Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


116The Fourteenth Chapter

117How Tharsia withstood a second assault of her virginity, and by what means she was preserved.

118WHEN night was come the master bawd used always to receive the money which his women had gotten by the use of their bodies the day before. And when it was demanded of Tharsia, she brought him the money as the price and hire of her virginity. Then said the bawd unto her: "It is well done, Tharsia. Use diligence henceforth and see that you bring me thus much money every day." When the next day was past also, and the bawd understood that she remained a virgin still, he was offended, and called unto him the villein that had charge over the maids, and said unto him: "Sirrah, how chanceth it that Tharsia remaineth a virgin still? Take her unto thee and spoil her of her maidenhead, or be sure thou shalt be whipped." Then said the villein unto Tharsia, "Tell me, art thou yet a virgin?" She answered, "I am, and shall be as long as God will suffer me." "How then," said he, "hast thou gotten all this money?"

119She answered with tears falling down upon her knees, "I have declared mine estate, humbly requesting all men to take compassion on my virginity. And now likewise," falling then down at his feet also, "take pity on me, good friend, which am a poor captive, and the daughter of a king, and do not defile me." The villein answered: "Our master the bawd is very covetous and greedy of money, and therefore I see no means for thee to continue a virgin." Whereunto Tharsia replied: "I am skilful in the liberal sciences, and well exercised in all studies, and no man singeth or playeth on instruments better than I, wherefore bring me into the market place of the city that men may hear my cunning. Or let the people propound any manner of questions, and I will resolve them: and I doubt not but by this practice I shall get store of money daily." When the villein heard this devise, and bewailed the maiden's mishap, he willingly gave consent thereto, and broke with the bawd his master touching that matter, who, hearing of her skill and hoping for the gain, was easily persuaded.

120Now when she was brought into the market place, all the people came thronging to see and hear so learned a virgin, before whom she uttered her cunning in music and her eloquence in speaking, and answered manifestly unto all such questions as were propounded unto her with such perspicuity that all confessed themselves fully satisfied, and she won great fame thereby and gained great sums of money. But as for Prince Athanagoras, he had evermore a special regard in the preservation of her virginity, none otherwise than if she had been his own daughter, and rewarded the villein very liberally for his diligent care over her.