Troilus and Cressida By William Shakespeare Presented by Paul W. Collins All rights reserved



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Calchas, I think. Diomedes need not be respectful of the Trojan traitor. “Where’s your daughter?”

After a moment of muffled contention inside, Calchas’s voice replies. “She comes to you.”

Beside a tent not far away, Troilus and Ulysses arrive, hidden by the darkness.

- “Stand where the torch may not discover us,” says Ulysses quietly, moving back.

- Troilus’s voice is hushed but surprised. “Cressid comes forth to him!”

“How now, my charge!” says Diomedes.

“Now, my sweet guardian. Hark, a word with you.” She speaks softly as he moves closer.

- Troilus is disturbed. “Yea, so familiar!

- “She will sing any man at first sight,” says Ulysses—still stung by the snub.

Behind the two watchers, Thersites lurks now as well, close enough to overhear. And any man may sing her, if he can take her clef! —a crude play on cleft. She’s noted! —another poor jest.

Diomedes asks her, “Will you remember?”

“Remember,” says the Trojan lady, softly and sadly. “Yes.”

“Nay, but do, then—and let your mind be coupled with your words!”

- “What should she remember?” wonders Troilus.

- “Listen,” says Ulysses; Diomedes will speak as he has advised.

Cressida looks up at Diomedes. “Sweet honey Greek, tempt me no more to folly!” she pleads.

- Roguery! thinks cynical Thersites.

“Nay, then—” begins Diomedes.

Cressida interrupts. “I’ll tell you what—”

Oh, fie! Come, tell a pin!”—cavil, says Diomedes. “You are forsworn!” he cries, seemingly angered.

“In faith, I cannot! What would you have me do?

- A juggling trick: to be secretly open! thinks Thersites.

Diomedes regards her. “What did you swear you would bestow on me?”

“I prithee, do not hold me to mine oath; bid me do anything but that, sweet Greek!”

Diomedes turns to go. “Good night.”

- Troilus is furious. Hold, patience! He starts to rise.

- Ulysses’ hand on his shoulder restrains him. “How now, Trojan?”

“Diomed—” she says.

“No, no, good night! I’ll be your fool no more.”

- “Thy better must!” mutters Troilus.

Cressida beseeches, “Hark, one word in your ear….”

- “Oh plague and madness!” gasps Troilus, overwhelmed by jealousy.

- “You are angered, prince! Let us depart, I pray you, lest your displeasure should enlarge itself to wrathful terms! This place is dangerous, the time right deadly!” warns Ulysses. “I beseech you, go!”

- Troilus stares at the couple, close together in the torchlight. “Behold, I pray you!”

- “Nay, good my lord, go off! You flow to great distraction! Come, my lord!”

- “I pray thee, stay!

- “You have not patience; come!” says Ulysses.

- “I pray you, stay!” pleads Troilus. “By hell and all hell’s torments,” he promises, “I will not speak a word!”

Says Diomedes coldly, “And so, good night.”

Cressida appeals to her protector. “Nay, but you part in anger….”

- Troilus fumes. “Doth that grieve thee? O withered ‘true’!”

- Ulysses eyes his distress. “Why, how now, lord?”

- “By Jove, I will be patient!”

Guardian?says Cressida scornfully, challenging his honor. “Why, Greek!”—the Trojans’ term, he knows, for assailant.

Diomedes heads away. “Fie, fie! Adieu. You palter.”

“In faith, I do not!” The young woman, abandoned by Troy to the wholly masculine realm of invaders, is loath to make a powerful enemy. “Come hither once again.

- Ulysses holds the prince back. “You shake, my lord, at something! Will you go? You will break out!”

- Troilus stares as Cressida reaches up to touch Diomedes’ face, hoping to revive his initial tenderness. “She strokes his cheek!”

- “Come, come!” says Ulysses, trying—not very hard—to draw him away.

- “Nay, stay; by Jove, I will not speak a word! There is between my will and all offences a guard of patience! Stay a little while….”

- Watching Diomedes work, Thersites chuckles to himself. How the devil Luxury, with his fat rump and potato-finger, tickles these together! Fry, lechery, fry!

Diomedes asks her bluntly: “But will you, then?”

She looks down for a moment, pondering; she has heard nothing from Troilus. “In faith, I will. Never trust me else.”

“Give me some token for the surety of it.” A visible action, he knows, will clinch the observer’s perception.

She thinks. “I’ll fetch you one,” she murmurs, going into the tent.

- You have sworn patience,” warns Ulysses.

- “Fear me not, sweet lord; I will not be myself, nor have cognition of what I feel: I am all Patience!”—the famous statue.

Cressida returns; tears are in her eyes.

- Thersites rubs his hands together eagerly. Now the pledge! Now, now, now!

Cressida offers her visitor an item made of finely embroidered cloth. “Here, Diomedes, keep this sleeve.”

- Troilus is stunned to see it again. “O beauty!—where is thy faith?

- “My lord—”

- “I will be patient!outwardly I will!

“You look upon that sleeve,” says Cressida, as Diomedes examines the piece of another man’s apparel. “Behold it well. He loved me.”

But then she sobs. “O false wench! —Give’t me again!”

Diomedes returns the sleeve, asking, “Whose was’t?”

“It is no matter. Now I have it again!” Weeping, she looks at him. “I will not meet with you tomorrow night. I prithee, Diomed, visit me no more!

- Thersites thinks he sees skillful seduction: Now she sharpens! Well said, whetstone!

“I shall have it!” says Diomedes.

She is clasping the sleeve over her heart. “What, this?”

“Aye, that!




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