The Two Noble Kinsmen Act II
by William Shakespeare, John Fletcher

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Act II, Scene 1

Actus Secundus.

Scaena 1. (Athens. A garden, with a prison in the background.)

[Enter Iailor, and Wooer.]

IAILOR.

I may depart with little, while I live; some thing I may cast to
you, not much: Alas, the Prison I keepe, though it be for great
ones, yet they seldome come; Before one Salmon, you shall take a
number of Minnowes. I am given out to be better lyn'd then it
can appeare to me report is a true Speaker: I would I were really
that I am deliverd to be. Marry, what I have (be it what it
will)
I will assure upon my daughter at the day of my death.

WOOER.

Sir, I demaund no more then your owne offer, and I will estate
your
Daughter in what I have promised.

IAILOR.

Wel, we will talke more of this, when the solemnity is past. But
have you a full promise of her? When that shall be seene, I
tender
my consent.

[Enter Daughter.]

WOOER.

I have Sir; here shee comes.

IAILOR.

Your Friend and I have chanced to name you here, upon the old
busines: But no more of that now; so soone as the Court hurry
is over, we will have an end of it: I'th meane time looke
tenderly to the two Prisoners. I can tell you they are princes.

DAUGHTER.

These strewings are for their Chamber; tis pitty they are in
prison,
and twer pitty they should be out: I doe thinke they have
patience
to make any adversity asham'd; the prison it selfe is proud of
'em;
and they have all the world in their Chamber.

IAILOR.

They are fam'd to be a paire of absolute men.

DAUGHTER.

By my troth, I think Fame but stammers 'em; they stand a greise
above the reach of report.

IAILOR.

I heard them reported in the Battaile to be the only doers.

DAUGHTER.

Nay, most likely, for they are noble suffrers; I mervaile how
they
would have lookd had they beene Victors, that with such a
constant
Nobility enforce a freedome out of Bondage, making misery their
Mirth,
and affliction a toy to jest at.

IAILOR.

Doe they so?

DAUGHTER.

It seemes to me they have no more sence of their Captivity, then
I
of ruling Athens: they eate well, looke merrily, discourse of
many
things, but nothing of their owne restraint, and disasters: yet
sometime a devided sigh, martyrd as 'twer i'th deliverance, will
breake from one of them; when the other presently gives it so
sweete
a rebuke, that I could wish my selfe a Sigh to be so chid, or at
least a Sigher to be comforted.

WOOER.

I never saw 'em.

IAILOR.

The Duke himselfe came privately in the night,

[Enter Palamon, and Arcite, above.]

and so did they: what the reason of it is, I know not: Looke,
yonder
they are! that's Arcite lookes out.

DAUGHTER.

No, Sir, no, that's Palamon: Arcite is the lower of the twaine;
you
may perceive a part of him.

IAILOR.

Goe too, leave your pointing; they would not make us their
object;
out of their sight.

DAUGHTER.

It is a holliday to looke on them: Lord, the diffrence of men!
[Exeunt.]

Act II, Scene 2

Scaena 2. (The prison)

[Enter Palamon, and Arcite in prison.]

PALAMON.

How doe you, Noble Cosen?

ARCITE.

How doe you, Sir?

PALAMON.

Why strong inough to laugh at misery,
And beare the chance of warre, yet we are prisoners,
I feare, for ever, Cosen.

ARCITE.

I beleeve it,
And to that destiny have patiently
Laide up my houre to come.

PALAMON.

O Cosen Arcite,
Where is Thebs now? where is our noble Country?
Where are our friends, and kindreds? never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youthes strive for the Games of honour
(Hung with the painted favours of their Ladies,
Like tall Ships under saile) then start among'st 'em
And as an Eastwind leave 'en all behinde us,
Like lazy Clowdes, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
Even in the wagging of a wanton leg
Out-stript the peoples praises, won the Garlands,
Ere they have time to wish 'em ours. O never
Shall we two exercise, like Twyns of honour,
Our Armes againe, and feele our fyry horses
Like proud Seas under us: our good Swords now
(Better the red-eyd god of war nev'r wore)
Ravishd our sides, like age must run to rust,
And decke the Temples of those gods that hate us:
These hands shall never draw'em out like lightning,
To blast whole Armies more.

ARCITE.

No, Palamon,
Those hopes are Prisoners with us; here we are
And here the...

(The entire section is 5,090 words.)