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Enter CTESIPHO and SYRUS from the house of MICIO.
My father gone into the country, say you? SYRUS
with a careless air. Some time since. CTESIPHO
Do tell me, I beseech you. SYRUS
He is at the farm at this very moment, 1 I warrant--hard at some work or other. CTESIPHO
I really wish, provided it be done with no prejudice to his health, I wish that he may so effectually tire himself, that, for the next three days together, he may be unable to arise from his bed. SYRUS
So be it, and any thing still better than that, 2 if possible. CTESIPHO
Just so; for I do most confoundedly wish to pass this whole day in merry-making as I have begun it; and for no reason do I detest that farm so heartily as for its being so near town. If it were at a greater distance, night would overtake him there before he could return hither again. Now, when he doesn't find me there, he'll come running back here, I'm quite sure; he'll be asking me where I have been, that I have not seen him all this day: what am I to say? SYRUS
Does nothing suggest itself to your mind? CTESIPHO
Nothing whatever. SYRUS
So much the worse 3--have you no client, friend, or guest? CTESIPHO
I have; what then? SYRUS
You have been engaged with them. CTESIPHO
When I have not been engaged? That can never do. SYRUS
It may. CTESIPHO
During the daytime; but if I pass the night here, what excuse can I make, Syrus? SYRUS
Dear me, how much I do wish it was the custom for one to be engaged with friends at night as well! But you be easy; I know his humor perfectly well. When he raves the most violently, I can make him as gentle as a lamb. CTESIPHO
In what way? SYRUS
He loves to hear you praised: I make a god of you to him, and recount your virtues. CTESIPHO
What, mine SYRUS
Yours; immediately the tears fall from him as from a child, for very joy. Starting. Hah take care---- CTESIPHO
Why, what's the matter? SYRUS
The wolf in the fable 4---- CTESIPHO
What! my father? SYRUS
His own self. CTESIPHO
What shall we do, Syrus? SYRUS
You only be off in-doors, I'll see to that. CTESIPHO
If he makes any inquiries, you have seen me no-where; do you hear? SYRUS
Can you not be quiet? They retreat to the door of MICIO'S house, and CTESIPHO stands in the doorway.
2 Any thing still better than that: Lemaire suggests that by these words Syrus intends to imply that he should not care if Demea were never to arise from his bed, but were to die there. Ctesipho, only taking him heartily to second his own wishes for the old man's absence, answers affirmatively "ita," "by all means," "exactly so."
4 The wolf in the fable: This was a proverbial expression, tantamount to our saying, "Talk of the devil, he's sure to appear." Servius, in his Commentary on the Ninth Eclogue of Virgil, says that the saying arose from the common belief that the person whom a wolf sets his eyes, upon is deprived of his voice, and thence came to be applied to a person who, coming, upon others in the act of talking about him, necessarily put a stop to their conversation. Cooke says, in reference to this passage, "This certainly alludes to a Fable of Aesop's, of the Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape: which is translated by Phaedrus, and is the tenth of his First Book." It is much more certain that Cooke is mistaken here, and that the fable of the arbitration of the Ape between the Wolf and the Fox has nothing to do with this passage. If it alludes to any fable (which from the expression itself is riot at all unlikely), it is more likely to be that where the Nurse threatens that the wolf shall take the naughty Child, on which he makes his appearance, but is disappointed in his expectations, or else that of the Shepherd-boy and the Wolf. See the Stichus of Plautus, 1. 57, where the same. expression occurs.
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