Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Modern)


109The Thirteenth Chapter

110How the Pirates which stole away Tharsia brought her to the city Machilenta and sold her to a common bawd, and how she preserved her virginity.

111THE meantime while these troubles were at Tharsus, the pirates, being in their course upon the sea, by benefit of happy wind arrived at Machilenta and came into the city. Now had they taken many more men and women besides Tharsia, whom all they brought ashore and set them to sell as slaves for money. Then came there sundry to buy such as they lacked for their purposes, amongst whom a most vile man-bawd, beholding the beauty and tender years of Tharsia, offered money largely for her. Howbeit Athanagoras, who was prince of the same city, beholding likewise the noble countenance, and regarding the great discretion of the maiden in communication, out-bid the bawd, and offered for her ten sesterces of gold. But the bawd, being loth to lose so commodious a prey, offered twenty. "And I will give thirty," said Athanagoras. "Nay I will give forty," said the bawd. "And I fifty," quoth Athanagoras, and so they continued in outbidding one another until the bawd offered an hundred sesterces of gold to be paid ready down, "And whosoever will give more," said he, "I will yet give ten sesterces more than he." Then Prince Athanagoras thus bethought him secretly in his mind: "If I should contend with the bawd to buy her at so high a price, I must needs sell other slaves to pay for her, which were both loss and shame unto me. Wherefore I will suffer him to buy her; and when he setteth her to hire, I will be the first man that shall come unto her, and I will gather the flower of her virginity, which shall stand me in as great stead as if I had bought her." Then the bawd paid the money, and took the maiden and departed home.

112And when he came into his house, he brought her into a certain chapel where stood the idol of Priapus made of gold and garnished with pearls and precious stones. This idol was made after the shape of a man, with a mighty member unproportionable to the body always erected, whom bawds and lechers do adore, making him their god and worshiping him. Before this filthy idol he commanded Tharsia to fall down. But she answered, "God forbid, master, that I should worship such an idol. But, sir," said she, "are you a Lapsatenian?" "Why askest thou?" said the bawd. "I ask," quoth she, "because the Lapsatenians do worship Priapus." This spake she of simplicity, not knowing what he was. "Ah, wretch," answered he, "knowest thou not that thou art come into the house of a covetous bawd?" When Tharsia heard that, she fell down at his feet and wept, saying: "O master, take compassion upon my virginity and do not hire out my body for so vile a gain." The bawd answered, "Knowest thou not that neither bawd nor hangman do regard tears or prayers?" Then called he unto him a certain villein which was governor over his maids, and said unto him: "Let this maiden be decked in virgin's apparel, precious and costly, and write upon her: 'Whosoever deflowereth Tharsia shall pay ten pieces of gold, and afterward she shall be common unto the people for one piece at a time'." The villein fulfilled his master's commandment, and the third day after that she was bought, she was with great solemnity conducted through the street with music, the bawd himself with a great multitude going before, and so conveyed unto the brothel house.

113When she was come thither, Athanagoras the Prince, disguising his head and face because he would not be known, came first in unto her; whom when Tharsia saw, she threw herself down at his feet, and said unto him: "For the love of God, gentleman, take pity on me, and by the name of God I adjure and charge you that you do no violence unto me, but bridle your lust and hearken unto my unhappy estate, and consider diligently from whence I am sprung. My father was poor Apollonius, Prince of Tyrus, whom force constrained to forsake his own country. My mother was daughter to Altistrates, King of Pentapolis, who died in the birth of me, poor wretch, upon the sea. My father also is dead, as was supposed, which caused Dionisiades, wife of Stranguilio of Tharsus, to whom my father committed me of special trust to be brought up being but an infant, envying mine estate and thirsting after my wealth, to seek my death by the hands of a villein; which had been accomplished, and I would to God it had before I had seen this day, but that I was suddenly taken away by the pirates which sold me unto this filthy bawd." With these or such-like words declared she her heavy fortune, eftsoons sobbing and bursting out into streams of tears, that for extreme grief she could scarcely speak. When she had in this manner uttered her sorrow, the good prince, being astonished and moved with compassion, said unto her: "Be of good cheer, Tharsia, for surely I rue thy case; and I myself have also a daughter at home, to whom I doubt that the like chances may befall."

114And when he had so said, he gave her twenty pieces of gold, saying: "Hold here a greater price or reward for thy virginity than thy master appointed; and say as much unto others that come unto thee as thou hast done to me, and thou shalt withstand them." Then Tharsia fell on her knees, and weeping said unto him: "Sir, I give you most hearty thanks for your great compassion and courtesy, and most heartily I beseech you upon my knees, not to descry unto any that which I have said unto you." "No surely," answered Athanagoras, "unless I tell it unto my daughter, that she may take heed when she cometh unto the like years, that she fall not into the like mishap." And when he had so said, he let fall a few tears and departed. Now as he was going he met with another pilgrim that, with like devotion, came for to seek the same saint, who demanded of him how he liked of the maiden's company. "Truly," answered Athanagoras, "never of any better." Then the young man, whose name was Aportatus, entered into the chamber, and the maiden, after the manner, shut the door to and Athanagoras listened at the window. Then said Aportatus unto Tharsia, "How much did the prince give unto thee?" She answered, "Forty pieces of gold." Then said he, "Receive here of me an whole pound weight of gold." The prince which heard this talk thought then in his mind, "The more that you do give her, the more she will weep, as thinking that you would look for recompense, the which she meaneth not to perform."

115The maiden received the money, and fell down on her knees at his feet, and declared unto him all her estate with tears, as is before showed. When Aportatus heard that, he was moved with compassion, and he took her up from the ground, saying: "Arise, Lady Tharsia. We are all men and subject to the like chances," and therewithal he departed. And when he came forth he found Prince Athanagoras before the door laughing at him, to whom he said: "Is it well done, my liege, thus to delude a poor gentleman? Was there none to whom you might begin in tears but unto me only?" Then communed they further of the matter, and swore an oath between themselves that they would not bewray those words unto any; and they withdrew themselves aside into a secret place to see the going-in and coming-forth of other, and they saw many which went in and gave their money, and came forth again weeping. Thus Tharsia, through the grace of God and fair persuasion, preserved her body undefiled.