Portia stopped a short distance from the court. She reached into her bag, withdrew a document and handed it to Nerissa. ‘Ask the way to the Jew’s house, give him this will and make sure he signs it. We’ll leave tonight and be home a day before our husbands. Lorenzo will be very pleased with this document.’
Gratiano came running out of the door of the court and down the street towards them. ‘Dear sir,’ he panted, ‘I’m glad I’ve caught you. My Lord Bassanio, has, on second thoughts, sent you this ring and requests your company at dinner.’
Portia shook her head. ‘It’s impossible. But I accept his ring with gratitude. Please tell him that. One last thing: please show my youth the way to old Shylock’s house.’
‘I’ll do so,’ said Gratiano. He turned, and Nerissa began to follow him but then she ran back to Portia.
‘Sir, I’d like a word,’ she said. Then whispering: ‘I’ll see if I can get my husband’s ring – the one I made him swear to keep forever.’
‘That will be easy,’ chuckled Portia. ‘We’ll get the old story that they gave the rings to men but we’ll be able to contradict them beautifully. Off you go, hurry up. You know where I’ll be waiting.’
‘Come Sir,’ said Nerissa, as she joined Gratiano. ‘Will you show me to this house?’