Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


133The Seventeenth Chapter

134How Athanagoras sent for Tharsia to make her father Apollonius merry; and how after long circumstance they came into knowledge one of another.

135AND as he was devising with himself it came into his mind to send for the maiden Tharsia, for which purpose he called unto him one of his men, and said unto him. "Go unto the bawd, desire him to send Tharsia hither unto me, for she hath wisdom and can move pleasant talk, and perhaps she may persuade him not to die thus wilfully." The messenger went speedily and returned immediately, bringing the maiden Tharsia with him unto the ship. Whom when Athanagoras beheld, "Come hither unto me, Tharsia," quoth he "and show now the uttermost of thy cunning and knowledge in comforting the owner of the ship, which lieth in darkness and will receive no comfort nor come abroad into the light for the great sorrow that he taketh for his wife and his daughter. Go unto him, good Tharsia, and prove if thou canst persuade him to come into the light. For it may be that God hath appointed by thy means to bring him from sorrow into gladness, which thing if thou canst bring to pass, as I am a gentleman, I will give thee thirty sesterces of gold and as many of silver, and I will redeem thee from the bawd for thirty days." When Tharsia heard this, she went boldly down into the cabin unto him, and with a mild voice saluted him, saying: "God save you sir, whosoever you be, and be of good comfort, for an innocent virgin, whose life has been distressed by shipwreck, her chastity by dishonesty, and yet hath both preserved, saluteth thee." Then began she to record in verses, and therewithal to sing so sweetly that Apollonius, notwithstanding his great sorrow, wondered at her. And these were the verses which she sung so pleasantly unto the instrument:

136Amongst the harlots foul I walk,
yet harlot none am I:
The rose amongst the thorns grows,
and is not hurt thereby.
The thief that stole me, sure I think,
is slain before this time,
A bawd me bought, yet am I not
defiled by fleshly crime.
Were nothing pleasanter to me,
than parents' mine to know:
I am the issue of a king,
my blood from kings doth flow.
I hope that God will mend my state,
and send a better day.
Leave off your tears, pluck up your heart,
and banish care away.
Show gladness in your countenance,
cast up your cheerful eyes:
That God remains that once of nought
created earth and skies.
He will not let in care and thought
you still to live, and all for nought.

137When Apollonius heard her sing these verses, lifting up his eyes and sighing, he said: "Alas, poor wretch as I am, how long shall I strive with life and abide this grievous conflict? Good maiden, I give hearty thanks both to your wisdom and nobility, requiting you with this one thing: that whensoever, if ever such occasion do chance, I shall have desire to be merry, I will then think on you, or if ever I be restored unto my kingdom. And perhaps, as you say, you are descended of the race of kings, and indeed you do well represent the nobility of your parentage. But now, I pray you, receive this reward at my hands, an hundred pieces of gold, and depart from me and trouble me no longer, for my present grief is renewed by your lamentable recital, and I consume with continual sorrow."

138When the maid had received the reward, she was about to depart. Then spake Athanagoras, "Whither goest thou, Tharsia?" quoth he, "Hast thou taken pain without profit, and canst thou not work a deed of charity and relieve the man that will consume his life with mourning?" Tharsia answered: "I have done all that I may, and he hath given me an hundred pieces of gold and desired me to depart." "I will give thee two hundred." said Athanagoras, "And go down unto him again, and give him his money and say unto him, "I seek thy health and not thy money." Then went Tharsia down again, and set herself down by him and said unto him: "Sir, if you be determined to continue always in this heaviness, give me leave, I pray you, to reason a little with you. And I mean propose certain parables unto you, which, if you can resolve, I will then depart, and restore your money." But Apollonius, not willing to receive the money again, but thankfully to accept whatsoever she should utter, without discouraging of her: "Albeit in my troubles," quoth he, "I have none other felicity but to weep and lament, yet because I will not want the ornaments of your wisdom, demand of me whatsoever shall be your pleasure, and, while I am answering you, pardon me, I pray you, if sometime I give liberty unto my tears, and shall not be able to speak for sobbing." "Sir, I will bear with you somewhat in that respect," said Tharsia, "and now if it please you I will begin":

139A certain house on earth there is
that rooms hath large and wide:
The house makes noise, the guests make none
that therein doth abide;
But house and guest continually,
together forth do slide.

