Act II - Scene I

Gloucester's castle.

[Enter Edmund, and Curan meets him]

[Exit]

[Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches]

[Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants]

[Exeunt]

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?(5)
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(10)
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 tonight? The better! best!
This weaves itself perforce into my business.(15)
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;(20)
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(25)
Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
Advise yourself.

[Enter Edgar]

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(30)
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
Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards(35)
Do more than this in sport. Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?

[Exit Edgar]

[Wounds his arm]

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(40)
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—(45)
GLOUCESTER:
Pursue him, ho! Go after.
By no means what?

[Exeunt some Servants]

EDMUND:
Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him, the revenging gods
'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;(50)
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(55)
My unprovided body, lanced mine arm:
But when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter,
Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
Full suddenly he fled.(60)
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:
By his authority I will proclaim it,(65)
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(70)
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
Make thy words faithed? No: what I should deny,—(75)
As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce
My very character,—I'ld 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(80)
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it.'
GLOUCESTER:
O strange and fastened villain!
Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes.(85)
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(90)
To make thee capable.

[Tucket within]

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?(95)
GLOUCESTER:
O, madam, my old heart is cracked, it's cracked!
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(100)
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,(105)
To have the 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,
I'll not be there.(110)
CORNWALL:
Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A childlike office.
EDMUND:
'Twas my duty, sir.
GLOUCESTER:
He did bewray his practice; and received(115)
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 feared of doing harm: make your own purpose,(120)
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.(125)
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:(130)
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(135)
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:(140)
Your graces are right welcome.