The Welsh Embassador – Act Two, Scene Two

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Enter VOLTIMAR and ARMANTE.

VOLTIMAR
The king has done you infinite wrong.

ARMANTE
Infinite.

VOLTIMAR
And no question you ha’ done him some.

ARMANTE
Never any.

VOLTIMAR
No?  Yes, sure, for had not those two balls of wildfire in your head burnt him into dotage, had you not embrothered your face with wanton glances, he had been quiet, yourself not tormented.  A lady of your birth, fortune, friends, and spiri<t> yet let him scape so.

ARMANTE
He must not.

VOLTIMAR
Jeer at you.

ARMANTE
He dares not.

VOLTIMAR
Baffle you and your noble family.

ARMANTE
He cannot.

VOLTIMAR
What would you say to him should kill this man that hath you so dishonoured?

ARMANTE
Oh, I would crown him
With thanks, praise, gold, and tender of my life.

VOLTIMAR
This is he shall do’t.

ARMANTE
There’s music in the tongue that dares but speak it.

VOLTIMAR
Your fiddler then am I.  Let me see; poniard, poison; any revenge.

ARMANTE
One step to human bliss is sweet revenge.

VOLTIMAR
Revenge; ‘tis milk, ‘tis honey, ‘tis balm; delicate in the mouth, precious in the hand, nourishing to the stomach, life to the soul; so shed is an elizer, so drunk a julip; it fattens. It battens. Revenge!  Oh, stay, stay!  One question.  What made you love him?

ARMANTE
His most goodly shape,
Married to royal virtues of his mind.

VOLTIMAR
Did it so?  And now you would divorce all that goodness.  But why?  For liquorishness of revenge?  ‘Tis a lie.

ARMANTE
Bless me, this grim fellow frights me!

VOLTIMAR
I’ll not hurt you.  For revenge?  No, the burr that sticks in your throat is a throne.  Had he a mess of kingdoms and laid but one upon your trencher, you’d praise bastard for the sweetest wine i’th’world and call for another quart.  ‘Tis not because the man has left you, but because you are not the woman you would be.  I shoot my bolt now to our market; what’s my wages when I ha’ done?

ARMANTE
The wages of a slave—despair and death.
Monster of men thou art, thou bloody villain,
Traitor to him who never injur’d thee,
Dost thou profess arms and art bound by honour
To stand up like a brazen wall to guard
The kind and country, and wouldst run both?

VOLTIMAR
For gold any, you, him, no matter whom, do you clap spurs to my sides yet rein me hard in?  Am I rid with a martingale?

ARMANTE
Hence!  Though I could run mad and tear my hair
And kill that godless man that turn’d me strumpet;
Though I am cheated by a perjurous prince
Who has done wickedness at which even heaven
Shakes when the sun beholds it; oh, yet I’d rather
Ten thousand poison’d poniards struck my breast
Than one should touch his.

VOLTIMAR
Are you in earnest?

ARMANTE
Leave me or I shall do my best to mischief thee.

VOLTIMAR
Live wretched still then.

ARMANTE
Out of mine eye, I prithee!

VOLTIMAR
Your eye—I’m gone.  Give me thy goll.  Thou art a noble girl.  I did bu<t play> the devil’s part, and roar in a feign’d voice, but I am the honestest devi<ll that ever> spit fire; nor would I drink that draught <of a> king’s bl<ood to go reeling> downwards for the weight of the world i<n diamo>nds.

ARMANTE
Art thou in earnest?

VOLTIMAR
As you are lady.

ARMANTE
Are not you one of the king’s <q>uai<l> pi<pers?>

VOLTIMAR
I am not.  Crack me, though my shell be rough, there’s a wholesome meat within me.

ARMANTE
I’ll call thee honest soldier then, and woo thee
To be an often visitant.

VOLTIMAR
Your servant.

ARMANTE
Come like a gentle gale to cool my wrongs
And call my roof thine own.                                                                                    [Exit.

VOLTIMAR
I’ll be nothing else.

Enter KING, CORNWALL, CHESTER; EDMOND, ELDRED and PENDA following.

KING
Step you before, my lord.  Tell her we are coming.                      [Exit CORNWALL.
Pray, trouble me not.  I’m busy.

ALL THREE
You promis’d us employment.

KING
We ha’ no wars.  When the drum beats, call to us.

EDMOND
Maybe, sir, you stop your ears with wool and can hardly hear a soldier’s call.

CHESTER
Y’are saucy.

ELDRED
Saucy?  You allow us no meat to our sauce.

PENDA
We are restiff for want of exercise.

EDMOND
And pursue at heart for want of ridding.

ELDRED
Good spurs clapp’d to our sides would show our mettle.

KING
Voltimar, rid me of these flies.  ‘Tis a summer of peace, and we need more sickles than swords.                                                                     [Exeunt KING and CHESTER.

PENDA
Flies, marry buzz.

VOLTIMAR
Ha, ha, did I not tell you?

EDMOND
More sickles than swords.  He would have us turn reapers.

ELDRED
No, no, we’ll fall to thrashing.

VOLTIMAR
‘Tis a summer of peace, and soldiers you may take a purse in winter and be hanged ere next spring.

PENDA
The best is though he plucks us on like straight boots, he does not yet complain where we pinch him.

VOLTIMAR
Did not I steer your course well at out coming out of France to land you in Wales, though t’were the fardest way about?

EDMOND
A witch could not have foretold the weather better.

VOLTIMAR
Will you gentry then to the twinkling of that Welsh harp I tun’d you for in Shropshire or no?

OMNES
By any means.

PENDA
Why else have I these letters of credence from the Welsh king—Howell by name—to bring only a message of love unto Athelstane till the tribute of Wales be sent of so many runts, so many hawks, so many hounds, so many pounds of gold and so many of silver, and that will be about a month hence.

EDMOND
Your Welsh mountain of authority will be digg’d down to a molehill before that time

ELDRED
Walk upon no lower stilts than those of an embassador.

VOLTIMAR
I’ll fit your followers, cutting boys, roaring soldadoes that if need be shall eat fire.

ELDRED
At the end of the last battle in Wales, I drunk healths in metheglin among ‘em, never met nobler companions, and never stayed so long.  I could gabble very handsomely, so that for a sentill man of Wales, one of my lord embassador’s followers; if I fail, flee me.

EDMOND
What must I do?  I’ll be a bowl in your ally too, but not of you bias; no Welsh I.  Wert in Ireland with the kerns and gallowglasses could I have good sport.  You talk of metheglin.  Morrogh mac Breean, the king of Leinster, Dermont, king of Ulster, with Mac Dermond king of Connacht, who wear all three in that battle against us, when the fight was done and all friends, so souct me in usquebagh my very brains burnt blue, so that ifaatle for an Irishman get but a tailor to fit me, and pluck my tongue out if I run not glib away with it.

PENDA
Run, why will you not come as some great Irish lord?

EDMOND
Pshew, there’s no pleasure in state.  I had rather have a scrambling hunter’s breakfast than a cardinal’s dinner.  Lord, no, only a footman to <your em>bassadorship, I shall not laugh else.

VOLTIMAR
W<hatev>er oars we must row with leave me to furnish.

PENDA
For a comedy of disguises, let’s then arm,
Which though it do no good, can do no harm.                                                       [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Next Scene

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