Enter Gaoler and his Friend
Heard you no more? Was nothing said of me
Concerning the escape of Palamon?
Good sir, remember.
Nothing that I heard,
For I came home before the business
Was fully ended. Yet I might perceive,
Ere I departed, a great likelihood
Of both their pardons; for Hippolyta
And fair-eyed Emily, upon their knees,
Begged with such handsome pity that the Duke
Methought stood staggering, whether he should follow
His rash oath or the sweet compassion
Of those two ladies; and to second them
That truly noble prince Pirithous,
Half his own heart, set in too, that I hope
All shall be well; neither heard I one question
Of your name, or his 'scape.
Pray heaven it hold so!
Enter Second Friend
Be of good comfort, man; I bring you news,
They are welcome.
Palamon has cleared you,
And got your pardon, and discovered how
And by whose means he escaped, which was your daughter's,
Whose pardon is procured too; and the prisoner,
Not to be held ungrateful to her goodness,
Has given a sum of money to her marriage,
A large one, I'll assure you.
Ye are a good man
And ever bring good news.
How was it ended?
Why, as it should be; they that never begged
But they prevailed had their suits fairly granted;
The prisoners have their lives.
I knew 'twould be so.
But there be new conditions, which you'll hear of
At better time.
I hope they are good.
They are honourable;
How good they'll prove I know not.
'Twill be known.
Alas, sir, where's your daughter?
Why do you ask?
O sir, when did you see her?
How he looks!
Was she well? Was she in health, sir?
When did she sleep?
These are strange questions.
I do not think she was very well, for now
You make me mind her, but this very day
I asked her questions, and she answered me
So far from what she was, so childishly,
So sillily, as if she were a fool,
An innocent, and I was very angry.
But what of her, sir?
Nothing but my pity;
But you must know it, and as good by me
As by another that less loves her –
'Tis too true, she is mad.
It cannot be.
Believe you'll find it so.
I half suspected
What you have told me; the gods comfort her!
Either this was her love to Palamon,
Or fear of my miscarrying on his 'scape,
But why all this haste, sir?
I'll tell you quickly. As I late was angling
In the great lake that lies behind the palace,
From the far shore, thick-set with reeds and sedges,
As patiently I was attending sport,
I heard a voice, a shrill one; and attentive
I gave my ear, when I might well perceive
T' was one that sung, and by the smallness of it
A boy or woman. I then left my angle
To his own skill, came near, but yet perceived not
Who made the sound, the rushes and the reeds
Had so encompassed it. I laid me down
And listened to the words she sung, for then,
Through a small glade cut by the fishermen,
I saw it was your daughter.
Pray go on, sir.
She sung much, but no sense; only I heard her
Repeat this often: ‘ Palamon is gone,
Is gone to th' wood to gather mulberries;
I'll find him out tomorrow.’
‘ His shackles will betray him; he'll be taken,
And what shall I do then? I'll bring a bevy,
A hundred black-eyed maids, that love as I do,
With chaplets on their heads of daffadillies,
With cherry lips, and cheeks of damask roses,
And all we'll dance an antic 'fore the Duke,
And beg his pardon.’ Then she talked of you, sir;
That you must lose your head tomorrow morning,
And she must gather flowers to bury you,
And see the house made handsome. Then she sung
Nothing but ‘ Willow, willow, willow,’ and between
Ever was ‘ Palamon, fair Palamon,’
And ‘ Palamon was a tall young man.’ The place
Was knee-deep where she sat; her careless tresses
A wreath of bulrush rounded; about her stuck
Thousand fresh water flowers of several colours,
That methought she appeared like the fair nymph
That feeds the lake with waters, or as Iris
Newly dropped down from heaven. Rings she made
Of rushes that grew by, and to 'em spoke
The prettiest posies, ‘ Thus our true love's tied,’
short piece of poetry [often inscribed inside a ring]
‘ This you may lose, not me,’ and many a one.
And then she wept, and sung again, and sighed,
And with the same breath smiled and kissed her hand.
Alas, what pity it is!
I made in to her;
She saw me, and straight sought the flood. I saved her,
And set her safe to land; when presently
She slipped away, and to the city made
With such a cry and swiftness that, believe me,
She left me far behind her. Three or four
I saw from far off cross her – one of 'em
I knew to be your brother – where she stayed,
And fell, scarce to be got away. I left them with her,
And hither came to tell you.
Enter Gaoler's Brother, Gaoler's Daughter, and others
Here they are.
May you never more enjoy the light, etc.
Is not this a fine song?
O, a very fine one.
I can sing twenty more.
I think you can.
Yes, truly can I; I can sing ‘ The Broom,’
And ‘ Bonny Robin.’ Are not you a tailor?
Where's my wedding gown?
I'll bring it tomorrow.
Do, very early; I must be abroad else
To call the maids, and pay the minstrels.
For I must lose my maidenhead by cocklight;
'Twill never thrive else.
O fair, O sweet, etc.
You must e'en take it patiently.
Good e'en, good men. Pray did you ever hear
Of one young Palamon?
Yes, wench, we know him.
Is't not a fine young gentleman?
By no mean cross her; she is then distempered
Far worse than now she shows.
Yes, he's a fine man.
O, is he so? You have a sister.
But she shall never have him, tell her so,
For a trick that I know. You'd best look to her;
For if she see him once, she's gone, she's done,
And undone in an hour. All the young maids
Of our town are in love with him, but I laugh at 'em,
And let 'em all alone; is't not a wise course?
There is at least two hundred now with child by him –
There must be four; yet I keep close for all this,
Close as a cockle; and all these must be boys –
He has the trick on't – and at ten years old
They must be all gelt for musicians,
And sing the wars of Theseus.
This is strange.
As ever you heard; but say nothing.
They come from all parts of the dukedom to him.
I'll warrant ye, he had not so few last night
As twenty to dispatch; he'll tickle it up
In two hours, if his hand be in.
Past all cure.
Heaven forbid, man!
Come hither; you are a wise man.
Does she know him?
No, would she did.
You are master of a ship?
Where's your compass?
And now direct your course to th' wood, where Palamon
Lies longing for me. For the tackling
Let me alone. Come, weigh, my hearts, cheerily!
ALL THE OTHERS
O, O, O!
'Tis up. The wind's fair; top the bowling;
Out with the mainsail! Where's your whistle, master?
Let's get her in.
Up to the top, boy.
What kennest thou?
A fair wood.
Bear for it, master; tack about!
When Cynthia with her borrowed light, etc.