Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


99The Eleventh Chapter

100How, after the death of Ligozides the nurse, Dionisiades, envying at the beauty of Tharsia, conspired her death, which should have been accomplished by a villein of the country.

101THARSIA much lamented the death of Ligozides, her nurse, and caused her body to be solemnly buried not far off in a field without the walls of the city, and mourned for her a whole year following. But when the year was expired, she put off her mourning attire and put on her other apparel, and frequented the schools and the study of liberal sciences as before. And whensoever she returned from school, she would receive no meat before she had visited her nurse's sepulchre, which she did daily, entering thereinto and carrying a flagon of wine with her, where she used to abide a space, and to call upon her father and mother. Now on a day it fortuned that as she passed through the street with Dionisiades and her companion Philomacia, the people, beholding the beauty and comeliness of Tharsia, said: "Happy is that father that hath Tharsia to his daughter, but her companion that goeth with her, is foul and evil-favored." When Dionisiades heard Tharsia commended and her own daughter Philomacia so dispraised, she returned home wonderful wroth, and, withdrawing herself into a solitary place, began thus secretly to discourse of the matter: "It is now fourteen years since Apollonius, this foolish girl's father, departed from hence, and he never sendeth letters for her nor any remembrance unto her, whereby I conjecture that he is dead. Ligozides, her nurse, is departed, and there is nobody now of whom I should stand in fear; and therefore I will now slay her and dress up mine own daughter in her apparel and jewels."

102When she had thus resolved herself upon this wicked purpose, in the meanwhile there came home one of their country villeins called Theophilus, whom she called, and said thus unto him: "Theophilus, my trusty friend, if ever thou look for liberty, or that I should do thee pleasure, do so much for me as to slay Tharsia." Then said Theophilus: "Alas mistress, wherein hath that innocent maiden offended that she should be slain?" Dionisiades answered, "She innocent? Nay, she is a wicked wretch, and therefore thou shalt not deny to fulfil my request, but do as I command thee, or else I swear by God thou shalt dearly repent it." "But how shall I best do it, mistress?" said the villein. She answered: "She hath a custom, as soon as she returneth home from school, not to eat meat before that she have gone into her nurse's sepulchre, where I would have thee stand ready, with a dagger drawn in thine hand; and when she is come in, grip her by the hair of the head, and so slay her. Then take her body and cast it into the sea, and when thou hast so done I will make thee free, and, besides, reward thee liberally." Then took the villein a dagger, and girded himself therewith, and, with an heavy heart and weeping eyes, went forth towards the grave, saying within himself, "Alas, poor wretch that I am, alas, poor Theophilus that canst not deserve thy liberty but by shedding of innocent blood." And with that he went into the grave and drew his dagger, and made him ready for the deed.

103Tharsia was now come from school, and made haste unto the grave with a flagon of wine as she was wont to do, and entered within the vault. Then the villein rushed violently upon her, and caught her by the hair of the head, and threw her to the ground. And while he was now ready to stab her with the dagger, poor silly Tharsia all amazed casting her eyes upon him, knew the villein, and, holding up her hands, said thus unto him: "Oh, Theophilus against whom have I so grievously offended that I must die therefore?" The villein answered, "Thou hast not offended, but thy father hath, which left thee behind him in Stranguilio's house with so great a treasure in money and princely ornaments." "Oh," said the maiden, "would to God he had not done so! But I pray thee, Theophilus, since there is no hope for me to escape with life, give me licence to say my prayers before I die." "I give thee licence," said the villein, "and I take God to record that I am constrained to murder thee against my will."