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I can not discover any fitting commencement of my troubles, at which to begin to narrate the things that have so unexpectedly befallen me, some of which with these eyes I have beheld; some I have heard with my ears; and on account of which I so hastily betook myself, in extreme agitation, out of doors. For just now, when, full of alarm, I rushed into the house, expecting to find my wife afflicted with some other malady than what I have found it to be--ah me! immediately the servant-maids beheld that I had arrived, they all at the same moment joyfully exclaimed, "He is come," from having so suddenly caught sight of me. But I soon perceived the countenances of all of them change,1 because at so unseasonable a juncture chance had brought me there. One of them in the mean time hastily ran before me to give notice that I had come. Impatient to see my wife, I followed close. When I entered the room, that instant, to my sorrow, I found out her malady; for neither did the time afford any. interval to enable her to conceal it, nor could she complain in any other accents than those which the case itself prompted. When I perceived this: "O disgraceful conduct!" I exclaimed, and instantly hurried away from the spot in tears, overwhelmed by such an incredible and shocking circumstance. Her mother followed me; just as I got to the threshold, she threw herself on her knees: I felt compassion for her. Assuredly it is the fact, in my opinion, just as matters befall us all, so are we elated or depressed. At once she began to address me in these words: "O my dear Pamphilus, you see the reason why she left your house; for violence was offered to her when formerly a maid, by some villain to us unknown. Now, she took refuge here then, that from you and others she might conceal her labor." But when I call to mind her entreaties, I can not, wretched as I am, refrain from tears. "Whatever chance or fortune it is," said she, "which has brought you here to-day, by it we do both conjure you, if with equity and justice we may, that her misfortune may be concealed by you, and kept a secret from all. If ever you were sensible, my dear Pamphilus, that she was tenderly disposed toward you, she now asks you to grant her this favor in return, without making any difficulty of it. But as to taking her back, act quite according to your own convenience. You alone are aware of her. lying-in, and that the child is none of yours. For it is said that it was two months after the marriage before she had commerce with you. And then, this is but the seventh month since she came to you.2 That you are sensible of this, the circumstances themselves prove. Now, if it is possible, Pamphilus, I especially wish, and will use my endeavors, that her labor may remain unknown to her father, and to all, in fact. But if that can not be managed, and they do find it out, I will say that she miscarried; I am sure no one will suspect otherwise than, what is so likely, the child was by you. It shall be instantly exposed; in that case there is no inconvenience whatever to yourself, and you will be concealing an outrage so undeservingly committed upon her,3 poor thing!" I promised this, and I am resolved to keep faith in what I said. But as to taking her back, really I do not think that would be at all creditable, nor will I do so, although love for her, and habit, have a strong influence upon me. I weep when it occurs to my mind, what must be her life, and how great her loneliness in future. O Fortune, thou hast never been found constant! But by this time my former passion has taught me experience in the present case. The means by which I got rid of that, I must employ on the present occasion. Parmeno is coming with the servants; it is far from convenient that he should be here under present circumstances, for he was the only person to whom I trusted the secret that I kept aloof from her when I first married her. I am afraid lest, if he should frequently hear her cries, he might find out that she is in labor. He must be dispatched by me somewhere till Philumena is delivered.
1 All of them change: This must have been imaginary, as they were not likely to be acquainted with the reason of Philumena's apprehensions.
2 Since she came to you: There is great doubt what is the exact meaning of "postquam ad te venit," here, whether it means, "it is now the seventh month since she became your wife," or, "it is now the seventh month since she came to your embraces," which did not happen for two months after the marriage. The former is, under the circumstances, the most probable construction.
3 Committed upon her: Colman very justly observes here: "It is rather extraordinary that Myrrhina's account of the injury done to her daughter should not put Pamphilus in mind of his own adventure, which comes out in the Fifth Act. It is certain that had the Poet let the Audience into that secret in this place, they would have immediately concluded that the wife of Pamphilus and the lady whom he had ravished were one and the same person." Playwrights have never, in any age or country, troubled themselves much about probability in their plots. Besides, his adventure with Philumena was by no means an uncommon one. We find similar instances mentioned by Plautus; and violence and debauchery seem almost to have reigned paramount in the streets at night.
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