Act 2 Scene 1


Scene 1

[Enter Edmund, the Bastard and Curan, severally.]

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.

[5]EDMUND  How comes that?

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?

[10]CURAN  Have you heard of no likely wars toward ’twixt
 the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

EDMUND  Not a word.

CURAN  You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
[He exits.]

 The Duke be here tonight? 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!

[Enter Edgar.]

[20]  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’ th’ night, i’ th’ 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.

 I hear my father coming. Pardon me.
[30]  In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
 Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now, quit you
 well. [They draw.]
 Yield! Come before my father! Light, hoa, here!
  [Aside to Edgar.] Fly, brother.—Torches, torches!
[35]  —So, farewell. [Edgar exits.]
 Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
 Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
 Do more than this in sport. [He wounds his arm.]
 Father, father!
[40]  Stop, stop! No help?

[Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.]

GLOUCESTER   Now, Edmund, where’s the

 Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
[45]  To stand auspicious mistress.

GLOUCESTER   But where is he?

 Look, sir, I bleed.

GLOUCESTER   Where is the villain,

 Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

 Pursue him, ho! Go after.  [Servants exit.] By no
 means what?

 Persuade me to the murder of your Lordship,
 But that I told him the revenging gods
[55]  ’Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,
 Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
 The child was bound to th’ father—sir, in fine,
 Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
 To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
[60]  With his preparèd sword he charges home
 My unprovided body, lanced mine arm;
 And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
 Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to th’ encounter,
 Or whether ghasted by the noise I made,
[65]  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 tonight.
[70]  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
[75]  And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
 I threatened 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
[80]  Make thy words faithed? No. What I should
 As this I would, though thou didst produce

 My very character—I’d turn it all
 To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice.
[85]  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.”

GLOUCESTER   O strange and fastened villain!
[90]  Would he deny his letter, said he?
 I never got him. [Tucket within.]
 Hark, the Duke’s trumpets. I know not why he
 All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape.
[95]  The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
 I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
 May have 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

 If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
 Which can pursue th’ offender. How dost, my
[105]  lord?

 O madam, my old heart is cracked; it’s cracked.

 What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
 He whom my father named, your Edgar?

 O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!

 Was he not companion with the riotous knights
 That tended upon my father?

 I know not, madam. ’Tis too bad, too bad.

 Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

 No marvel, then, though he were ill affected.
[115]  ’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
 To have th’ expense and waste of his revenues.
 I have this present evening from my sister
 Been well informed of them, and with such cautions
 That if they come to sojourn at my house
[120]  I’ll not be there.

CORNWALL   Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—
 Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
 A childlike office.

EDMUND   It was my duty, sir.

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

CORNWALL  Is he pursued?

GLOUCESTER  Ay, my good lord.

 If he be taken, he shall never more
[130]  Be feared 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.
[135]  You we first seize on.

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

GLOUCESTER  For him I thank your Grace.

 You know not why we came to visit you—

 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 best thought it fit
[145]  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 businesses,
 Which craves the instant use.

[150]GLOUCESTER   I serve you, madam.
 Your Graces are right welcome.
[Flourish. They exit.]

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