THE three confederates had in their pay one of the
slaves belonging to the trainer's household. This
fellow played the same part as do the touts, on an
English racecourse. He reported performances, gave
the current gossip of the establishment—in short, kept
his employers supplied with the latest information
about what had happened or was expected to happen.
Beyond this he did not go; he was not acquainted with
their schemes, but simply told them what he heard or
saw. From this man the three heard of Eubulus's sudden
illness, of his speedy recovery, and of Dromeus's
departure. The news was, of course, a disappointment.
So much time had been lost, and they were no nearer
their end. Still things might have been worse. It was
an immense relief that Dromeus had disappeared. He
might have turned against them; and his evidence, for
which it would not have been difficult for him to find
 have been most damaging. That danger, anyhow, was over.
Still the question remained, and the time for finding
an answer was short. How were they to save themselves
against the consequence of Eubulus's victory, an event
now more likely than ever? They knew from their agent
that the young man was none the worse for his illness,
and they lost no time, as may be imagined, in meeting
to review the situation.
Ariston was disposed to take credit to himself for
having foretold or at least hinted at the failure of
"I have always held," he said, "that there is nothing
like cold steel. Your poisons are very clever, I allow,
if you can only get them to work without intermission.
And I allow that it is a great advantage that very
often you are not called to account for administering
them. But then 'there's many a slip 'twixt cup and
lip.' As we have just seen, there are antidotes to be
reckoned with. And if you get home to a man's heart
with a dagger, there is no antidote for that."
"It's all very well," said Cleon, whose annoyance at
the failure of his scheme was not a little increased by
such talk, "it is all very well to talk about the
dagger, but who is going to use it? When and where will
you find the opportunity?
 This young fellow is just now the observed of all
observers. Where do you propose to get at him? In the
trainer's house? Why, it is guarded like a tyrant's
palace. They were always careful; but now, after this
last business, they are more careful than ever. In the
streets? with scores of people always running after
him? You might by the greatest good luck deal him a
blow. But what then? Where is your chance of escape?
Why, you would be infallibly torn to pieces. I must own
that this sort of thing is not to my liking. Why, I
would sooner pay up than face a howling mob of
Corinthians when I had just stabbed their favourite
"My dear Cleon," retorted Ariston, "you are really
somewhat wanting in imagination. You don't suppose that
I am going to behave like some silly boy, who when he
has a quarrel with a companion has no other idea of
making it straight than giving him a box on the ear.
No, I know a better way than that, and I will tell you
what it is. I propose that we forge a message from
Eubulus's father—I don't know whether you are aware
that he is now living at Mantinea—to this effect: that
he is dying, and that he must see his son before his
death, having some secret of immense importance to
communicate to him. Well, he sets out—he is not
 the sort of fellow to neglect a message of that
kind—and we waylay him."
"That sounds easy enough," said Cleon, "but how are we
to waylay him? He is certain not to be alone, and we
are likely to fail just as much as in the Dromeus
business, and with much worse consequences to
"A want of imagination again," said Ariston. "I didn't
mean, of course, that you and I and Democles were to
waylay him. Have you ever heard of Pauson the robber
chief? Well; I know how to get into touch with him,
and my plan is that he and his band should do the
waylaying. As to after developments, we must leave them
for the present. I am still for putting the young
fellow out of the way. Still, I am not bigoted to that
idea. If it can be arranged—for a certainty, mark you,
and no possible mistake—that he does not win tie race,
let him live. That, however, may be postponed for the
present. What must be done at once is the getting hold
of Pauson, for there is no time to lose. Now, my
friends, what do you say to this? Have you got any
better scheme of your own?
If not, do you approve? If
you do, I will start in the course of a few hours."
Agree they did—in fact, there was scarcely a
 choice—and Ariston's scheme seemed to have some promise
of success. Meanwhile two actors, whose earlier
appearance in the drama I am representing, my readers
will doubtless remember, had again come upon the stage.
