Document: All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > King Lear > Act II, scene I
[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
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.