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    Act 1. Scene III

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    SCENE III. Rome. A room in Marcius' house.

    Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA 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 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.

    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 the 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.

    Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman

    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 house-keepers.
    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 school-master.

    VALERIA
    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: 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 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 it, how he mammocked
    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 husewife 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 every
    thing 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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