b'Chapter Six W ealthy men did not dare walk Romes streets alone aftersunset,butMarcelluswasntworried.He was big enough to dissuade most thieves, and he wasnt wearing anything to indicate his wealth. Hed donned the patched woolen tunic he kept for these little jaunts, and his purse contained nothing but a handful of bronze coins. Atavernentranceloomedoutofthedeepeningdusk,the warmth of lamplight and rowdy laughter spilling a welcome into the street. As taverns went in this part of town it was typical, except for one important difference: the proprietor kept an am-phora of decent wine for customers like Marcellus. He waded into the fug of sweat, wine, and smoking lamp oil, looking for the curly head of his oldest friend. Marcellus made his way past poor craftsmen, poorer freedmen, and flirty serving girls (who gave him admiring glances, naturally) to where Curio lounged on a bench, shoulders against the wall and feet stretched out in front of him. Its about time you got here, Curio said by way of greeting. I was beginning to think you werent coming.Marcellus sat down and took a long swig from the clay cup his friend pushed across the table. Sorry. I was delayed.Problems?On all sides. Marcellus took another slurp of wine. Since my father died Ive been working myself to the bone trying to keep track of everything. In the last six days my bookkeeper has run off with a girl, two ships have been delayed by a storm, and one of my partners is accusing me of shorting his shipment of Chian wine.'