David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s PERICLES OF TYRE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scene 5

 — 2.5 —

King Simonides read a letter in a room of his palace at Pentapolis. Some knights entered the room.

The first knight said, “Good morning to the good Simonides.”

Simonides said, “Knights, from my daughter I let you know that for the next twelve months she will not undertake a married life. Her reason is known only by herself, and by no means can I get that reason from her.”

The second knight asked, “May we get access to her and talk to her, my lord?”

“Indeed, by no means,” Simonides replied. “She has so strictly kept herself to her chamber that it is impossible. For twelve moons more she’ll wear Diana’s livery and remain a virgin and serve the goddess. This by the eye of Cynthia she has vowed and on her virgin honor she will not break it.”

Diana was a virgin goddess; she was also a tripartite goddess, and as Cynthia she was the goddess of the Moon.

The third knight said, “Although we are loath to bid farewell, we take our leaves.”

The knights exited.

“So, they are well gotten rid of,” Simonides said to himself. He was pleased that his lie had worked. “Now to my daughter’s letter. She tells me here that either she will wed the foreign knight — Pericles — or she will never again look at day or light.

“It is well, mistress; your choice agrees with mine. I like your choice of husband well. Look how resolute she is in her decision, not caring whether or not I agree with her choice of husband!

“Well, I do commend her choice and will no longer have their match be delayed.

“Quiet! Here he comes: I must pretend that I don’t agree with my daughter’s choice of him as her husband.”

Pericles walked over to King Simonides and said, “All good fortune to the good Simonides!”

“To you as much, sir!” Simonides replied. “I am beholden to you for your sweet music last night. My ears were never better fed with such delightful and pleasing harmony.”

“It is your grace’s pleasure to praise me,” Pericles said. “I do not deserve such high praise.”

“Sir, you are music’s master.”

“I am the worst of all her scholars, my good lord.”

“Let me ask you one thing: What do you think of my daughter, sir?”

“She is a very virtuous Princess.”

“And she is beautiful, too, isn’t she?”

“She is as beautiful as a fair day in summer,” Pericles replied. “She is wondrously fair.”

“Sir, my daughter thinks very well of you,” Simonides said. “Yes, she thinks so well of you that you must be her master, and she will be your scholar. Therefore, be her music master.”

“I am unworthy to be her schoolmaster.”

“She does not think so,” Simonides said. “If you don’t believe me, read this letter.”

He handed the letter to Pericles, who read it and thought, What’s here? A letter in which she says that she loves me, the knight of Tyre! This must be a cunning trap set by the King to have an excuse to take my life.

Pericles said out loud to King Simonides, “Seek not to trap me, gracious lord. I am a stranger and a distressed gentleman, who never aimed so high as to love your daughter, but bent all my efforts to honor her.”

“You have bewitched my daughter, and you are a villain.”

“By the gods, I have not bewitched your daughter,” Pericles replied. “Never did any thought of mine intend offence; and never have my actions yet began a deed that might gain her love or cause you to be displeased with me.”

“Traitor, you lie,” King Simonides said.

“Traitor!”

“Yes, traitor.”

“Even in his throat — unless it be the King — anyone who calls me traitor, I return the lie. I say that anyone — except the King — who says that I am a traitor is lying in his throat.”

To lie in one’s throat is the worst kind of lying.

King Simonides thought, Now, by the gods, I applaud his courage.

Pericles said, “My actions are as noble as my thoughts, that never have had a taste of a base descent. I came to your court for the sake of honor, and not to be a rebel to her state. This sword shall prove whoever who thinks otherwise about me is the enemy of honor.”

“Is that so?” Simonides said. “Here comes my daughter; she can witness it.”

Thaisa walked over to the two men.

Pericles said to her, “Since you are as virtuous as you are beautiful, tell your angry father whether my tongue and hand have ever flirted with you — even a single syllable — or tried to seduce you.”

“Why, sir, if you had, who would take offence at something that would make me glad?” Thaisa replied.

“Young lady, are you so determined to have him?” Simonides said.

He thought, I am glad with all my heart that you are.

He said out loud to his daughter, “I’ll tame you; I’ll bring you into subjection. Will you, without having my consent, bestow your love and your affections upon a stranger?”

He thought, This stranger, for all I know, may have — and I can’t think the contrary is true — as noble blood as I have.

He said, “Therefore listen to me, young lady; either accommodate your will to mine, and you, sir, listen to me, either be ruled by me, or I will make you two — man and wife.”

He smiled and said, “Come, your hands and lips must seal your engagement. Kiss each other and shake hands. Good, now that your hands are joined, and you are engaged, I’ll destroy your hopes and give you this further ‘grief’ — I pray that God will give you joy! Are you both pleased?”

Thaisa said to her father, “Yes —”

Then she said to Pericles, “— if you love me, sir.”

“I love you as I love my life, and the blood that fosters my life,” Pericles replied.

“Are you both agreed that you shall be wed?” Simonides asked.

Both replied, “Yes, if it pleases your majesty.”

Simonides replied, “It pleases me so well that I will see you wed and then see with what haste you can get yourselves to bed.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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