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Enter MILPHIDIPPA.

MILPHIDIPPA
as she enters . My Circus, then1, is before the house, where my sports are to take place. I'll make pretence, as though I didn't see them, or knew as yet that they are here.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Hush! let's quietly listen, whether any mention is made of me.

MILPHIDIPPA
aloud . Is there no one near at hand here, to attend to another's business rather than his own?--to prowl after2 me to see what I'm about? No one who is feeding this evening3 at his own expense? I dread such men as these, lest they should now come in the way, or prove an hindrance somehow, should my mistress privately pass from her house this way, who is so enamoured of his person, who so dotes upon this very charming man with his exceeding beauty--the Captain Pyrgopolinices

PYRGOPOLINICES
And doesn't she dote upon me, too? She is praising my beauty.

PALAESTRIO
I' faith, her language stands in need of no ashes4.

PYRGOPOLINICES
For what reason?

PALAESTRIO
Why, because her language is clean spoken and far from slovenly. Whatever she says about yourself, she handles it in no slovenly way. And, then, besides, she herself is a very pretty and a very dainty wench.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Troth, indeed, she has made an impression already, Palaestrio, at first sight.

PALAESTRIO
What! before you have seen the other with your eyes?

PYRGOPOLINICES
What I see, in that I have faith for myself; for this mackerel5, in the absence of the mullet, compels me to be in love with her.

PALAESTRIO
I' faith, you really mustn't be falling in love with her, she's engaged to me. If the other weds you to-day, forthwith I shall take this one for my wife.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Why, then, do you delay to accost her?

PALAESTRIO
Follow me this way, then.

PYRGOPOLINICES
I am your lackey at your heels6.

MILPHIDIPPA
aloud . I wish that I had an opportunity of meeting him on account of whom I came here out of doors.

PALAESTRIO
accosting her . It shall be so, and you shall have what you so greatly wish; be of good courage, don't fear; there is a certain person who knows where that is which you are seeking.

MILPHIDIPPA
Who's that I hear at hand?

PALAESTRIO
The sharer of your plans and the partaker of your secrets.

MILPHIDIPPA
I' faith, then, what I do conceal I don't conceal.

PALAESTRIO
Aye, but still you don't conceal it this way.

MILPHIDIPPA
How so?

PALAESTRIO
From the uninitiated you conceal them. I am sure and trustworthy to you.

MILPHIDIPPA
Give me the sign, if you are one of these votaries7.

PALAESTRIO
A certain lady loves a certain gentleman.

MILPHIDIPPA
Faith, many ladies do that indeed.

PALAESTRIO
But not many ladies send a present from off their fingers.

MILPHIDIPPA
Aye, I know now. You've now made the matter level for me instead of steep. But is there a certain person here?

PALAESTRIO
Either he is or he is not.

MILPHIDIPPA
Come aside with me alone, in private.

PALAESTRIO
For a short or for a lengthy conversation?

MILPHIDIPPA
For three words only.

PALAESTRIO
to PYRGOPOLINICES . I'll return to you this instant.

PYRGOPOLINICES
What? Shall I be standing here in the meanwhile, with such charms and valorous deeds, thus to no purpose?

PALAESTRIO
Submit to it and wait; for you am I doing this service.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Make haste; I am tortured with waiting.

PALAESTRIO
You know that commodities of this kind are only wont to be reached step by step.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Well, well; as is most agreable to yourself.

PALAESTRIO
aside . There is no stone more stupid than this fellow. I now return to you. To MILPHIDIPPA. What would you with me? Retires with her to distance.

MILPHIDIPPA
In the way in which I received it of you a short time since, I bring you back your clever lot; my story is as though she were dying with love for him.

PALAESTRIO
That 1 understand. Do you commend his beauty and his appearance, and make mention of his prowess.

MILPHIDIPPA
For that purpose I am armed at all points8, as I have shown you before already. On the other hand, do you give all attention, and be on the watch, and take your cue9 from my words.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Prithee do now, in fine, give me some share in the business; step this way this instant, I beg.

PALAESTRIO
goes up to him . Here I am. If you wish for aught, give me your commands.

PYRGOPOLINICES
What is she saying to you?

PALAESTRIO
She is saying that her mistress is lamenting, and, in tears, is tormenting and afflicting herself because she wishes for you, and because she possesses you not; for that reason has she been sent here to you.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Bid her approach.

PALAESTRIO
But do you know how you are to act? Pretend that you are full of disdain, as though it pleased you not; exclaim against me, because I make you so common to the mob.

