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ACT II

 

 SCENE I

 AMPHITRYON, SOSIE

AMPH. Come here, you rascal, come here. Do you know, Master Villain, that your talk is sufficient to cause me to knock you down, and that my wrath waits only for a stick to thrash you as I intend?

SOS. If you take it in that way, Monsieur, I have nothing more to say; you will be always in the right.

AMPH. So? You scoundrel, you wish to impose upon me as truths tales which I know to be extravagantly far-fetched?

SOS. No; I am the servant, and you are the master; it shall not be otherwise than you wish it, Monsieur.

AMPH . Come, I will choke down the anger that inflames me, and hear all you have to say about your mission. I must unravel this confusion before I see my wife. Collect your senses, think well over what you say, and answer each question word for word.

SOS . But, lest I make a mistake, tell me, I beseech you, beforehand, in what way it would please you to have this affair healed. Shall I speak, Monsieur, according to my conscience, or as usual when near the great? Shall I tell the truth or use a certain complaisance?

AMPH. No; I only wish you to give me a perfectly unvarnished account.

SOS. Good. That is enough; leave it to me; you have, but to interrogate me.

AMPH. Upon the order which I lately gave you . . .

SOS. I set forth under skies veiled in black crape, swearing bitterly against you for this wretched martyrdom, and cursing twenty times the order of which you speak.

AMPH. What do you mean, you villain?

SOS. You have only to speak, Monsieur, and I shall lie, if you desire it.

AMPH. That is how a valet shows his zeal for us. Never mind. What happened to you on the way?

SOS. I had a mortal fright at the least thing I met.

AMPH. Poltroon!

SOS. Nature has her caprices in forming us; she gives us differing inclinations; some find a thousand delights in exposing themselves; I find them in taking care of myself.

AMPH. When you arrived at the house...?

SOS. When I reached the door, I wished to rehearse to myself for a short time, in what tone and in what manner I should give a glorious account of the battle.

AMPH. What followed?

SOS. Some one came to annoy and trouble me.

AMPH. Who was he?

SOS. Sosie; another I, jealous of your orders, whom you sent to Alcmene from the port, and who has as full knowledge of our secrets as I who am speaking to you.

AMPH. What nonsense!

SOS. No, Monsieur, it is the simple truth: this I was at your house sooner than I; and, I swear to you, I was there before I had arrived.

AMPH. Pray, where does all this cursed nonsense come from? Is it a dream? Is it drunkenness? Mind-wandering? Or a sorry joke?

SOS . No, it is the thing as it is, and by no means an idle tale. I am a man of honour, I give you my word, and you must please believe it. I tell you, believing I was but one Sosie, I found myself two at your house; and of these two I's, piqued with jealousy, one is at the house, and the other is with you; the I who is here, tired out, found the other I fresh, jolly and active, having no other anxiety than to fight and break bones.

AMPH. I confess I must be of a very placid temper, very peaceable, very gentle, to permit a valet to entertain me with such nonsense!

SOS. If you become angry, no more conference between us: you know all will be over at once.

AMPH . No; I will listen to you without being carried away; I promised it. But tell me in good earnest, is there any shadow of likelihood in this new mystery which you have just told me?

SOS . No; you are right, the matter must appear to everyone past credit. It is a fact past understanding, an extravagant, ridiculous, far-fetched tale: it shocks common sense; but it is none the less a fact.

AMPH. How can anyone believe it, unless he has taken leave of his senses?

SOS . I myself did not believe it without extreme difficulty: I thought I was losing my senses when I saw myself two, and, for a long time, I treated my other self as an impostor: but he compelled me in the end to recognise myself; I saw it was I, without any trickery; from head to foot he is like me-handsome, a noble air, well built, charming manners; in fact, two peas do not resemble each other more; were it not that his hands are a little too heavy, I should be perfectly satisfied.

AMPH. I had need exhort myself to patience! But did you not in the end go into the house?

SOS. Good, go in! Ah! In what fashion? Have I never wished to listen to reason? Did I not forbid myself to enter our door?

AMPH. In what way?

