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Hark, Tamora, the empress of my soul,
40 Which never hopes more heaven than rests in
This is the day of doom for Bassianus :
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,
Thy sons make pillage of her chastity,
And wash their hands in Bassianus' blood.
Seest thou this letter? take it up, I pray thee,
And give the king this fatal-plotted scroll.
Now question me no more; we are espied ;
Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
Which dreads not yet their lives' destruction. 50
Tam. Ah, my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life!
Aar. No more, great empress ; Bassianus comes :
Be cross with him, and I'll go fetch thy sons
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe'er they be.
Enter Bassianus and Lavinia.
Bas. Who have we here? Rome's royal empress,
Unfurnish'd of her well-beseeming troop?
Or is it Dian, habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves
To see the general hunting in this forest?
Tam. Saucy controller of my private steps !
Had I the power that some say Dian had,
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actæon's, and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art !
Lav. Under your patience, gentle empress,
'Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning ;
And to be doubted that your Moor and you
Are singled forth to try experiments :
Jove shield your husband from his hounds to-day! 70
'Tis pity they should take him for a stag. Bas. Believe me, queen, your swarth Cimmerian
Doth make your honour of his body's hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequester'd from all your train,
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed,
And wander'd hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you ?
Lav. And, being intercepted in your sport,
Great reason that my noble lord be rated
For sauciness. I pray you, let us hence,
And let her joy her raven-colour'd love;
This valley fits the purpose passing well.
Bas. The king my brother shall have note of this.
Lav. Ay, for these slips have made him noted long:
Good king, to be so mightily abused !
Tam. Why have I patience to endure all this?
Enter Demetrius and Chiron. Dem. How now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother!
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan? 90 Tam. Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have ticed me hither to this place :
A barren detested vale, you see it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O’ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe :
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they show'd me this abhorred pit,
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes, 100
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
Would make such fearful and confused cries,
As any mortal body hearing it
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
No sooner had they told this hellish tale,
But straight they told me they would bind me here
Unto the body of a dismal yew,
And leave me to this miserable death :
And then they callid me foul adulteress,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms I10
That ever ear did hear to such effect :
And, had you not by wondrous fortune come,
This vengeance on me had they executed.
Revenge it, as you love your mother's life,
Or be ye not henceforth call'd my children.
Dem. This is a witness that I am thy son.
[Stabs Bassianus. Chi. And this for me, struck home to show my strength.
[Also stabs Bassianus, who dies. Lav. Ay, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous Tamora,
For no name fits thy nature but thy own! 119 Tam. Give me the poniard; you shall know, my boys,
Your mother's hand shall right your mother's wrong. Dem. Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her;
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw ;
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,
And with that painted hope braves your mightiness :
And shall she carry this unto her grave ?
Chi. An if she do, I would I were an eunuch.
Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust. 130 Tam. But when ye have the honey ye desire,
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.
Chi. I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.
Lav. 0 Tamora ! thou bear'st a woman's face-
Tam. I will not hear her speak; away with her!
Lav. Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
Dem. Listen, fair madam : let it be your glory
To see her tears, but be your heart to them 140
As unrelenting Aint to drops of rain.
Lav. When did the tiger's young ones teach the dam ?
O, do not learn her wrath ; she taught it thee;
The milk thou suck’dst from her did turn to marble;
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.
mother breeds not sons alike : [To Chiron] Do thou entreat her show a woman pity. Chi. What, wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard ? Lav. 'Tis true; the raven doth not hatch a lark:
Yet have I heard,-0, could I find it now! 150
The lion, moved with pity, did endure
To have his princely paws pared all away:
Some say that ravens foster forlorn children,
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests :
O, be to me, though thy hard heart say no,
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful!
Tam. I know not what it means : away with her !
Lav. 0, let me teach thee! for my father's sake,
That gave thee life, when well he might have slain
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.
160 Tam. Hadst thou in person ne'er offended me,
Even for his sake am I pitiless.
Remember, boys, I pour'd forth tears in vain,
To save your brother from the sacrifice;
But fierce Andronicus would not relent:
Therefore, away with her, and use her as you will;
The worse to her, the better loved of me.
Luv. O Tamora, be callid a gentle queen,
And with thine own hands kill me in this place!
For 'tis not life that I have begg'd so long; 170
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
Tam. What begg'st thou then? fond woman, let me go.
Lav. 'Tis present death I beg; and one thing more
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell :
O, keep me from their worse than killing lust,
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,
Where never man's eye may behold my body:
Do this, and be a charitable murderer.
Tam. So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee:
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.
180 Dem. Away! for thou hast stay'd us here too long. Lav. No grace ? no womanhood ? Ah, beastly creature !
The blot and enemy to our general name!
Chi. Nay, then I'll stop your mouth. Bring thou her
This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.
[Demetrius throws the body of Bassianus
into the pit ; then exeunt Demetrius
and Chiron, dragging of Lavinia. Tam. Farewell, my sons; see that you make her sure.