140"Now if indeed you be a prince, as your men say you are, it behoveth you to be wiser than a simple maiden, and to resolve my problem." Apollonius answered: "Maiden, to the intent you may not think you were told a lie, hearken now to the resolution."

141"The house on the earth is the sea or every great water, the fish is the dumb guest, which followeth the water whithersoever it run." "Sir, you have answered truly," said Tharsia, "and now I assail you the second time":

142In length forth long I run,
fair daughter of the wood,
Accompanied with many a one
of foot and force as good,
Through many ways I walk
but steps appear none where I stood.

143Apollonius answered: "If I might be so bold, and opportunity served thereto, I could declare unto you many things that you do not know, fair maiden, but not [without] interrupting your questions whereunto I have to answer, wherein I much wonder at your young years so plentifully fraught with excellent knowledge. But to come to the purpose: the daughter of the wood is the tree, whereof is made the long ship, which is accompanied with many companions, and walketh upon the seas many ways leaving no print or footsteps behind." "You have guessed right," said Tharsia, "and therefore now I propose my third parable":

144There is an house through which the fire
doth pass, and doth no harm:
Therein is heat, which none may move
from thence, it is so warm.
A naked house, and in that house
guests naked do desire
To dwell, from whence if boards you draw
then fall you in the fire.

145Apollonius answered: "Maiden, this that you mean were a meet place for men that live in delight and pleasure. And the time hath been, when I have also delighted in the bath and hot-house, where the heat entereth through the crevices of the boards and chinks of the stones, and where, by reason of sweating, it behoveth a man to be naked." When he had done speaking, Tharsia, wondering at his wisdom and the rather lamenting his discomfortableness, threw herself upon him, and with clasped arms embraced him, saying, "O good gentleman, hearken unto the voice of her that beseecheth thee, and have respect to the suit of a virgin that think[eth] it a far unworthy thing that so wise a man should languish in grief, and die with sorrow. But if God of his goodness would restore unto thee thy wife safe, whom thou so much lamentest, or if thou shouldst find thy daughter in good case, whom thou supposest to be dead, then wouldst thou desire to live for joy."

146Then Apollonius fell in a rage, and, forgetting all courtesy, his unbridled affection stirring him thereunto, rose up suddenly and struck the maiden on the face with his foot so that she fell to the ground and the blood gushed plentifully out of her cheeks. And like it is that she was in a swoon, for so soon as she came to herself, she began to weep, saying, "O immortal God, which madest heaven and earth, look upon my afflictions and take compassion upon me. I was born among the waves and troublesome tempests of the sea. My mother died in pangs and pains of childbed and burial was denied her upon the earth, whom my father adorned with jewels and laid twenty sesterces of gold at her head, and as much in silver at her feet, and enclosed her in a chest and committed her to the sea. As for me, unfortunate wretch, I was at Tharsus committed to Stranguilio and wicked Dionisiades, his wife, whom my father put in trust with me, with money and princely furniture, and their servants were commanded to slay me. And when I desired time to pray, which was granted me, there came pirates in the meanwhile, and carried me away, and brought me unto this woeful city, where I was sold to a most cruel bawd, and with much ado have preserved my virginity, and I see nothing ensuing but continual sorrow, whereof I feel both now and every day some part, and shall do ever more and more, until it please God to restore me unto my father, Apollonius."

147Apollonius gave good ear unto her words, and was strangely moved within himself, knowing that all these signs and tokens were most certain that she was his daughter, and he cried out with a mighty voice and said: "O merciful God, which beholdest heaven, earth and hell, and discoverest all the secrets therein, blessed be thy most holy name for ever." And when he had said those words, he fell upon his daughter Tharsia's neck and kissed her, and for extreme joy wept bitterly, saying: "O most sweet and only daughter, the half part of my life, for the love of thee I lust not now to die, for I have found thee for whom I had desire to die only." And therewithal he cried out aloud, saying: "Come hither my servants and friends, come ye all hither and see now the end of all my sorrow, for I have found my dear daughter and only child which I had lost." When the servants heard the noise, they came hastily together and with them Prince Athanagoras; and when they came down under the hatches, they found Apollonius weeping for joy and leaning upon his daughter's shoulders, and he said unto them: "Behold here my daughter, for whom I have mourned; behold the one half of my life and for whose sake I now desire to live." And they all rejoiced and wept with him for company, and thanked God for that happy day.