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Enter TRACHALIO, in haste.

TRACHALIO
Hallo there! stop.

GRIPUS
Why should I stop?

TRACHALIO
While I coil up this rope1 for you that you are dragging.

GRIPUS
Now let it alone.

TRACHALIO
Troth, but I'll assist you. What's kindly done to worthy men, isn't thrown away.

GRIPUS
* * * * * There was a boisterous tempest yesterday; no fish have I, young man; don't you be supposing I have. Don't you see that I'm carrying my dripping net without the scaly race?

TRACHALIO
I' faith, I'm not wishing for fish so much as I am in need of your conversation.

GRIPUS
Then, whoever you are, you are worrying me to death with your annoyance.

TRACHALIO
takes hold of him . I'll not allow you to go away from here; stop.

GRIPUS
Take you care of a mishap, if you please; but why the plague are you dragging me back?

TRACHALIO
Listen.

GRIPUS
I won't listen.

TRACHALIO
But, upon my faith, you shall listen.

GRIPUS
Nay but, another time, tell me what you want.

TRACHALIO
Come now, it's worth your while at once to hear what I want to tell you.

GRIPUS
Say on, whatever it is.

TRACHALIO
See whether any person is following near us. Looks back. GRIP. Why, what reason is there that it should matter to me?

TRACHALIO
So it is; but can you give me some good advice?

GRIPUS
What's the business? Only tell me.

TRACHALIO
I'll tell you; keep silence; if only you'll give me your word that you won't prove treacherous to me.

GRIPUS
I do give you my word; I'll be true to you, whoever you are.

TRACHALIO
Listen. I saw a person commit a theft; I knew the owner to whom that same property belonged. Afterwards I came myself to the thief, and I made him a proposal in these terms: "I know the person on whom that theft was committed; now if you are ready to give me half, I'll not make a discovery to the owner." He didn't even give me an answer. What is it fair should be given me out of it? Half, I trust you will say.

GRIPUS
Aye, even more; but unless he gives it you, I think it ought to be told to the owner.

TRACHALIO
I'll act on your advice. Now give me your attention; for it is to yourself all this relates.

GRIPUS
What has been done by me?

TRACHALIO
pointing at the wallet . I've known the person for a long time to whom that wallet belongs.

GRIPUS
What do you mean?

TRACHALIO
And in what manner it was lost.

GRIPUS
But I know in what manner it was found; and I know the person who found it, and who is now the owner. That, i' faith, is not a bit the more your matter than it is my own. I know the person to whom it now belongs; you, the person to whom it formerly belonged. This shall no individual get away from me; don't you be expecting to get it in a hurry.

TRACHALIO
If the owner comes, shan't he get it away?

GRIPUS
That you mayn't be mistaken, no born person is there that's owner of this but my own self--who took this in my own fishing.

TRACHALIO
Was it really so?

GRIPUS
Which fish in the sea will you say "is my own?" When I catch them, if indeed I do catch them, they are my own; as my own I keep them. They are not claimed as having a right to freedom2 nor does any person demand a share in them. In the market I sell them all openly as my own wares. Indeed, the sea is, surely, common to all persons.

TRACHALIO
I agree to that; prithee, then, why any the less is it proper that this wallet should be common to me? It was found in the sea.

GRIPUS
Assuredly you are an outrageously impudent fellow; for if this is justice which you are saying, then fishermen would be ruined. Inasmuch as, the moment that the fish were exposed upon the stalls, no one would buy them; every person would be demanding his own share of the fish for himself; he would be saying that they were caught in the sea that was common to all.

TRACHALIO
What do you say, you impudent fellow? Do you dare to compare a wallet with fish? Pray, does it appear to be the same thing?

GRIPUS
The matter doesn't lie in my power; when I've cast my hook and net into the sea, whatever has adhered I draw out. Whatever my net and hooks have got, that in especial is my own.

TRACHALIO
Nay but, i' faith, it is not; if, indeed, you've fished up any article that's made3

GRIPUS
Philosopher, you.

TRACHALIO
But look now, you conjurer, did you ever see a fisherman who caught a wallet-fish, or exposed one for sale in the market? But, indeed, you shan't here be taking possession of all the profits that you choose; you expect, you dirty fellow, to be both a maker of wallets4 and a fisherman. Either you must show me a fish that is a wallet, or else you shall carry nothing off that wasn't produced in the sea and has no scales.

GRIPUS
What, did you never hear before to-day that a wallet was a fish?

TRACHALIO
Villain, there is no such fish.

GRIPUS
Yes, there certainly is; I, who am a fisherman, know it. But it is seldom caught; no fish more rarely comes near the land.

TRACHALIO
It's to no purpose; you hope that you can be cheating me, you rogue. Of what colour is it?

GRIPUS
looking at the wallet . Of this colour very few are caught: some are of a purple skin, there are great and black ones also.

TRACHALIO
I understand; by my troth, you'll be turning into a wallet-fish I fancy, if you don't take care; your skin will be purple, and then afterwards black.

GRIPUS
aside . What a villain this that I have met with to-day!

