Two Noble Kinsmen Scenes
Athens. A room in the prison.
(Jailer; Jailer’s First Friend; Jailer’s Second Friend; Wooer; Jailer’s Brother; Jailer’s Daughter)
Very concerned, the Jailer asks his friends whether there was any mention of Palamon’s escape when he was found. His friend reassures him that it is unlikely anyone will remember that matter, and that the Jailer is probably safe. Another friend arrives to reassure the Jailer that Palamon has cleared him of all blame, as well as obtaining a pardon for the Jailer’s Daughter and promising to give her a large sum of money on her wedding day. The agitated Wooer arrives to ask the Jailer about his daughter; the Jailer reflects that she was speaking oddly. The Wooer has to tell him that the girl is clearly mad: he saw her talking to the trees about Palamon, and witnessed her throw herself into the river. He saved her, but she has escaped from him. The Jailer’s Brother brings the Daughter in, still singing madly. They talk to her gently, agreeing with everything she says as she discusses Palamon and his faithlessness. She comes to believe that she is on a ship and directs them to sail towards Palamon; they all join in her imaginings. She begins to sing and they follow her as she walks away. ( line)
Enter Jailer and his Friend.
Hear 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-ey’d Emily, upon their knees
Begg’d 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 clear’d you,
And got your pardon, and discover’d how
And by whose means he escap’d, which was your daughter’s,
Whose pardon is procur’d 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 nev’r begg’d
But they prevail’d, 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 honorable,
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 ask’d 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.
No, sir, not well:
’Tis too true, she is mad.
It cannot be.
Believe you’ll find it so.
I half suspected
What you 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
’Twas 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 perceiv’d not
Who made the sound, the rushes and the reeds
Had so encompass’d it. I laid me down
And list’ned 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-ey’d 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 talk’d 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 colors,
That methought she appear’d like the fair nymph
That feeds the lake with waters, or as Iris
Newly dropp’d down from heaven. Rings she made
Of rushes that grew by, and to ’em spoke
The prettiest posies—“Thus our true love’s tied,”
“This you may loose, not me,” and many a one;
And then she wept, and sung again, and sigh’d,
And with the same breath smil’d, and kiss’d her hand.
Alas, what pity it is!
I made in to her.
She saw me, and straight sought the flood. I sav’d her,
And set her safe to land; when presently
She slipp’d 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 stay’d,
And fell, scarce to be got away. I left them with her,
And hither came to tell you.
Enter Jailer’s Brother, 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 rearly, 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 ev’n take it patiently.
Good ev’n, 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 distemper’d
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. Y’ had 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’t up
In two hours, if his hand be in.
Past all cure.
Heaven forbid, man!
To the Jailer.
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?
Set it to th’ north.
And now direct your course to th’ wood, where Palamon
Lies longing for me. For the tackling
Let me alone. Come weigh, my hearts, cheerly!
Owgh, owgh, owgh! ’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!
Where’s the pilot?
What ken’st thou?
A fair wood.
Bear for it, master.
“When Cynthia with her borrowed light,” etc.