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ACT I. SCENE III. 


Rome. MARCIUS' house

Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA, mother and wife to MARCIUS; they set them down on two low stools and sew

 VOLUMNIA.

I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more
comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I should freelier
rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the
embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When
yet he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when
youth with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; when, for a day of
kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from
her beholding; I, considering how honour would become such a
person-that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th' wall,
if renown made it not stir- was pleas'd to let him seek danger
where he was to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him, from whence
he return'd his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I
sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child
than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.

 VIRGILIA.

But had he died in the business, madam, how then?

 VOLUMNIA.

Then his good report should have been my son; I therein
would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen
sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my
good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country
than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

Enter a GENTLEWOMAN

 GENTLEWOMAN.

Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

 VIRGILIA.

Beseech you give me leave to retire myself.

 VOLUMNIA.

Indeed you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum;
See him pluck Aufidius down by th' hair;
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him.
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:
'Come on, you cowards! You were got in fear,
Though you were born in Rome.' His bloody brow
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow
Or all or lose his hire.

 VIRGILIA.

His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!

 VOLUMNIA.

Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria
We are fit to bid her welcome

Exit GENTLEWOMAN

 VIRGILIA.

Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

 VOLUMNIA.

He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee
And tread upon his neck.

Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, With VALERIA and an usher

 VALERIA.

My ladies both, good day to you.

 VOLUMNIA.

Sweet madam!

 VIRGILIA.

I am glad to see your ladyship.

 VALERIA.

How do you both? You are manifest housekeepers. What are
you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little
son?

 VIRGILIA.

I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.

 VOLUMNIA.

He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look
upon his schoolmaster.

 VALERIA.

O' my word, the father's son! I'll swear 'tis a very
pretty boy. O' my troth, I look'd upon him a Wednesday half an
hour together; has such a confirm'd countenance! I saw him run
after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it he let it go
again, and after it again, and over and over he comes, and up
again, catch'd it again; or whether his fall enrag'd him, or how
'twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it. O, I warrant, how he
mammock'd it!

 VOLUMNIA.

One on's father's moods.

 VALERIA.

Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

 VIRGILIA.

A crack, madam.

 VALERIA.

Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the
idle huswife with me this afternoon.

 VIRGILIA.

No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

 VALERIA.

Not out of doors!

 VOLUMNIA.

She shall, she shall.

 VIRGILIA.

Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the threshold
till my lord return from the wars.

 VALERIA.

Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably; come, you
must go visit the good lady that lies in.

 VIRGILIA.

I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my
prayers; but I cannot go thither.

 VOLUMNIA.

Why, I pray you?

 VIRGILIA.

'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.

 VALERIA.

You would be another Penelope; yet they say all the yarn
she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths.
Come, I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you
might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.

 VIRGILIA.

No, good madam, pardon me; indeed I will not forth.

 VALERIA.

In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you excellent news
of your husband.

 VIRGILIA.

O, good madam, there can be none yet.

 VALERIA.

Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him
last night.

 VIRGILIA.

Indeed, madam?

 VALERIA.

In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it
is: the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the
general is gone, with one part of our Roman power. Your lord and
Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they
nothing doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true,
on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.

 VIRGILIA.

Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in everything
hereafter.

 VOLUMNIA.

Let her alone, lady; as she is now, she will but disease
our better mirth.

 VALERIA.

In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then. Come,
good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o'
door and go along with us.

 VIRGILIA.

No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much
mirth.

 VALERIA.

Well then, farewell

Exeunt

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