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Enter AMPELISCA, from the Temple.
to the PRIESTESS, within . I understand; here at this cottage pointing to it , which is close by the Temple of Venus, you've requested me to knock and ask for water. TRACHALIO
Whose voice is it that has flown to my ears? AMPELISCA
Prithee, who's speaking here? Who is it that I see? TRACHALIO
Isn't this Ampelisca that's coming out from the Temple? AMPELISCA
Isn't this Trachalio that I see, the servant of Plesidippus? TRACHALIO
It is she. AMPELISCA
It is he; Trachalio, health to you. TRACHALIO
Health, Ampelisca, to you; how fare you? AMPELISCA
In misery I pass a life not far advanced1. TRACHALIO
Do give some better omen. AMPELISCA
Still it behoves all prudent persons to confer and talk together. But, prithee, where's your master, Plesidippus? TRACHALIO
Marry, well said, indeed; as if he wasn't within there. Pointing to the Temple. AMPELISCA
By my troth, he isn't, nor, in fact, has he come here at all. TRACHALIO
He hasn't come? AMPELISCA
You say the truth. TRACHALIO
That's not my way, Ampelisca. But how nearly is the breakfast got ready? AMPELISCA
What breakfast, I beg of you? TRACHALIO
The sacrifice, I mean, that you are performing here. AMPELISCA
Prithee, what is it you are dreaming about? TRACHALIO
For certain, Labrax invited Plesidippus hither to a breakfast, your master, my master. AMPELISCA
By my troth, you're telling of no wondrous facts: if he has deceived Gods and men, he has only acted after the fashion of Procurers. TRACHALIO
Then neither yourselves nor my master are here performing a sacrifice. AMPELISCA
You are a wizard. TRACHALIO
What are you doing then? AMPELISCA
The Priestess of Venus has received here into her abode both myself and Palæstra, after many mishaps and dreadful alarm, and from being in danger of our lives, destitute of aid and of resources. TEACH.
Prithee, is Palæstra here, the beloved of my master? AMPELISCA
Great joyousness is there in your news, my dear Ampelisca. But I greatly long to know what was this danger of yours. AMPELISCA
Last night our ship was wrecked, my dear Trachalio. TRACHALIO
How, ship? What story's this? AMPELISCA
Prithee, have you not heard in what way the Procurer intended secretly to carry us away hence to Sicily, and how, whatever there was at home, he placed on board ship? That has all gone to the bottom now. TRACHALIO
O clever Neptune, hail to thee! Surely, no dicer is more skilful than thyself. Decidedly a right pleasant throw2 hast thou made; thou didst break a-villain. But where now is the Procurer Labrax? AMPELISCA
Perished through drinking, I suppose; Neptune last night invited him to deep potations. TRACHALIO
By my troth, I fancy it was given him to drink by way of cup of necessity3. How much I do love you, my dear Ampelisca; how pleasing you are; what honied words you do utter. But you and Palæstra, in what way were you saved? AMPELISCA
I'll let you know. Both in affright, we leapt from the ship into a boat, because we saw that the ship was being borne upon a rock; in haste, I unloosed the rope, while they were in dismay. The storm separated us from them with the boat in a direction to the right. And so, tossed about by winds and waves, in a multitude of ways, we, wretched creatures, during the livelong night * * * * * * * half dead, the wind this day has scarce borne us to the shore. TRACHALIO
I understand; thus is Neptune wont to do; he is a very dainty Ædile4; if any wares are bad, over he throws them all. AMPELISCA
Woe to your head and life! TRACHALIO
To your own, my dear Ampelisca. I was sure that the Procurer would do that which he has done; I often said so. It were better I should let my hair grow5, and set up for a soothsayer. AMPELISCA
Did you not take care then, you and your master, that he shouldn't go away, when you knew this? TRACHALIO
What could he do? AMPELISCA
If he was in love, do you ask what he could do? Both night and day he should have kept watch; he should have been always on his guard. But, by my troth, he has done like many others; thus finely has Plesidippus taken care of her. TRACHALIO
For what reason do you say that? AMPELISCA
The thing is evident. TEACH.
Don't you know this? Even he who goes to the bath to bathe, while there he carefully keeps an eye upon his garments, still they are stolen; inasmuch as some one of those that he is watching is a rogue; the thief easily marks him for whom he's upon the watch; the keeper knows not which one is the thief. But bring me to her; where is she? AMPELISCA
Well then, go here into the Temple of Venus; you'll find her sitting there, and in tears. TRACHALIO
How disagreable is that to me already. But why is she weeping? AMPELISCA
I'll tell you; she's afflicting herself in mind for this; because the Procurer took away a casket from her which she had, and in which she kept that by which she might be enabled to recognize her parents; she fears that this has been lost. TRACHALIO
Where was that little casket, pray? AMPELISCA
There, on board the ship; he himself locked it up in his wallet, that there mightn't be the means by which she might recognize her parents. TRACHALIO
O scandalous deed! to require her to be a slave, who ought to be a free woman. AMPELISCA
Therefore she now laments that it has gone to the bottom along with the ship. There, too, was all the gold and silver of the Procurer. TRACHALIO
Some one, I trust, has dived and brought it up. AMPELISCA
For this reason is she sad and disconsolate, that she has met with the loss of them. TRACHALIO
Then have I the greater occasion to do this, to go in and console her, that she mayn't thus distress herself in mind. For I know that many a lucky thing has happened to many a one beyond their hopes. AMPELISCA
But I know too that hope has deceived many who have hoped. TRACHALIO
Therefore a patient mind is the best remedy for affliction. I'll go in, unless you wish for anything. Goes into the Temple. AMP. GO.
To herself. I'll do that which the Priestess requested me, and I'll ask for some water here at the neighbour's; for she said that if I asked for it in her name, they would give it directly. And I do think that I never saw a more worthy old lady, one to whom I should think that it is more befitting for Gods and men to show kindness. How courteously, how heartily, how kindly, how, without the least difficulty, she received us into her home, trembling, in want, drenched, shipwrecked, half dead; not otherwise, in fact, than if we had been her own offspring. How kindly did she herself, just now, tucking up her garments, make the water warm for us to bathe. Now, that I mayn't keep her waiting, I'll fetch some water from the place where she requested me. Knocking at the door of DÆMONES. Hallo, there, is there any one in the cottage? is any one going to open this door? Will any one come out?
1 Not far advanced: She seems to mean that, in the prime of life her misfortunes are greater than might have been anticipated by one so young
2 Right pleasant throw: There is a joke here, which depends on the double meaning of "jacere bolum" and "perdere." The former signifies, "to cast a net" and "to cast a throw of dice." "Perdere" signifies, "to cause to perish," and "to break" or "ruin," in the gamester's sense.
3 Cup of necessity: "Anancæum," "the cup of necessity," which derived its name from the Greek word ἀ ναγκή, "necessity," was so called from the custom, in feasts, of handing round a large goblet, which all were obliged to empty, without losing a drop. Trachalio alludes to the large draught of salt water which he supposes Labrax has had to swallow at the bidding of Neptune.
4 Very dainty Ædile: -4. It was the duty of the Ædiles at Rome to visit the markets and inspect the wares, like the Agoranomus, or "marketofficer," of the Greeks. See the Miles Gloriosus, l. 727, and the Note.
5 Let my hair grow: It is supposed to have been the custom of soothsayers and diviners to let their hair grow to a greater length than usual
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