The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare

Act II

Scene I. The house of Antipholus of Ephesus.

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:
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.

Exit

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!

Exeunt

Scene II. 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
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?

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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?

Antipholus of Syracuse

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?

Antipholus of Syracuse

Dost thou not know?

Dromio of Syracuse

Nothing, sir, but that I am beaten.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Shall I tell you why?

Dromio of Syracuse

Ay, sir, and wherefore; for they say every why hath a wherefore.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Thank me, sir, for what?

Dromio of Syracuse

Marry, sir, for this something that you gave me for nothing.

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

No, sir; I think the meat wants that I have.

Antipholus of Syracuse

In good time, sir; what’s that?

Dromio of Syracuse

Basting.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Well, sir, then ’twill be dry.

Dromio of Syracuse

If it be, sir, I pray you, eat none of it.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Your reason?

Dromio of Syracuse

Lest it make you choleric and purchase me another dry basting.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

By what rule, sir?

Dromio of Syracuse

Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the plain bald pate of father Time himself.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Let’s hear it.

Dromio of Syracuse

There’s no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

For what reason?

Dromio of Syracuse

For two; and sound ones too.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Nay, not sound, I pray you.

Dromio of Syracuse

Sure ones, then.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Nay, not sure, in a thing falsing.

Dromio of Syracuse

Certain ones then.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

I knew ’twould be a bald conclusion:
But, soft! who wafts us yonder?

Enter Adriana and Luciana

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.

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.

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

By Dromio?

Dromio of Syracuse

By me?

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?

Dromio of Syracuse

I, sir? I never saw her till this time.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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.

Antipholus of Syracuse

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?

Antipholus of Syracuse

I think thou art in mind, and so am I.

Dromio of Syracuse

Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape.

Antipholus of Syracuse

Thou hast thine own form.

Dromio of Syracuse

No, I am an ape.

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.

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,
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.

Exeunt

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29