“And what do you do?”
“Teach them to obey me, and if I see that they assert their own wills, sell them and seek others.”
“You are not indebted to the stupid creatures for anything?”
“But I owe so much the more to the others, who do their duty.”
“Quite true, and therefore you feed and keep them.”
“Until they begin to grow old and refuse obedience.”
“Then I give them to a peasant, on whose land they lay eggs, eat and die. The right farmer for your hens lives in Agrigentum.”
Lysander shrugged his shoulders; and, as, leaning on his daughter, he tottered slowly forward, almost falling on the threshold, Xanthe took a silent vow to give him a son on whom he could firmly depend—a stalwart, reliable man.
The two sucking-pigs.
Fifteen minutes had passed, and the old house-keeper’s face still glowed —no longer from anger, but because, full of zeal, she now moulded cakes before the bright flames on the hearth, now basted the roast on the spit with its own juices.
Beside her stood old Jason, who could not give up his young master’s cause for lost, and exposed himself once more to the arrows of Semestre’s angry words, because he bitterly repented having irritated instead of winning her.
Unfortunately, his soothing speeches fell on hard ground, for Semestre scarcely vouchsafed a reply, and at last distinctly intimated that he interrupted her.
“Attention,” she said, “is the mother of every true success. It is even more needful in cooking than in weaving; and if Leonax, for whom my hands are busy, resembles his father, he knows how to distinguish bad from good.”
“Alciphron,” replied Jason, “liked the figs on our arbor by the house better than yours.”
“And while he was enjoying them,” cried the old woman, “you beat him with a hazel rod. I can hear him cry now, poor little dear.”
“Too many figs are bad for the stomach,” replied the old man, very slowly and distinctly, but not too loud, that he might not remind her of her deafness. Then seeing Semestre smile, he drew nearer, and with winning cheerfulness continued: “Be sensible, and don’t try to part the children, who belong to each other. Xanthe, too, is fond of figs, and, if Leonax shares his father’s taste, how will the sweet fruit of your favorite trees fare, if Hymen unites them in marriage? Phaon doesn’t care for sweet things. But seriously: though his father may seek twenty brides for him, he himself wants no one but Xanthe. And can you deny that he is a handsome, powerful fellow?”
“So is the other,” cried Semestre, wholly unmoved by these words. “Have you seen your favorite this morning? No! Do you know where he slept last night and the night before?”
“On his couch, I suppose.”