SOS. With a stick, my back still aches from it.

AMPH. You have been thrashed?

SOS. Truly.

AMPH. And by whom?

SOS. Myself.

AMPH. You have thrashed yourself?

SOS. Yes, I; not the I who is here, but the I from the house, who whacks soundly.

AMPH. Heaven confound you for talking to me like this!

SOS . I am not joking; the I whom I have just met has great advantages over the I who speaks to you. He has a strong arm and great courage; I have had proofs of both; this devil of an I has licked me soundly; he is a fellow who can do wonders.

AMPH. Let us, cease this. Have you seen my wife?

SOS. No.

AMPH. Why not?

SOS. For a sufficiently strong reason.

AMPH . Who hindered you, scoundrel? Explain yourself.

SOS. Must I repeat the same thing twenty times? I, I tell you, this I who is more robust than I, this I who took possession of the door by force, this I who made me slope off, this I who wishes to be the only I, this I who is jealous of myself, this valiant I, whose anger made itself known to this poltroon of an I, in fact, this I who is at our house, this I who has shown himself to be my master, this I who has racked me with pain.

AMPH. His brain must be addled by having had too much to drink this morning.

SOS. May I be hanged if I have had anything to drink but water: I take my oath on it.

AMPH. Then your senses must have been fast asleep: some silly dream has shown you all these fairy tales and confused mysteries which you wish me to take for truths.

SOS . That is just as far away from the truth. I have not slept, and I do not even feel inclined that way. I am speaking to you wide- awake; I was wide awake this morning, upon my life! And the other Sosie was also wide-awake, when he drubbed me so well.

AMPH. Follow me; I order you to be silent. You tire my brain too much; I must be an out-and-out fool to have the patience to listen to the nonsense a valet has to say.

SOS. All talk is nonsense that comes from a man who is unknown. If a great man were to say it, it would be exquisite language.

AMPH. Let us go in without waiting any longer. But here comes Alcmene clothed in all her charms. Doubtless she does not expect me so soon, and my arrival will surprise her.

 SCENE II

 ALCMENE, CLEANTHIS, AMPHITRYON, SOSIE

ALC. Come, Cleanthis, let us attend the Gods, pay them our homage for my husband's sake, and thank them for the glorious success, of which Thebes, by his arm, reaps the advantage. O ye Gods!

AMPH . Heaven grant that victorious Amphitryon may be met with renewed pleasure by his wife: that this day may be favourable to my passion, and restore you to me with the same heart: may I again find as much love as my heart brings to you!

ALC. Ah! Have you returned so soon.

AMPH. Really, you give me but a sorry proof of your love; this, 'Ah! have you returned so soon?' is scarcely the language a heart really inflamed with love would use on such an occasion as this. I dared to flatter myself I had remained away from you too long. The expectation of an ardently longed for return makes each moment seem of great length; the absence of what we love, however brief it may be, is always too long.

ALC. I do not see . . .

AMPH . No, Alcmene, time is measured in such cases by one's impatience; you count the moments of absence as one who does not love. When we really love, the slightest separation kills us; the one whom we love to see never returns too soon. I confess that the love I bear you has cause to complain of your reception; I expected different expressions of joy and tenderness from your heart.

ALC . I cannot understand on what you found the words you have just uttered; if you complain of me, upon my word I do not know what would satisfy you. I think I showed a sufficiently tender joy last night, at your happy return; my heart responded by every means you could wish to the claims of your affection.

AMPH. In what way?

ALC. Did I not clearly show the sudden transports of a perfect joy? Could a heart's feelings be better expressed at the return of a husband who is tenderly loved?

AMPH. What do you say?

ALC. That even your affection showed an inconceivable joy at my reception; and that, as you left me at break of day, I do not see that my surprise at this sudden return is so guilty.

AMPH . Did you, in a dream last night, Alcmene, anticipate in idea the reality of my hastened return; and having, perhaps, treated me kindly in your sleep, does your heart think it has fully acquitted itself of its duty to my passion?