TRACHALIO
We are wasting words; the day wears apace. Consider, please, by whose arbitration do you wish us to proceed?

GRIPUS
By the arbitration of the wallet.

TRACHALIO
Really so, indeed? You are a fool.

GRIPUS
My respects to you, Mister Thales5 Going.

TRACHALIO
holding him . You shan't carry that off this day, unless you find a place of safe keeping for it, or an umpire, by whose arbitration this matter may be settled.

GRIPUS
Prithee, are you in your senses?

TRACHALIO
I'm mad, in need of hellebore.

GRIPUS
But I'm troubled with sprites; still I shan't let this go. Hugs the wallet.

TRACHALIO
Only add a single word more, that instant I'll drive my fists smash into your brains. This instant on this spot, just as a new napkin is wont to be wrung, I'll wring out of you whatever moisture there is, if you don't let this go. Seizes the wallet.

GRIPUS
Touch me; I'll dash you down on the ground just in such fashion as I'm in the habit of doing with a polypus fish6. Would you like to fight? Assumes a boxing attitude.

TRACHALIO
What need is there? Nay, in preference, divide the booty.

GRIPUS
You can't get anything from here but harm to yourself, so don't expect it. I'm taking myself off.

TRACHALIO
But I'll turn aside your ship from that direction, that you mayn't be off anywhere--stop. Stands in front of him, and holds the rope.

GRIPUS
If you are the helmsman of this ship, I'll be the pilot. Let go of the rope now, you villain.

TRACHALIO
I will let go; do you let go of the wallet.

GRIPUS
I' faith, you shall never this day become a scrap the more wealthy from this.

TRACHALIO
You cannot convince me by repeatedly denying, unless either a part is given me, or it is referred to arbitration, or it is placed in safe keeping.

GRIPUS
What, that which I got out of the sea----?

TRACHALIO
But I spied it out from the shore.

GRIPUS
--With my own pains and labour, and net and boat.

TRACHALIO
If now the owner, whose property it is, were to come, how am I, who espied from afar that you had taken this, a bit the less the thief than yourself?

GRIPUS
None whatever. Going.

TRACHALIO
seizing the net . Stop, you whip-knave; just let me learn of you by what reasoning I am not the sharer, and yet the thief.

GRIPUS
I don't know; neither do I know these city laws of yours, only that I affirm that this is mine. Looks at the wallet.

TRACHALIO
And I, too, say that it is mine.

GRIPUS
Stay now; I've discovered by what method you may be neither thief nor sharer.

TRACHALIO
By what method?

GRIPUS
Let me go away from here; you quietly go your own way, and don't you inform against me to any one, and I won't give anything to you. You hold your tongue; I'll be mum. This is the best and the fairest plan.

TRACE.
Well, what proposition do you venture to make?

GRIPUS
I've made it already; for you to go away, to let go of the rope, and not to be a nuisance to me.

TRACHALIO
Stop while I propose terms.

GRIPUS
I' faith, do, prithee, dispose7 of yourself forthwith.

TRACHALIO
Do you know any one in these parts?

GRIPUS
My own neighbours I must know.

TRACHALIO
Where do you live here?

GRIPUS
pointing . At a distance out away yonder, as far off as the farthest fields.

TRACHALIO
pointing to the cottage of DÆMONES . The person that lives in that cottage, should you like it to be decided by his arbitration?

GRIPUS
Let go of the rope for a moment while I step aside and consider.

TRACHALIO
Be it so. Lets go of the rope.

GRIPUS
aside . Capital, the thing's all right; the whole of this booty is my own. He's inviting me here inside of my own abode to my own master as umpire. By my troth, he never this day will award three obols away from his own servant. Assuredly, this fellow doesn't know what proposal he has been making. To TRACHALIO. I'll go to the arbitrator with you.

TRACHALIO
What then?

GRIPUS
Although I know for sure that this is my own lawful right, let that be done rather than I should now be fighting with you.

TRACHALIO
Now you satisfy me.

GRIPUS
Although you are driving me before an arbitrator whom I don't know, if he shall administer justice, although he is unknown, he is as good as known to me; if he doesn't, though known, he is the same as though entirely unknown.

1 This rope: This is the first mention of the "rudens," or "netrope," from which the Play derives its name.

2 Claimed as having a right to freedom: "Manu asserere" was "to assert" or "claim the liberty of a slave by action at law." Gripus applies the term to the fish of the sea, and means to say that when he catches them, he sells them as his own "venales," or "slaves."

3 Article that's made: "Vas." An utensil or article that is manufactured.

4 Maker of wallets: "Vitor," or "vietor," was a maker of "viduli," or "wallets," which were made of osier, and then covered with leather of various colours.

5 Thales: Thales of Miletus was one of the seven wise men of Greece. Gripus ironically calls Trachalio by this name, in reply to the other having called him a fool.

6 With a polypus fish: The polypus not being eatable, the fishermen would throw it violently on the ground on finding it in the nets.

7 Propose--dispose: -2. He plays on the resemblance of the words refero, "to make a proposal," and aufero, "to betake one's self away,"

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