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Enter SCLEDRUS from the CAPTAIN's house.
Unless, in fact, I have been walking this day in my sleep upon the tiles, i' faith, I know for sure that I have seen here, at our neighbour's next door, Philocomasium, the lady of my master, on the high road1 to mischief to herself. PALAESTRIO
aside . 'Twas he that saw her billing, so far as I have heard him say. SCELEDRUS
Who's that? PALAESTRIO
Your fellow-servant. How are you, Sceledrus? SCELEDRUS
I am glad that I have met you, Palaestrio. PAT.
What now? Or what's the matter? Let me know. SCELEDRUS
I'm afraid. PALAESTRIO
What are you afraid of? SCELEDRUS
By my troth, lest, this day, as many domestics as there are of us here, we shall jump into a most woful punishmient by way of torture. PALAESTRIO
Jump you alone, please; for I don't at all like this jumping in2 and jumping out. SCELEDRUS
Perhaps you don't know what new mischance has happened at home? PALAESTRIO
What mischance is this? SCELEDRUS
A disgraceful one. PALAESTRIO
Do you then keep it to yourself alone: don't tell it me; I don't want to know it. SCELEDRUS
But I won't let you not know it. To-day I was following our monkey upon the tiles, next door there. Points to the house. PALAESTRIO
By my troth, Sceledrus, a worthless fellow, you were following a worthless beast. SCELEDRUS
The Gods confound you! PALAESTRIO
That befits yourself, since you began the conversation. SCELEDRUS
By chance, as it happened, I looked down there through the skylight, into the next house; and there I saw Philocomasium toying with some strange young man, I know not whom. PALAESTRIO
What scandalous thing is this I hear of you, Sceledrus? SCELEDRUS
I' faith, I did see her, beyond a doubt. PALAESTRIO
What, yourself? SCELEDRUS
Yes, I myself, with these eyes of mine. PALAESTRIO
Get away, it isn't likely what you say, nor did you see her. SCELEDRUS
Do I, then, appear to you as if I were purblind? PALAESTRIO
'Twere better for you to ask the doctor about that. But, indeed, if the Gods only love you, don't you rashly father this3 idle story. Now are you breeding thence a fatal dilemma for your legs and head; for, in two ways, the cause is contrived for you to be ruined, unless you put a check upon your foolish chattering. SCELEDRUS
But how, two ways? PALAESTRIO
I'll tell you. First then, if you falsely accuse Philocomasium, by that you are undone; in the next place, if it is true, having been appointed her keeper, there you are undone. SCELEDRUS
What may happen to me, I know not; I know for certain that I did see this. PALAESTRIO
Do you persist in it, unfortunate wretch? SCELEDRUS
What would you have me say to you, but that I did see her? Moreover, she is in there, next door, at this very moment. PALAESTRIO
What! Isn't she at home? SCELEDRUS
Go and see. Go in-doors yourself; for I don't ask now for any confidence to be put in me. PALAESTRIO
I'm determined to do so. SCELEDRUS
I'll wait here for you. PALAESTRIO goes into the CAPTAIN'S house. SCLEDRUS, alone. SCELEDRUS
In this direction will I be on the watch for her, how soon the heifer may betake herself from the pasture this way towards her stall. What now shall I do? The Captain gave me to her as her keeper. Now, if I make a discovery, I'm undone; if I am silent, still I am undone, if this should be discovered. What is there more abandoned or more daring than a woman? While I was upon the tiles, this woman betook herself out of doors from her dwelling. By my troth, 'twas a brazen act she did. If, now, the Captain were to know of this, i' faith, I believe he would pull down the whole entire house next door, and me he would send to the gibbet.4. Whatever comes of it, i' faith, I'll hold my tongue rather than come to a bad end. I cannot keep effectual guard on a woman that puts herself up for sale. Enter PALAESTRIO from the CAPTAIN's house. PALAESTRIO
Sceledrus, Sceledrus, what one man is there on earth more impudent than yourself? Who more than yourself has been born with the Deities hostile and enraged? SCELEDRUS
What's the matter? PALAESTRIO
Do you want those eyes of yours gouged out, with which you see what never existed? SCELEDRUS
How, what never existed? PALAESTRIO
I would not buy your life at the price of a rotten nut. SCELEDRUS
Why, what's the matter? PALAESTRIO
What's the matter, do you ask? SCELEDRUS
And why shouldn't I ask? PALAESTRIO
Why don't you beg for that tongue of yours to be cut out, that prates so at random? SCELEDRUS
Why should I beg for that? PALAESTRIO
Why, Philocomasium is there at home, she whom you were saying that you had seen next door kissing and toying with another man. SCELEDRUS
'Tis a wonder that you are in the habit of feeding on darnel5, with wheat at so low a price. PALAESTRIO
Why so? SCELEDRUS
Because you are so dim of sight. PALAESTRIO