These were the Corsican captain of the ship The Twin
Brothers and the bandit chief from the Gallinarian
Wood. The wheat trade carried on by Manasseh and
Company, if the phrase may be allowed, had not been
interrupted by the banishment of the Jews from Rome;
the business had been temporarily assigned to a Gentile
partner. But the Corsican's employment had been
interrupted by another cause. The Twin
Brothers, which, under the charge of an incompetent
pilot, had been damaged by being run upon one of the
moles in the harbour of Ostia, had been laid up for
repairs. The captain had arranged for the execution of
this work, and acting on permanent instructions from
his employers had charged some one whom he could trust
with the business of seeing that they were properly
executed. He was quite aware that this sort of thing
did not fall within his own province, and he was also
rejoiced to get quit of a tedious piece of business
which would keep him hanging about the harbour just at
the season of the year when it was even less agreeable
than usual. The
 question then presented itself, where should his
enforced holiday be spent? There were various reasons
that suggested Corinth. The chief, for whom he had a
genuine respect, was there, and he might be of service
to him and his son, and then there was the forthcoming
spectacle of the Isthmian Games. There were also
permanently interesting features in the place. The
city was one of the great centres of the carrying trade
of the world, and the Corsican was sure that he might
pick up some knowledge about professional details which
would be of service to him in his work. He was about to
set out, and purposed to make his journey by sea, when
he bethought him of the bandit chief. The man was
probably by this time ready, or nearly ready, to get
about again. What was he to do? or what was to be done
with him? The Corsican felt himself in a way
responsible for him, and he came, without much
hesitation, to the conclusion to take him with him to
Corinth. Accordingly he altered his route, made his way
to the place where the man had been left to recover
from his injuries, and finding him fairly well
restored, brought him to Corinth in his company.
The two had been in the town a day or so, and happened
to be standing near the southern
 gate of the city when a traveller who had the
appearance of being equipped for a journey, for his
horse carried heavy saddle-bags, passed out by the
gate. The time was near sunset, and as the road
happened not to bear a very good reputation, the
proceeding struck the two as somewhat strange. The
Corsican, whose hearty manners put him on friendly
terms with everybody, spoke to the porter in charge of
"I do not know what you think, but this is hardly the
time that I should choose for starting on a journey,
especially if I had to travel by this road, which, they
tell me, is not as safe as it might be."
"It is a little odd," replied the porter, "but I
suppose that he knows what he is about."
"Do you know him?" asked the Corsican.
"Oh, yes, I know him," said the porter, with a smile.
"He is no greenhorn, as you might think. He knows the
point of a sword from the hilt, if any man in Corinth
"Who is he?"
"Well, his name is Ariston; he is a betting man, and as
sharp as they make them; much more in the way, I should
say, of lightening other people's purses than of
letting other people lighten his. But it is not my
business to give him advice. If it had been a young
 one who did not know his way about, I might have made
so bold as to say a word; but Ariston is not one of
that sort: he must go his own way."
ARISTON RIDING OUT OF CORINTH.
Rufus, the ex-bandit—he had definitely retired from the
profession—pulled his companion's cloak, and whispered
that they should move out of earshot.
"I could not quite catch what the fellow said; he
talked such queer Greek." Rufus, it may be explained,
was bilingual, as were many of the Italians of the
but his Greek was naturally something of a patois,
while the porter's speech was fairly pure, of course
with the broad vowels of the Corinthian dialect, but
still good enough. "You were talking about the
traveller—was it not so?"
The Corsican explained to his companion what had been
said. Rufus mused awhile.
"Maybe," he said, "he wants to meet these gentlemen of
the road. You see I know something of the ins and outs
of the business. I have had to do in my time with some
very respectable persons indeed, and what used to
happen when they had something particular to tell us,
 was that they were taken prisoners. It seemed
straightforward to other people."
"Well, my good Rufus," said the Corsican, "there could
hardly be a better judge in such matters than you. It
is quite clear that there is some plot hatching, but I
don't know that it is any business of ours to meddle
with it. But we will keep our ears and eyes open, and
it is quite possible that we may understand what
puzzles other people."