These kind words which Prospero spoke, meaning to comfort his brother, so filled Antonio with shame and remorse, that he wept and was unable to speak; and the kind old Gonzalo wept to see this joyful reconciliation, and prayed for blessings on the young couple.
Prospero now told them that their ship was safe in the harbour, and the sailors all on board her, and that he and his daughter would accompany them home the next morning. “In the meantime,” says he, “partake of such refreshments as my poor cave affords; and for your evening’s entertainment I will relate the history of my life from my first landing in this desert island.” He then called for Caliban to prepare some food, and set the cave in order; and the company were astonished at the uncouth form and savage appearance of this ugly monster, who (Prospero said) was the only attendant he had to wait upon him.
Before Prospero left the island, he dismissed Ariel from his service, to the great joy of that lively little spirit; who, though he had been a faithful servant to his master, was always longing to enjoy his free liberty, to wander uncontrolled in the air, like a wild bird, under green trees, among pleasant fruits, and sweet-smelling flowers. “My quaint Ariel,” said Prospero to the little sprite when he made him free, “I shall miss you; yet you shall have your freedom.” “Thank you, my dear master,” said Ariel; “but give me leave to attend your ship home with prosperous gales, before you bid farewel to the assistance of your faithful spirit; and then, master, when I am free, how merrily I shall live!” Here Ariel sung this pretty song:
“Where the bee sucks, there suck
In a cowslip’s bell I lie:
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.”
Prospero then buried deep in the earth his magical books, and wand, for he was resolved never more to make use of the magic art. And having thus overcome his enemies, and being reconciled to his brother and the king of Naples, nothing now remained to complete his happiness, but to revisit his native land, to take possession of his dukedom, and to witness the happy nuptials of his daughter Miranda and prince Ferdinand, which the king said should be instantly celebrated with great splendour on their return to Naples. At which place, under the safe convoy of the spirit Ariel, they after a pleasant voyage soon arrived.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
(By Mary Lamb)
There was a law in the city of Athens, which gave to its citizens the power of compelling their daughters to marry whomsoever they pleased: for upon a daughter’s refusing to marry the man her father had chosen to be her husband, the father was empowered by this law to cause her to be put to death; but as fathers do not often desire the death of their own daughters, even though they do happen to prove a little refractory, this law was seldom or never put in execution, though perhaps the young ladies of that city were not unfrequently threatened by their parents with the terrors of it.