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Rome. A room in Marcius' house.
Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA: they set them down on two low stools, and sew.

I pray you, daughter, sing; or express
yourself in a more comfortable sort: if
my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice
in that absence wherein he won honor
than in the embracements of his bed where he
would show most love. When yet he was but
tender-bodied and the only son of my womb,
when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze
his way, when for a day of kings' entreaties a
mother should not sell him an hour from her
beholding, I, considering how honour would become
such a person, that it was no better
than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown
made it not stir, was pleased to let him
seek danger where he was like to find fame.
To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he
returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee,
daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first
hearing he was a man-child than now in first
seeing he had proved himself a man. (20)

But had he died in the business,
madam; how then?

Then his good report should have
been my son; I therein would have found issue.
Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen
sons, each in my love alike and none less dear
than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather
had eleven die nobly for their country than
one voluptuously surfeit out of action. Enter a Gentlewoman.

Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you. (30)

Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

Indeed, you shall not.

Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,

See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,

As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:

Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:

'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,

Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow

With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,

Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow (40)

Or all or lose his hire.

His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!

Away, you fool! it more becomes a man

Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,

When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier

Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood

At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,

We are fit to bid her welcome. Exit Gent.

Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee (50)

And tread upon his neck. Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman.

My ladies both, good day to you.

Sweet madam.

I am glad to see your ladyship.

How do you both? you are manifest
house-keepers. What are you sewing here? A
fine spot, in good faith. How does your little
son ?

I thank your ladyship; well, good

He had rather see the swords, and
hear a drum, than look upon his schoolmaster.

O' my word, the father's son: I'll
swear, 'tis a very pretty boy. O' my troth, I
looked upon him o' Wednesday half an hour
together: has such a confirmed countence.
I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and
when he caught it, he let it go again; and after
it again; and over and over he comes, and up
again; catched it again; or whether his fall
enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his
teeth and tear it; O, I warrant, how he
mammocked it! (72)

One on's father's moods.

Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

A crack, madam.

Come, lay aside your stitchery; I
must have you play the idle huswife with me
this afternoon.

No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

Not out of doors! (80)

She shall, she shall.

Indeed, no, by your patience: I'll not
over the threshold till my lord return from the

Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably:
come, you must go visit the good
lady that lies in.

I will wish her speedy strength, and
visit her with my prayers; but I cannot go

Why, I pray you?

'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love. (92)

You would be another Penelope: yet,
they say, all the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence
did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come;
I would your cambric were sensible as your
finger, that you might leave pricking it for
pity. Come, you shall go with us.

No, good madam, pardon me; indeed,
I will not forth.

In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell
you excellent news of your husband. (102)

O, good madam, there can be none yet.

Verily, I do not jest with you; there
came news from him last night.

Indeed, madam?

In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator
speak it. Thus it is: the Volsces have an army
forth; against whom Cominius the general is
gone, with one part of our Roman power:
your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before
their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing
and to make it brief wars. This is true,
on mine honor; and so, I pray, go with us.

Give me excuse, good madam; I will
obey you in every thing hereafter.

Let her alone, lady: as she is now,
she will but disease our better mirth.

In troth, I think she would. Fare you
well, then. Come, good sweet lady. Prithee,
Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o' door, and
go along with us.

No, at a word, madam; indeed, I
must not. I wish you much mirth.

Well, then, farewell. [Exeunt.

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