| Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare|
|by Edith Nesbit|
|Twenty stories from Shakespeare retold in lively prose. The author makes the complex language of Shakespeare's greatest plays accessible to young children by relating the stories that form the core of the plays. Her graceful, vivid retellings are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare's works. Ages 9-12 |
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
HERE lived in Padua a gentleman named Baptista, who had two fair
daughters. The eldest, Katharine, was so very cross and ill-tempered,
and unmannerly, that no one ever dreamed of marrying her, while
her sister, Bianca, was so sweet and pretty, and pleasant-spoken,
that more than one suitor asked her father for her hand. But
Baptista said the elder daughter must marry first.
So Bianca's suitors decided among themselves to try and get some
one to marry Katharine—and then the father could at least be got
to listen to their suit for Bianca.
PETRUCHIO AND KATHERINE
A gentleman from Verona, named Petruchio, was the one they thought
of, and, half in jest, they asked him if he would marry Katharine,
the disagreeable scold. Much to their surprise he said yes, that
was just the sort of wife for him, and if Katharine were
and rich, he himself would undertake soon to make her
Petruchio began by asking Baptista's permission to pay court to
his gentle daughter Katharine—and Baptista was obliged to own
that she was anything but gentle. And just then her music master
rushed in, complaining that the naughty girl had broken her lute
over his head, because he told her she was not playing correctly.
THE MUSIC MASTER.
"Never mind," said Petruchio, "I love her better than ever, and
long to have some chat with her."
 When Katharine came, he said, "Good-morrow, Kate—for that, I hear,
is your name."
"You've only heard half," said Katharine, rudely.
"Oh, no," said Petruchio, "they call you plain Kate, and bonny
Kate, and sometimes Kate the shrew, and so, hearing your mildness
praised in every town, and your beauty too, I ask you for my wife."
"Your wife!" cried Kate. "Never!" She said some extremely
disagreeable things to him, and, I am sorry to say, ended by
boxing his ears.
"If you do that again, I'll cuff you," he said quietly; and still
protested, with many compliments, that he would marry none but
When Baptista came back, he asked at once—
"How speed you with my daughter?"
"How should I speed but well," replied Petruchio—"how, but well?"
"How now, daughter Katharine?" the father went on.
"I don't think," said Katharine, angrily, "you are acting a father's
part in wishing me to marry this mad-cap ruffian."
 "Ah!" said Petruchio, "you and all the world would talk amiss of
her. You should see how kind she is to me when we are alone. In
short, I will go off to Venice to buy fine things for our
wedding—for—kiss me, Kate! we will be married on Sunday."
With that, Katharine flounced out of the room by one door in a
violent temper, and he, laughing, went out by the other. But
whether she fell in love with Petruchio, or whether she was only
glad to meet a man who was not afraid of her, or whether she was
flattered that, in spite of her rough words and spiteful usage,
he still desired her for his wife—she did indeed marry him on
Sunday, as he had sworn she should.
To vex and humble Katharine's naughty, proud spirit, he was late
at the wedding, and when he came, came wearing such shabby clothes
that she was ashamed to be seen with him. His servant was dressed
in the same shabby way, and the horses they rode were the sport
of everyone they passed.
And, after the marriage, when should have been the wedding breakfast,
Petruchio carried his wife away, not allowing her to eat or
 she was his now, and he could do as he liked
KATHARINE BOXES THE SERVANT'S EARS.
And his manner was so violent, and he behaved all through his
wedding in so mad and dreadful a manner, that Katharine trembled
and went with him. He mounted her on a stumbling, lean, old horse,
and they journeyed by rough muddy ways to Petruchio's house, he
scolding and snarling all the way.
 She was terribly tired when she reached her new home, but Petruchio
was determined that she should neither eat nor sleep that night,
for he had made up his mind to teach his bad-tempered wife a lesson
she would never forget.
So he welcomed her kindly to his house, but when supper was served
he found fault with everything—the meat was burnt, he said, and
ill-served, and he loved her far too much to let her eat anything
but the best. At last Katharine, tired out with her journey, went
supperless to bed. Then her husband, still telling her how he
loved her, and how anxious he was that she should sleep well,
pulled her bed to pieces, throwing the pillows and bedclothes on
the floor, so that she could not go to bed at all, and still kept
growling and scolding at the servants so that Kate might see how
unbeautiful a thing ill-temper was.
The next day, too, Katharine's food was all found fault with, and
caught away before she could touch a mouthful, and she was sick
and giddy for want of sleep. Then she said to one of the
"I pray thee go and get me some repast. I care not what."
 "What say you to a neat's foot?" said the servant.
Katharine said "Yes," eagerly; but the servant, who was in his
master's secret, said he feared it was not good for hasty-tempered
people. Would she like tripe?
"Bring it me," said Katharine.
"I don't think that is good for hasty-tempered people," said the
servant. "What do you say to a dish of beef and mustard?"
"I love it," said Kate.