ALC . Has some malignant vapour in your mind, Amphitryon, clouded the truth of last night's return? Does your heart pretend to take away from me the credit of all the gentle affection I showed you in my tender welcome?

AMPH. This vapour you attribute to me seems to me somewhat strange.

ALC. It is in return for the dream which you attribute to me.

AMPH. Unless it is because of a dream, what you have just now told me is entirely inexcusable.

ALC. Unless it is a vapour which troubles your mind, what I have heard from you cannot be justified.

AMPH. Let us leave this vapour for a moment, Alcmene.

ALC. Let us leave this dream for a moment, Amphitryon.

AMPH. One cannot jest on the subject in question without being carried too far.

ALC. Undoubtedly; and, as a sure proof of it, I begin to feel somewhat uneasy.

AMPH. Is it thus you wish to try to make amends for the welcome of which I complain?

ALC. Do you desire to try to amuse yourself by this feint?

AMPH. For Heaven's, sake, I beseech you, Alcmene! Let us cease this, and talk seriously.

ALC. You carry your amusement too far, Amphitryon: let there be an end to this raillery.

AMPH. Do you really dare maintain to my face that I was seen here before this hour?

ALC. Have you really the assurance to deny that you came here early yesterday evening?

AMPH. I! I came yesterday?

ALC. Certainly; and you went away again before dawn.

AMPH. Heavens! Was ever such a debate as this heard before? Who would not be astonished at all this? Sosie?

SOS. She needs six grains of hellebore, Monsieur; her brain is turned.

AMPH. Alcmene, in the name of all the Gods, this discourse will have a strange ending! Recollect your senses a little better, and think what you say.

ALC . I am indeed thinking seriously; all in the house saw your arrival. I am ignorant what motive makes you act thus; but, if the thing were in need of proof, if it were true that such a thing could be forgotten, from whom, but from you, could I have heard the news of the latest of all your battles, and of the five diamonds worn by Pterelas, who was plunged into eternal night by the strength of your arm? Could one wish for surer testimony?

AMPH. What? I have already given you the cluster of diamonds which I had for my share, and intended for you?

ALC. Assuredly. It is not difficult to convince you thoroughly on that point.

AMPH. How?

ALC. Here it is.

AMPH. Sosie!

SOS. She is jesting: I have it here; Monsieur, the feint is useless.

AMPH. The seal is whole.

ALC. Is it a vision? There. Will you think this proof strong enough?

AMPH. Ah Heaven! O just Heaven!

ALC. Come, Amphitryon, you are joking in acting thus: you ought to be ashamed of it.

AMPH. Break this seal, quickly.

SOS. (Having opened the casket.) Upon my word, the casket is empty. It must have been taken out by witchcraft, or else it came by itself a guide, to her whom it knew it was intended to adorn.

AMPH. O Gods, whose power governs all things, what is this adventure? What can I augur from it that does not clutch at my heart?

SOS. If she speaks the truth, we have the same lot, and, like me, Monsieur, you are double.

AMPH. Be silent.

ALC. Why are you so surprised? What causes all this confusion?

AMPH. O Heaven! What strange perplexity! I see incidents which surpass Nature, and my honour fears an adventure which my mind does not understand.

ALC. Do you still wish to deny your hasty return, when you have this sensible proof of it?

AMPH. No; but if it be possible, deign to tell me what passed at this return.

ALC. Since you ask an account of the matter, you still say it was not you?

AMPH. Pardon me; but I have a certain reason which makes me ask you to give us this account.

ALC. Have the important cares which perhaps engross you made you so quickly lose the remembrance of it?

AMPH. Perhaps; but, in short, you would please me by telling me the whole story.

ALC. The story is not long. I advanced towards you full of a delighted surprise; I embraced you tenderly, and showed my joy more than once.

AMPH . (to himself.) Ah! I could have done without so sweet a welcome. ALC. You first made me this valuable gift, which you destined for me from the spoils of the conquered. Your heart vehemently unfolded to me all the violence of its love, and the annoying duties which had kept it enchained, the happiness of seeing me again, the torments of absence, all the care which your impatience to return had given you; never has your love, on similar occasions, seemed to me so tender and so passionate.

