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Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety.

      — Antony and Cleopatra, Act II Scene 2

The Comedy of Errors

Act II

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Scene 1. The house of ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus.

Scene 2. A public place.

---
       

Act II, Scene 1

The house of ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus.

      next scene .
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[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. 275
  • 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, 280
    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. 285
  • 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, 290
    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, 295
    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. 300
  • 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. 305
    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, 310
    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. 315

[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? 320
  • 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 325
    understand them.
  • Adriana. But say, I prithee, is he coming home? It seems he
    hath great care to please his wife.
  • Adriana. Horn-mad, thou villain! 330
  • 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; 335
    '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! 340
    I know not thy mistress; out on thy mistress!'
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Quoth my master:
    'I know,' quoth he, 'no house, no wife, no mistress.'
    So that my errand, due unto my tongue, 345
    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. 350
  • 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, 355
    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 loureth in your face! 360
  • 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? 365
    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, 370
    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. 375
  • 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; 380
    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 385
    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! 390

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

A public place.

       
---

[Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse]

  • 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 395
    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? 400
    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? 405
  • Dromio of Syracuse. I did not see you since you sent me hence,
    Home to the Centaur, with the gold you gave me.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Villain, thou didst deny the gold's receipt, 410
    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.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Yea, dost thou jeer and flout me in the teeth? 415
    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?
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Because that I familiarly sometimes 420
    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. 425
    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 430
    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?
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Why, first,—for flouting me; and then, wherefore—
    For urging it the second time to me. 440
  • 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.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. I'll make you amends next, to give you nothing for
    something. But say, sir, is it dinner-time?
  • Dromio of Syracuse. Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the plain bald
    pate of father Time himself.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. There's no time for a man to recover his hair that
    grows bald by nature. 465
  • Dromio of Syracuse. Yes, to pay a fine for a periwig and recover the
    lost hair of another man.
  • 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.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. The plainer dealer, the sooner lost: yet he loseth
    it in a kind of jollity.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. The one, to save the money that he spends in 485
    trimming; the other, that at dinner they should not
    drop in his porridge.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. Marry, and did, sir; namely, no time to recover hair 490
    lost by nature.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. Thus I mend it: Time himself is bald and therefore
    to the world's end will have bald followers. 495

[Enter ADRIANA and LUCIANA]

  • Adriana. Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown:
    Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects; 500
    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, 505
    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, 510
    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, 515
    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 520
    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 525
    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: 530
    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. 535
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. 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. 540
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Did you converse, sir, with this gentlewoman?
    What is the course and drift of your compact? 550
  • 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, 560
    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: 565
    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.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. To me she speaks; she moves me for her theme: 570
    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. 575
  • 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, 580
    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!
  • Luciana. If thou art changed to aught, 'tis to an ass.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. 'Tis true; she rides me and I long for grass. 590
    '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. 595
    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. 600
    Come, sister. Dromio, play the porter well.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. 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, 605
    And in this mist at all adventures go.
  • Adriana. Ay; and let none enter, lest I break your pate.
  • Luciana. Come, come, Antipholus, we dine too late.

[Exeunt]

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