The Witch of Edmonton – Act Four, scene two

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Enter KATHERINE; a bed thrust forth, on it, FRANK in a slumber.

 KATHERINE
Brother, brother!  So sound asleep?  That’s well.

FRANK THORNEY
No, not I, sister.  He that’s wounded here,
As I am—all my other hurts are bitings
Of a poor flea—but he that here once bleeds,
Is maim’d incurably.

KATHERINE
My good sweet brother—
For now my sister must grow up in you—
Though her loss strikes you through, and that I feel
The blow as deep, I pray thee be not cruel
To kill me too, by seeing you cast away
In your own helpless sorrow.  Good love, sit up;
And if you can give physic to yourself,
I shall be well.

FRANK THORNEY
I’ll do my best.

KATHERINE
I thank you.
What do you look about for?

FRANK THORNEY
Nothing, nothing.
But I was thinking, sister.

KATHERINE
Dear heart, what?

FRANK THORNEY
Who but a fool would be thus bound to a bed,
Having this room to walk in?

KATHERINE
Why do you talk so?
Would you were fast asleep.

FRANK THORNEY
No, no, I’m not idle.
But here’s my meaning:  being robb’d, as I am,
Why should my soul, which married was to hers,
Live in divorce, and not fly after her?
Why should not I walk hand in hand with death
To find my love out?

KATHERINE
That were well, indeed.
You time being come, when death is sent to call you,
No doubt you shall meet her.

FRANK THORNEY
Why should I not go
Without calling?

KATHERINE
Yes, brother, so you might,
Were there no place to go to when y’are gone,
But only this.

FRANK THORNEY
Troth, sister, thou sayst true;
For when a man has been an hundred years
Hard travelling o’er the tottering bridge of age,
He’s not the thousand part upon his way.
All life is but a wand’ring to find home.
When we are gone, we are there.  Happy were man,
Could here his voyage end;  he should not then
Answer how well or ill he steer’d his soul,
By heaven’s or by hell’s compass.  How he put in,
Losing bless’d goodness’ shore, at such a sin;
Nor how life’s dear provision he has spent;
Nor how far he in’s navigation went
Beyond commission.  This were a fine reign,
To do ill and not hear of it again.
Yet then were man more wretched than a beast;
For, sister, our dead pay is sure the best.

KATHERINE
‘Tis so, the best or worst.  And I wish heaven
To pay—and so I know it will—that traitor,
That devil Somerton—who stood in mine eye
Once as an angel—home to his deservings.
What villain buy himself, once loving me,
With Warbeck’s soul would pawn his own to hell
To be reveng’d on my poor sister?

FRANK THORNEY
Slaves!
A pair of merciless slaves!  Speak no more of them.

KATHERINE
I think this talking hurts you.

FRANK THORNEY
Does me no good, I’m sure.
I pay for’t everywhere.

KATHERINE
I have done then.
Eat, if you cannot sleep.  You have these two days
Not tasted any food.  Jane, it is ready?

FRANK THORNEY
What’s ready?  What’s ready?

Enter JANE with chicken.

KATHERINE
I have made ready a roasted chicken for you.
Sweet, wilt thou eat?

FRANK THORNEY
A pretty stomach on a sudden; yes.
There’s one in the house can play upon a lute.
Good girl, let’s hear him too.

KATHERINE
You shall, dear brother.                                                                                  [Exit JANE.
Would I were a musician, you should hear
How I would feast your ear.  Stay, mend your pillow,                              [Lute plays.
And raise you higher.

FRANK THORNEY
I am up too high;
Am I not, sister, now?

KATHERINE
No, no; ‘tis well.
Fall to, fall to.  A knife, here’s never a knife.
Brother, I’ll look out yours.

Enter DOG, shrugging as it were for joy, and dances.

 FRANK THORNEY
Sister, oh sister,
I am ill upon a sudden and can eat nothing.

KATHERINE
In very deed you shall.  The want of food
Makes you so faint.  Ha!  [She finds a knife.] Here’s none in your pocket.
I’ll go fetch a knife.                                                                                                   [Exit.

