William Shakespeare: King Lear, Act II
Enter Edmund, and Curan meets him
And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.
Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
The duke be here to-night? The better! best! This weaves itself perforce into my business. My father hath set guard to take my brother; And I have one thing, of a queasy question, Which I must act: briefness and fortune, work! Brother, a word; descend: brother, I say!
My father watches: O sir, fly this place; Intelligence is given where you are hid; You have now the good advantage of the night: Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall? He's coming hither: now, i' the night, i' the haste, And Regan with him: have you nothing said Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany? Advise yourself.
I hear my father coming: pardon me: In cunning I must draw my sword upon you Draw; seem to defend yourself; now quit you well. Yield: come before my father. Light, ho, here! Fly, brother. Torches, torches! So, farewell.
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion.
Wounds his arm
Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunkards Do more than this in sport. Father, father! Stop, stop! No help?
Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches
Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon To stand auspicious mistress,—
Persuade me to the murder of your lordship; But that I told him, the revenging gods 'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend; Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond The child was bound to the father; sir, in fine, Seeing how loathly opposite I stood To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion, With his prepared sword, he charges home My unprovided body, lanced mine arm: But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits, Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter, Or whether gasted by the noise I made, Full suddenly he fled.
Let him fly far: Not in this land shall he remain uncaught; And found—dispatch. The noble duke my master, My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night: By his authority I will proclaim it, That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks, Bringing the murderous coward to the stake; He that conceals him, death.
When I dissuaded him from his intent, And found him pight to do it, with curst speech I threaten'd to discover him: he replied, 'Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think, If I would stand against thee, would the reposal Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee Make thy words faith'd? No: what I should deny,— As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce My very character,—I'ld turn it all To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practise: And thou must make a dullard of the world, If they not thought the profits of my death Were very pregnant and potential spurs To make thee seek it.'
Strong and fasten'd villain Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes. All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not 'scape; The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture I will send far and near, that all the kingdom May have the due note of him; and of my land, Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means To make thee capable.
Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants
How now, my noble friend! since I came hither, Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.
No marvel, then, though he were ill affected: 'Tis they have put him on the old man's death, To have the expense and waste of his revenues. I have this present evening from my sister Been well inform'd of them; and with such cautions, That if they come to sojourn at my house, I'll not be there.
Nor I, assure thee, Regan. Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father A child-like office.
If he be taken, he shall never more Be fear'd of doing harm: make your own purpose, How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund, Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant So much commend itself, you shall be ours: Natures of such deep trust we shall much need; You we first seize on.
Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night: Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise, Wherein we must have use of your advice: Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister, Of differences, which I least thought it fit To answer from our home; the several messengers From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend, Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow Your needful counsel to our business, Which craves the instant use.