The Comedy Of Errors

Act II

Scene I The house of ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus.

ADRIANA Neither my husband nor the slave return'd,
That in such haste I sent to seek his master!
Sure, Luciana, it is two o'clock.
LUCIANA Perhaps some merchant hath invited him,
And from the mart he's somewhere gone to dinner.
Good sister, let us dine and never fret:
A man is master of his liberty:
Time is their master, and, when they see time,
They'll go or come: if so, be patient, sister.
ADRIANA Why should their liberty than ours be more?
LUCIANA Because their business still lies out o' door.
ADRIANA Look, when I serve him so, he takes it ill.
LUCIANA O, know he is the bridle of your will.
ADRIANA There's none but asses will be bridled so.
LUCIANA Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with woe.
There's nothing situate under heaven's eye
But hath his bound, in earth, in sea, in sky:
The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls,
Are their males' subjects and at their controls:
Men, more divine, the masters of all these,
Lords of the wide world and wild watery seas,
Indued with intellectual sense and souls,
Of more preeminence than fish and fowls,
Are masters to their females, and their lords:
Then let your will attend on their accords.
ADRIANA This servitude makes you to keep unwed.
LUCIANA Not this, but troubles of the marriage-bed.
ADRIANA But, were you wedded, you would bear some sway.
LUCIANA Ere I learn love, I'll practise to obey.
ADRIANA How if your husband start some other where?
LUCIANA Till he come home again, I would forbear.
ADRIANA Patience unmoved! no marvel though she pause;
They can be meek that have no other cause.
A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more would we ourselves complain:
So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee,
With urging helpless patience wouldst relieve me,
But, if thou live to see like right bereft,
This fool-begg'd patience in thee will be left.
LUCIANA Well, I will marry one day, but to try.
Here comes your man; now is your husband nigh.
[Enter DROMIO of Ephesus]
ADRIANA Say, is your tardy master now at hand?
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Nay, he's at two hands with me, and that my two ears
can witness.
ADRIANA Say, didst thou speak with him? know'st thou his mind?
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Ay, ay, he told his mind upon mine ear:
Beshrew his hand, I scarce could understand it.
LUCIANA Spake he so doubtfully, thou couldst not feel his meaning?
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Nay, he struck so plainly, I could too well feel his
blows; and withal so doubtfully that I could scarce
understand them.
ADRIANA But say, I prithee, is he coming home? It seems he
hath great care to please his wife.
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Why, mistress, sure my master is horn-mad.
ADRIANA Horn-mad, thou villain!
DROMIO OF EPHESUS I mean not cuckold-mad;
But, sure, he is stark mad.
When I desired him to come home to dinner,
He ask'd me for a thousand marks in gold:
''Tis dinner-time,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he;
'Your meat doth burn,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he:
'Will you come home?' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he.
'Where is the thousand marks I gave thee, villain?'
'The pig,' quoth I, 'is burn'd;' 'My gold!' quoth he:
'My mistress, sir' quoth I; 'Hang up thy mistress!
I know not thy mistress; out on thy mistress!'
LUCIANA Quoth who?
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Quoth my master:
'I know,' quoth he, 'no house, no wife, no mistress.'
So that my errand, due unto my tongue,
I thank him, I bare home upon my shoulders;
For, in conclusion, he did beat me there.
ADRIANA Go back again, thou slave, and fetch him home.
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Go back again, and be new beaten home?
For God's sake, send some other messenger.
ADRIANA Back, slave, or I will break thy pate across.
DROMIO OF EPHESUS And he will bless that cross with other beating:
Between you I shall have a holy head.
ADRIANA Hence, prating peasant! fetch thy master home.
DROMIO OF EPHESUS Am I so round with you as you with me,
That like a football you do spurn me thus?
You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither:
If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.
LUCIANA Fie, how impatience loureth in your face!
ADRIANA His company must do his minions grace,
Whilst I at home starve for a merry look.
Hath homely age the alluring beauty took
From my poor cheek? then he hath wasted it:
Are my discourses dull? barren my wit?
If voluble and sharp discourse be marr'd,
Unkindness blunts it more than marble hard:
Do their gay vestments his affections bait?
That's not my fault: he's master of my state:
What ruins are in me that can be found,
By him not ruin'd? then is he the ground
Of my defeatures. My decayed fair
A sunny look of his would soon repair
But, too unruly deer, he breaks the pale
And feeds from home; poor I am but his stale.
LUCIANA Self-harming jealousy! fie, beat it hence!
ADRIANA Unfeeling fools can with such wrongs dispense.
I know his eye doth homage otherwhere,
Or else what lets it but he would be here?
Sister, you know he promised me a chain;
Would that alone, alone he would detain,
So he would keep fair quarter with his bed!
I see the jewel best enamelled
Will lose his beauty; yet the gold bides still,
That others touch, and often touching will
Wear gold: and no man that hath a name,
By falsehood and corruption doth it shame.
Since that my beauty cannot please his eye,
I'll weep what's left away, and weeping die.
LUCIANA How many fond fools serve mad jealousy!

