[Enter in conquest, with Drum and Colors, Edmund;
Lear and Cordelia as prisoners; Soldiers, Captain.]
Some officers take them away. Good guard
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.
CORDELIA , [to Lear] We are not the first
 Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.
For thee, oppressèd king, I am cast down.
Myself could else outfrown false Fortune’s frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
No, no, no, no. Come, let’s away to prison.
 We two alone will sing like birds i’ th’ cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
 Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them too—
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out—
And take upon ’s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
 That ebb and flow by th’ moon.
EDMUND Take them away.
Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught
 He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see ’em starved
[Lear and Cordelia exit, with Soldiers.]
EDMUND Come hither, captain. Hark.
[Handing him a paper.]
Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.
One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
 To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men
Are as the time is; to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
Will not bear question. Either say thou ’lt do ’t,
Or thrive by other means.
CAPTAIN I’ll do ’t, my lord.
About it, and write “happy” when th’ hast done.
Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so
As I have set it down.
I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
 If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t. [Captain exits.]
[Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Soldiers and a
ALBANY , [to Edmund]
Sir, you have showed today your valiant strain,
And Fortune led you well. You have the captives
Who were the opposites of this day’s strife.
I do require them of you, so to use them
 As we shall find their merits and our safety
May equally determine.
EDMUND Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention and appointed guard,
 Whose age had charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side
And turn our impressed lances in our eyes,
Which do command them. With him I sent the
 My reason all the same, and they are ready
Tomorrow, or at further space, t’ appear
Where you shall hold your session. At this time
We sweat and bleed. The friend hath lost his friend,
And the best quarrels in the heat are cursed
 By those that feel their sharpness.
The question of Cordelia and her father
Requires a fitter place.
ALBANY Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
 Not as a brother.
REGAN That’s as we list to grace him.
Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
Bore the commission of my place and person,
 The which immediacy may well stand up
And call itself your brother.
GONERIL Not so hot.
In his own grace he doth exalt himself
More than in your addition.
REGAN In my rights,
By me invested, he compeers the best.
That were the most if he should husband you.
Jesters do oft prove prophets.
GONERIL Holla, holla!
 That eye that told you so looked but asquint.
Lady, I am not well, else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach. [To Edmund.]
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony.
 Dispose of them, of me; the walls is thine.
Witness the world that I create thee here
My lord and master.
GONERIL Mean you to enjoy him?
The let-alone lies not in your goodwill.
Nor in thine, lord.
ALBANY Half-blooded fellow, yes.
REGAN , [to Edmund]
Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
Stay yet, hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
 This gilded serpent.—For your claim, fair
I bar it in the interest of my wife.
’Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your banns.
 If you will marry, make your loves to me.
My lady is bespoke.
GONERIL An interlude!
Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
If none appear to prove upon thy person
 Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge. [He throws down a glove.]
I’ll make it on thy heart,
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaimed thee.
REGAN Sick, O, sick!
GONERIL , [aside] If not, I’ll ne’er trust medicine.
There’s my exchange. [He throws down a glove.]
What in the world he is
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
 Call by the trumpet. He that dares approach,
On him, on you, who not, I will maintain
My truth and honor firmly.
A herald, ho!
EDMUND A herald, ho, a herald!
Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.
REGAN My sickness grows upon me.
She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
[Regan is helped to exit.]
[Enter a Herald.]
 Come hither, herald. Let the trumpet sound,
And read out this. [He hands the Herald a paper.]
CAPTAIN Sound, trumpet!
[A trumpet sounds.]
If any man of quality or degree, within the lists of the
army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of
 Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him
appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in
his defense. [First trumpet sounds.]
HERALD Again! [Second trumpet sounds.]
HERALD Again! [Third trumpet sounds.]
[Trumpet answers within.]
[Enter Edgar armed.]
ALBANY , [to Herald]
Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o’ th’ trumpet.
HERALD What are you?
Your name, your quality, and why you answer
This present summons?
EDGAR Know my name is lost,
By treason’s tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
Yet am I noble as the adversary
I come to cope.
ALBANY Which is that adversary?
What’s he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of
Himself. What sayest thou to him?
EDGAR Draw thy sword,
That if my speech offend a noble heart,
 Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
[He draws his sword.]
Behold, it is my privilege, the privilege of mine
My oath, and my profession. I protest,
Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
 Despite thy victor-sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a traitor,
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,
Conspirant ’gainst this high illustrious prince,
And from th’ extremest upward of thy head
 To the descent and dust below thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “no,”
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
EDMUND In wisdom I should ask thy name,
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
 Back do I toss these treasons to thy head,
With the hell-hated lie o’erwhelm thy heart,
Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
Where they shall rest forever. Trumpets, speak!
[He draws his sword. Alarums. Fights.]
[Edmund falls, wounded.]
ALBANY , [to Edgar]
Save him, save him!
GONERIL This is practice, Gloucester.
By th’ law of war, thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,
But cozened and beguiled.
ALBANY Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stopple it.—Hold, sir.—
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.
No tearing, lady. I perceive you know it.
Say if I do; the laws are mine, not thine.
 Who can arraign me for ’t?
ALBANY Most monstrous! O!
Know’st thou this paper?
GONERIL Ask me not what I know.
Go after her, she’s desperate. Govern her.
[A Soldier exits.]
EDMUND , [to Edgar]
What you have charged me with, that have I done,
And more, much more. The time will bring it out.