The Brothers – Act IV
Enter Ctesipho and Syrus from the house of Micio.
Ctes. My father gone into the country, say you?
Syr. (with a careless air.) Some time since.
Ctes. Do tell me, I beseech you.
Syr. He is at the farm at this very moment, I warrant—hard at some work or other.
Ctes. I really wish, provided it be done with no prejudice to his health, I wish that he may so effectually tire himself, that, for the next three days together, he may be unable to arise from his bed.
Syr. So be it, and any thing still better than that, if possible.
Ctes. Just so; for I do most confoundedly wish to pass this whole day in merry-making as I have begun it; and for no reason do I detest that farm so heartily as for its being so near town. If it were at a greater distance, night would overtake him there before he could return hither again. Now, when he doesn’t find me there, he’ll come running back here, I’m quite sure; he’ll be asking me where I have been, that I have not seen him all this day: what am I to say?
Syr. Does nothing suggest itself to your mind?
Ctes. Nothing whatever.
Syr. So much the worse—have you no client, friend, or guest?
Ctes. I have; what then?
Syr. You have been engaged with them.
Ctes. When I have not been engaged? That can never do.
Syr. It may.
Ctes. During the daytime; but if I pass the night here, what excuse can I make, Syrus?
Syr. Dear me, how much I do wish it was the custom for one to be engaged with friends at night as well! But you be easy; I know his humor perfectly well. When he raves the most violently, I can make him as gentle as a lamb.
Ctes. In what way?
Syr. He loves to hear you praised: I make a god of you to him, and recount your virtues.
Ctes. What, mine?
Syr. Yours; immediately the tears fall from him as from a child, for very joy. (Starting.) Hah! take care——
Ctes. Why, what’s the matter?
Syr. The wolf in the fable——
Ctes. What! my father?
Syr. His own self.
Ctes. What shall we do, Syrus?
Syr. You only be off in-doors, I’ll see to that.
Ctes. If he makes any inquiries, you have seen me nowhere; do you hear?
Syr. Can you not be quiet?
They retreat to the door of Micio’s house, and Ctesipho stands in the doorway.
Enter Demea, on the other side of the stage.
Dem. (to himself.) I certainly am an unfortunate man. In the first place, I can find my brother nowhere; and then, in the next place, while looking for him, I met a day-laborer from the farm; he says that my son is not in the country, and what to do I know not——
Ctes. (apart.) Syrus!
Syr. (apart.) What’s the matter?
Ctes. (apart.) Is he looking for me?
Syr. (apart.) Yes.
Ctes. (apart.) Undone!
Syr. (apart.) Nay, do be of good heart.
Dem. (to himself.) Plague on it! what ill luck is this? I can not really account for it, unless I suppose myself only born for the purpose of enduring misery. I am the first to feel our misfortunes; the first to know of them all; then the first to carry the news; I am the only one, if any thing does go wrong, to take it to heart.
Syr. (apart.) I’m amused at him; he says that he is the first to know of every thing, while he is the only one ignorant of every thing.
Dem. (to himself.) I’ve now come back; and I’ll go see whether perchance my brother has yet returned.
Ctes. (apart.) Syrus, pray do take care that he doesn’t suddenly rush in upon us here.
Syr. (apart.) Now will you hold your tongue? I’ll take care.
Ctes. (apart.) Never this day will I depend on your management for that, upon my faith; for I’ll shut myself up with her in some cupboard—that’s the safest.
Goes into the house.
Syr. (apart.) Do so, still I’ll get rid of him.
Dem. (seeing Syrus.) But see! there’s that rascal, Syrus.
Syr. (aloud, pretending not to see Demea.) Really, upon my faith, no person can stay here, if this is to be the case! For my part, I should like to know how many masters I have—what a cursed condition this is!
Dem. What’s he whining about? What does he mean? How say you, good sir, is my brother at home?
Syr. What the plague do you talk to me about, “good sir”? I’m quite distracted!
Dem. What’s the matter with you?
Syr. Do you ask the question? Ctesipho has been beating me, poor wretch, and that Music-girl, almost to death.
Dem. Ha! what is it you tell me?
Syr. Aye, see how he has cut my lip. (Pretends to point to it.)
Dem. For what reason?
Syr. He says that she was bought by my advice.
Dem. Did not you tell me, a short time since, that you had seen him on his way into the country?
Syr. I did; but he afterward came back, raving like a madman; he spared nobody—ought he not to have been ashamed to beat an old man? Him whom, only the other day, I used to carry about in my arms when thus high? (Showing.)
Dem. I commend him; O Ctesipho, you take after your father. Well, I do pronounce you a man.
