydia! no, indeed,’ said Stratonice, gruffly.
Nydia sank back with a long sigh, and again clasped the robe of her protector.
‘Nonsense!’ said Clodius, imperiously: ’you must oblige me. What, man! what, old dame! offend me, and your trade is ruined. Is not Burbo my kinsman Pansa’s client? Am I not the oracle of the amphitheatre and its heroes? If I say the word, break up your wine-jars—you sell no more. Glaucus, the slave is yours.’
Burbo scratched his huge head, in evident embarrassment.
‘The girl is worth her weight in gold to me.’
‘Name your price, I am rich,’ said Glaucus.
The ancient Italians were like the modern, there was nothing they would not sell, much less a poor blind girl.
‘I paid six sestertia for her, she is worth twelve now,’ muttered Stratonice.
’You shall have twenty; come to the magistrates at once, and then to my house for your money.’
’I would not have sold the dear girl for a hundred but to oblige noble Clodius,’ said Burbo, whiningly. ’And you will speak to Pansa about the place of designator at the amphitheatre, noble Clodius? it would just suit me.’
‘Thou shalt have it,’ said Clodius; adding in a whisper to Burbo, ’Yon Greek can make your fortune; money runs through him like a sieve: mark to-day with white chalk, my Priam.’
‘An dabis?’ said Glaucus, in the formal question of sale and barter.
‘Dabitur,’ answered Burbo.
‘Then, then, I am to go with you—with you? O happiness!’ murmured Nydia.
’Pretty one, yes; and thy hardest task henceforth shall be to sing thy Grecian hymns to the loveliest lady in Pompeii.’
The girl sprang from his clasp; a change came over her whole face, bright the instant before; she sighed heavily, and then once more taking his hand, she said:
‘I thought I was to go to your house?’
‘And so thou shalt for the present; come, we lose time.’
The rival of Glaucus presses onward in the race.