AMPH. (to himself.) Can one be more cruelly tortured?

ALC. As you may well believe, these transports and this tenderness did not displease me; if I must confess it, Amphitryon, my heart found a thousand charms in them.

AMPH. What followed, pray?

ALC. We interrupted each other with a thousand questions concerning each other. The table was laid. We supped together by ourselves; and, supper over, we went to bed.

AMPH. Together?

ALC. Assuredly. What a question?

AMPH. Ah; this is the most cruel stroke of all; my jealous passion trembled to assure itself of this.

ALC. Why do you blush so deeply at a word? Have I done something wrong in going to bed with you?

AMPH. No, to my great misery, it was not I; whoever says I was here yesterday, tells, of all falsehoods, the most horrible.

ALC. Amphitryon!

AMPH. Perfidious woman!

ALC. Ah! What madness is this!

AMPH. No, no; no more sweetness, no more respect; this rebuff puts an end to all my constancy; at this ghastly moment, my heart breathes only fury and, vengeance.

ALC. On whom then would you be avenged? What want of faith in me makes you treat me now as a criminal?

AMPH. I do not know, but it was not I; this despair makes me capable of anything.

ALC . Away unworthy husband, the deed speaks for itself, the imposture is frightful. It is too great an insult to accuse me of infidelity. If these confused transports mean that you seek a pretext to break the nuptial bonds which hold me enchained to you, all these pretences are superfluous, for I am determined that this day all our ties shall be broken.

AMPH . After the unworthy affront, which I now learn has been done me, that is indeed what you must prepare yourself for; it is the least that can be expected; and things may not perhaps remain there. The dishonour is sure; my misery is made plain to me; and my pride in vain would hide it from me. The details are still not clear: My anger is just and I claim to be enlightened. Your brother can positively avouch that I did not leave him until this morning: I will go and seek him, in order that I may confound you about the return falsely imputed to me. Afterwards, we will penetrate to the bottom of a mystery unheard of until now; and, in the fury of a righteous anger, woe to him who has betrayed me!

SOS. Monsieur . . .

AMPH. Do not accompany me, but remain here for me.

CLE. Must I . . .?

ALC. I cannot hear anything: leave me alone: do not follow me.

 SCENE III

 CLEANTHIS, SOSIE

CLE. Something must have turned his brain; but the brother will soon finish this quarrel.

SOS. This is a very sharp blow for my master; his fate is cruel. I greatly fear something coming for myself. I will go softly in enlightening her.

CLE. Let me see whether he will so much as speak to me! I will not reveal anything.

SOS . These things are often annoying when one knows about them: I hesitate to ask her. Would it not be better not to risk anything, and to ignore what may have happened? Yet, at all hazard, I must see. I cannot help myself. Curiosity concerning things which one would rather not know is a human weakness. Heaven preserve you, Cleanthis!

CLE. Ah! Ah! You dare to come near me, you villain!

SOS. Good Heavens! What is the matter with you? You are always in a temper, and become angry about nothing!

CLE. What do you call about nothing? Speak out.

SOS . I call about nothing what is called about nothing in verse as well as in prose; and nothing, as you well know, means to say nothing, or very little.

CLE. I do not know what keeps me from scratching your eyes out, infamous rascal, to teach you how far the anger of a woman can go.

SOS. Hullo! What do you mean by this furious rage?

CLE. Then you call that nothing, perhaps, which you have done to me?

SOS. What was that?

CLE. So? You feign to be innocent? Do you follow the example of your master and say you did not return here?

SOS. No, I know the contrary too well; but I will be frank with you. We had drunk some wretched wine, which might have made me forget what I did.

CLE. You think, perhaps, to excuse yourself by this trick, . . .

SOS. No, in truth you may believe me. I was in such a condition that I may have done things I should regret; I do not remember what they were.

CLE. You do not even remember the manner in which you thought fit to treat me when you came from the port?

SOS. Not at all. You had better tell me all about it; I am just and sincere, and would condemn myself were I wrong.

