David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s “The Two Noble Kinsmen”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scene 6

— 2.6 —

Alone, the jailer’s daughter said, “Let all the Dukes and all the Devils roar! Palamon is at liberty. I have risked myself for him, and I have brought him out of prison. I have sent him a mile hence to a little wood where a cedar higher than all the rest spreads like a tall spreading plane tree near a brook, and there he shall stay hidden until I provide him with files and food, for yet his iron bracelets — fetters — are not off.

“Oh, Cupid, god of Love, what a stout-hearted child you are! My father would have preferred to endure cold iron fetters than to do what I have done.

“I love Palamon beyond love and beyond reason or wit or safety. I have made him know it; I have told him. I don’t care; I am desperate. If the law should find me and then condemn me for it, some wenches, some honest-hearted maidens, will sing my dirge and tell future times that my death was noble — that I died almost a martyr.

“Whatever path he takes I intend to be my path, too. Surely he cannot be so unmanly as to leave me here. If he does, maidens will not so easily trust men again. And yet he has not thanked me for what I have done; no, he has not so much as kissed me, and that, I think, is not so good; nor could I hardly persuade him to become a free man, he made such scruples of the wrong he did to me and to my father.”

Of course, Palamon was reluctant to leave the place where Emilia was near.

The jailer’s daughter continued, “Yet I hope, after he reflects more thoroughly, this love of mine will take more root within him. Let him do what he wants with me, as long as he treats me kindly — benevolently and in the way that a man uses a woman — for use me so he shall, or I’ll proclaim him, and to his face, no man. I’ll tell him that he is impotent.

“I’ll right away provide him with necessities and pack my clothes up and wherever there is a path on ground I’ll venture, as long as he is with me. Beside him like a shadow I’ll forever dwell.

“Within this hour the hubbub will be all over the prison. I will then be kissing the man they are looking for.

“Farewell, father! Get many more such prisoners as Palamon and beget such daughters as myself, and shortly you may keep yourself. You will be in prison and guard yourself, and you will be alone.

“Now I will go to Palamon.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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