King Lear By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

ACT II.

Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

[Enter Edmund and Curan, meeting.]

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: pray you, what are they?

CURAN.
Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the two 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: — 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
Of my more fierce endeavour: [Wounds his arm.]
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 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, lanc'd mine arm;
But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,
Bold in the quarrel's right, rous'd 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'd. — 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'd turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice:
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 fast'ned villain!
Would he deny his letter? — I never got him.

[Trumpets 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 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.]

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