The Comedy of Errors


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Adriana and Luciana


ADRIANA

Ah, Luciana, did he tempt thee so?

Mightst thou perceive austerely in his eye
austerely (adv.) seriously, sternly, severely

That he did plead in earnest, yea or no?

Looked he or red or pale, or sad or merrily?
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

What observation madest thou in this case

Of his heart's meteors tilting in his face?
tilt (v.) joust, fight [with lances], thrust


LUCIANA

First, he denied you had in him no right.


ADRIANA

He meant he did me none, the more my spite.
spite (n.) 1 annoyance, vexation, irritation


LUCIANA

Then swore he that he was a stranger here.
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider


ADRIANA

And true he swore, though yet forsworn he were.
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count


LUCIANA

Then pleaded I for you.


ADRIANA

                         And what said he?


LUCIANA

That love I begged for you, he begged of me.


ADRIANA

With what persuasion did he tempt thy love?


LUCIANA

With words that in an honest suit might move.
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

First he did praise my beauty, then my speech.


ADRIANA

Didst speak him fair?
fair (adv.) 1 kindly, encouragingly, courteously


LUCIANA

                         Have patience, I beseech.


ADRIANA

I cannot nor I will not hold me still.
still (adj.) 1 silent, quiet

My tongue, though not my heart, shall have his will.

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere;
sere (adj.) dried up, withered, parched

Ill-faced, worse-bodied, shapeless everywhere;
shapeless (adj.) 1 unshapely, ugly, unsightly

Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
ungentle (adj.) 4 unchivalrous, ungentlemanly

Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
making (n.) physical appearance, bodily form, build
stigmatical (adj.) deformed, disfigured, ugly


LUCIANA

Who would be jealous, then, of such a one?

No evil lost is wailed when it is gone.


ADRIANA

Ah, but I think him better than I say,

And yet would herein others' eyes were worse.

Far from her nest the lapwing cries away.

My heart prays for him, though my tongue do curse.

Enter Dromio of Syracuse


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Here, go – the desk, the purse, sweet, now, make haste.


LUCIANA

How hast thou lost thy breath?


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

                         By running fast.


ADRIANA

Where is thy master, Dromio? Is he well?


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

No. He's in Tartar limbo, worse than hell.
limbo (n.) prison, confinement, incarceration

A devil in an everlasting garment hath him,
everlasting (adj.) made of the durable material of an arresting officer's uniform

One whose hard heart is buttoned up with steel,

A fiend, a fairy, pitiless and rough;
fairy (n.) 2 malignant spirit [as well as its modern sense]

A wolf, nay, worse, a fellow all in buff;
buff (n.) [of a uniform] stout ox-hide leather

A backfriend, a shoulder-clapper, one that countermands
backfriend (n.) false friend, someone who gives a pat on the back in an apparently friendly way
countermand (v.) 2 prohibit, forbid, prevent
shoulder-clapper (n.) someone who claps you on the shoulder, arresting officer

The passages of alleys, creeks, and narrow lands;
creek (n.) winding pathway, narrow lane
land (n.) 1 tract of land, plot
passage (n.) 5 traffic, passing to and fro, movement of people

A hound that runs counter, and yet draws dryfoot well;
counter, compter (n.) 4 [a term from hunting] taking an opposite path to the prey
draw (v.) 18 [hunting] follow prey by the scent
dryfoot, dry-foot (adv.) [hunting] by following the scent of the feet

One that before the Judgement carries poor souls to hell.


ADRIANA

Why, man, what is the matter?


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I do not know the matter, he is 'rested on the case.
case, on the [legal] in relation to this particular case
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance


ADRIANA

What, is he arrested? Tell me at whose suit.
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

I know not at whose suit he is arrested well;

But he's in a suit of buff which 'rested him, that can I tell.
buff (n.) [of a uniform] stout ox-hide leather
suit (n.) 4 clothing, dress, garb

Will you send him, mistress, redemption – the money in his desk?
redemption (n.) 2 ransom, means of release [from debt]


ADRIANA

Go fetch it, sister.

Exit Luciana

                         This I wonder at,

That he unknown to me should be in debt.

Tell me, was he arrested on a band?
band (n.) 2 bond, promissory note, legal deed requiring payment


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Not on a band, but on a stronger thing:
band (n.) 6 neckband, collar, ruff

A chain, a chain – do you not hear it ring?


ADRIANA

What, the chain?


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

                         No, no – the bell. 'Tis time that I were gone.

It was two ere I left him, and now the clock strikes one.


ADRIANA

The hours come back – that did I never hear.


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

O yes, if any hour meet a sergeant 'a turns back for very fear.
sergeant (n.) 1 sheriff's officer, enforcer, arresting officer


ADRIANA

As if time were in debt. How fondly dost thou reason!
fondly (adv.) foolishly, stupidly, madly


DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Time is a very bankrupt, and owes more than he's worth to season.
season (n.) 2 opportunity, favourable moment

Nay, he's a thief, too. Have you not heard men say

That time comes stealing on by night and day?

If 'a be in debt and theft, and a sergeant in the way,
sergeant (n.) 1 sheriff's officer, enforcer, arresting officer
theft (n.) thief, robber

Hath he not reason to turn back an hour in a day?

Enter Luciana with the money
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count


ADRIANA

Go, Dromio, there's the money. Bear it straight,

And bring thy master home immediately.

Come, sister, I am pressed down with conceit –
conceit (n.) 2 imagining, brooding, fanciful thinking
press down (v.) overburden, weigh down, oppress

Conceit, my comfort and my injury.

Exeunt

 
  Previous scene     Next scene