CLE .Well? Amphitryon having warned me of your return, I sat up until you came; but I never saw such coldness: I had myself to remind you that you had a wife; and, when I wanted to kiss you, you, turned away your head, and gave me your ear.

SOS. Good.

CLE. What do you mean by good?

SOS. Good gracious! You do not know why I talk like this, Cleanthis: I had been eating garlic, and, like a well-bred man, just turned my breath away from you.

CLE. I showed you every possible tenderness; but you were as deaf as a post to everything I said; never a kind word passed your lips.

SOS. Courage!

CLE. In short, my flame bad to burn alone, its chaste ardour did not find anything in you but ice; you were the culprit in a return that might have been so different: you even went so far as to refuse to take your place in bed, which the laws of wedlock oblige you to occupy.

SOS. What? Did I not go to bed?

CLE. No, you coward.

SOS. Is it possible?

CLE . It is but too true, you rascal. Of all affronts this affront is the greatest; and, instead of your heart repairing its wrong this morning, you left me with words full of undisguised contempt.

SOS. Vivat Sosie!

CLE. Eh, what? Has my complaint had this effect? You laugh at your fine goings on?

SOS. How pleased I am with myself!

CLE. Is this the way to express your grief at such an outrage?

SOS. I should never have believed I could be so prudent.

CLE. Instead of condemning yourself for such a perfidious trick, you rejoice at it to my face!

SOS . Good gracious! Gently, gently! If I appear pleased, you must believe that I have a very strong private reason for it; without thinking of it, I never did better than in using you in such a manner as I did.

CLE. Are you laughing at me, you villain?

SOS . No, I am speaking openly to you. I was in a wretched state. I had a certain load, which your words have lifted from my soul. I was very apprehensive, and feared that I had played the fool with you.

CLE. What is this fear? Come, let us know what you mean.

SOS . The doctors say that, when one is drunk, one should abstain from one's wife, for, in that condition we can only have children who are dull, and who cannot live. Think, if my heart had not armed itself with coldness, what troubles might have followed!

CLE. I do not care a fig for doctors, with their insipid reasonings. Let them rule those who are sick without wishing to govern healthy people. They meddle with too many affairs when they seek to rein in our chaste desires; in addition to the dog days, and their strict rules, they tell us a hundred ridiculous stories into the bargain.

SOS . Gently.

CLE. No; I maintain theirs is a worthless conclusion: those reasons come from idiotic brains. Neither wine nor time ought to prevent the duties of conjugal love from being fulfilled; doctors are donkeys.

SOS. I entreat you, moderate your anger against them; they are honest people, whatever the world may say of them.

CLE . Things are not what you think them; you can shut up; your excuse will not go down; and, sooner or later, I tell you plainly, I will avenge myself for the contempt you show me every day. I remember everything you said just now, and I shall try to make use of the liberty you gave me, You faithless, cowardly husband.

SOS. What?

CLE. You told me just now, you villain, that you would heartily agree to my loving another.

SOS. Ah! In that matter I was wrong. I retract; my honour is at stake. You had better beware you do not give way to that sentiment.

CLE. Nevertheless if some time I can make up my mind to the thing . . .

SOS. Just stop talking for the present. Amphitryon is coming back, and he seems pleased.

 SCENE IV

 JUPITER, CLEANTHIS, SOSIE

JUP . I shall take this opportunity of appearing to Alcmene to banish the sorrow in which she wishes to indulge, and, under the pretence that brings me here, I will gratify my passion with the delight of a reconciliation with her. Alcmene is upstairs, is she not?

CLE. Yes; she is thoroughly upset and wishes to be left alone: she has forbidden me to follow her.

JUP. Whatever prohibition she may have given you does not concern me.

CLE. So far as I can see, his grief has beaten a quick retreat.

 SCENE V

 CLEANTHIS, SOSIE

SOS . What do you say, Cleanthis, to these cheerful looks, after his terrible rage?

CLE. That we should all do well to send all men to the devil; the best of them is not worth much.

SOS. You say that because you are in a passion; but you are too fond of men; upon my word, you would all look as black as thunder if the devil were to take them all away.

