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Enter ACROTELEUTIUM, MILPHIDIPPA, and PLEUSICLES from the house of PERIPLECOMENUS.
Follow me; at the same time look around, that there may be no overlooker. MILPHIDIPPA
Faith, I see no one, only him whom we want to meet. PALAESTRIO
Just as I want you. MILPHIDIPPA
How do you do, our master-plotter? PALAESTRIO
I, the master-plotter? Nonsense. MILPHIDIPPA
How so? PALAESTRIO
Because, in comparison with yourself, I am not worthy to fix a beam in a wall. ACROTELEUTIUM
Aye, indeed so. PALAESTRIO
She's a very fluent and a very clever hand at mischief. How charmingly she did polish off the Captain. MILPHIDIPPA
But still, not enough. PALAESTRIO
Be of good courage all the business is now prospering under our hands. Only do you, as you have begun, still give a helping hand; for the Captain himself has gone in-doors, to entreat his mistress to leave his house, with her mother and sister, for Athens. PLEUSICLES
Very good--well done. PALAESTRIO
Besides, all the gold trinkets and apparel which he himself has provided for the damsel, he gives her to keep as a present for herself--so have I recommended him. PLEUSICLES
Really, it's easily done, if both she wishes it, and he desires it as well. PALAESTRIO
Don't you know that when, from a deep well, you have ascended up to the top, there is the greatest danger lest you should thence fall back again from the top. This affair is now being carried on at the top of the well. If the Captain should have a suspicion of it, nothing whatever of his will be able to be carried off. Now, most especially, we have need of clever contrivances. PLEUSICLES
I see that there is material enough at home for that purpose--three women, yourself the fourth, I am the fifth, the old gentleman the sixth. PALAESTRIO
What an edifice of stratagems has been erected by us! I know for certain. that any town seems as though it could be taken by these plans: only do you lend your assistance. ACROTELEUTIUM
For that purpose are we come to you, to see if you wish for anything. PALAESTRIO
You do what's à propos. Now to you do I assign this department1. ACROTELEUTIUM
General, you shall assign me whatever you please, so far as I am capable. PALAESTRIO
I wish this Captain to be played off cleverly and adroitly. ACROTELEUTIUM
I' faith, you're assigning me what's a pleasure to me. PALAESTRIO
But do you understand how? ACROTELEUTIUM
You mean that I must pretend that I am distracted with love for him. PALAESTRIO
Right--you have it. ACROTELEUTIUM
And as though by reason of that love I had fcregone2 my present marriage, longing for a match with him. PALAESTRIO
Everything exactly in its due order; except only this one point; you must say that this house pointing to the house of PERIPLECOMENUS was your marriage-portion; that the old man had departed hence from you after you had carried out the divorce, lest he should be afraid just now to come here into the house of another man. ACROTELEUTIUM
You advise me well. PALAESTRIO
But when he comes out from in-doors, I wish you--standing at a distance there--so to make pretence, as though in comparison with his beauty you despised your own, and as though you were struck with awe at his opulent circumstances; at the same time, too, praise the comeliness of his person, the beauty of his face. Are you tutored enough? ACROTELEUTIUM
I understand it all. Is it enough that I give you my work so nicely finished off that you cannot find a fault with it. PALAESTRIO
I'm content. Now addressing PLEUSICLES , in your turn, learn what charge I shall give to you So soon as this shall be done, when she shall have gone in, then do you immediately take care to come here dressed in the garb of a master of a ship. Have on a broad-brimmed hat3 of iron-grey, a woollen shade4 before your eyes; have on an iron-grey cloak5 (for that is the seaman's colour); have it fastened over the left shoulder, your right arm projecting out6, * * * * * * your clothes some way well girded up, pretend as though you are some master of a ship. And all these requisites are at the house of this old gentleman, for he keeps fishermen. PLEUSICLES
Well, when I'm dressed out, why don't you tell me what I'm to do then? PALAESTRIO
Come here, and, in the name of her mother, bring word to Philocomasium, that, if she would return to Athens, she must go with you to the harbour directly, and that she must order it to be carried down to the ship if she wishes anything to be put on board; that if she doesn't go, you must weigh anchor, for the wind is favourable. PLEUSICLES
I like your plan much: do proceed. PALAESTRIO
The Captain will at once advise her to go speedily that she may not delay her mother. PLEUSICLES
Every way you are clever. PALAESTRIO
I shall tell him that she asks for me as a helper to carry her baggage down to the harbour. I shall go, and, understand you, I shall immediately be off with you straight to Athens. PLEUSICLES
And when you have reached there, I'll never let you be ashore three days before you're free. PALAESTRIO
Be off speedily and equip yourself. PLEUSICLES
Is there anything besides? PALAESTRIO
Only to remember all this. PLEUSICLES
I'm off. Exit. PALAESTRIO
And do you to ACROTELEUTIUM and MILPHIDIPPA be off hence in-doors this instant, for I'm quite sure that he'll just now be coming out hence from in-doors. ACROTELEUTIUM
With us your command is as good as law. PALAESTRIO
Come, then, begone. But see, the door opens opportunely. The women go into the house of PERIPLECOMENUS.
2 I had foregone: To account for the facility with which the pretended divorce appears to take place, we must remember that among the Romans either party was at liberty to dissolve the tie of marriage. Where a husband divorced his wife, the wife's "dos," or marriage-portion, was in general restored to her; and the same was the case where the divorce took place by mutual consent. This will account for Acroteleutium asserting that she had been divorced from Periplecomenus, and that she had retained possession of the house as having formed her marriage-portion. As a loss of affection on either side was thought to constitute a good ground for divorce, is is not to be wondered at if the Captain should believe the story that his neighbour's wife had obtained a divorce on account of her passion for himself.
4 A woollen shade: "Culcitam laneam." The "culcita" here alluded to was a little cushion padded with wool, which was placed before weak or diseased eyes to absorb the moisture. It is supposed to have been either bound against the part affected, or else to have been held in the hand and applied every now and then. Commentators seem to think that here Pleusicies holds it up to his eye with his hand when addressing the Captain. They are at a loss to know why Palaestrio recommends this, as the Captain has never seen Pleusicles, who was at Naupactus when Philocomasium was carried off. Still, though it is not mentioned, it may be, because the Captain had seen Pleusicles before he went to Naupactus; or, what is more probable, that, affecting to have weak eyes, Pleusicles may not appear so comely as he really is, and not thereby excite any suspicion in the Captain's mind as to his intentions.
5 An iron-grey cloak: Some think that the "ferrugineus," or iron colour, here called "colos thalassinus," or "the sea-colour," was dark blue, but dark grey seems more probable, as the shades of blue were too expensive for common wear.
6 Right arm projecting out: This no doubt was the way in which the "pallium" was usually worn by seafaring men, for the sake of expedition, and in order to give free play to the right arm when aboard ship.
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