ACT 2, SCENE 1: The Earl of GLOUCESTER's castle.

Enter EDMUND, and CURAN meets him.

EDMUND: Save thee, Curan.

CURAN: 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.

EDMUND: How comes that?                                                                              [5]

CURAN: Nay, I know not. You have heard of the
news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are
yet but ear-kissing arguments?

EDMUND: Not I: pray you, what are they?

CURAN: Have you heard of no likely wars toward,                                     [10]
'twixt the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

EDMUND: Not a word.

CURAN: You may do, then, in time. Fare you well,
sir.
[Exit.]

EDMUND: The duke be here to-night? The better! best!                            [15]
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!                                               [20]
Enter EDGAR.
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,                            [25]
And Regan with him: have you nothing said
Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
Advise yourself.

EDGAR:                           I am sure on't, not a word.

EDMUND: I hear my father coming: pardon me:
In cunning I must draw my sword upon you                                     [30]
Draw; seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.
Yield: come before my father. Light, ho, here!
Fly, brother. Torches, torches! So, farewell.
[Exit EDGAR.]
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion.
[Wounds his arm.]
Of my more fierce endeavour; I have seen drunkards                      [35]
Do more than this in sport. Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?

Enter GLOUCESTER, and Servants, with torches.

GLOUCESTER: Now, Edmund, where's the villain?

EDMUND: Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon                           [40]
To stand auspicious mistress,--

GLOUCESTER:                           But where is he?

EDMUND: Look, sir, I bleed.

GLOUCESTER:                           Where is the villain, Edmund?

EDMUND: Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could--

GLOUCESTER: Pursue him, ho! Go after.
[Exeunt some Servants.]
              By no means what?

EDMUND: Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;                            [45]
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                                                      [50]
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,                         [55]
Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
Full suddenly he fled.

GLOUCESTER:                           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:                                      [60]
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.

EDMUND: When I dissuaded him from his intent,                                     [65]
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                                                    [70]
Make thy words faith'd? No: what I should deny,--
As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce
My very character,--I'd turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice:
And thou must make a dullard of the world,                                     [75]
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it.'

GLOUCESTER:                           Strong and fasten'd villain
Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
[Tucket within.]
Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes.                   [80]
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                                          [85]
To make thee capable.

Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, and Attendants.

CORNWALL: How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,
Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

REGAN: If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?                      [90]

GLOUCESTER: O, madam, my old heart is crack'd, it's crack'd!

REGAN: What, did my father's godson seek your life?
He whom my father named? your Edgar?

GLOUCESTER: O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid!

REGAN: Was he not companion with the riotous knights                         [95]
That tend upon my father?

GLOUCESTER: I know not, madam: 'tis too bad, too bad.

EDMUND: Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

REGAN: No marvel, then, though he were ill affected:
'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,                                 [100]
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.                                                                                           [105]

CORNWALL:                           Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A child-like office.

EDMUND:                           'Twas my duty, sir.

GLOUCESTER: He did bewray his practice; and received
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

CORNWALL: Is he pursued?                                                                              [110]

GLOUCESTER:                           Ay, my good lord.

CORNWALL: 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:                                       [115]
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
You we first seize on.

EDMUND:                           I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.

GLOUCESTER:                           For him I thank your grace.

CORNWALL: You know not why we came to visit you,--

REGAN: Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night:                            [120]
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                          [125]
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.

GLOUCESTER:                           I serve you, madam:
Your graces are right welcome.                                                               [130]

[Exeunt.]


Go to the next scene.
Go to the previous scene.
Return to the list of scenes