Syr. Commend him? Assuredly he will keep his hands to himself in future, if he’s wise.
Dem. ’Twas done with spirit.
Syr. Very much so, to be beating a poor woman, and me, a slave, who didn’t dare strike him in return; heyday! very spirited indeed!
Dem. He could not have done better: he thought the same as I did, that you were the principal in this affair. But is my brother within?
Syr. He is not.
Dem. I’m thinking where to look for him.
Syr. I know where he is—but I shall not tell you at present.
Dem. Ha! what’s that you say?
Syr. I do say so.
Dem. Then I’ll break your head for you this instant.
Syr. I can’t tell the person’s name he’s gone to, but I know the place where he lives.
Dem. Tell me the place then.
Syr. Do you know the portico down this way, just by the shambles? (Pointing in the direction.)
Dem. How should I but know it?
Syr. Go straight along, right up that street; when you come there, there is a descent right opposite that goes downward, go straight down that; afterward, on this side (extending one hand), there is a chapel: close by it is a narrow lane, where there’s also a great wild fig-tree.
Dem. I know it.
Syr. Go through that—
Dem. But that lane is not a thoroughfare.
Syr. I’ faith, that’s true; dear, dear, would you take me to be in my senses? I made a mistake. Return to the portico; indeed that will be a much nearer way, and there is less going round about: you know the house of Cratinus, the rich man?
Dem. I know it.
Syr. When you have passed that, keep straight along that street on the left hand; when you come to the Temple of Diana, turn to the right; before you come to the city gate, just by that pond, there is a baker’s shop, and opposite to it a joiner’s; there he is.
Dem. What is he doing there?
Syr. He has given some couches to be made, with oaken legs, for use in the open air.
Dem. For you to carouse upon! Very fine! But why do I delay going to him?
Syr. Go, by all means. I’ll work you to day, you skeleton, as you deserve. Æschinus loiters intolerably; the breakfast’s spoiling; and as for Ctesipho, he’s head and ears in love. I shall now think of myself, for I’ll be off at once, and pick out the very nicest bit, and, leisurely sipping my cups, I’ll lengthen out the day.
Goes into the house.
Enter Micio and Hegio.
Mic. I can see no reason here, Hegio, that I should be so greatly commended. I do my duty; the wrong that has originated with us I redress. Unless, perhaps, you thought me one of that class of men who think that an injury is purposely done them if you expostulate about any thing they have done; and yet are themselves the first to accuse. Because I have not acted thus, do you return me thanks?
Heg. Oh, far from it; I never led myself to believe you to be otherwise than you are; but I beg, Micio, that you will go with me to the mother of the young woman, and repeat to her the same; what you have told me, do you yourself tell the woman, that this suspicion of Æschinus’s fidelity was incurred on his brother’s account, and that this Music-girl was for him.
Mic. If you think I ought, or if there is a necessity for doing so, let us go.
Heg. You act with kindness; for you’ll then both have relieved her mind who is now languishing in sorrow and affliction, and have discharged your duty. But if you think otherwise, I will tell her myself what you have been saying to me.
Mic. Nay, I’ll go as well.
Heg. You act with kindness; all who are in distressed circumstances are suspicious, to I know not what degree; they take every thing too readily as an affront; they fancy themselves trifled with on account of their helpless condition; therefore it will be more satisfactory for you to justify him to them yourself.
They go into the house of Sostrata.
I am quite distracted in mind! for this misfortune so unexpectedly to befall me, that I neither know what to do with myself, or how to act! My limbs are enfeebled through fear, my faculties bewildered with apprehension; no counsel is able to find a place within my breast. Alas! how to extricate myself from this perplexity I know not; so strong a suspicion has taken possession of them about me; not without some reason too: Sostrata believes that I have purchased this Music-girl for myself: the old woman informed me of that. For by accident, when she was sent for the midwife, I saw her, and at once went up to her. “How is Pamphila?” I inquired; “is her delivery at hand? Is it for that she is sending for the midwife?” “Away, away, Æschinus,” cries she; “you have deceived us long enough; already have your promises disappointed us sufficiently.” “Ha!” said I; “pray what is the meaning of this?” “Farewell,” she cries; “keep to her who is your choice.” I instantly guessed what it was they suspected, but still I checked myself, that I might not be telling that gossip any thing about my brother, whereby it might be divulged. Now what am I to do? Shall I say she is for my brother, a thing that ought by no means to be repeated any where? However, let that pass. It is possible it might go no further. I am afraid they would not believe it, so many probabilities concur against it: ’twas I myself carried her off; ’twas I, my own self, that paid the money for her; ’twas my own house she was carried to. This I confess has been entirely my own fault. Ought I not to have disclosed this affair, just as it happened, to my father? I might have obtained his consent to marry her. I have been too negligent hitherto; henceforth, then, arouse yourself, Æschinus. This then is the first thing; to go to them and clear myself. I’ll approach the door. (Advances to the door of Sostrata’s house.) Confusion! I always tremble most dreadfully when I go to knock at that door. (Knocking and calling to them within.) Ho there, ho there! it is Æschinus; open the door immediately, some one. (The door opens.) Some person, I know not who, is coming out; I’ll step aside here. (He stands apart.)