PYRGOPOLINICES
I remember, and I'll follow your instructions.

PALAESTRIO
I'll call her, then, who is inquiring after you.

PYRGOPOLINICES
If she wants anything, let her come.

PALAESTRIO
Wench, if you want anything, step this way.

MILPHIDIPPA
approaching . Save you, charmer10.

PYRGOPOLINICES
She makes mention of my surname. May the Gods grant you whatever you may desire.

MILPHIDIPPA
To pass life with you is the wish of----

PYRGOPOLINICES
You are wishing too much.

MILPHIDIPPA
I am not speaking of myself, but of my mistress, who is dying for you.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Many others are wishing for the same thing, who have not the opportunity.

MILPHIDIPPA
By my troth, 'tis not to be wondered at; you set a high value on yourself--a person so handsome, and so illustrious for his prowess, and so valorous in his deeds! O! was there ever any one more worthy to be a man?

PALAESTRIO
aside . I' faith, the filthy fellow is not a human being; indeed, I think there is something more human in a vulture11.

PYRGOPOLINICES
aside . Now I shall make myself of importance, since she so praises me up. Struts about.

PALAESTRIO
aside . Do you see the blockhead, how he struts? To PYRGOPOLINICES. But will you not answer her; she is the woman that's come from the lady whom I was mentioning just now.

PYRGOPOLINICES
But from which one of them? For there are so many courting me, I cannot remember them all.

MILPHIDIPPA
From her who strips her own fingers and adorns your fingers; for I delivered to him pointing to PALAESTRIO that ring from her who is sighing for you, and then he to you.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Tell me, wench, what is it you want then?

MILPHIDIPPA
That you will not despise her who is sighing for you; who lives now but in your life: whether she is to exist or not, her hope is in you alone.

PYRGOPOLINICES
What does she want then?

MILPHIDIPPA
To talk with you, to embrace you, and to be intimate with you. For unless you bring her succour, she will soon be quite desponding in her mind. Come, my Achilles, let that be done which I entreat; save her, charmer, by your charming ways. Call forth your kind disposition, stormer of cities, slayer of kings.

PYRGOPOLINICES
O! by my troth, 'tis a vexatious thing! To PALAESTRIO. How often, whip-scoundrel, have I forbidden you to make promises of my attention thus common.

PALAESTRIO
Do you hear that, hussy? I have told you already, and I now tell you again, unless a fee is given to this boar- pig12, he cannot possibly throw away his attentions in any quarter.

MILPHIDIPPA
A fee shall be given, as large as he shall demand.

PALAESTRIO
He requires a talent of gold, in Philippean pieces. Less he will take from no one.

MILPHIDIPPA
O, by my troth, but that's too little, surely.

PYRGOPOLINICES
By nature there's no avarice in me; I have riches enough. I' faith! I've more than a thousand measures13 full of Philippean gold coins.

PALAESTRIO
Besides your treasures. Then, of silver, he has mountains, not ingots; Aetna is not so high.

MILPHIDIPPA
aside . By the stars! O, what a lie!

PALAESTRIO
to MILPHIDIPPA, aside . How rarely I am playing him off!

MILPHIDIPPA
to PALAESTRIO, aside . And I; how do I do it? Ain't I gulling him?

PALAESTRIO
aside . Rarely.

MILPHIDIPPA
But, prithee, do let me go now.

PALAESTRIO
to the CAPTAIN . But do you give her some answer, either that you will do it, or that you won't do it. Why cause this poor lady so much anguish of mind, who has never deserved any ill of you?

PYRGOPOLINICES
Bid her come to me herself. Tell her that I will do everything that she requires.

MILPHIDIPPA
You now act as it is proper for you to act. since you wish the same yourself that she is wishing.

PALAESTRIO
to himself, aside . No poor faculty of invention has she.

MILPHIDIPPA
Since too you have not scouted your petitioner, and nave suffered me to prevail upon you. Aside to PALAESTRIO. How now? Haven't I played him off?

PALAESTRIO
aside to MILPHIDIPPA . Faith, I couldn't refrain from laughing.

MILPHIDIPPA
aside to PALAESTRIO . Yes; and for the same reason I turned in this direction away from you.

PYRGOPOLINICES
By my troth, wench, you don't understand how great an honor I am now paying her.

MILPHIDIPPA
I know, and I shall tell her so.

PALAESTRIO
To another he could have sold his favours for his weight in gold.

MILPHIDIPPA
I' faith, I believe you in that.

PALAESTRIO
Of those that are parents by him true warriors are born, and his sons live eight hundred years.