CLE. Really . . .

SOS. Here they come. Hush.

 SCENE VI

 JUPITER, ALCMENE, CLEANTHIS, SOSIE

JUP. Do you want to drive me to despair? Alas! Stay, lovely Alcmene.

ALC. No, I cannot remain longer with the author of my grief.

JUP. I beseech you

ALC. Leave me.

JUP. What . . .?

ALC. Leave me, I tell you.

JUP. Her tears touch me to the heart; her sorrow troubles me. Allow me to

ALC. No, do not follow me,

JUP. Where are you going?

ALC. Where you are not.

JUP. That would be a vain attempt to make. I am linked to your beauty by too close a bond to suffer a moment's separation from you. I shall follow you everywhere, Alcmene.

ALC. And I shall flee from you everywhere.

JUP. I am very terrible, then!

ALC . Yes, more than I can say. Indeed, I look upon you as a frightful monster, a cruel, furious monster, whose approach is to be feared; as a monster to be avoided everywhere. My heart suffers incredible grief at the sight of you; it is a torture that overpowers me; I do not know anything under Heaven so frightful, horrible and odious, that I could not better endure than you.

JUP. Alas! Do these words really come from your mouth?

ALC. I have many more in my heart; I only regret I cannot find words to express all I feel.

JUP. Ah! What has my heart done to you, Alcmene, that I should be looked upon as such a monster?

ALC. Oh! Just Heaven! He can ask that? Is it not enough to drive me mad?

JUP. Yet, in a milder spirit . . .

ALC. No; I do not wish either to see or to hear anything of you.

JUP. Have you really the heart to treat me thus? Is this the tender love which I heard yesterday was to last so long?

ALC . No, no, it is not; your base insults have ordained it otherwise. That passionate and tender love does not exist any longer; you have cruelly killed it in my heart by a hundred keen wounds. In its place stands an inflexible wrath, a lively resentment, an invincible indignation, the despair of a heart justly incensed, which resolves to hate you for this grievous injury, as much as it was willing to love you; that is to say to hate as much as possible.

JUP. Alas! Your love must have had but little strength, if it can be killed by so slight a matter! Can a jest divorce us? Is there any need to be so roused at a trifle?

ALC. Ah! It is just that which offends me: that which my anger cannot pardon. I should have felt less wounded by the justifiable transports of a fit of jealousy. Jealousy makes impressions the force of which oftentimes carries us beyond our control; at such times the most discreet mind, no doubt, finds it difficult enough to answer for its deeds. The violence of a heart which may have been deluded has, in its very delusion, a peaceoffering for an aggrieved soul, and the love that gave birth to its fears, furnishes, in spite of all its violence, at least some reasons to urge as excuse. Outbursts such as these ever have love as an excuse against anger: for love gave birth to them, and we can easily pardon what we cannot control.

But to fly into uncontrollable fury, in gaiety of heart, and so causelessly and keenly to wound the tenderness and honour of a heart that dearly loves you, ah! It is too cruel a blow: my grief can never forget it.

JUP . Yes, you are right, Alcmene; I admit it. This action is unquestionably an odious crime; I do not pretend to justify it longer: yet allow my heart to defend itself in your eyes, and let it reveal to you who is to blame for this insulting fury. To tell you frankly, it is the husband Alcmene, who has done this wrong; it is the husband whom you must blame. The lover has no share in this churlish anger: his heart is not capable of offending you. He has too much respect and affection for you ever to think of it; had he been guilty of the crime of doing aught that could wound you, he would pierce himself with a hundred stabs before your eyes. But the husband has cast aside that humble submission which should always be yours; by his harsh deeds, the husband has made himself known; he thought the rights of marriage allowed him everything. Yes, it is he no doubt who is guilty towards you; he only has ill-treated your lovely person. Hate, detest the husband; I consent to it; I yield him to your mercy; but, Alcmene, spare the lover from the anger which such an offence gives you; do not let him suffer; differentiate between him and the guilty one; and, finally, in order to be just, do not punish him for what he has not done.

