The Welsh Embassador – Act Two, Scene One

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Enter ELDRED, EDMOND, PENDA and CAPTAIN VOLTIMAR.

ELDRED
All’s well.  Our dice run fair.  Fortune herself
Lends us a lucky hand.

EDMOND
The king throws on us
Bounties in such abundance they come rolling
Like waves on waves.  We know not for what service
Unless because we brought him like French foot-posts
News of the two slain princes.  But we hope
His kingly largess is a golden hook
At which some high attempt hangs, and on us
He means to put the execution.

VOLTIMAR
Will not you meet his offers?

OMNES
Oh, by all means.

PENDA
As eagerly as an old regiment
Of totter’d soldiers, who amon<g them all>
<C>arri<e>s not so much <as>
A shirt’s half-sleeve, run on your fresh blown troops
Of gallants that come brisk into the field,
Of scarlet, larded thick with glittering lace
And feathers that plumed estridges outface.

VOLTIMAR
I am glad since all of you are come a-fishing,
Your nets are cast so well.

ELDRED
Pshew!  Beyond face,
And this superfluous dandlings of the king
Teach all the court to dance us on their knees.

EDMOND
There’s not a morning but we break our fast
Upon the salutation of some duke,
Some earl, great lord or so, and passing by,
“Good morrow to Captain Gildas!”

ENDRED
“The good day
To noble Captain Uffa!”

PENDA
“Oh, Captain Conon,
Mine arms are proud to reach you!”

ELDRED
Says Duke Cornwall,
“Uffa, pray dine with me.”  “I thank your grace.

PENDA
Says th’Earl of Chester, “Conon, prithee, see me
So soon as I ha’ din’d.”  I come.  Discourse
How here our main ballalia came up proudly;
Here the right wings flew hotly up; left here,
Pell mell; all here together by the ears;
Here wheel a troop of horse; the pikes charg’d there,
The bowmen yonder with their showers of arrows
Gall the French chevals, as they descend
That hill there; here our Saxons are at point
To fly, our captains swear ‘em into courage;
Here they turn head again, and here my mounsieurs
Are maul’d, and cry “Mort Dieu!”  Then, sir, I tell him
That in this quarter brave Prince Eldred fell,
Hack’d in a thousand pieces.

VOLTIMAR
So.

PENDA
Prince Edmond—
His body being nothing but a sign
Hung at a surgeon’s door—in yonder quarter.

VOLTIMAR
Good.

PENDA
And afar off in yon regiment,
Penda was cut in mammocks.  I talk high,
Some truth, some lies, which ended my earl drops
Twenty half-pieces for more noise and number
Into my hand, I pocket them.

EDMOND
Soldiers were never
Bless’d with such days as these.

VOLTIMAR
Troth, so I think too.
How shall I get access now to the king,
For I’m so overgrown with hair, the guard
Will take me for a savage.

EDMOND
I’ll in and tell him.

ELDRED
You shall not.  The labour’s sav’d.

Flourish.  Enter KING, CORNWALL, and CHESTER.  The three step to the KING.

 KING
My Voltimar,
I will make haste to me thee, rise.  Of all,
Of all those fiery spirits that flew to France,
Are all to cinders turn’d, but Voltimar?

VOLTIMAR
No, sir.  Here’s a mess of us, set by for a second service.

KING
You wear a volume of arithmetic,
And now four figures are the sum of all.
I will be thrifty, and the rest being spent,
Make much of what’s here left me.  Art well, Captain?

VOLTIMAR
Sir, my sword and I have ta’en physic in France.

KING
Art full of French crowns, honest Voltimar?

VOLTIMAR
We had our hands full of so many crack’d ones, they were not worth <the c>arrying.

KING
<Saw yo>u my brother Eldred when he died?

<VOLTIMAR>
<I saw> him.

<KING>
<   >es.

CORNWALL
And when my Pends fell?

VOLTIMAR
Yes, at my foot he fell.

KING
Were my brothers forward in the battle?

VOLTIMAR
As any.

CHESTER
The French did come up bravely, did they?

VOLTIMAR
Like the French.

CHESTER
We heard the fight lasted some seven hours.

VOLTIMAR
‘Twas a pretty long breakfast.

CORNWALL
Was the French king i’th’field in person?

KING
Withdraw.

VOLTIMAR
Make much of these three men, sir.    [Exeunt.  Manent KING and VOLTIMAR.

KING
I wear them soldier,
As jewels on my bosom.  I had thy letter.

VOLTIMAR
‘Twas short.

KING
Only two words.  “‘Tis done.”

VOLTIMAR
And ‘tis done, and almost as quickly done as those words were read.  Would ‘twere to do again!

KING
Why?

VOLTIMAR
I would then forswear writing that court hand.  ‘Tis done.

KING
Dost repent?

VOLTIMAR
Do not you?  Would you and I stood upon equal bases, would I were your fellow but for half an hour’s talk, freely to ease my mind.  My heart swells.  It’s ready to burst.

KING
Unbutton then thy heart—for one half hour,
We are fellows.  Come, be cover’d and talk boldly.
Whate’re it be, ‘tis pardon’d.

VOLTIMAR
If it be not I care not.  It’s but your “yea” and my “nay,” if you swear I’ll swear as fast as you.

KING
Well said.  Let’s fall to’t. Come.