MILPHIDIPPA
aside to PALAESTRIO . Fie on you for a fibber!

PYRGOPOLINICES
Why, straight on, from age to age, they live for a thousand years.

PALAESTRIO
I spoke within limits, for the reason that she mightn't suppose I was telling lies to her.

MILPHIDIPPA
aside . I burst, I die! Aloud. How many years will he live himself whose sons live so long?

PYRGOPOLINICES
Wench, I was born the day after Jupiter was born of Ops.

PALAESTRIO
If he had only been born the day before the other was, he would have had the realms of heaven.

MILPHIDIPPA
aside to PALAESTRIO . Now, now, prithee, no more do let me get away from you, if I can, alive.

PALAESTRIO
Why don't you go then, as you have your answer?

MILPHIDIPPA
I'll go, and I'll bring her here, on whose behalf I am employed. Is there aught else you wish?

PYRGOPOLINICES
May I never be more handsome than I am at pre sent; so much trouble do my good looks cause me.

PALAESTRIO
Why do you stay now? Why don't you go?

MILPHIDIPPA
I'm going.

PALAESTRIO
aside to MILPHIDIPPA . And tell her, too, do you hear, cleverly and correctly, what has passed.

MILPHIDIPPA
to PALAESTRIO . So that her very heart may leap for joy.

PALAESTRIO
aside to MILPHIDIPPA If Philocomasium is there, tell her to pass through into our house; that the Captain here.

MILPHIDIPPA
to PALAESTRIO . She is there with my mistress for, on the sly, they have been overhearing14 this conversation.

PALAESTRIO
aside to MILPHIDIPPA . 'Twas cleverly done; here after they will take their cue the more readily from this conversation.

MILPHIDIPPA
to PALAESTRIO . You are delaying me. I'm off.

PALAESTRIO
to MILPHIDIPPA . I'm not delaying you, nor touching you, nor15--I'm mum.

PYRGOPOLINICES
Bid her make haste to come out here; we'll give our first attention to this matter especially. MILPHIDIPPA goes into the house of PERIPLECOMENUS.

1 My Circus, then: This is an allusion to the Circus at Rome, where the public games were exhibited.

2 To prowl after: "Aucupo" is properly applied to a birdcatcher, or fowler, who watches his nets.

3 Feeding this evening: "Qui de vesperi vivat suo." She is supposed to mean those who are not out on the hunt for a supper, but have got one of their own at home. These latter persons, she thinks, living at their ease, and not having to satisfy a hungry stomach, are likely to have more leisure for prying into the concerns of other people, than those who are put to their shifts for a meal.

4 In need of no ashes: He says that she is so very clean spoken (laute et minime sordide) that she needs no ashes with which to scour her words; the figure being derived from the custom of scouring brass vessels with pounded ashes.

5 This mackerel: The "lacerta" was probably a delicate fish, whose name is now unknown, but not so much so as the "mullus," the "grey mullet," which was very highly esteemed by the Roman epicures.

6 Lackey at your heels: "Pedisequus." The "pedisequi" were a class of slaves at Rome whose duty it was to walk behind their master when he went out of doors. The name does not seem to have been given to every slave who followed his master, but they belonged to a class which was almost the lowest in the slave family.

7 Of these votaries: "Baccharum." Literally, "one of the "Bacchae," or "votaries of Bacchus." Only those were admitted to the rites who had been duly initiated. These had a sign or password called "symbolum," or "memoraculum," by which they recognised each other, and thus Milphidippa asks Palaestrio to give her some proof that he is the right person for her to address. This pretended caution is only assumed in the Captain's presence, in order the better to impose upon him, by affecting the utmost care and secrecy in the matter

8 Armed at all points: "Habeo omnem aciem." Literally, "I have all my troops in battle array."

9 Take your cue: "Venator." Literally, "hunt out," or "act the hunter's part," probably with reference to starting the game.

10 Charmer: "Pulcher." "Handsome man." This, as a surname, would not sound so very absurd in Roman ears, as "Pulcher" was a surname (cognomen) of a branch of the Claudian family.

11 In a vulture: , He probably alludes to the fact of the vulture sometimes carrying human flesh in its maw

12 Boar-pig: This passage is somewhat nodified in the translation.

13 A thousand measures: The "modius" was a Roman measure one-third of the "amphora." It contained nearly two English gallons.

14 Overhearing: Probably at the upper window, next door.

15 Nor touching you, nor: This is an instance of Aposiopesis. He is about to say something rude, but checks himself.

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