Quince admitted three of his actors to his workshop. ‘Have you been to Bottom’s house?’ he said. ‘Has he come home yet?’
‘No-one’s heard from him. He’s been snatched without a doubt,’ said Starveling.
‘If he doesn’t turn up the play will be ruined,’ said Flute. ‘We won’t be able to do it, will we?’
‘It would be impossible,’ said Quince. ‘There’s not a man in Athens capable of playing Pyramus except him.’
Flute shook his head gravely. ‘No, he’s simply got more talent than any journeyman in Athens.’
‘Yes, and with the best presence too,’ said Quince. ‘And a voice that makes him a paramour.’
Flute’s hand went up and Quince nodded to him. ‘You mean ‘paragon’. Flute giggled. ‘A ‘paramour’ is, God bless us, something naughty!’
Quince was about to reply when Snug arrived. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘the duke is coming from the temple and two or three more lords and ladies have been also been married there. If we’d been able to put on our entertainment we would have made our fortunes.’
‘Oh sweet bully Bottom!’ exclaimed Flute. ‘By his disappearance he’s lost a pension of sixpence a day for the rest of his life! He couldn’t have missed getting sixpence a day! I’ll be hanged if the duke wouldn’t have given him sixpence a day for playing Pyramus. He would have deserved nothing less than sixpence a day for Pyramus.’
They all turned to the door in amazement as they heard Bottom’s voice. ‘Where are you, lads?’ he bellowed. ‘Where are you my brave lads?’ He appeared in the doorway.
‘Bottom!’ Quince ran to him and embraced him. ‘Oh, this is a great day. What a happy moment!’
‘Lads, I’ve got some amazing things to tell you,’ said Bottom, when they had stopped jumping up and down, ‘but don’t ask me what they are because if I tell you then I’m no true Athenian. I’ll tell you everything exactly as it happened.’
‘Let’s hear it, dear Bottom,’ said Quince.
‘My lips are sealed,’ said Bottom. ‘All I’ll say is that the duke has dined. Get your costumes ready, strong strings on your beards, new laces in your shoes and meet straight away at the palace. Everyone must go over his part because the long and the short of it is that our play has been chosen. In any event, Thisbe must have clean clothes, and he who is playing the lion mustn’t cut his nails because they must hang out like lion claws. And, dear actors, don’t eat any onions. Or garlic. Because we’ve got to speak with a sweet breath, then I’m sure that the audience will say it’s a sweet comedy. No more words now. Let’s go!’