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Edg. Distress'd Cordelia!—but oh, more cruel!
Edm. Hear me, sir; your life, your life's in danger.
Edg. And yet, perhaps, 'twas but pretended coldness, To try how far my passion would pursue.
Edm. He hears me not; 'wake, 'wake, sir.
Edg. Say you, brother?
No tears, good Edmund; if thou bring'st me tidings
Edm. Your danger, sir, comes on so fast,
Edg. Pardon me, sir, a serious thought
Edm. Ha! ha! Fond man! Such credulous ho» nesty Lessens the glory of my artifice; His nature is so far from doing wrongs, That he suspects none: if this letter speed, And pass for Edgar's, as himself would own The counterfeit, but for the foul contents, Then my designs are perfect. Here comes Gloster.
Glost. Stay, Edmund, turn; what paper were you
reading? Edm. A trifle, sir.
Glost. What needed then that terrible despatch of it Into your pocket? Come, produce it, sir.
Edm. A letter from my brother, sir: I had just broke the seal, but knew not the contents;
Yet, fearing they might prove to blame,
[Reads.] This policy of fathers is intolerable, that keeps our fortunes from us 'till age will not suffer us to enjoy them; I am weary of the tyranny. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his possessions, and live beloved of your brother.
Sleep till I wak'd him, you should enjoy
Edm. Perhaps 'twas writ, my lord, to prove my virtue.
Glost. These late eclipses of the sun and moon Can bode no less; love cools, and friendship fails; In cities mutiny, in countries discord; The bond of nature crack'd 'twixt son and father.— Find out the villain, do it carefully, And it shall lose thee nothing. [Exit Gloster.
Edm. So, now my project's firm; but, to make sure, I'll throw in one proof more, and that a bold one; I'll place old Gloster where he shall o'erhear us Confer of this design; whilst, to his thinking, Deluded Edgar shall accuse himself. Be honesty my int'rest, and I can Be honest too; and what saint so divine, That will successful villany decline? [Exit Edm UN D.
The Court before the Duke Of Albany's Palace.
Enter Kent, disguised.
Kent. Now, banish'd Kent, if thou canst pay thy duty. In this disguise, where thou dost stand condemn'd, Thy master Lear shall find thee full of labours.
Enter King Lear, attended by his Knights.
Lear. In there, and tell our daughter we are here.
[Exit First Knight. Now, what art thou?
Kent. A man, sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess, or wouldst with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly that puts me in trust, to love him that's honest, to converse with him that's wise and speaks little, to fight when I can't chuse, and to eat no fish.
Lear. I say, what art thou?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is for a king, thou art poor enough.—Dost thou know me, fellow?
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What's that ?
Lear. What services canst thou do ?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, mar a curious tale in the telling, deliver a plain message bluntly; that, which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back, forty-eight.
Lear. Thy name?
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me.
Enter Oswald singing, and passing King Lear
carelessly. Now, sir?
Osw. Sir.—Tol de rol, &c. [Exit singing.
Lear. What says the fellow ? call the clodpole back. [Exeunt Kent and Second Knight.
3 Knight. My lord, I know not; but, methinks, your highness is entertained with slender ceremony.
Lear. Say'stthou so?
Enter First Knight.
1 Knight. My lord, he answered, i'th'surliest manner, that he would not.
Lear. I hope our daughter did not so instruct him.
Oswald brought in by Kent and Second Knight. Now, who am I, sir? Osw. My lady's father. Lear. My lady's father! My lord's knave.
[Strikes him. Osw. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripp'd neither, you vile civet-box.
[Trips up his Heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow, thou serv'st me. Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you differences. [Exit Oswald.
Gon. [Within.] By day and night! this is insufferable; I will not bear it.
Enter Goneril, attended.
Lear. Now, daughter, why that frontlet on? Speak, does that frown become our presence.'
Gon. Sir, this licentious insolence of your servants Is most unseemly; hourly they break out In quarrels, bred by their unbounded riots; I had fair hope, by making this known to you, To have had a quick redress; but find, too late, That you protect and countenance their outrage; And therefore, I take this freedom, which Necessity makes discreet.
Lear. Are you our daughter?
Gon. Come, sir, let me entreat you to make use
Lear. Does any here know me? Why, this is not
eyes? Who is it that can tell me who I am? Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir, this admiration's much o'th' savour Of other your new humours; I beseech you To understand my purposes aright; As you are old, you should be staid and wise: Here do you keep an hundred knights and squires, Men so debauch'd and bold, that this our palace Shows like a riotous inn, a tavern, brothel: Be then advis'd by her, that else will take That which she begs, to lessen your attendants; Take half away, and see that the remainder