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Unwilling I agreed. We came aboard-
Oh, bitter recollection!
Duke. Stop thy tears
I long, yet almost dread, to hear the rest.
Egeon. A league from Epidamnum had we sail'd, Before the always wind-obeying deep
Gave any tragic instance of our harm; But longer did we not retain much hope, For what obscured light the heav'ns did grant, Did but convey into our fearful minds A dreadful warrant of immediate death. The sailors sought for safety by our boat, And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us. My wife, more careful for the elder born, Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast; To him, one of the other twins was bound; While I had been like heedful of the younger. The children thus dispos'd, my wife and I Fasten'd ourselves at either end the mast; And floating straight, obedient to the stream, Were carried towards Corinth, as we thought. At length the sea wax'd calm; and we discover'd Two ships from far, making amain to us; But ere they came
Duke. Pursue thy tale, old man.
Egeon. Being encounter'd by a mighty rock,
Our helpless raft was splitted in the midst.
Her part (poor soul !) burden'd with lesser weight,
Was carried with more speed, before the wind;
And, in our sight, they three were taken up
By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
At length, another ship had seiz'd on us;
And would have 'reft the fishers of their prey,
Had not their bark been very slow of sail.
Duke. Relate at full
What hath befallen to them, and thee, till now. Egeon. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care, At eighteen years, became inquisitive
After his brother, and importun'd me
That his attendant (for his case was like,
'Reft of his brother, but retain'd his name)
Might bear him company, in quest of him,
Whom, while I labour'd of a love to see,
I yielded to the loss of him I lov❜d.
Since which unhappy time, no news arriving
What course their wayward stars had hurry'd them,
Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece,
Roaming e'en through the bounds of Asia,
And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus;
But here must end the story of my life,
And happy were I in my timely death,
Could all my travels warant me they live.
Duke. Hapless Egeon! whom the fates have mark'd
To bear th' extremity of dire mishap,
Now trust me, were it not against our laws,
Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
My soul should sue as advocate for thee:
But though thou art adjudged to the death,
And passed sentence cannot be recall'd,
But to our honour's great disparagement,
Yet will I favour thee in what I can.
I, therefore, merchant, limit thee this day,
To seek thy life, by beneficial help;
Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus,
Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,
And live-if not, then art thou doom'd to die.
[Exit, with GUARDS.
Egeon. What friends can misery expect?
This pity but prolongs the date of pain;
And to a sure, though short protracted end,
Helpless and hopeless doth Ægeon wend.
Enter ANTIPHOLIS OF SYRACUSE, DROMIO OF SYRACUSE, and First MERCHANT.
1 Mer. Therefore, give out you are of Epidam
Lest that your goods be forfeit to the state.
This very day, a Syracusan merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here;
And, not being able to buy out his life,
Dies ere the weary sun sets in the west.-
There is your money, which I had to keep.
Ant. of Syr. Go, bear it to the Centaur, where we
And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee.
Within this hour it will be dinner-time;
Till then I'll view the manners of the town,
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,
And then return, and sleep within mine inn;
For, with long travel, I am sick and weary.
Get thee away!
Dro. of Syr. Many a man would take you at your word,
And go away, indeed, having so great
A treasure in his charge. Of what strength do
You conceive my honesty, good master,
That you dare put it to such temptation?
Ant. of Syr. Of proof against a greater charge than
Were it remiss, thy love would strengthen it:
I think thou wouldst not wrong me if thou couldst.
Dro. of Syr. I hope I should not, sir; but there is
A thing as trusting too far.-Odds heart! 'tis
A weighty matter, and, if balanc'd in
A steelyard against my honesty,
Ant. of Syr. That very doubt is my security.--No further argument, but speed away.
Dro. of Syr. Ay, but master, you know the old saying
Ant. of Syr. Then thou hast no occasion to tell it
Begone, I say.-
A trusty villain, sir, that very oft,
When I am dull with care and melancholy,
Lightens my humour, with his merry jests.-
What, will you walk with me about the town,
And then go to the inn, and dine with me?
1 Mer. I am invited, sir, to certain merchants,
Of whom I hope to make much benefit.
I crave your pardon-but, at five o'clock,
Please you, I'll meet you here upon the mart,
And afterwards consort with you till bed-time.
My present business calls me from you now.
Ant. of Syr. Farewell till then. I will go lose myself,
[Exit DROMIO OF SYRACUSE.
And wander up and down to view the city.
1 Mer. Sir, I commend you to your own content. [Exit. Ant. of Syr. He, that commends me to my own
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I, to the world, am like a drop of water,
That in the ocean seeks another drop;
Who, failing there, to find his fellow out,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:
So I, to find a mother, and a brother,
In search of them, unhappy, lose myself.-
Enter DROMIO OF EPHESUS.
How now! How chance thou art return'd so soon? Dro. of Eph. Return'd so soon! Rather approach'd too late
The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit,
The clock hath strucken twelve upon the bell,
My mistress made it one upon my cheek ;-
She is so hot, because the meat is cold,
The meat is cold, because you come not home,
You come not home, because you have no stomach,
You have no stomach, having broke your fast;
But we, that know what 'tis to fast and pray,
Are penitent for your default to-day.
Ant. of Syr. Stop in your wind, sir;-tell me this,
Where have you left the money, that I gave you ? Dro. of Eph. Money!-Oh, the money that I had on
Wednesday last, to pay for mending my
Mistress's saddle.-The sadler had it, sir;
I kept it not.
Ant. of Syr. I am not in a sportive humour now;
Tell me, and dally not-where is the money?
We being strangers here, how dar'st thou trust
So great a charge from thine own custody?
Dro. of Eph. I pray you, jest, sir, as you sit at dinner
I, from my mistress, come to you in haste.
Methinks your stomach, like mine, should be your
And send you home without a messenger.
Ant. of Syr. Come, Dromio, come, these jests are out of season;