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Enter AESCHINUS and PARMENO with the MUSIC-GIRL, followed by SANNIO and a crowd of people.
I beseech you, fellow-citizens, do give aid to a miserable and innocent man; do assist the distressed. AESCHINUS
to the GIIL. Be quiet, and now then stand here just where you are. Why do you look back? There's no danger; he shall never touch you while I am here. SANNIO
I'll have her, in spite of all. AESCHINUS
Though he is a villain, he'll not risk, to-day, getting a second beating. SANNIO
Hear me, Aeschinus, that you may not say that you were in ignorance of my calling; I am a Procurer.1 AESCHINUS
I know it. SANNIO
And of as high a character as any one ever was. When you shall be excusing yourself by-and-by, how that you wish this injury had not been done me, I shall not value it this snapping his fingers . Depend upon it, I'll prosecute my rights; and you shall never pay with words for the evil that you have done me in deed. I know those ways of yours: "I wish it hadn't happened; I'll take my oath that you did not deserve this injustice;" while I myself have been treated in a disgraceful manner. AESCHINUS
to PARMENO. Go first with all dispatch and open the door. PARMENO opens the door. SANNIO
But you will avail nothing by this. AESCHINUS
To the GIRL. Now then, step in. SANNIO
coming between. But I'll not let her. AESCHINUS
Step this way, Parmeno; you are gone too far that way; here pointing , stand close by him; there, that's what I want. Now then, take care you don't move your eyes in any direction from mine, that there may be no delay if I give you the sign, to your fist being instantly planted in his jaws. SANNIO
I'd have him then try that. AESCHINUS
to PARMENO. Now then, observe me. PARMENO
to SANNIO. Let go the woman. Strikes him. SANNIO
Oh! scandalous deed! AESCHINUS
He shall repeat it, if you don't take care. PARMENO strikes him again. SANNIO
Oh shocking! AESCHINUS
to PARMENO. I didn't give the sign; but still make your mistakes on that side in preference. Now then, go. PARMENO goes with the MUSIC-GIRL into MICIO'S house. SANNIO
What is the meaning of this? Have you the sway here, Aeschinus? AESCHINUS
If I had it, you should be exalted for your deserts. SANNIO
What business have you with me? AESCHINUS
How then, do you know who I am? AESCHINUS
I don't want to. SANNIO
Have I touched any thing of yours? AESCHINUS
If you had touched it, you'd have got a drubbing. SANNIO
What greater right then have you to take my property, for which I paid my money? Answer me that. AESCHINUS
It were better for you not to be making a disturbance here before the house; for if you persist in being impertinent, you shall be dragged in at once, and there you shall be lashed to death with whips. SANNIO
A free man, with whips? AESCHINUS
So it shall be. SANNIO
Oh, you shameless fellow! Is this the place where they say there is equal liberty for all? AESCHINUS
If you have now raved enough, Procurer, now then listen, if you please. SANNIO
Why, is it I that have been raving, or you against me? AESCHINUS
Leave alone all that, and come to the point. SANNIO
What point? Where am I to come to? AESCHINUS
Are you willing now that I should say something that concerns you? SANNIO
With all my heart, only so it be something that's fair. AESCHINUS
Very fine! a Procurer wishing me not to say what's unfair. SANNIO
I am a Procurer,2 I confess it-the common bane of youth--a perjurer, a public nuisance; still, no injury has befallen you from me. AESCHINUS
Why, faith, that remains to come---- SANNIO
Pray, Aeschinus, do come back to the point at which you set out. AESCHINUS
You bought her for twenty nine; and may your bargain never thrive! That sum shall be given for her. SANNIO
What if I don't choose to sell her to you? Will you compel me? AESCHINUS
By no means. SANNIO
I was afraid you would. AESCHINUS
Neither do I think that a woman can be sold who is free; for I claim her by action of freedom.3 Now consider which you choose; take the money, or prepare yourself for the action. Think of it, Procurer, till I return.4 He goes into the house of MICIO. SANNIO
to himself. O supreme Jupiter! I do by no means wonder that men run mad through ill usage. He has dragged me out of my house, beaten me, taken my property away against my will, and has given me, unfortunate wretch, more than five hundred blows. In return for all this ill usage he demands the girl to be made over to him for just the same price at which she was bought. But however, since he has so well deserved of me, be it so: he demands what is his due. Very well, I consent then, provided he only gives the money. But I suspect this; when I have said that I will sell her for so much, he'll be getting witnesses forthwith that I have sold her.5 As to getting the money, it's all a dream. Call again by and by; come back to-morrow. I could bear with that too, hard as it is, if he would only pay it. But I consider this to be the fact; when you take up this trade, you must brook and bear in silence the affronts of these young fellows. However, no one will pay me; it's in vain for me to be reckoning upon that.
1 "I am a Procurer: He says this aloud, and with emphasis, relying upon the laws which were enacted at Athens in favor of the "lenones," whose occupation brought great profits to the state, from their extensive trading in slaves. It was forbidden to maltreat them, under pain of being disinherited.
2 I am a Procurer: Westerhovins supposes this part to be a translation from the works of Diphilus.
3 By action of freedom: "Asserere liberati causa," was to assert the freedom of a person, with a determination to maintain it at law. The "assertor" laid hands upon the person, declaring that he or she was free; and till the cause was tried, the person whose freedom was claimed, remained in the hands of the "assertor."
4 Till I return: Colman has a curious remark here: "I do not remember, in the whole circle of modern comedy, a more natural picture of the elegant ease and indifference of a fine gentleman, than that exhibited in this Scene in the character of Aeschinus."
5 That I have sold her: He means, that if he only names a price, Aeschinus will suborn witnesses to say that be has agreed to sell her, in which case Aeschinus will carry her off with impunity, and the laws will not allow him to recover her; as it will then be an ordinary debt, and he will be put off with all the common excuses used by debtors.
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