You gallows-bird, 'tis you, indeed, that are blind, with a vengeance, and not dim of sight; for, sure enough, there she is at home. SCELEDRUS
How? At home? PALAESTRIO
At home, i' faith, undoubtedly. SCELEDRUS
Be off with you; you are playing with me, Palaestrio PALAESTRIO
My hands are dirty, then. SCELEDRUS
How so? PALAESTRIO
Because I am playing with dirt. SCELEDRUS
A mischief on your head. PALAESTRIO
Nay rather, Sceledrus, it shall be on yours, I promise you, unless you change for fresh your eyes and your talk. But our door made a noise. SCELEDRUS
Well, I shall watch here out of doors, for there is no way by which she can pass hence in-doors, except through the front door. PALAESTRIO
But there she is, at home. I don't know, Scledrus, what mischief is possessing you. SCELEDRUS
I see for my own self, I judge for my own self, I have especial faith in my own self: no man shall frighten me out of it, but that she is in that house. Points to the house of PERIPLECOMENUS. Here I'll take my stand, that she may not steal out home without my knowledge. PALAESTRIO
(aside) This fellow is in my hands; now will I drive him from his strong hold. (To SCLEDRUS) Do you wish me now to make you own that you don't see correctly? SCELEDRUS
Come, do it then. PALAESTRIO
And that you neither think aright in your mind, nor yet make use of your eyes? SCELEDRUS
I'd have you do it. PALAESTRIO
Do you say, then that the lady of your master is there in that house? SCELEDRUS
I assert, as well, that I saw here here in this house (points to the house of PERIPLECOMENUS) , toying with a strange man. PALAESTRIO
Don't you know that there is no communication between our house here and that one? SCELEDRUS
I know it. PALAESTRIO
Neither by the terrace6, nor by the garden, only through the skylight? SCELEDRUS
I know it. PALAESTRIO
What then, if she is now at home? If I shall make her, so as you may see her,come out hence from our house, are you not deserving of many a lashing? SCELEDRUS
I am so deserving. PALAESTRIO
Watch that door, then, that she may not privily betake herself out thence without your knowledge and pass here into our house. SCELEDRUS
'Tis my intention to do so. PALAESTRIO
Upon her feet7 will I place her this moment here before you in the street. SCELEDRUS
Come, then, and do so. PALAESTRIO goes into the CAPTAIN's house. SCLEDRUS, alone. SCELEDRUS
I wish to know whether I did see that which I did see, or whether he can do that which he says he can do — make her to be at home. For, really, I have eyes of my own, and I don't ever ask to borrow them out of doors. But this fellow is forever fawning about her; he is always near her; he is called first to meat; his mess is given8 to him first. For this fellow has been, perhaps, about three years with us; nor fares it better with any other servant in our family than with him. But it is necessary for me to mind what I am about; to keep my eye upon this door. If I take my station here, this way, in faith, I warrant they will never impose on me.
2 This jumping in: Some critics think that there is some hidden meaning or allusion in the words "insulturam" and "desulturam." That hardly seems to be the case, for Palaestrio might naturally say in return to the warning of the other, "I like neither your jumping in nor our jumping out."
3 Rashly father this: "Tollas fabulam." This metaphor is borrowed from the custom among the Romans of laying the new-born child upon the ground upon which it was taken up (tollebatur) by the father, or other person who intended to stand in the place of parent to it.
5 Feeding on darnel: He means to say that his sight must have failed him, and, by way of accounting for it, that he must have lived on bread made of darnel. This grain was supposed not only to cause the person eating to appear as it intoxicated, but very seriously to affect the eyesight. Ovid says in the Fasti, B. 1., l. 691, "Let the fields, also, be clear of darnel that weakens the eyes."
6 By the terrace: "Solarium" was either a balcony or terrace before a house, or on the top of it, which was exposed to the sun. People walked there in the cool of the evening. It was from a solarium that David first saw Bathsheba.
7 Upon her feet: Lindemann thinks that pede here means "upon her feet," as much as to say "I'll bring her to you on her feet and not standing on her head. The true meaning of the passage seems to be, "I'll bring her to you standing upon terra firma, and not flying with wings as you seem to expect.
8 His mess is given: The pulmentum, or food of the slaves, usually consisted of salt, fish, oil, vinegar, and the olives that were windfalls. This food received its name from being eaten with a kind of porridge made from meal or pulse, which was generally eaten before bread was used, and probably continued to be the food of the slaves.
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