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Chapter III.—Argument:  Octavius, Displeased at the Act of This Superstitious Man, Sharply Reproaches Minucius, on the Ground that the Disgrace of This Wicked Deed is Reflected Not Less on Himself, as Cæcilius’ Host, Than on Cæcilius.

Then Octavius said:  “It is not the part of a good man, my brother Marcus, so to desert a 174man who abides by your side at home and abroad, in this blindness of vulgar ignorance, as that you should suffer him in such broad daylight as this to give himself up to stones, however they may be carved into images, anointed and crowned; since you know that the disgrace of this his error redounds in no less degree to your discredit than to his own.”  With this discourse of his we passed over the distance between the city and the sea, and we were now walking on the broad and open shore.  There the gently rippling wave was smoothing the outside sands as if it would level them for a promenade; and as the sea is always restless, even when the winds are lulled, it came up on the shore, although not with waves crested and foaming, yet with waves crisped and curling.  Just then we were excessively delighted at its vagaries, as on the very threshold of the water we were wetting the soles of our feet, and it now by turns approaching broke upon our feet, and now the wave retiring and retracing its course, sucked itself back into itself.  And thus, slowly and quietly going along, we tracked the coast of the gently bending shore, beguiling the way with stories.  These stories were related by Octavius, who was discoursing on navigation.  But when we had occupied a sufficiently reasonable time of our walk with discourse, retracing the same way again, we trod the path with reverted footsteps.  And when we came to that place where the little ships, drawn up on an oaken framework, were lying at rest supported above the (risk of) ground-rot, we saw some boys eagerly gesticulating as they played at throwing shells into the sea.  This play is:  To choose a shell from the shore, rubbed and made smooth by the tossing of the waves; to take hold of the shell in a horizontal position with the fingers; to whirl it along sloping and as low down as possible upon the waves, that when thrown it may either skim the back of the wave, or may swim as it glides along with a smooth impulse, or may spring up as it cleaves the top of the waves, and rise as if lifted up with repeated springs.  That boy claimed to be conqueror whose shell both went out furthest, and leaped up most frequently.

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