The country near Athens.
(Arcite; First Country Folk; Second Country Folk; Third Country Folk; Fourth Country Folk)
Arcite is torn between joy at his new freedom and despair being banished any chance to see Emilia again. He envies Palamon, who will have opportunities to do so, and is convinced that he will gain the lady. Four countrymen come by, making plans to go see the sports and planning their Morris dance. Arcite asks them where they’re going, and they explain, though some of them have a very poor opinion of the ignorant man. Arcite decides to disguise himself as a poor man and enter the running and wrestling competitions. (99 lines)
Banish’d the kingdom? ’Tis a benefit,
A mercy I must thank ’em for; but banish’d
The free enjoying of that face I die for—
O, ’twas a studied punishment, a death
Beyond imagination! Such a vengeance
That were I old and wicked, all my sins
Could never pluck upon me. Palamon!
Thou hast the start now; thou shalt stay and see
Her bright eyes break each morning ’gainst thy window,
And let in life into thee; thou shalt feed
Upon the sweetness of a noble beauty,
That nature nev’r exceeded, nor nev’r shall.
Good gods! What happiness has Palamon!
Twenty to one, he’ll come to speak to her,
And if she be as gentle as she’s fair,
I know she’s his; he has a tongue will tame tempests,
And make the wild rocks wanton. Come what can come,
The worst is death: I will not leave the kingdom.
I know mine own is but a heap of ruins,
And no redress there. If I go, he has her.
I am resolv’d another shape shall make me,
Or end my fortunes. Either way, I am happy:
I’ll see her, and be near her, or no more.
Enter four Country People, and one with a garland before them.
My masters, I’ll be there, that’s certain.
And I’ll be there.
Why then have with ye, boys! ’Tis but a chiding.
Let the plough play today, I’ll tickle’t out
Of the jades’ tails tomorrow.
I am sure
To have my wife as jealous as a turkey.
But that’s all one, I’ll go through, let her mumble.
Clap her aboard tomorrow night, and stow her,
And all’s made up again.
Ay, do but put
A fescue in her fist, and you shall see her
Take a new lesson out, and be a good wench.
Do we all hold against the Maying?
What should ail us?
Arcas will be there.
And Rycas, and three better lads nev’r danc’d
Under green tree; and ye know what wenches, ha?
But will the dainty domine, the schoolmaster,
Keep touch, do you think? For he does all, ye know.
He’ll eat a horn-book ere he fail. Go to!
The matter’s too far driven between him
And the tanner’s daughter to let slip now;
And she must see the Duke, and she must dance too.
Shall we be lusty?
All the boys in Athens
Blow wind i’ th’ breech on ’s, and here I’ll be,
And there I’ll be, for our town, and here again,
And there again. Ha, boys, heigh for the weavers!
This must be done i’ th’ woods.
O, pardon me!
By any means; our thing of learning says so—
Where he himself will edify the Duke
Most parlously in our behalfs. He’s excellent i’ th’ woods,
Bring him to th’ plains, his learning makes no cry.
We’ll see the sports, then every man to ’s tackle!
And, sweet companions, let’s rehearse by any means
Before the ladies see us, and do sweetly,
And God knows what may come on’t.
Content. The sports
Once ended, we’ll perform. Away, boys, and hold!
By your leaves, honest friends: pray you, whither go you?
Whither? Why, what a question’s that?
Yes, ’tis a question
To me that know not.
To the games, my friend.
Where were you bred you know it not?
Not far, sir.
Are there such games today?
Yes, marry, are there;
And such as you never saw. The Duke himself
Will be in person there.
What pastimes are they?
Wrastling and running.—’Tis a pretty fellow.
Thou wilt not go along?
Not yet, sir.
Take your own time. Come, boys.
My mind misgives me
This fellow has a veng’ance trick o’ th’ hip,
Mark how his body’s made for’t.
I’ll be hang’d though
If he dare venture. Hang him, plum porridge!
He wrestle? He roast eggs! Come let’s be gone, lads.
Exeunt four Countrymen.
This is an offer’d opportunity
I durst not wish for. Well I could have wrestled,
The best men call’d it excellent; and run
Swifter than wind upon a field of corn,
Curling the wealthy ears, never flew. I’ll venture,
And in some poor disguise be there. Who knows
Whether my brows may not be girt with garlands,
And happiness prefer me to a place
Where I may ever dwell in sight of her?