Enter Micio from the house of Sostrata.
Mic. (speaking at the door to Sostrata.) Do as I told you, Sostrata; I’ll go find Æschinus, that he may know how these matters have been settled. (Looking round.) But who was it knocking at the door?
Æsch. (apart.) Heavens, it is my father!—I am undone!
Æsch. (aside.) What can be his business here?
Mic. Was it you knocking at this door? (Aside.) He is silent. Why shouldn’t I rally him a little? It would be as well, as he was never willing to trust me with this secret. (To Æschinus.) Don’t you answer me?
Æsch. (confusedly.) It wasn’t I knocked at that door, that I know of.
Mic. Just so; for I wondered what business you could have here. (Apart.) He blushes; all’s well.
Æsch. Pray tell me, father, what business have you there?
Mic. Why, none of my own; but a certain friend of mine just now brought me hither from the Forum to give him some assistance.
Mic. I’ll tell you. There are some women living here; in impoverished circumstances, as I suppose you don’t know them; and, in fact, I’m quite sure, for it is not long since they removed to this place.
Æsch. Well, what next?
Mic. There is a girl living with her mother.
Æsch. Go on.
Mic. This girl has lost her father; this friend of mine is her next of kin; the law obliges him to marry her.
Æsch. (aside.) Undone!
Mic. What’s the matter?
Æsch. Nothing. Very well: proceed.
Mic. He has come to take her with him; for he lives at Miletus.
Æsch. What! To take the girl away with him?
Mic. Such is the fact.
Æsch. All the way to Miletus, pray?
Æsch. (aside.) I’m overwhelmed with grief. (To Micio.) But what of them? What do they say?
Mic. What do you suppose they should? Why, nothing at all. The mother has trumped up a tale, that there is a child by some other man, I know not who, and she does not state the name; she says that he was the first, and that she ought not to be given to the other.
Æsch. Well now, does not this seem just to you after all?
Æsch. Why not, pray? Is the other to be carrying her away from here?
Mic. Why should he not take her?
Æsch. You have acted harshly and unfeelingly, and even, if, father, I may speak my sentiments more plainly, unhandsomely.
Mic. Why so?
Æsch. Do you ask me? Pray, what do you think must be the state of mind of the man who was first connected with her, who, to his misfortune, may perhaps still love her to distraction, when he sees her torn away from before his face, and borne off from his sight forever? An unworthy action, father!
Mic. On what grounds is it so? Who betrothed her? Who gave her away? When and to whom was she married? Who was the author of all this? Why did he connect himself with a woman who belonged to another?
Æsch. Was it to be expected that a young woman of her age should sit at home, waiting till a kinsman of hers should come from a distance? This, my father, you ought to have represented, and have insisted on it.
Mic. Ridiculous! Was I to have pleaded against him whom I was to support? But what’s all this, Æschinus, to us? What have we to do with them? Let us begone:——What’s the matter? Why these tears?
Æsch. (weeping.) Father, I beseech you, listen to me.
Mic. Æschinus, I have heard and know it all; for I love you, and therefore every thing you do is the more a care to me.
Æsch. So do I wish you to find me deserving of your love, as long as you live, my dear father, as I am sincerely sorry for the offense I have committed, and am ashamed to see you.
Mic. Upon my word I believe it, for I know your ingenuous disposition: but I am afraid that you are too inconsiderate. In what city, pray, do you suppose you live? You have debauched a virgin, whom it was not lawful for you to touch. In the first place then that was a great offense; great, but still natural. Others, and even men of worth, have frequently done the same. But after it happened, pray, did you show any circumspection? Or did you use any foresight as to what was to be done, or how it was to be done? If you were ashamed to tell me of it, by what means was I to come to know it? While you were at a loss upon these points, ten months have been lost. So far indeed as lay in your power, you have periled both yourself and this poor girl, and the child. What did you imagine—that the Gods would set these matters to rights for you while you were asleep, and that she would be brought home to your chamber without any exertions of your own? I would not have you to be equally negligent in other affairs. Be of good heart, you shall have her for your wife.
