Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Laurence Twine
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


82The Eighth Chapter

83How fair Lucina died in travail of child upon the sea; and being thrown into the water, was cast on land at Ephesus, and taken home by Cerimon, a Physician.

84THE mariners immediately merrily hoisted sail and departed; and when they had sailed two days, the master of the ship warned Apollonius of a tempest approaching, which now came on and increased so fast that all the company was amazed, and Lucina, what with sea-sickness and fear of danger, fell in labor of child, wherewith she was weakened that there was no hope of recovery, but she must now die, yet being first delivered of a fair daughter, insomuch that now all tokens of life were gone, and she appeared none other but to be dead. When Apollonius beheld this heavy spectacle, no heart was able to conceive his bitter grief, for like a mad man distracted he tore his clothes and rent his hair, and, laying himself upon the carcass, he uttered these words with great affection: "O my dear lady and wife, the daughter of King Altistrates, what shall I now answer to thy father for thee: would God thou hadst remained with him at home; and if it had pleased God to have wrought this his pleasure in thee, it had rather chanced with thy loving father in his quiet land than with me thy woeful husband upon the wild seas." The whole company also made great lamentation for her, bewailing the death of so noble and beautiful a lady and so courteous a gentlewoman.

85Howbeit in the hottest of the sorrow the governor of the ship came unto Apollonius, saying, "My lord, pluck up your heart, and be of good cheer, and consider I pray you that the ship may not abide to carry the dead carcass, and therefore command it to be cast into the sea that we may the better escape." Then answered Apollonius: "What sayst thou, varlet? Wouldst thou have me cast this body into the sea, which received me into house and favor when I was in misery? And drenched in the water, wherein I lost ship, goods and all?" But taking further consultation and advising himself what were best to do, he called certain of his men unto him, and thus he devised with them. "My trusty servants, whom this common mischance grieveth as well as me, since sorrowing will not help that which is chanced, assist me, good sirs, to provide for the present necessity. Let us make forthwith a large chest, and bore the lid full of small holes, and we will sear it all over within with pitch and resin melted together, whereinto we will put cunningly a sheet of lead, and in the same we will enclose the tender corpse of the wife of me, of all other a most unfortunate husband." This was no sooner said, but it was almost likewise done with semblable celerity. Then took they the body of the fair Lady Lucina and arrayed her in princely apparel and laid her into the chest, and Apollonius placed a great sum of gold at her head and a great treasure of silver at her feet, and he kissed her, letting fall a flood of salt tears on her face, and he wrote a bill, and put in it also, the tenor whereof was in form as followeth: "Whosoever shall find this chest, I pray him to take ten pieces of gold for his pains, and to bestow ten pieces more upon the burial of the corpse, for it hath left many tears to the parents and friends, with doleful heaps of sorrow and heaviness. But whosoever shall do otherwise than the present grief requireth, let him die a shameful death, and let there be none to bury his body." And then closing all up very safe, commanded the chest to be lifted overboard into the sea: and willed the child to be nursed with all diligence, that if ever fortune should so fall, he might present unto good King Altistrates a niece in stead of a daughter.

86Now fleeted away the ship fast with the wind, and the coffin tumbled backward with the tide, and Apollonius could not keep his eye from the body whereon his heart rested, until kenning failed, and the sea rose up with a bank between. There were two days passed, and the night was now at hand, when the next day morning the waves rolled forth this chest to the land, and cast it ashore on the coast of Ephesus. Not far from that place there dwelt a physician whose name was Cerimon, who by chance walking abroad upon the shore that day with his scholars, found the chest which the sea had cast up, and willed his servants to take it up and diligently to carry it to the next town, where he dwelt; and they did so.

87When Cerimon came home he opened the chest, marveling what should be therein, and found a lady arrayed in princely apparel and ornaments, very fair and beautiful to behold, whose excellency in that respect as many as beheld were strangely affectioned thereat, perceiving such an incomparable gleam of beauty to be resident in her face, wherein Nature had not committed the least error that might be devised, saving that she made her not immortal. The hair of her head was naturally as white as snow, under which appeared her goodly forehead, fair and large, wherein was neither blemish nor wrinkle. Her eyes were like two stars turning about in their natural course, not wantonly roving here and there, but modestly moving as governed by reason, representing the stability of a settled mind; her eyebrows decently commending the residue of her countenance; her nose straight, as in were drawn with a line, comely dividing her cherry cheeks asunder, not reaching forth too long, nor cut off too short, but of a commendable proportion. Her neck was like the white alabaster shining like the bright sun-beams, wonderfully delighting the minds of the beholders. Her body of comely stature, neither too high nor too low, not scragged with leanness, nor undecently corpulent, but in such equality consisting that no man would wish it otherwise. From her shoulders sprang forth her arms, representing two branches growing out of a tree, beautified with a white hand, and fingers long and slender, surpassing to behold. To be short, such was the excellency of her beauty in each respect that it could suffer no deformity to accompany it, whereby also may be discerned a singular perfection of her mind, created by God and infused into her body, whereby it was moved, and those good qualities of hers expressed in operation: so that all outward beauty of the body proceedeth from the inward beauty of the mind, from whence sprang up the old and true saying of the wisest philosophers, that the sundry nature of the form or soul diversely disposeth the matter according unto its own quality: as it expressly appeared in the beautiful countenance and stature of this lady's body, whereof Cerimon stood amazedly taking the view.