Act I. Scene
Scene III.Rome. A Room in MARCIUS'S
Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA: they set
them down on two low stools and sew.
Vol. I pray you, daughter, sing; or express
yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son
were my husband, I would freeller 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 plucked 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 the
wall, if renown made it not stir, was pleased to
let him seek danger where he was like to find
fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence
he returned, 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.
Vir. But had he died in the business, madam;
Vol. 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 voluptu-
ously surfeit out of action.
Enter a Gentlewoman.
Gen. Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to
Vir. Beseech you, give me leave to retire
Vol. Indeed, you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning
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
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvestman that's task'd to mow
Or all or lose his hire.
Vir. His bloody brow! O Jupiter! no blood.
Vol. 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 swords, contemning. Tell Valeria
We are fit to bid her welcome.
Vir. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
Vol. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee,
And tread upon his neck.
Re-enter Gentlewoman, with VALERIA and
Val. My ladies both, good day to you.
Vol. Sweet madam.
Vir. I am glad to see your ladyship.
Val. How do you both? you are manifest
housekeepers. What are you sewing here? A
fine spot, in good faith. How does your little
Vir. I thank your ladyship; well, good
Vol. He had rather see the swords and hear
a drum, than look upon his schoolmaster.
Val. O' my word, the father's son; I'll swear
'tis a very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked
upon him o' Wednesday half an hour together:
he has such a confirmed 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;
catched it again: or whether his fall enraged
him, or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth and
tear it; O! I warrant, how he mammocked it.
Vol. One on's father's moods.
Val. Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.
Vir. A crack, madam.
Val. Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must
have you play the idle huswife with me this
Vir. No, good madam; I will not out of
Val. Not out of doors!
Vol. She shall, she shall.
Vir. Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not
over the threshold till my lord return from the
Vol. Fie! you confine yourself most un-
reasonably. Come; you must go visit the good
lady that lies in.
Vir. I will wish her speedy strength, and visit
her with my prayers; but I cannot go thither.
Vol. Why, I pray you?
Vir. 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want
Val. 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.
Vir. No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I
will not forth.
Val. In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell
you excellent news of your husband.
Vir. O, good madam, there can be none yet.
Val. Verily, I do not jest with you; there
came news from him last night.
Vir. Indeed, madam?
Val. 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.
Vir. Give me excuse, good madam; I will
obey you in every thing hereafter.
Vol. Let her alone, lady: as she is now she
will but disease our better mirth.
Val. 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.
Vir. No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not.
I wish you much mirth.
Val. Well then, farewell. [Exeunt.