Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > King Lear > Act II, scene I

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	[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?

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

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.

	[Exit]

EDMUND: 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!

	[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,
	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
	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
	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
	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;
	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.

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:
	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,
	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.'

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.
	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]

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?

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
	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,
	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.

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 practise; and received
	This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

CORNWALL: Is he pursued?

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:
	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:
	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.

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

	[Exeunt]




	KING LEAR






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