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Enter SOSTRATA and a NURSE in haste from the house of CHREMES, and CHREMES and SYRUS on the other side of the stage unperceived. Sos. holding up a ring and examining it. Unless my fancy deceives me, surely this is the ring which I suspect it to be, the same with which my daughter was exposed. CHREMES
apart. Syrus, what is the meaning of these expressions ? SOSTRATA
Nurse, how is it? Does it not seem to you the same? NUR.
As for me, I said it was the same the very instant that you showed it me. SOSTRATA
But have you now examined it thoroughly, my dear nurse? NUR.
Then go in-doors at once, and if she has now done bathing, bring me word. I'll wait here in the mean time for my husband. SYRUS
apart. She wants you, see what it is she wants; she is in a serious mood, I don't know why; it is not without a cause----I fear what it may be. CHREMES
What it may be? I' faith, she'll now surely be announcing some important trifle, with a great parade. SOSTRATA
turning round. Ha! my husband! CHREMES
Ha! my wife ! SOSTRATA
I was looking for you. CHREMES
Tell me what you want. SOSTRATA
In the first place, this I beg of you, not to believe that I have ventured to do any thing contrary to your commands. CHREMES
Would you have me believe you in this, although so incredible? Well, I will believe you. SYRUS
aside. This excuse portends I know not what offense. SOSTRATA
Do you remember me being pregnant, and yourself declaring to me, most peremptorily, that if I should bring forth a girl, you would not have it brought up. CHREMES
I know what you have done, you have brought it up. SYRUS
aside. Such is the fact, I'm sure: my young master has gained a loss1 in consequence. SOSTRATA
Not at all; but there was here an elderly woman of Corinth, of no indifferent character; to her I gave it to be exposed. CHREMES
O Jupiter! that there should be such extreme folly in a person's mind. SOSTRATA
Alas! what have I done ? CHREMES
And do you ask the question? SOSTRATA
If I have acted wrong, my dear Chremes, I have done so in ignorance. CHREMES
This, indeed, I know for certain, even if you were to deny it, that in every thing you both speak and act ignorantly and foolishly: how many blunders you disclose in this single affair! For, in the first place, then, if you had been disposed to obey my orders, the child ought to have been dispatched; you ought not in words to have feigned her death, and in reality to have left hopes of her surviving. But that I pass over; compassion, maternal affection, I allow it. But how finely you did provide for the future! What was your meaning ? Do reflect. It's clear, beyond a doubt, that your daughter was betrayed by you to this old woman, either that through you she might make a living by her, or that she might be sold in open market as a slave. I suppose you reasoned thus: " any thing is enough, if only her life is saved :" what are you to do with those who understand neither law, nor right and justice? Be it for better or for worse, be it for them or against them, they see nothing except just what they please. SOSTRATA
My dear Chremes, I have done wrong, I own ; I am convinced. Now this I beg of you; inasmuch as you are more advanced in years than I, be so much the more ready to forgive; so that your justice may be some protection for my weakness. CHREMES
I'll readily forgive you doing this, of course; but, Sostrata, my easy temper prompts you to do amiss. But, whatever this circumstance is, by reason of which this was begun upon, proceed to tell it. SOSTRATA
As we women are all foolishly and wretchedly superstitious, when I delivered the child to her to be exposed, I drew a ring from off my finger, and ordered her to expose it, together with the child; that if she should die, she might not be without2 some portion of our possessions. CHREMES
That was right; thereby you proved the saving of yourself and her.3 SOSTRATA
holding out the ring. This is that ring. CHREMES
Whence did you get it? SOSTRATA
From the young woman whom Bacchis brought here with her. SYRUS
aside. Ha! CHREMES
What does she say? SOSTRATA
She gave it me to keep for her, while she went to bathe. At first I paid no attention to it; but after I looked at it, I at once recognized it, and came running to you. CHREMES
What do you suspect now, or have you discovered, relative to her ? SOSTRATA
I don't know; unless you inquire of herself whence she got it, if that can possibly be discovered. SYRUS
aside. I'm undone! I see more hopes4 from this incident than I desire. If it is so, she certainly must be ours. CHREMES
Is this woman living to whom you delivered the child? SOSTRATA
I don't know. CHREMES
What account did she bring you at the time? SOSTRATA
That she had done as I had ordered her. CHREMES
Tell me what is the woman's name, that she may be inquired after. SOSTRATA
aside. 'Tis the very same. It's a wonder if she isn't found, and I lost. CHREMES
Sostrata, follow me this way in-doors. SOSTRATA
How much beyond my hopes has this matter turned out! How dreadfully afraid I was, Chremes, that you would now be of feelings as unrelenting as formerly you were on exposing the child. CHREMES
Many a time a man can not be5 such as he would be, if circumstances do not admit of it. Time has now so brought it about, that I should be glad of a daughter; formerly I wished for nothing less. CHREMES and SOSTRATA go into the house.)
1 Has gained a loss: He alludes to Clitipho, who, by the discovery of his sister, would not come in for such a large share of his father's property, and would consequently, as Syrus observes, gain a loss.
2 That she might not be without)--Ver 652. Madame Dacier observes upon this passage, that the ancients thought themselves guilty of a heinous offense if they suffered their children to die without having bestowed on them some of their property; it was consequently the custom of the women, before exposing children, to attach to them some jewel or trinket among their clothes, hoping thereby to avoid incurring the guilt above mentioned, and to ease their consciences.
3 Saving of yourself and her: Madame Dacier says that the meaning of this passage is this: Chremes tells his wife that by having given this ring, she has done two good acts instead of one--she has both cleared her conscience and saved the child; for had there been no ring or token exposed with the infant, the finder would not have been at the trouble of taking care of it, but might have left it to perish, never suspecting it would be inquired after, or himself liberally rewarded for having preserved it.
4 I see more hopes: Syrus is now alarmed that Antiphila should so soon be acknowledged as the daughter of Chremes, lest he may lose the opportunity of obtaining the money, and be punished as well, in case the imposition is detected, and Bacchis discovered to be the mistress of Clitipho and not of Clinia.
5 A man can not be: This he says by way of palliating the cruelty he was guilty of in his orders to have the child put to death.
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