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Chapter IV.

I therefore bent my steps toward the hut which I had beheld from a distance. There I find an old man, in a garment made of skins, turning a mill with his hand. He saluted and received us kindly. We explain to him that we had been forced to land on that coast, and were prevented by the continued raging of the sea9090    “maris mollitie.” from being able at once to pursue our voyage; that, having made our way on shore, we had desired, as is in keeping with ordinary human 26nature, to become acquainted with the character of the locality, and the manners of the inhabitants. We added that we were Christians, and that the principal object of our enquiry was whether there were any Christians amid these solitudes. Then, indeed, he, weeping for joy, throws himself at our feet; and, kissing us over and over again, invites us to prayer, while, spreading on the ground the skins of sheep, he makes us sit down upon them. He then serves up a breakfast truly luxurious,9191    “Prandium sane locupletissimum”: of course there is a friendly irony in the words. consisting of the half of a barley cake. Now, we were four, while he himself constituted the fifth. He also brought in a bundle of herbs, of which I forget the name, but they were like mint, were rich in leaves, and yielded a taste like honey. We were delighted with the exceedingly sweet taste of this plant, and our hunger was fully satisfied.”

Upon this I smiled, and said to my friend the Gaul, “What, Gaul, do you think of this? Are you pleased with a bundle of herbs and half a barley cake as a breakfast for five men?”

Then he, being an exceedingly modest person, and blushing somewhat, while he takes my9292    “fatigationem,” a late sense of the word. joke in good part, says, “You act, Sulpitius, in a way like yourself, for you never miss any opportunity which is offered you of joking us on the subject of our fondness for eating. But it is unkind of you to try to force us Gauls to live after the fashion of angels; and yet, through my own liking for eating, I could believe that even the angels are in the habit of eating; for such is my appetite that I would be afraid even singly to attack that half barley cake. However, let that man of Cyrene be satisfied with it, to whom it is either a matter of necessity or nature always to feel hungry; or, again, let those be content with it from whom, I suppose, their tossing at sea had taken away all desire for food. We, on the other hand, are at a distance from the sea; and, as I have often testified to you, we are, in one word, Gauls. But instead of wasting time over such matters, let our friend here rather go on to complete his account of the Cyrenian.”

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