Previous scene. | Next scene. | Table of contents

Act 2, Scene 2


PAULINA: The keeper of the prison, call to him;
Let him have knowledge who I am.

                                                   Good lady,
No court in Europe is too good for thee,
What dost thou then in prison?

[Enter GENTLEMAN with the] JAILER.

                                             Now, good sir,
You know me, do you not?     [5]

JAILER:                     For a worthy lady,
And one whom much I honour.

PAULINA:                          Pray you then,
Conduct me to the Queen.

JAILER:                         I may not, madam:
To the contrary I have express commandment.

PAULINA: Here's ado, to lock up honesty
And honour from th' access of gentle visitors.     [10]
Is't lawful, pray you, to see her women?
Any of them? Emilia?

JAILER:                So please you, madam,
To put apart these your attendants, I
Shall bring Emilia forth.

PAULINA:                I pray now call her. --
Withdraw yourselves.     [15]


JAILER:                And, madam, I must
Be present at your conference.

PAULINA:                         Well; be't so; prithee.

[Exit JAILER.]

Here's such ado to make no stain a stain
As passes colouring.

[Enter JAILER with] EMILIA.

                               Dear gentlewoman,
How fares our gracious lady?

EMILIA: As well as one so great and so forlorn     [20]
May hold together. On her frights and griefs,
Which never tender lady hath borne greater,
She is, something before her time, delivered.


EMILIA:           A daughter, and a goodly babe,
Lusty and like to live. The Queen receives     [25]
Much comfort in't; says, ³My poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you.²

PAULINA:                I dare be sworn.
These dangerous, unsafe lunes i' th' King, beshrew them!
He must be told on't, and he shall. The office
Becomes a woman best. I'll take't upon me.     [30]
If I prove honey-mouthed, let my tongue blister;
And never to my red-looked anger be
The trumpet any more. Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the Queen.
If she dares trust me with her little babe,     [35]
I'll show't the King, and undertake to be
Her advocate to th' loud'st. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o' th' child:
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.     [40]

EMILIA:                          Most worthy madam,
Your honour and your goodness is so evident
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue. There is no lady living
So meet for this great errand. Please your ladyship
To visit the next room, I'll presently     [45]
Acquaint the Queen of your most noble offer,
Who but to-day hammered of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
Lest she should be denied.

PAULINA:                     Tell her, Emilia,
I'll use that tongue I have. If wit flow from't     [50]
As boldness from my bosom, let't not be doubted
I shall do good.

EMILIA:      Now be you blest for it!
I'll to the Queen. -- Please you, come something nearer.

JAILER: Madam, if't please the Queen to send the babe,
I know not what I shall incur to pass it,     [55]
Having no warrant.

PAULINA:     You need not fear it, sir.
This child was prisoner to the womb, and is
By law and process of great Nature thence
Freed and enfranchised, not a party to
The anger of the King, nor guilty of--     [60]
If any be -- the trespass of the Queen.

JAILER: I do believe it.

PAULINA: Do not you fear. Upon mine honour, I
Will stand betwixt you and danger.


Previous scene. | Next scene. | Table of contents