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Rome. An apartment in Marcius' house. Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA: they sit down on
two low stools, and sew. Vol. I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honor, than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way; when, for a day of kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding ;-I, considering how honor would become such a person; that it was no better than picturelike to hang by the wall if renown made it not stir ;-was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak.1 I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child, than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.
Vir. But had he died in the business, madam? how then ?
Vol. Then his good report should have been my
1 An honor awarded to him who preserved the life of a citizen,
son; I therein would have found issue.
Hear me profess sincerely :-Had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country, than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
Gen. Madam, the lady Valeria is come to visit
you. Vir. 'Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
Vol. Indeed, you shall not. Methinks, I hear hither your husband's drum ; See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair ; As children from a bear, the Volces shunning him : Methinks, I see him stamp thus, and call thus ;
Come on, you cowards ! you were got in fear, Though you were born in Rome. His bloody brow With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes, Like to a harvest-man, that's task'd to mow Or all, or lose his hire.
Vir. His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood !
Vol. Away, you fool! it more becomes a man, Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba, When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier Than Hector's forehead, when it spit forth blood At Grecian swords contending. Tell Valeria, We are fit to bid her welcome.
[Exit Gen. Vir. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius !
Vol. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee, And tread upon his neck.
Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, with VALERIA and her
Val. My ladies both, good day to you.
Val. How do you both ? you are manifest housekeepers. What, are you sewing here ? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little son ?
Vir. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
Vol. He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than look
his schoolmaster. Val. O’my word, the father's son: I'll swear, 'tis a very pretty boy. O’ my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday half an hour together: he has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again; and over and over he comes, and up again ; catched it again : or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth, and tear it! O, I warrant, how he mammocked 1 it!
Vol. One of his father's moods.
Val. Come, lay aside your stitchery : I must have you play the idle huswife with me this after