FRANK THORNEY
Will you?  ‘Tis well, all’s well.

She gone, he searches first one, then the other pocket.  Knife found.  DOG runs off.  He lies on one side.  The Spirit of SUSAN his second wife comes to the bedside.  He stares at it, and turning to the other side, it’s there too.  In the meantime, WINNIFRIDE as a Page comes in, stands at his bed’s feet sadly.  He, frighted, sits upright.  The Spirit vanishes.

 FRANK THORNEY
What art thou?

WINNIFRIDE
A lost creature.

FRANK THORNEY
So am I too.
Win?  Ah, my she-page!

WINNIFRIDE
For you own sake I put on
A shape that’s false; yet do I wear a heart
True to you as your own.

FRANK THORNEY
Would mine and thine
Were fellows in one house.  Kneel by me here.
On this side now?  How dar’st thou come to mock me
On both sides of my bed?

WINNIFRIDE
When?

FRANK THORNEY
But just now.
Outface me, stare upon me with strange postures;
Turn my soul wild by a face in which were drawn
A thousand ghosts leap’d newly from their graves
To pluck me knot a winding-sheet.

WINNIFRIDE
Believe it,
I came no nearer to you than yon place,
At your bed’s feet, and of the house had leave,
Calling myself your horse boy, in to come
And visit my sick master.

FRANK THORNEY
Then ‘twas my fancy.
Some windmill in my brains for want of sleep.

WINNIFRIDE
Would I might never sleep, so you could rest.
But you have pluck’d a thunder on your head,
Whose noise cannot cease suddenly.  Why should you
Dance at the wedding of a second wife,
When scarce the music which you heard at mine
Had ta’en a farewell of you?  Oh, this was ill!
And they who thus can give both hands away,
In th’end shall want their best limbs.

FRANK THORNEY
Winnifride,
The chamber door fast?

WINNIFRIDE
Yes.

FRANK THORNEY
Sit thee then down,
And when th’ast heard me speak, melt into tears.
Yet I to save those eyes of thine from weeping,
Being to write a story of us two,
Instead of ink, dipp’d my sad pen in blood.
When of the I took leave, I went abroad
Only for pillage, as a freebooter,
What gold soe’er I got to make it thine.
To please a father, I have heaven displeas’d.
Striving to cast two wedding rings in one,
Through my bad workmanship I now have none.
I have lost her and thee.

WINNIFRIDE
I know she’s dead,
But you have me still.

FRANK THORNEY
Nay, his this hand murder’d,
And so I lost thee too.

WINNIFRIDE
Oh, me!

FRANK THORNEY
Be quiet,
For thou my evidence art, jury and judge.
Sit quiet, and I’ll tell all.

As they whisper, enter at one end o’th’stage OLD CARTER and KATHERINE; DOG at th’other, pawing softly at FRANK.

 KATHERINE
I have run madding up and down to find you,
Being laden with the heaviest news that ever
Poor daughter carried.

OLD CARTER
Why?  Is the boy dead?

KATHERINE
Dead, sir!  Oh, father, we were cozen’d.  You are told
The murderer sings in prison, and he laughs here.
This villain kill’d my sister.  [Shows the knife.] See, see, see,
A bloody knife in’s pocket.

OLD CARTER
Bless me, patience!

FRANK THORNEY
The knife, the knife, the knife!

KATHERINE
What knife?                                                                                                            [Exit DOG.

FRANK THORNEY
To cut my chicken up, my chicken.
Be you my carver, father.

OLD CARTER
That I will.

KATHERINE
[Aside.] How the devil steels our brows after doing ill!

FRANK THORNEY
My stomach and my sight are taken from me.
All’s not well with me.

OLD CARTER
I believe thee, boy.  I that have seen so many moons clap their horns on other men’s foreheads to strike them sick, yet mine to scape, and be well.  I that never cast away a fee upon urinals, but am as sound as an honest man’s conscience when he’s dying, I should cry out as thou dost.  All is not well within me, felt I but the bag of thy imposthumes.  Ah, my wounded rascal!  All my grief is, I have now small hope of thee.