Mic. Be of good heart, I tell you.
Æsch. Father, are you now jesting with me, pray?
Mic. I, jesting with you! For what reason?
Æsch. I don’t know; but so anxiously do I wish this to be true, that I am the more afraid it may not be.
Mic. Go home, and pray to the Gods that you may have your wife; be off.
Æsch. What! have my wife now?
Mic. Now, as soon as possible.
Æsch. May all the Gods detest me, father, if I do not love you better than even my very eyes!
Mic. What! better than her?
Æsch. Quite as well.
Mic. Very kind of you!
Æsch. Well, where is this Milesian?
Mic. Departed, vanished, gone on board ship; but why do you delay?
Æsch. Father, do you rather go and pray to the Gods; for I know, for certain, that they will rather be propitious to you, as being a much better man than I am.
Mic. I’ll go in-doors, that what is requisite may be prepared. You do as I said, if you are wise.
Goes into his house.
Æsch. What can be the meaning of this? Is this being a father, or this being a son? If he had been a brother or familiar companion, how could he have been more complaisant! Is he not worthy to be beloved? Is he not to be imprinted in my very bosom? Well then, the more does he impose an obligation on me by his kindness, to take due precaution not inconsiderately to do any thing that he may not wish. But why do I delay going in-doors this instant, that I may not myself delay my own nuptials?
Goes into the house of Micio.
I am quite tired with walking: May the great Jupiter confound you, Syrus, together with your directions! I have crawled the whole city over; to the gate, to the pond—where not? There was no joiner’s shop there; not a soul could say he had seen my brother; but now I’m determined to sit and wait at his house till he returns.
Enter Micio from his house.
Mic. (speaking to the people within.) I’ll go and tell them there’s no delay on our part.
Dem. But see here’s the very man: O Micio, I have been seeking you this long time.
Mic. Why, what’s the matter?
Dem. I’m bringing you some new and great enormities of that hopeful youth.
Mic. Just look at that!
Dem. Fresh ones, of blackest dye.
Mic. There now—at it again.
Dem. Ah, Micio! you little know what sort of person he is.
Mic. I do.
Dem. O simpleton! you are dreaming that I’m talking about the Music-girl; this crime is against a virgin and a citizen.
Mic. I know it.
Dem. So then, you know it, and put up with it!
Mic. Why not put up with it?
Dem. Tell me, pray, don’t you exclaim about it? Don’t you go distracted?
Mic. Not I: certainly I had rather——
Dem. There has been a child born.
Mic. May the Gods be propitious to it.
Dem. The girl has no fortune.
Mic. So I have heard.
Dem. And he—must he marry her without one?
Mic. Of course.
Dem. What is to be done then?
Mic. Why, what the case itself points out: the young woman must be brought hither.
Dem. O Jupiter! must that be the way then?
Mic. What can I do else?
Dem. What can you do? If in reality this causes you no concern, to pretend it were surely the duty of a man.
Mic. But I have already betrothed the young woman to him; the matter is settled: the marriage takes place to-day. I have removed all apprehensions. This is rather the duty of a man.
Dem. But does the affair please you, Micio?
Mic. If I were able to alter it, no; now, as I can not, I bear it with patience. The life of man is just like playing with dice: if that which you most want to throw does not turn up, what turns up by chance you must correct by art.
Dem. O rare corrector! of course it is by your art that twenty minæ have been thrown away for a Music-girl; who, as soon as possible, must be got rid of at any price; and if not for money, why then for nothing.
Mic. Not at all, and indeed I have no wish to sell her.
Dem. What will you do with her then?
Mic. She shall be at my house.
Dem. For heaven’s sake, a courtesan and a matron in the same house!
Mic. Why not?
Dem. Do you imagine you are in your senses?
Mic. Really I do think so.
Dem. So may the Gods prosper me, I now see your folly; I believe you are going to do so that you may have somebody to practice music with.
Mic. Why not?
Dem. And the new-made bride to be learning too?
Mic. Of course.
Dem. Having hold of the rope, you will be dancing with them.
Mic. Like enough; and you too along with us, if there’s need.
Dem. Ah me! are you not ashamed of this?
Mic. Demea, do, for once, lay aside this anger of yours, and show yourself as you ought at your son’s wedding, cheerful and good-humored. I’ll just step over to them, and return immediately.
Goes into Sostrata’s house.
Dem. O Jupiter! here’s a life! here are manners! here’s madness! A wife to be coming without a fortune! A music-wench in the house! A house full of wastefulness! A young man ruined by extravagance! An old man in his dotage!—Should Salvation herself desire it, she certainly could not save this family.