"But mustard is too hot."
"Why, then, the beef, and let the mustard go," cried Katharine,
who was getting hungrier and hungrier.
"No," said the servant, "you must have the mustard, or you get no
beef from me."
"Then," cried Katharine, losing patience, "let it be both, or one,
or anything thou wilt."
"Why, then," said the servant, "the mustard without the beef!"
Then Katharine saw he was making fun of her, and boxed his ears.
 Just then Petruchio brought her some food—but she had scarcely
begun to satisfy her hunger, before he called for the tailor to
bring her new clothes, and the table was cleared, leaving her
still hungry. Katharine was pleased with the pretty new dress
and cap that the tailor had made for her, but Petruchio found
fault with everything, flung the cap and gown on the floor vowing
his dear wife should not wear any such foolish things.
PETRUCHIO FINDS FAULT WITH THE SUPPER.
"I will have them," cried Katharine. "All gentlewomen wear such
caps as these—"
"When you are gentle you shall have one too," he answered, "and
not till then." When he had
 driven away the tailor with angry
words—but privately asking his friend to see him paid—Petruchio
"Come, Kate, let's go to your father's, shabby as we are, for as
the sun breaks through the darkest clouds, so honor peereth in
the meanest habit. It is about seven o'clock now. We shall easily
get there by dinner-time."
"It's nearly two," said Kate, but civilly enough, for she had grown
to see that she could not bully her husband, as she had done her
father and her sister; "it's nearly two, and it will be supper-time
before we get there."
"It shall be seven," said Petruchio, obstinately, "before I start.
Why, whatever I say or do, or think, you do nothing but contradict.
I won't go to-day, and before I do go, it shall be what o'clock
I say it is."
At last they started for her father's house.
"Look at the moon," said he.
"It's the sun," said Katharine, and indeed it was.
"I say it is the moon. Contradicting again! It
 shall be sun or
moon, or whatever I choose, or I won't take you to your
Then Katharine gave in, once and for all. "What you will have it
named," she said, "it is, and so it shall be so for Katharine."
And so it was, for from that moment Katharine felt that she had
met her master, and never again showed her naughty tempers to him,
or anyone else.
So they journeyed on to Baptista's house, and arriving there, they
found all folks keeping Bianca's wedding feast, and that of another
newly married couple, Hortensio and his wife. They were made
welcome, and sat down to the feast, and all was merry, save that
Hortensio's wife, seeing Katharine subdued to her husband, thought
she could safely say many disagreeable things, that in the old
days, when Katharine was free and forward,
she would not have
dared to say. But Katharine answered with such spirit and such
moderation, that she turned the laugh against the new bride.
After dinner, when the ladies had retired, Baptista joined in a
laugh against Petruchio, saying—
 "Now in good sadness, son Petruchio,
I fear you have got the veriest shrew of all."
"You are wrong," said Petruchio, "let me prove it to you. Each of
us shall send a message to his wife, desiring her to come to him,
and the one whose wife comes most readily shall win a wager which
we will agree on."
The others said yes readily enough, for each thought his own wife
the most dutiful, and each thought he was quite sure to win the
They proposed a wager of twenty crowns.
"Twenty crowns," said Petruchio, "I'll venture so much on my hawk
or hound, but twenty times as much upon my wife."
"A hundred then," cried Lucentio, Bianca's husband.
"Content," cried the others.
Then Lucentio sent a message to the fair Bianca bidding her to come
to him. And Baptista said he was certain his daughter would come.
But the servant coming back, said—
"Sir, my mistress is busy, and she cannot come."'
"There's an answer for you," said Petruchio.
 "You may think yourself fortunate if your wife does not send you
"I hope, better," Petruchio answered. Then Hortensio said—
"Go and entreat my wife to come to me at once."
"Oh—if you entreat her," said Petruchio.
"I am afraid," answered Hortensio, sharply, "do what you can, yours
will not be entreated."
But now the servant came in, and said—
"She says you are playing some jest, she will not come."
"Better and better," cried Petruchio; "now go to your mistress and
say I command her to come to me."
They all began to laugh, saying they knew what her answer would
be, and that she would not come.
Then suddenly Baptista cried—
"Here comes Katharine!" And sure enough—there she was.
"What do you wish, sir?" she asked her husband.
"Where are your sister and Hortensio's wife?"
"Talking by the parlor fire."
"Fetch them here."
 When she was gone to fetch them, Lucentio said—
"Here is a wonder!"
"I wonder what it means," said Hortensio.
"It means peace," said Petruchio, "and love, and quiet life."
"Well," said Baptista, "you have won the wager, and I will add
another twenty thousand crowns to her dowry—another dowry for
another daughter—for she is as changed as if she were someone
So Petruchio won his wager, and had in Katharine always a loving
wife and true, and now he had broken her proud and angry spirit
he loved her well, and there was nothing ever but love between
those two. And so they lived happy ever afterwards.
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