"Four quadrantes," Rufus said, pronouncing the word as clearly as he could. "Four quadrantes are the same as one as. Four asses are the same as one sestertius." He found a single sestertius and held it up. "You should learn this, is isn't hard, and there might not be anyone to help you the next time you're sent to market," he added, and blinked.
"No, I... No. Your sister is very nice but I don't think about her like that." He'd only met her twice, after all, and though he didn't doubt he could fall in love with her, right now he saw her as a sister, someone he had helped when she had needed it. "And no, no woman, not yet. Nymphias, you need to learn this - you can't go home and say that you couldn't buy any bread because it cost a sestertius and you didn't have one, only four asses."
Maybe this was why she didn't know anything about money; she just hadn't paid any attention when she'd been taught.
Nothing? Oh, Juno Moneta!
"Let's start from the very smalles - the one that's worth the least," Rufus said. "May I?"
He fished through her purse until he found a bronze coin. "This is the very smallest amount of money you can have - it's called a quadrans," he said, holding it up so that she could see the front of it. "All coins have Caesar's head on them, on the front, but this has the prow of a galley on the back, see?"
He turned it so that she could see the reverse. "Four of these are the same as one as," he continued. "I mean, four quadrantes is the same amount of money as one as."
"Kaliméra," Rufus said, probably surprising the others around the table - he knew he looked British so for him to speak Greek was likely not expected. His Latin had the accent of Campania, and his Greek was a dialect spoken in Campania rather than the purer Attic form. He hadn't spoken Greek in a while, though, not really.
"If this is a meeting, I wasn't aware of it - it was just a free table when we sat down."
The darker haired man with the scar indicated Rufus with his sausage roll. "Be fair. You were sitting here and I joined you."
"Doesn't matter. We're all having lunch the best we can. It's nice to have a bit of time off, and nicer to spend it with friends - even new ones."
Rufus was a friendly sort of person, and liked making friends. He just had to be a little cautious and discreet about things, but that would be all right,he thought.
@Joaquin @me, @Chevi @Liv
"No, help yourself," Rufus said to the girl who'd crossed the room to what was, by now, one of the only empty seats in the place. "I'm Rufus," he said to the taller man who'd sat down mere moments before. "Slave of Octavius Flavius Alexander," he added, deciding that it couldn't hurt to let them know his station in life - and unless he was much mistaken, the others might be slaves, too.
"Attis," his first companion said, with a grin, running a hand through his dark hair, briefly exposing some sort of scar on his forehead. "Slave of Lucius Cassius Longinus. I'd say at your service, but..." He shrugged, making Rufus grin.
It didn't seem as though any of these people were going to kick Rufus out, at least, which he'd had a suspicion they might, if it turned out that they (or any of them) were free.
"All right, let's find somewhere out of the way where I can teach you how to count money," Rufus said, and spotted a corner where they could be out of the way and not get sneaked up on - the only way to do this was by actually having the coins out and that would be a temptation for a good many people. The corner was between the steps of a temple and a wall, and would be perfect.
"Here, you'll need to show me what you have, though don't show everyone," Rufus said, squatting down. The position would make it easier to sort things out - better than holding the coins, after all, and it would be harder for him to make off with her money. Not that he planned on doing that, but he needed her trust. "Let's see - what do you know already?"
She probably didn't have more than a few sestertii in the purse her master had given for her shopping trip, but that would be fine. She was unlikely to ever deal in anything costing as much as a denarius, after all.
Rufus had not come from a household where slaves were routinely hit, punched or thumped, and his ears were ringing somewhat; it had been a heavy thump, after all. He had managed to stay on his feet, though he wasn't quite sue how, and turned to blink at the newcomer who'd stepped up to intervene for him just as he had for the kid (who had developed some common sense and ducked out of the brute's line of sight).
He choked back a laugh at the new arrival's words - they weren't particularly humorous, but Rufus was in that sort of state that he'd find almost anything funny right now. At least he recognised that, he thought, and managed not to burst out laughing. A good thing, too, because his assailant was jabbing a meaty finger into his chest, hard. “Next time you’re around, we’re gonna fight. You hear me?”
Rufus was not expecting that and, combined with his earlier unsteadiness, the jab unbalanced him enough that he staggered back and sat down, hard. "I can certainly make sure my master comes asking those expensive questions if you want," he managed, staring up.
The brute looked between Rufus, still sprawled on the ground, and the newcomer who'd interrupted, and decided not to push the point. He spat, instead, a thick glob of spittle that landed on the paving stone by Rufus' hand, and then turned to leave, scowling at the people around them, who had begun drifting back to their stalls and shopping now the entertainment was over.
To Charis, from your dear friend Rufus, greetings!
I am very glad my news was so welcome. She looked well, she looks like you except with yellow hair (Rufus was not at all sure that Charis knew the word 'blonde' and erred on the side of caution. Also, why Nymphias had not been named 'Flavia' was anyone's guess!) and is maybe a bit taller. She is well, and I think she is more happy now that she knows you are here and safe. She asked if you had a child now and I had to say no, so that made her sad, I think, but she is happy that you are well.
I hope that you are able to meet her, it will be much better than having to go via me.
Be well, I hope I can see you soon.
To Charis, from your friend Rufus, greetings!
I trust this finds you well. I have some good news to report: I have found your sister Ardra. She is known as Nymphias and is a slave in the household of Titus Sulpius Rufus, a senator. I have no news yet of your mother or brother, but your sister wishes you well and hopes that you will both be able to meet very soon.
I will keep looking for your mother and brother and hope that I will be able to send you news of them soon.
The above missive was sent scratched into the wax of a cheap plain wooden wax writing tablet, in script on one leaf and capitals on the other.