Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

ACT II. SCENE 1. A public place.

[Enter ADRIANA and LUCIANA.]

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:
Man, more divine, the masters of all these,
Lord of the wide world and wild wat'ry seas,
Indued with intellectual sense and souls
Of more pre-eminence 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 unmov'd, no marvel though she pause:
They can be meek that have no other cause.
A wretched soul, bruis'd with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burd'ned with like weight of pain,
As much, or more, we should ourselves complain:
So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee,
With urging helpless patience would 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 could'st 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 pr'ythee, 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's stark mad.
When I desir'd 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: fch 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.

[Exit.]

LUCIANA.
Fie, how impatience low'reth 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 promis'd 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, yet 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!

[Exeunt.]

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