Athens. A garden, with a prison in the background.
(Jailer; Wooer; Jailer’s Daughter; Palamon; Arcite)
The Jailer is talking with his daughter’s Wooer, and assures him that she will inherit all he has on his death. All that is lacking for the two young folk to marry is for the Wooer to get her consent. The Jailer’s Daughter comes in with new rushes for the floor of Palamon and Arcite’s cell. The Jailer mentions that once all the hustle and bustle at the court is over, they shall get on with this whole marrying business. Father and daughter begin to discuss the prisoners, and it is soon clear that the girl has been paying a great deal of attention to them. When the two appear at their prison window, she is able to identify which is which, unlike her father. The Jailer tells her to stop pointing and they all leave to avoid being seen. (18 lines)
Enter Jailer and Wooer.
I may depart with little, while I live; something I may cast to you, not much. Alas, the prison I keep, though it be for great ones, yet they seldom come: before one salmon, you shall take a number of minnows. I am given out to be better lin’d than it can appear to me report is a true speaker. I would I were really that I am deliver’d to be. Marry, what I have (be it what it will) I will assure upon my daughter at the day of my death.
Sir, I demand no more than your own offer, and I will estate your daughter in what I have promis’d.
Well, we will talk more of this when the solemnity is past. But have you a full promise of her? When that shall be seen, I tender my consent.
Enter Daughter with strewings.
I have, sir. Here she comes.
Your friend and I have chanc’d to name you here, upon the old business. But no more of that now; so soon as the court hurry is over, we will have an end of it. I’ th’ mean time, look tenderly to the two prisoners. I can tell you they are princes.
These strewings are for their chamber. ’Tis pity they are in prison, and ’twere pity they should be out. I do think they have patience to make any adversity asham’d. The prison itself is proud of ’em; and they have all the world in their chamber.
They are fam’d to be a pair of absolute men.
By my troth, I think fame but stammers ’em, they stand a grise above the reach of report.
I heard them reported in the battle to be the only doers.
Nay, most likely, for they are noble suff’rers. I marvel how they would have look’d had they been victors, that with such a constant nobility enforce a freedom out of bondage, making misery their mirth, and affliction a toy to jest at.
Do they so?
It seems to me they have no more sense of their captivity than I of ruling Athens. They eat well, look merrily, discourse of many things, but nothing of their own restraint and disasters. Yet sometime a divided sigh, martyr’d as ’twere i’ th’ deliverance, will break from one of them; when the other presently gives it so sweet a rebuke that I could wish myself a sigh to be so chid, or at least a sigher to be comforted.
I never saw ’em.
The Duke himself came privately in the night, and so did they. What the reason of it is, I know not.
Enter Palamon and Arcite above.
Look yonder they are! That’s Arcite looks out.
No, sir, no, that’s Palamon. Arcite is the lower of the twain; you may perceive a part of him.
Go to, leave your pointing. They would not make us their object. Out of their sight.
It is a holiday to look on them. Lord, the diff’rence of men!
Exeunt Jailer, Wooer, and Daughter.