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sharpening a long knife with great eagerness to cut off the pound of flesh, Portia said to Antonio : ‘Have you anything to say?' Antonio, with calm resignation, replied, that he had but little to say, for that he had prepared his mind for death. Then he said to Bassanio : Give me your hand, Bassanio! Fare you well! Grieve not that I am fallen into this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honourable wife, and tell her how I have loved you !' Bassanio, in the deepest affliction, replied : ' Antonio, I am married to a wife, who is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife, and all the world, are not esteemed with me above

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life. I would lose all, I would sacrifice all to this devil here, to deliver you.'

Portia hearing this, though the kind-hearted lady was not at all offended with her husband for expressing the love he owed to so true a friend as Antonio in those strong terms, yet could not help answering : 'Your wife would give you little thanks, if she were present, to hear you make this offer.' And then Gratiano, who loved to copy what his lord did, thought he must make a speech like Bassanio's, and he said, in Nerissa's hearing, who was writing in her clerk's dress by the side of Portia : 'I have a wife, whom I protest I love; I wish she were in heaven, if she could but entreat some power there to change the cruel temper of this currish Jew.' • It is well you wish this behind her back, else you would have but an unquiet house,' said Nerissa. Shylock now cried out impatiently :

We trifle time; I pray pronounce the sentence.' And now all was awful expectation in the court, and every heart was full of grief for Antonio.

Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she said to the Jew : 'Shylock, you must have some

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surgeon by, lest he bleed to death.' Shylock, whose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed to death, said, 'It is not so named in the bond.'

Portia replied : * It is not so named in the bond, but what of that? It is good you did so much for charity.' To this, all the answer Shylock would make was : 'I cannot find it ; it is not in the bond.' Then,' said Portia, 'a pound of Antonio's flesh is thine. The law allows it, and the court awards it. And you may cut this flesh from off his breast. The law allows it, and the court awards it.' Again Shylock exclaimed : 'O wise and upright judge! A Daniel is come to judgment !' And then he sharpened his long knife again, and looking eagerly on Antonio, he said : Come, prepare!'

* Tarry a little, Jew,' said Portia ; there is something else. This bond here gives you no drop of blood ; the words expressly are—a pound of flesh. If in the cutting off the pound of flesh you shed one drop of Christian blood, your land and goods are by the law to be confiscated to the state of Venice. Now, as it was utterly impossible for Shylock to cut off the pound of flesh without shedding some of Antonio's blood, this wise discovery of Portia’s, that it was flesh and not blood that was named in the bond, saved the life of Antonio; and all admiring the wonderful sagacity of the young counsellor, who had so happily thought of this expedient, plaudits resounded from every part of the senate-house; and Gratiano exclaimed, in the words which Shylock had used : 0 wise and upright judge ! mark, Jew, a Daniel is come to judgment !

Shylock, finding himself defeated in his cruel intent, said with a disappointed look, that he would take the money; and Bassanio, rejoiced beyond measure at Antonio's

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unexpected deliverance, cried out : 'Here is the money!' But Portia stopped him, saying : Softly; there is no haste; the Jew shall have nothing but the penalty; therefore prepare, Shylock, to cut off the flesh; but mind you shed no blood ; nor do not cut off more nor less than a just pound—be it more or less by one poor scruple, nay, if the scale turn but by the weight of a single hair, you are condemned by the laws of Venice to die, and all your wealth is forfeited to the senate.' “Give me my money, and let me go,' said Shylock.

I have it ready,' said Bassanio; here it is.' Shylock was going to take the money, when Portia again stopped him, saying: 'Tarry, Jew; I have yet another hold upon you. By the laws of Venice, your wealth is forfeited to the state, for having conspired against the life of one of its citizens, and your life lies at the mercy

of the duke; therefore down on your knees, and ask him to pardon you.'

The duke then said to Shylock : “That you may see the difference of our Christian spirit, I pardon you your life before you ask it; half your wealth belongs to Antonio, the other half comes to the state.' The generous Antonio then said, that he would give up his share of Shylock's wealth, if Shylock would sign a deed to make it over at his death to his daughter and her husband; for Antonio knew that the Jew had an only daughter, who had lately been married against his consent to a young Christian, a friend of Antonio's, which had so offended Shylock that he had disinherited her. The Jew agreed to this; and being thus disappointed in his revenge, and despoiled of his riches, he said : 'I am ill. Let me go home ; send the deed after me, and I will sign over half my riches to my daughter.'

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Get you gone, then,' said the duke, “and sign it; and if you repent your cruelty, and turn Christian, the state will forgive you the fine of the other half of your riches.' The duke now released Antonio, and dismissed the

He then highly praised the wisdom and ingenuity of the young counsellor, and invited him home to dinner. Portia, who meant to return to Belmont before her husband, replied : “I humbly thank your Grace, but I must away directly.'

The duke said he was sorry he had not leisure to stay and dine with him; and, turning to Antonio, he added : Reward this gentleman; for in my mind you are much indebted to him.'

The duke and his senators left the court; and then Bassanio said to Portia : ‘Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend, Antonio, have by your wisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penalties, and I beg you will accept of the three thousand ducats due unto the Jew.'

And we shall stand indebted to you over and above,' said Antonio, “in love and service evermore.'

Portia could not be prevailed upon to accept the money ; but upon Bassanio still pressing her to accept of some reward, she said: “Give me your gloves ; I will wear them for your sake :' and then Bassanio taking off his gloves, she espied the ring which she had given him upon his finger : now it was the ring the wily lady wanted to get from him to make a merry jest when she saw her Bassanio again, that made her ask him for his gloves; and she said, when she saw the ring : “And for your love I will take this ring from you.' Bassanio was sadly distressed that the counsellor should ask him for the only thing he could not part with, and he replied in great confusion, that he could not give him that ring, because it was his wife's

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gift, and he had vowed never to part with it: but that he would give him the most valuable ring in Venice, and find it out by proclamation. On this Portia affected to

. be affronted, and left the court, saying: “You teach me, sir, how a beggar should be answered.' 'Dear Bassanio, said Antonio, 'let him have the ring ; let my love and the great service he has done for me be valued against your wife's displeasure.' Bassanio, ashamed to appear so ungrateful, yielded, and sent Gratiano after Portia with the ring; and then the clerk Nerissa, who had also given Gratiano a ring, begged it of him, and Gratiano—not choosing to be outdone in generosity by his lord-gave it to her. And there was laughing among those ladies to think, when they got home, how they would tax their husbands with giving away their rings, and swear that they had given them as a present to some woman.

Portia, when she returned, was in that happy temper of mind which never fails to attend the consciousness of having performed a good action; her cheerful spirits enjoyed everything she saw : the moon never seemed to shine so bright before ; and when that pleasant moon was hid behind a cloud, then a light which she saw from her house at Belmont as well pleased her charmed fancy, and she said to Nerissa : “That light we see is burning in my hall; how far that little candle throws its beams, so shines a good deed in a naughty world :' and hearing the sound of music from her house, she said : “Methinks that music sounds much sweeter than by day.' And now Portia and Nerissa entered the house, and dressing themselves in their own apparel, they awaited the arrival of their husbands, who soon followed them with Antonio; and Bassanio presenting his dear friend to the Lady Portia, the congratulations and welcomings,

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