ALC. Oh! All these subtleties are but frivolous excuses; such language only annoys incensed minds. In vain do you use these ridiculous prevarications. I do not make any distinction in him who offends me; everything in him becomes the object of my anger, the lover and the husband are alike confounded in its just violence. Both occupy my thoughts; both are painted in the same colours by my wounded heart. Both are guilty; both have offended me; and both are odious to me.

JUP . Well! Then, since you wish it, I must charge myself with the offence. Yes, you are right, when you sacrifice me as a guilty victim to your resentment. Anger towards me sways you; it is but too just, and all the terrible wrath you show causes me to suffer only lawful torments. It is right you should shun my presence, and in your anger threaten to flee from me everywhere. I must be a detestable object to you; you are right in thinking ill of me. My crime in being offensive in your charming eyes surpasses every horror; it is a crime that offends men and Gods; in short, as punishment for my insolence I deserve that your hatred should vent its utmost upon me. I beg your forgiveness, I beg it upon my knees, I beg it for the sake of the most lively passion, of the tenderest love for you, which has ever been kindled in a human breast. If, charming Alcmene, your heart refuses me the pardon which I have the audacity to seek, then shall a well-aimed stroke put an end to my life, and release me from the harsh severity of a penalty which I can no longer bear. Yes, this state of things drives me to despair. Do not think, Alcmene, that, enamoured as I am of your celestial charms, I can live a day under your wrath. Even these moments' agony is barbarously prolonged and my sad heart sinks under their mortal blows. The cruel wounds of a thousand vultures are not comparable in any way to my lively grief. Alcmene, you have but to tell me I need not hope for pardon: and immediately this sword, by a happy thrust, shall pierce the heart of a miserable wretch before your eyes. This heart, this traitorous heart, too deserving of death, since it has offended an adorable being, will be happy if, in descending into the place of shades, my death appeases your anger, and, after this wretched day, it leaves in your soul no impression of hatred in remembering my love! This is all I ask as a sovereign favour.

ALC. Ah! Cruel husband.

JUP. Speak, Alcmene, speak.

ALC . Must I still keep some kindness for you, who insult me by so many indignities?

JUP. Whatever resentment an outrage causes us, can it hold out against the remorse of a heart deeply in love?

ALC. A heart full of passion would rather expose itself to a thousand deaths, than offend the object beloved.

JUP. The more one loves, the easier it is

ALC. No, do not speak to me any longer about it; you deserve my hatred.

JUP. You hate me then?

ALC. I make every effort to do so, and it annoys me to feel that all your insults do not yet carry my vengeance so far as yield to it.

JUP. But why this violence, since I offer to kill myself to satisfy your revenge? Pronounce the sentence and immediately I will obey.

ALC. It is impossible to wish for another's death if hatred be absent.

JUP. I cannot live unless you abandon the wrath that overwhelms me, and unless you grant me the favour of a pardon which I beg at your feet. Decide to do one or the other quickly: to punish, or to absolve.

ALC. Alas! The only resolution I can take is but too clearly apparent. My heart has too plainly betrayed me, for me to wish to maintain this anger: is it not to say we pardon, when we say we cannot hate?

JUP. Ah, charming Alcmene, overwhelmed with delight I must...

ALC. Forbear: I hate myself for such weakness.

JUP . Go, Sosie, make haste; a sweet joy fills my soul. See what officers of the army you can find, and ask them to dine with me. (Softly aside.) Mercury can fill his post, while he is away from here.

 SCENE VII

 CLEANTHIS, SOSIE

SOS. Come! Now, you see, this couple, Cleanthis. Will you follow their example, and let us also make peace? Indulge in some slight reconciliation?

CLE. For the sake of your lovely mug, Oh yes! I will, and no mistake.

SOS. What? You will not?

CLE. No.

SOS. It doesn't matter to me. So much the worse for you.

CLE. Well, well, come back.

SOS. No, not, likely! I shall not do anything of the kind, I shall be angry. I turn now.

CLE. Go away, you villain, let me alone; one gets tired now and then of being an honest woman.

 END OF THE SECOND ACT