FRANK THORNEY
Do the surgeons say my wounds are dangerous then?

OLD CARTER
Yes, yes, and there’s no way with thee but one.

FRANK THORNEY
Would he were here to open them.

OLD CARTER
I’ll go fetch him.  I’ll make an holiday to see thee as I wish.                            [Exit.

FRANK THORNEY
A wondrous kind old man.

WINNIFRIDE
[Aside.] Your sin’s the blacker, so to abuse his goodness.
[Aloud.] Master, how do you?

FRANK THORNEY
Pretty well now, boy.
I have such odd qualms come cross my stomach.
I’ll fall too.  Boy, cut me.

WINNIFRIDE
[Aside.] You have cut me, I’m sure.
[Aloud.] A leg or wing, sir?

FRANK THORNEY
No, no, no.  A wing?
Would I had wings but to soar up yon tower.
But here’s a clog that hinders me.  What’s that?

Enter OLD CARTER with SUSAN’s body in a coffin, carried by two Servants.

OLD CARTER:  That?  What?  Oh, now I see her.  ‘Tis a young wench, my daughter.  Sirrah, sick to the death; and hearing thee to be an excellent rascal for letting blood, she looks out at a casement, and cries, “Help, help, stay that man!  Have him I must, or none!”

FRANK THORNEY
For pity’s sake, remove her.  See, she stares
With one broad open eye still in my face.

OLD CARTER
Thou puttest both hers out, like a villain as thou art.  Yet see, she is willing to lend thee one again to find out the murderer, and that’s thyself.

FRANK THORNEY
Old man, thou liest.

OLD CARTER
So shalt thou i’th’gaol.  Run for officers.

KATHERINE
Oh, thou merciless slave!
She was, though yet above ground, in her grave
To me, but thou hast torn it up again.
Mine eyes too much drown’d, now must feel more rain.

OLD CARTER
Fetch officers.                                                                                     [Exit KATHERINE.

FRANK THORNEY
For whom

OLD CARTER
For thee, sirrah, sirrah.  Some knives have foolish posies upon them, but thine has a villainous one.  Look!  Oh, it is enamelled with the heart-blood of thy hated wife, my beloved daughter!  What sayst thou to this evidence?  Is’t not sharp?  Does’t not strike home?  Thou canst not answer honestly, and without a trembling heart, to this one point, this terrible bloody point.

WINNIFRIDE
I beseech you, sir,
Strike him no more.  You see, he’s dead already.

FRANK THORNEY
As y’are a man, throw not upon that woman
Your loads of tyranny, for she’s innocent.

OLD CARTER
How, how?  A woman?  Is’t grown to a fashion for women in all countries to wear the breeches?

WINNIFRIDE
I am not as my disguise speaks me, sir, his page,
But his first only wife, his lawful wife.

OLD CARTER
How?  How?  More fire i’th’bedstraw?

WINNIFRIDE
The wrongs which singly fell upon your daughter
On my are multiplied.  She lost a life,
But I, an husband and myself must lose,
If you call him to a bar for what he has done.

OLD CARTER
He has done it then?

WINNIFRIDE
Yes, ‘tis confess’d to me.

FRANK THORNEY
Dost thou betray me?

WINNIFRIDE
Oh, pardon me, dear heart!  I am mad to lose thee,
And known not what I speak; but if thou didst,
I must arraign this father for two sins,
Adultery and murder.

Enter KATHERINE.

 KATHERINE
See, they are come.

OLD CARTER
Arraign me for what thou wilt, all Middlesex knows me better for an honest man, than the middle of a marketplace knows thee for an honest woman.  Rise, sirrah, and don your tacklings, rig yourself for the gallows, or I’ll carry thee thither on my back.  Your trull shall to th’gaol with you.  There be as fine Newgate birds as she that can draw him in.  Pox on’s wounds.

FRANK THORNEY
I have serv’d thee, and my wages now are paid,
Yet my worst punishment shall, I hope, be stayed.                                          [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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