Salerio and Solanio sat in their favourite inn, at their favourite table, where they had a good view of the Grand Canal with its busy traffic.

‘Why, man, I saw Bassanio setting sail,’ said Salerio. ‘Gratiano has gone with him. I’m sure Lorenzo hasn’t.’
‘The villainous Jew woke the Duke with his shouting,’ said Solanio. ‘The Duke went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.’

Salerio laughed. ‘He got there too late. The ship was underway. But the Duke was told at the dock that Lorenzo and his love-struck Jessica had been seen together in a gondola. Moreover, Antonio confirmed to the Duke that they weren’t with Bassanio in his ship.’

Solanio shook his head. ‘I’ve never heard such passion – so confused, so strange, so outrageous, so inconsistent – as the dog Jew was shouting.’ He got up and started stamping around the room, clutching his head and imitating Shylock’s voice. ‘My daughter! Oh my ducats! Oh my daughter! Fled with a Christian! Oh my Christian ducats! Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter! A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl! She has the stones on her, and the ducats!’

Salerio wiped the tears of laughter from his cheeks. ‘And all the boys of Venice follow him, shouting: “His stones! His daughter! His ducats!” ’

Solanio sat down again and stared out at the ships moored alongside the wharf. He shook his head. ‘Antonio had better meet his deadline or he’ll pay for this.’

‘Yes, well remembered,’ said Salerio. ‘I was chatting to a Frenchman yesterday: he told me that a rich Venetian ship was wrecked in the English Channel. When he said that I thought of Antonio and silently hoped it wasn’t his.’

‘It would be a good idea to tell Antonio what you heard. But do it tactfully because it may upset him.’

‘No kinder gentleman walks on this earth,’ said Salerio. I saw Bassanio and Antonio saying goodbye. Bassanio said he would get back as soon as possible. Antonio said, “No, don’t: don’t rush your business for my sake, Bassanio. Take as long as you have to. As for the Jew’s bond, don’t let it interfere with your wooing. Be happy and concentrate on your courting and such procedures as seem appropriate there.” And at that his eyes swelled with tears and, turning his face away, he stretched out his arm behind him. Then, with deep affection he shook Bassanio’s hand, and that’s how they parted.’

‘I think he only lives for Bassanio,’ said Solanio. ‘Right, then, eat up. Let’s go and find him and try and lift him out of his dejection with some entertainment or other.’

 

Modern Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 1
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 2
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 3
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 1
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 2
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 3
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 4
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 5
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 6
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 7
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 8
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 9
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 1
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 2
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 3
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 4
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 4, Scene 1
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 4, Scene 2
Modern Merchant of Venice Act 5, Scene 1