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Enter PAMPHILUS and PARMENO.
No individual, I do believe, ever met with more crosses in love than I. Alas! unhappy me! that I have thus been sparing of life! Was it for this I was so very impatient to return home ? O, how much more preferable had it been for me to pass my life any where in the world than to return here and be sensible that I am thus wretched! For all of us know who have met with trouble from any cause, that all the time that passes before we come to the knowledge of it, is so much gain. PARMENO
Still, as it is, you'll the sooner know how to extricate yourself from these misfortunes. If you had not returned, this breach might have become much wider; but now, Pamphilus, I am sure that both will be awed by your presence. You will learn the facts, remove their enmity, restore them to good feeling once again. These are but trifles which you have persuaded yourself are so grievous. PAMPHILUS
Why comfort me? Is there a person in all the world so wretched as I? Before I took her to wife, I had my heart engaged by other affections. Now, though on this subject I should be silent, it is easy for any one to know how much I have suffered; yet I never dared refuse her whom my father forced upon me. With difficulty did I withdraw myself from another, and disengage my affections so firmly rooted there! and hardly had I fixed them in another quarter, when, lo! a new misfortune has arisen, which may tear me from her too. Then besides, I suppose that in this matter I shall find either my mother or my wife in fault; and when I find such to be the fact, what remains but to become still more wretched? For duty, Parmeno, bids me bear with the feelings of a mother; then, to my wife I am bound by obligations; with so much temper did she formerly bear my usage, and on no occasion disclose the many wrongs inflicted on her by me. But, Parmeno, something of consequence, I know not what it is, must have happened for this misunderstanding to have arisen between them, that has lasted so long. PARMENO
Or else something frivolous, i' faith, if you would only give words their proper value; those which are sometimes the greatest enmities, do not argue the greatest injuries; for it often happens that in certain circumstances, in which another would not even be out of temper, for the very same reason a passionate man becomes your greatest enemy. What enmities do children entertain among themselves for trifling injuries! For what reason? Why, because they have a weak understanding to direct them. Just so are these women, almost like children with their fickle feelings; perhaps a single word has occasioned this enmity between them, master. PAMPHILUS
Go, Parmeno, into the house, and carry word1 that I have arrived. A noise is heard in the house of PHIDIPPUS. PARMENO
starting. Ha! What means this? PAMPHILUS
Be silent. I perceive a bustling about, and a running to and fro. PARMENO
going to the door. Come then, I'll approach nearer to the door. He listens. Ha! did you hear? PAMPHILUS
Don't be prating. He listens. O Jupiter, I heard a shriek! PARMENO
You yourself are talking, while you forbid me. MYRRHINA
within the house. Prithee, my child, do be silent. PAMPHILUS
That seems to be the voice of Philumena's mother. I'm undone PARMENO
Why so? PAMPHILUS
Utterly ruined! PARMENO
For what reason? PAMPHILUS
Parmeno, you are concealing from me some great misfortune to me unknown. PARMENO
They said that your wife, Philumena, was in alarm about2 something, I know not what; whether that may be it, perchance, I don't know. PAMPHILUS
I am undone! Why didn't you tell me of this? PARMENO
Because I couldn't tell every thing at once. PAMPHILUS
What is the malady? PARMENO
I don't know. PAMPHILUS
What! has no one brought a physician to see her? PARMENO
I don't know. PAMPHILUS
Why delay going in-doors, that I may know as soon as possible for certain what it is? In what condition, Philumena, am I now to find you? But if you are in any peril, beyond a doubt I will perish with you. Goes into the house of PHIDIPPUS. PARMENO
to himself. There is no need for me to follow him into the house at present, for I see that we are all disagreeable to them. Yesterday, no one would give Sostrata admittance. If, perchance, the malady should become worse, which really I could far from wish, for my master's sake especially, they would at once say that Sostrata's servant had been in there; they would invent a story that I had brought some mischief against their lives and persons, in consequence of which the malady had been increased. My mistress would be blamed, and I should incur heavy punishment.3
1 And carry word: It was the custom with the Greeks and Romans, when returning from abroad, to send a messenger before them, to inform their wives of their arrival. See for example Cicero's last letter to his wife, 47 BC.
2 Was in alarm about: "Pavitare." Casaubon has a curious suggestion here; he thinks it not improbable that he had heard the female servants whispering among themselves that Philumena "paritare," "was about to be brought to bed," which he took for "pavitare," "was in fear" of something.
3 Heavy punishment: Probably meaning that he will be examined by torture, whether he has not, by drugs or other means, contributed to Philumena's illness.
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