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robbe thiefe with me, and perforce take my gold away from me, whileft I act this stratagem, and by this meanes the gray beards should escape ? Fayth, when I were at liberty againe, I would make no more to do, but go to the next tree, and there hang my selfe.
See them and start. But Aay, me thinks, my youthes are here already, And with pure zeale haue prayed themselues asleepe. I thinke, they know to what intent they came, And are prouided for another world.
He takes their bookes away.
Now could I ftab them brauely, while they fieepe,
And in a maner put them to no payne ;
And doing so, I shewed them mighty friendship:
For feare of death is worse then death it felfe.
queene will’d me for to thew
This letter to them, ere I did the deed.
Masse, they begin to stirre : Ile stand aside ;
So shall I come vpon them vnawares.
They wake and rise.
Leir. I maruell, that my daughter stayes so long.
Per. I feare, we did mistake the place, my lord.
Leir. God graunt we do not miscarry in the place :
I had a short nap, but so full of dread,
As much amazeth me to think thereof.
Per. Feare not, my lord, dreames are but fantasies,
And Night imaginations of the brayne.
Mef. Perswade him so, but Ile make him and you Confesse, that dreames do often proue too true.
Per. I pray, my lord, what was the effect of it?
I may go neere to gesse what it pretends.
Mes. Leaue that to me, I will expound the dreame.
Leir. Me thought, my daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
Stood both before me with such grim aspects,
Eche brandishing a faulchion in their hand,
Ready to lop a lymme off where it fell,
And in their other hands a naked poynyard,
Wherwith they stabd me in a hundred places,
And to their thinking left me there for dead :
But then my youngest daughter, fayre Cordella,
Came with a boxe of balsome in her hand,
And powred it into my bleeding wounds,
By whose good meanes I was recoured well,
In perfit health, as earst I was before :
And with the feare of this I did awake,
And yet for feare my feeble ioynts do quake.
Nles, Ile make you quake for something presently.
Leir. We do, my friend, although with much adoe.
Mef. Deliuer, deliucr.
Per. Deliuer vs, good Lord, from such as he.
Mef. You should haue prayed before, while it was time,
And then perhaps, you might haue scapt my hands :
But you, like faithfull watch-men, fell asleepe,
The whilft I came and tooke your halberds from you.
Shew their bookes.
And now you want your weapons of defence,
How haue you any hope to be deliuered ?
This comes, because you haue no better stay,
But fall alleepe, when you Mould watch and pray ?
Leir. My friend, thou feemst to be a proper man.
Mes. Sblood, how the old Naue clawes me by the elbow?
He thinks, belike, to scape by scraping thus.
Per. And it may be, are in some need of money.
Mes. That to be false, behold my evidence.
Shewes his purses.
Leir. If that I haue will do thee any good,
I giue it thee, euen with a right good will.
Per. Here, take mine too, and wish with all my heart,
To do thee pleafure, it were twice as much.
Take his, and weygh them both in his hands,
Mes. Ile none of them, they are too light for me.
Puts them in his pocket.
Leir. Why then farewell : and if thou haue occasion
In any thing, to vse me to the queene,
'Tis like ynough that I can pleasure thee.
They proffer to gee.
Mes. Do you heare, do you heare, fir ?
If I had occasion to vse you to the queene,
Would you do one thing for me I should ake ?
Leir. I, any thing that lyes within my power.
Here is my hand vpon it, fo farewell.
Proffer to goe.
Mef. Heare you sir, heare you ? pray, a word with you.
Me thinks, a comely honest ancient man
Should not diffemble with one for a vantage.
I know, when I shall come to try this geare,
You will recant from all that you haue fayd,
Per. Miftrust not him, but try him when thou wilt:
He is her father, therefore may do much.
Mes. I know he is, and therefore meade to try him :
You are his friend too, I must try you both.
Ambo. Prithy do, prithy do.
Proffer to go out.
Mes. Stay gray-beards then, and proue men of your words:
The queene hath tyed me by a solemne othe,
Here in this place to see you both dispatcht :
Now for the safegard of my confcience,
Do me the pleasure for to kill your selues :
So shall you saue me labour for to do it,
And proue your selues true old men of your words.
And here I vow in fight of all the world,
I ne're will trouble you whilft I liue agayne.
Leir. Affright vs not with terrour, good my friend,
Nor strike such feare into our aged hearts.
Play got the cat, which dallieth with the mouse;
And on a sudden maketh her a pray:
But if thou art markt for the mau of death
To me and to my Damion, tell me playne,
That we may be prepared for the stroke,
And make our selues fit for the world to come.
Mef. I am the last of any mortall race,
That ere your eyes are likely to behold,
And hither sent of purpose to this place,
To giue a finall period to your dayes,
Which are so wicked, and haue lived so long,
That your owne children seeke to short
life. Leir. Camst thou from France, of purpose to do this?
Mef. From France ? zoones, do I looke like a Frenchman ? Sure I haue not mine owne face on; some body hath chang'd faces with me, and I know not of it : but I am sure, my ap. parell is all English, Sirra, what meanest thou to aske that question? I could spoyle the fashion of this face for anger. A French face !
Leir. Because my daughter, whom I have offended,
And at whose hands I have deseru'd as ill,
As euer any father did of child,
Is queene of Fraunce, no thanks at all to me,
But vnto God, who my injustice fee.
If it be so, that thee doth seeke reuenge,
As with good reason she may iustly do,
I will most willingly religne my life,
A facrifice to mrittigate her ire :
I never will intreat thee to forgiue,
Because I am unworthy for to liue.
Therefore speake soone, and I will soone make fpeed :
Whether Cordella will'd thee do this deed ?
Mes. As I am a perfit gentleman, thou speakst French to me:
I neuer heard Cordellaes name before,
Nor neuer was in Fraunce in all
I neuer knew thou hadít a daughter there,
To whom thou didst proue fo vnkind a churle :
But thy owne toung declares that thou hast bin
A vyle old wretch, and full of heynous sin.
Leir. Ah no, my friend, thou art deceyued much :
For her except, whom I confesse I wrongd,
Through doting frenzy, and o're-ielous loue.
There liues not any vnder heauens bright eye,
That can conuict me of impiety :
And therfore sure thou dost mistake the marke :
For I am in true peace with all the world.
Mes. You are the fitter for the King of heauen
And therefore, for to rid thee of suspence,
Know thou, the queenes of Cambria and Cornwall,
Thy owne two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
Appoynted me to massacre thee here.
Why wouldst thou then perswade me, that thou art
In charity with all the world ? but now
When thy owne issue hold thee in such hate,
That they haue hyred me t'abbridge thy fate,
Oh, fy vpon such vyle dissembling breath,
That would deceyue, euen at the poyat of death.
Per. Am I awake, or is it but a dreame?
Mes, Feare nothing, man, thou art but in a dreame,
And thou shalt neuer wake yntill doomes day,
By then, I hope, thou wilt haue slept ynough.
Leir. Yet, gentle friend, graunt one thing ere I die,