Scene II A public place.

[Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse]

The gold I gave to Dromio is laid up
Safe at the Centaur; and the heedful slave
Is wander'd forth, in care to seek me out
By computation and mine host's report.
I could not speak with Dromio since at first
I sent him from the mart. See, here he comes.
[Enter DROMIO of Syracuse]
How now sir! is your merry humour alter'd?
As you love strokes, so jest with me again.
You know no Centaur? you received no gold?
Your mistress sent to have me home to dinner?
My house was at the Phoenix? Wast thou mad,
That thus so madly thou didst answer me?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE What answer, sir? when spake I such a word?

Even now, even here, not half an hour since.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I did not see you since you sent me hence,
Home to the Centaur, with the gold you gave me.

Villain, thou didst deny the gold's receipt,
And told'st me of a mistress and a dinner;
For which, I hope, thou felt'st I was displeased.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I am glad to see you in this merry vein:
What means this jest? I pray you, master, tell me.

Yea, dost thou jeer and flout me in the teeth?
Think'st thou I jest? Hold, take thou that, and that.
[Beating him]
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Hold, sir, for God's sake! now your jest is earnest:
Upon what bargain do you give it me?

Because that I familiarly sometimes
Do use you for my fool and chat with you,
Your sauciness will jest upon my love
And make a common of my serious hours.
When the sun shines let foolish gnats make sport,
But creep in crannies when he hides his beams.
If you will jest with me, know my aspect,
And fashion your demeanor to my looks,
Or I will beat this method in your sconce.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Sconce call you it? so you would leave battering, I
had rather have it a head: an you use these blows
long, I must get a sconce for my head and ensconce
it too; or else I shall seek my wit in my shoulders.
But, I pray, sir why am I beaten?

Dost thou not know?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Nothing, sir, but that I am beaten.

Shall I tell you why?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Ay, sir, and wherefore; for they say every why hath
a wherefore.

Why, first,--for flouting me; and then, wherefore--
For urging it the second time to me.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme
nor reason?
Well, sir, I thank you.

Thank me, sir, for what?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Marry, sir, for this something that you gave me for nothing.

I'll make you amends next, to give you nothing for
something. But say, sir, is it dinner-time?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE No, sir; I think the meat wants that I have.

In good time, sir; what's that?

Well, sir, then 'twill be dry.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE If it be, sir, I pray you, eat none of it.

Your reason?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Lest it make you choleric and purchase me another
dry basting.

Well, sir, learn to jest in good time: there's a
time for all things.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I durst have denied that, before you were so choleric.

By what rule, sir?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the plain bald
pate of father Time himself.

Let's hear it.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE There's no time for a man to recover his hair that
grows bald by nature.

May he not do it by fine and recovery?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Yes, to pay a fine for a periwig and recover the
lost hair of another man.

Why is Time such a niggard of hair, being, as it is,
so plentiful an excrement?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Because it is a blessing that he bestows on beasts;
and what he hath scanted men in hair he hath given them in wit.

Why, but there's many a man hath more hair than wit.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Not a man of those but he hath the wit to lose his hair.

Why, thou didst conclude hairy men plain dealers without wit.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE The plainer dealer, the sooner lost: yet he loseth
it in a kind of jollity.

For what reason?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE For two; and sound ones too.

Nay, not sound, I pray you.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Sure ones, then.

Nay, not sure, in a thing falsing.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Certain ones then.

