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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene I.

The Comedy of Errors

Before the House of ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus.

Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus, DROMIO of Ephesus, ANGELO, and BALTHAZAR.

Ant. E.Good Signior Angelo, you must excuse us all;

My wife is shrewish when I keep not hours;

Say that I linger’d with you at your shop

To see the making of her carkanet,

And that to-morrow you will bring it home.

But here’s a villain, that would face me down

He met me on the mart, and that I beat him,

And charg’d him with a thousand marks in gold,

And that I did deny my wife and house.

Thou drunkard, thou, what didst thou mean by this?

Dro. E.Say what you will, sir, but I know what I know;

That you beat me at the mart, I have your hand to show:

If the skin were parchment and the blows you gave were ink,

Your own handwriting would tell you what I think.

Ant. E.I think thou art an ass.

Dro. E.Marry, so it doth appear

By the wrongs I suffer and the blows I bear.

I should kick, being kick’d; and, being at that pass,

You would keep from my heels and beware of an ass.

Ant. E.You are sad, Signior Balthazar: pray God, our cheer

May answer my good will and your good welcome here.

Bal.I hold your dainties cheap, sir, and your welcome dear.

Ant. E.O, Signior Balthazar, either at flesh or fish,

A table-full of welcome makes scarce one dainty dish.

Bal.Good meat, sir, is common; that every churl affords.

Ant. E.And welcome more common, for that’s nothing but words.

Bal.Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

Ant. E.Ay, to a niggardly host and more sparing guest:

But though my cates be mean, take them in good part;

Better cheer may you have, but not with better heart.

But soft! my door is lock’d. Go bid them let us in.

Dro. E.Maud, Bridget, Marian, Cicely, Gillian, Ginn!

Dro. S.[Within.]Mome, malt-horse, capon, coxcomb, idiot, patch!

Either get thee from the door or sit down at the hatch.

Dost thou conjure for wenches, that thou call’st for such store,

When one is one too many? Go, get thee from the door.

Dro. E.What patch is made our porter?—My master stays in the street.

Dro. S.[Within.]Let him walk from whence he came, lest he catch cold on ’s feet.

Ant. E.Who talks within there? ho! open the door.

Dro. S.[Within.]Right, sir; I’ll tell you when, an you’ll tell me wherefore.

Ant. E.Wherefore? for my dinner: I have not din’d to-day.

Dro. S.Nor to-day here you must not; come again when you may.

Ant. E.What art thou that keep’st me out from the house I owe?

Dro. S.[Within.]The porter for this time, sir, and my name is Dromio.

Dro. E.O villain! thou hast stolen both mine office and my name:

The one ne’er got me credit, the other mickle blame.

If thou hadst been Dromio to-day in my place,

Thou wouldst have chang’d thy face for a name, or thy name for an ass.

Luce.[Within.]What a coil is there, Dromio! who are those at the gate?

Dro. E.Let my master in, Luce.

Luce.[Within.]Faith, no; he comes too late;

And so tell your master.

Dro. E.O Lord! I must laugh.

Have at you with a proverb: Shall I set in my staff?

Luce.[Within.]Have at you with another: that’s—when? can you tell?

Dro. S.[Within.]If thy name be call’d Luce,—Luce, thou hast answer’d him well.

Ant. E.Do you hear, you minion? you’ll let us in, I trow?

Luce.[Within.]I thought to have ask’d you.

Dro. S.[Within.]And you said, no.

Dro. E.So come, help: well struck! there was blow for blow.

Ant. E.Thou baggage, let me in.

Luce.[Within.]Can you tell for whose sake?

Dro. E.Master, knock the door hard.

Luce.[Within.]Let him knock till it ache.

Ant. E.You’ll cry for this, minion, if I beat the door down.

Luce.[Within.]What needs all that, and a pair of stocks in the town?

Adr.[Within.]Who is that at the door that keeps all this noise?

Dro. S.[Within.]By my troth your town is troubled with unruly boys.

Ant. E.Are you there, wife? you might have come before.

Adr.[Within.]Your wife, sir knave! go, get you from the door.

Dro. E.If you went in pain, master, this ‘knave’ would go sore.

Ang.Here is neither cheer, sir, nor welcome: we would fain have either.

Bal.In debating which was best, we shall part with neither.

Dro. E.They stand at the door, master: bid them welcome hither.

Ant. E.There is something in the wind, that we cannot get in.

Dro. E.You would say so, master, if your garments were thin.

Your cake here is warm within; you stand here in the cold:

It would make a man mad as a buck to be so bought and sold.

Ant. E.Go fetch me something: I’ll break ope the gate.

Dro. S.[Within.]Break any breaking here, and I’ll break your knave’s pate.

Dro. E.A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind:

Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.

Dro. S.[Within.]It seems thou wantest breaking: out upon thee, hind!

Dro. E.Here’s too much ‘out upon thee!’ I pray thee, let me in.

Dro. S.[Within.]Ay, when fowls have no feathers, and fish have no fin.

Ant. E.Well, I’ll break in. Go borrow me a crow.

Dro. E.A crow without feather? Master, mean you so?

For a fish without a fin, there’s a fowl without a feather:

If a crow help us in, sirrah, we’ll pluck a crow together.

Ant. E.Go get thee gone: fetch me an iron crow.

Bal.Have patience, sir; O! let it not be so;

Herein you war against your reputation,

And draw within the compass of suspect

The unviolated honour of your wife.

Once this,—your long experience of her wisdom,

Her sober virtue, years, and modesty,

Plead on her part some cause to you unknown;

And doubt not, sir, but she will well excuse

Why at this time the doors are made against you.

Be rul’d by me: depart in patience,

And let us to the Tiger all to dinner;

And about evening come yourself alone,

To know the reason of this strange restraint.

If by strong hand you offer to break in

Now in the stirring passage of the day,

A vulgar comment will be made of it,

And that supposed by the common rout

Against your yet ungalled estimation,

That may with foul intrusion enter in

And dwell upon your grave when you are dead;

For slander lives upon succession,

For ever housed where it gets possession.

Ant. E.You have prevail’d: I will depart in quiet,

And, in despite of mirth, mean to be merry.

I know a wench of excellent discourse,

Pretty and witty, wild and yet, too, gentle:

There will we dine: this woman that I mean,

My wife,—but, I protest, without desert,—

Hath oftentimes upbraided me withal:

To her will we to dinner.[To ANGELO.]Get you home,

And fetch the chain; by this I know ’tis made:

Bring it, I pray you, to the Porpentine;

For there’s the house: that chain will I bestow,

Be it for nothing but to spite my wife,

Upon mine hostess there. Good sir, make haste.

Since mine own doors refuse to entertain me,

I’ll knock elsewhere, to see if they’ll disdain me.

Ang.I’ll meet you at that place some hour hence.

Ant. E.Do so. This jest shall cost me some expense.[Exeunt.