VOLTIMAR
Did not you sent me a letter which did cry out that Penda was a pernicious traitor; that you saw earthquakes in’s eyes to shake your kingdom, to toss you out of our throne; that if he stood you must fa<ll;> did not you charge me upon my loyalty to rid him away, and in him your fears, ha?

KING
‘Tis true, I wrote so.

VOLTIMAR
‘Tis false what you wrote so.  Penda was no traitor.  Penda was honest, honourable in all his actions, a soldier the world had no better; a man mortality has none so good, yet him, would you ruin, him!  All this heap of admirable building have I for you demolish’d.  You have made me both your butcher and your bawd.

KING
Bawd?

VOLTIMAR
Yes, bawd.  I never was a carpenter till now.  I have made a bridge of the husband’s body for you to go to his wife.

KING
Ha!

VOLTIMAR
Y’are a whoremaster.

KING
How?

VOLTIMAR
A most horrible whoremaster; the devil’s master point lies in the codpiece, and that point you have unti’d.  Do you send me to win towns for you and you lose a kingdom at home?

KING
What kingdom?

VOLTIMAR
The fairest in the world, the kingdom of your fame, your honour, your soul.

KING
Wherein?

VOLTIMAR
I must be plain with you.

KING
So methinks you are.

VOLTIMAR
Angels err’d once and fell, but you, sir, spit in heaven’s face every minute and laugh at it.  Laugh still, follow your courses, do.  Let your vices run like your kennel of hounds yelping after you till they pluck down the fairest head i’th’herd, your everlasting bliss.

KING
Spit thy venom.

VOLTIMAR
‘Tis aqua cælestis, no venom.

KING
Thy half hour is out.

VOLTIMAR
Turn up thy glass again.  I will follow tr<uth at h>heel<s though her foot> beat my gums in pieces.

KING
The barber that draws out a lion’s tooth
Curses his trade, and <so shalt thou.>

VOLTIMAR
I care not.

KING
Because you ha’ beaten a few base French peasants,
Methinkst thou to chastise.  What’s part, I pardon,
But if thou darst once more be so untun’d,
I’ll send thee to the galleys.

VOLTIMAR
No, to to th’gallows.  Upon a ladder a man may talk freely and never be sent to prison.  I had a raw stomach before, and now ‘tis eas’d.  Hang me, draw me, quarter me, cut me, carbonado me.  This, pish!

KING
Is your half hour run out now?

VOLTIMAR

Yes, I am quiet.

KING
Prithee no more of this.  Thou shalt not ask
The thing which I’ll deny thee, and since th’ast waded
For me thus up to th’middle, on now, dear Voltimar.

VOLTIMAR
Ay, ay, over shoes, over boots, anything.  Any more throats to cut?

KING
None, only at her father’s wind thyself
Into this ladies company, sad Armante.
She’s mad with rage, and in her desperate vengeance
May plot against my life.  Sound her for that.

VOLTIMAR
That all?  I am both you line and plummet.

Enter CORNWALL and CHESTER.

KING
I’m haunted with a fury.  Yon young witch
Who with her bastard both lays claim to me
And to my crown.  I have no way to scape
From being still blaster by her, but to marry,
And marry out of hand.

CHESTER
But where’s a lady
Fit for your royal bed?

KING
A kinswoman
To every one of you, Penda’s noble wife
Who died in France.

CORNWALL
I would she were so happy
To have her loss in him repar’d so fairly.

CHESTER
There’s not a man here who to see his family
Crown’d with such royal honours, but would spend
Half his estate to grace the nuptials.

KING
It is the voice of all of you that I
Should call you noble kinsmen?

OMNES
Sir, of all.

KING
We all must bandy with that faction then
Her father and her frenzy shall give fire to.
One blow they have already.  See, I have got
My contract from her.

OMNES
Keep it.

KING
Keep it?  No.
In paper I’ll no longer wrap my fears.

Enter WINCHESTER.

WINCHESTER
Had you none else but me to brand i’th’forehead
With infamy, with treachery, with perjury?

KING
Art frantic?

WINCHESTER
You are so, sir.

KING
Rave thy fill.
King’s subjects are to none but their own will.  [Exeunt.  Manent WINCHESTER.

Enter COLCHESTER and KENT.

 BOTH
Where’s the king?

WINCHESTER
Wrapp’d up in clouds of lightening.

KENT
What, is he turn’d Jove?
Let him.  We’ll thunder too.

COLCHESTER
We heard, my lord of Winchester, he chang’d
You to a stalking horse.  You were his hook,
And your sweet words the fly at which my poor girl
Armante nibbling; you strangled her, got from her
The contract he was tied in.

KENT
What’s done with it?

WINCHESTER
I know not.  In sight of Cornwall,
Chester and others, when he had baffled me,
Made me his property to wrong the lady,
And speaking home, he bade me rave my fill.

KENT
Why then in sight of Colchester, her father,
Winchester, and Kent—men high in blood as they—
His perjury shall be his ruin.

WINCHESTER
Or ours.
Thus I fall from the duty he has blasted
To <be> revenged with you.

KENT
<Thus I em>brace you.  Meet and consult.

<WINCHESTER>
<No more.  Trust n>ot the air
<With our projectio<ns; let u<s> all revenge
<Wrongs done to our most noble> ki<nsw>oman.

KENT
Action is honour’s language; swords are tongues
Which both speak best, and best do write our wrongs.

COLCHESTER
Those tongues shall scold then.                                                                [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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