ACT 2 SCENE 5

: Alexandria. CLEOPATRA's palace.

[Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS]

CLEOPATRA: Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.

Attendants:                           The music, ho!

[Enter MARDIAN]

CLEOPATRA: Let it alone; let's to billiards: come, Charmian.

CHARMIAN: My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.

CLEOPATRA: As well a woman with an eunuch play'd                               [5]
As with a woman. Come, you'll play with me, sir?

MARDIAN: As well as I can, madam.

CLEOPATRA: And when good will is show'd, though't come
             too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now:
Give me mine angle; we'll to the river: there,                                    [10]
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn'd fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and, as I draw them up,
I'll think them every one an Antony,
And say 'Ah, ha! you're caught.'                                                             [15]

CHARMIAN:                           'Twas merry when
You wager'd on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.

CLEOPATRA:                           That time,--O times!--
I laugh'd him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience; and next morn,                                       [20]
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.

[Enter a Messenger]

                           O, from Italy
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.                                                          [25]

Messenger:                           Madam, madam,--

CLEOPATRA: Antonius dead!--If thou say so, villain,
Thou kill'st thy mistress: but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss; a hand that kings
Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.                                                        [30]

Messenger: First, madam, he is well.

CLEOPATRA:                           Why, there's more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.                                                                   [35]

Messenger: Good madam, hear me.

CLEOPATRA:                           Well, go to, I will;
But there's no goodness in thy face: if Antony
Be free and healthful,--so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown'd with snakes,                     [40]
Not like a formal man.

Messenger:                           Will't please you hear me?

CLEOPATRA: I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak'st:
Yet if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail                                              [45]
Rich pearls upon thee.

Messenger:                           Madam, he's well.

CLEOPATRA:                           Well said.

Messenger: And friends with Caesar.

CLEOPATRA:                           Thou'rt an honest man.

Messenger: Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.

CLEOPATRA: Make thee a fortune from me.

Messenger:                           But yet, madam,--

CLEOPATRA: I do not like 'But yet,' it does allay                                            [50]
The good precedence; fie upon 'But yet'!
'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together: he's friends with Caesar:                        [55]
In state of health thou say'st; and thou say'st free.

Messenger: Free, madam! no; I made no such report:
He's bound unto Octavia.

CLEOPATRA:                           For what good turn?

Messenger: For the best turn i' the bed.

CLEOPATRA:                           I am pale, Charmian.

Messenger: Madam, he's married to Octavia.                                                   [60]

CLEOPATRA: The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

[Strikes him down]

Messenger: Good madam, patience.

CLEOPATRA:                           What say you? Hence,

[Strikes him again]

Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head:

[She hales him up and down]

Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine,                     [65]
Smarting in lingering pickle.

Messenger:                           Gracious madam,
I that do bring the news made not the match.

CLEOPATRA: Say 'tis not so, a province I will give thee,
And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage;                                     [70]
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.

Messenger:                           He's married, madam.

CLEOPATRA: Rogue, thou hast lived too long.

[Draws a knife]

Messenger:                           Nay, then I'll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.

[Exit]

CHARMIAN: Good madam, keep yourself within yourself:                       [75]
The man is innocent.

CLEOPATRA: Some innocents 'scape not the thunderbolt.
Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! Call the slave again:
Though I am mad, I will not bite him: call.                                         [80]

CHARMIAN: He is afeard to come.

CLEOPATRA:                           I will not hurt him.

[Exit CHARMIAN]

These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause.

[Re-enter CHARMIAN and Messenger]

                           Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good                                                    [85]
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message.
An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.

Messenger:                           I have done my duty.

CLEOPATRA: Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do,                                                      [90]
If thou again say 'Yes.'

Messenger:                           He's married, madam.

CLEOPATRA: The gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still?

Messenger: Should I lie, madam?

CLEOPATRA:                           O, I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerged and made
A cistern for scaled snakes! Go, get thee hence:                                  [95]
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?

Messenger: I crave your highness' pardon.

CLEOPATRA:                           He is married?

Messenger: Take no offence that I would not offend you:
To punish me for what you make me do.                                            [100]
Seems much unequal: he's married to Octavia.

CLEOPATRA: O, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art not what thou'rt sure of! Get thee hence:
The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too dear for me: lie they upon thy hand,                                [105]
And be undone by 'em!

[Exit Messenger]

CHARMIAN:                           Good your highness, patience.

CLEOPATRA: In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.

CHARMIAN: Many times, madam.

CLEOPATRA:                           I am paid for't now.
Lead me from hence:
I faint: O Iras, Charmian! 'tis no matter.                                               [110]
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination, let him not leave out
The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly.

[Exit ALEXAS]

Let him for ever go:--let him not‹Charmian,                                 [115]
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way's a Mars. Bid you Alexas

[To MARDIAN]

Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian,
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.

[Exeunt]


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