Name them.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE The one, to save the money that he spends in
trimming; the other, that at dinner they should not
drop in his porridge.

You would all this time have proved there is no
time for all things.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Marry, and did, sir; namely, no time to recover hair
lost by nature.

But your reason was not substantial, why there is no
time to recover.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Thus I mend it: Time himself is bald and therefore
to the world's end will have bald followers.

I knew 'twould be a bald conclusion:
But, soft! who wafts us yonder?
ADRIANA Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown:
Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects;
I am not Adriana nor thy wife.
The time was once when thou unurged wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savor'd in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look'd, or touch'd, or carved to thee.
How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it,
That thou art thus estranged from thyself?
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That, undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self's better part.
Ah, do not tear away thyself from me!
For know, my love, as easy mayest thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,
And take unmingled that same drop again,
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself and not me too.
How dearly would it touch me to the quick,
Shouldst thou but hear I were licentious
And that this body, consecrate to thee,
By ruffian lust should be contaminate!
Wouldst thou not spit at me and spurn at me
And hurl the name of husband in my face
And tear the stain'd skin off my harlot-brow
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring
And break it with a deep-divorcing vow?
I know thou canst; and therefore see thou do it.
I am possess'd with an adulterate blot;
My blood is mingled with the crime of lust:
For if we too be one and thou play false,
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted by thy contagion.
Keep then far league and truce with thy true bed;
I live unstain'd, thou undishonoured.

Plead you to me, fair dame? I know you not:
In Ephesus I am but two hours old,
As strange unto your town as to your talk;
Who, every word by all my wit being scann'd,
Want wit in all one word to understand.
LUCIANA Fie, brother! how the world is changed with you!
When were you wont to use my sister thus?
She sent for you by Dromio home to dinner.

By Dromio?
ADRIANA By thee; and this thou didst return from him,
That he did buffet thee, and, in his blows,
Denied my house for his, me for his wife.

Did you converse, sir, with this gentlewoman?
What is the course and drift of your compact?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I, sir? I never saw her till this time.

Villain, thou liest; for even her very words
Didst thou deliver to me on the mart.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I never spake with her in all my life.

How can she thus then call us by our names,
Unless it be by inspiration.
ADRIANA How ill agrees it with your gravity
To counterfeit thus grossly with your slave,
Abetting him to thwart me in my mood!
Be it my wrong you are from me exempt,
But wrong not that wrong with a more contempt.
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine:
Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine,
Whose weakness, married to thy stronger state,
Makes me with thy strength to communicate:
If aught possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping ivy, brier, or idle moss;
Who, all for want of pruning, with intrusion
Infect thy sap and live on thy confusion.

To me she speaks; she moves me for her theme:
What, was I married to her in my dream?
Or sleep I now and think I hear all this?
What error drives our eyes and ears amiss?
Until I know this sure uncertainty,
I'll entertain the offer'd fallacy.
LUCIANA Dromio, go bid the servants spread for dinner.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE O, for my beads! I cross me for a sinner.
This is the fairy land: O spite of spites!
We talk with goblins, owls and sprites:
If we obey them not, this will ensue,
They'll suck our breath, or pinch us black and blue.
LUCIANA Why pratest thou to thyself and answer'st not?
Dromio, thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot!
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE I am transformed, master, am I not?

I think thou art in mind, and so am I.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape.

Thou hast thine own form.
LUCIANA If thou art changed to aught, 'tis to an ass.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE 'Tis true; she rides me and I long for grass.
'Tis so, I am an ass; else it could never be
But I should know her as well as she knows me.
ADRIANA Come, come, no longer will I be a fool,
To put the finger in the eye and weep,
Whilst man and master laugh my woes to scorn.
Come, sir, to dinner. Dromio, keep the gate.
Husband, I'll dine above with you to-day
And shrive you of a thousand idle pranks.
Sirrah, if any ask you for your master,
Say he dines forth, and let no creature enter.
Come, sister. Dromio, play the porter well.

Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking? mad or well-advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised!
I'll say as they say and persever so,
And in this mist at all adventures go.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE Master, shall I be porter at the gate?
ADRIANA Ay; and let none enter, lest I break your pate.
LUCIANA Come, come, Antipholus, we dine too late.

Next Act

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