First Master. Why, what is all this about? His name used to be Cantharus when he was with. me. He had long hair, and no beard, and was apprenticed to my trade; I am a fuller, and he was in my shop, dressing cloth.
Phi. Yes, it is the same; but he has dressed to some purpose this time, and has become a philosopher.
First Master. Cantharus a philosopher! I like that. And where do I come in?
Second and Third Masters. Oh well, we shall get them all now. This lady knows all about them, it seems.
Phi. Heracles, who is this comely person with a lyre?
Hera. It is Orpheus. I was on the Argo with him. He was the best of boatswains; it was quite a pleasure to row to his singing. Welcome, my musical friend: you have not forgotten Heracles, I hope?
Or. And welcome to all of you, Philosophy, Heracles, Hermes. I should like my reward, please: I can lay my finger on your man.
Her. Then show us the way. It is useless, of course, to offer gold to the gifted son of Calliope?
Or. Oh, quite.–I will show you the house, but not the man. His tongue might avenge him; scurrility is his strong point.
Her. Lead on.
Or. It is this house close by. And now I shall leave you; l have no wish to set eyes on him.
Her. Hush! Was that a woman's voice, reciting Homer?
Phi. It was. Let us listen.
More than the gates of Hell I hate that man Who, loving gold, cloaketh his love with lies.
Her. At that rate, madam, you will have to quarrel with Cantharus:
He with his kindly host hath dealt amiss.
Innkeeper. That ’s me. I took him in, and he ran away with my wife.
Wine-witted knave, deer-hearted and dog-eyed, Thersites, babbler loose, that nought availest In council, nought in arms; most valiant daw, That with thine aimless chatter chidest kings,–
First Master. My rascal to a T.
The dog in thee–for thou art dog and goat And lion–doth a blasting fury breathe.
Innkeeper. Wife, wife! the dogs have been too many for you; ay, and for your virtue, so men say.
Her. Hope for the best; some little Cerberus or Geryon shall call you father, and Heracles have employment again.–Ah, no need to knock: here they come.
First Master. Ha, Cantharus, have I got you? What, nothing to say for yourself? Let us see what you have in that wallet; beans, no doubt, or a crust of bread.
Her. Bread, indeed! Gold, a purseful of it!
Hera. That need not surprise you. In Greece, you see, he was a Cynic, but here he is all for golden Chrysippus. Next you will see him dangling, Cleanthes-like 1, by his beard, and serve the dirty fellow right.
Second Master. Ha, you rascal there, am I mistaken, or are you my lost Lecythio? Lecythio it is. What a figure! Lecythio a philosopher! I'll believe anything after this.
Her. Does none of you know anything about this other? Third Master. Oh yes, he is mine; but he may go hang for me.
Her. And why is that?
Third Master. Ah, he 's a sadly leaky vessel, is Rosolio, as we used to call him.
Her. Gracious Heracles! did you hear that? Rosolio with wallet and stick!–Friend, here is your wife again.
Innkeeper. Thank you for nothing. I'll have no woman brought to bed of an old book in my house.
Her. How am I to understand that?
Innkeeper. Why, the Three-headed Dog is a book, master? Her. Ay, and so was the Man with the Three Hats, for that matter.
Masters. We leave the rest to you, sir.
Her. This is my judgement. Let the woman return beneath her husband's roof, or many-headed monsters will come of it. These two truant sparks I hand over to their owners: let them follow their trades as heretofore; Lecythio wash clothes, and Rosolio patch them;–not, however, before his back has felt the mallow-stalk. And for Cantharus, first let the men of pitch take him, and plaster him without mercy; and be their pitch the vilest procurable. Then let him be led forth to stand upon the snowy slopes of Haemus, naked and fettered.
Can. Mercy! have mercy on me! Ah me! I am undone!
First Master. So tragic? Come, follow me to the plasterers; and off with that lion's-skin, lest you be taken for other than an ass.