Britain. A room in Cymbeline’s palace.
(Cymbeline; Queen; Cloten; Lucius; Lords; Messenger; Pisanio)
Caius Lucius takes his leave of Cymbeline. The king is angry at his daughter for not appearing before the ambassador, and sends for her. The Queen rejoices at the thought that Imogen may be missing or dead, as this will secure her plans. Cloten corners Pisanio and tries to make him tell where Imogen has gone. Pisanio shows him the letter planning a meeting before Imogen and Posthumus at Milford-Haven. Cloten, planning to follow them there, orders Pisanio to bring him a suit of Posthumus’s clothes, planning to kill Posthumus and rape Imogen while wearing them, in revenge for her comment about caring less for him than those clothes. (150 lines)
Enter Cymbeline attended, Queen, Cloten, Lucius, and Lords.
Thus far, and so farewell.
Thanks, royal sir.
My emperor hath wrote I must from hence,
And am right sorry that I must report ye
My master’s enemy.
Our subjects, sir,
Will not endure his yoke; and for ourself
To show less sovereignty than they, must needs
So, sir. I desire of you
A conduct overland to Milford-Haven.
Madam, all joy befall your Grace, and you!
My lords, you are appointed for that office;
The due of honor in no point omit.
So farewell, noble Lucius.
Your hand, my lord.
Receive it friendly; but from this time forth
I wear it as your enemy.
Sir, the event
Is yet to name the winner. Fare you well.
Leave not the worthy Lucius, good my lords,
Till he have cross’d the Severn. Happiness!
Exit Lucius with Lords.
He goes hence frowning; but it honors us
That we have given him cause.
’Tis all the better,
Your valiant Britains have their wishes in it.
Lucius hath wrote already to the Emperor
How it goes here. It fits us therefore ripely
Our chariots and our horsemen be in readiness.
The pow’rs that he already hath in Gallia
Will soon be drawn to head, from whence he moves
His war for Britain.
’Tis not sleepy business,
But must be look’d to speedily and strongly.
Our expectation that it would be thus
Hath made us forward. But, my gentle queen,
Where is our daughter? She hath not appear’d
Before the Roman, nor to us hath tender’d
The duty of the day. She looks us like
A thing more made of malice than of duty,
We have noted it. Call her before us, for
We have been too slight in sufferance.
Exit a Messenger.
Since the exile of Posthumus, most retir’d
Hath her life been; the cure whereof, my lord,
’Tis time must do. Beseech your Majesty,
Forbear sharp speeches to her. She’s a lady
So tender of rebukes that words are strokes,
And strokes death to her.
Enter a Messenger.
Where is she, sir? How
Can her contempt be answer’d?
Please you, sir,
Her chambers are all lock’d, and there’s no answer
That will be given to th’ loud of noise we make.
My lord, when last I went to visit her,
She pray’d me to excuse her keeping close,
Whereto constrain’d by her infirmity,
She should that duty leave unpaid to you
Which daily she was bound to proffer. This
She wish’d me to make known; but our great court
Made me to blame in memory.
Her doors lock’d?
Not seen of late? Grant, heavens, that which I fear
Son, I say, follow the King.
That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant,
I have not seen these two days.
Go, look after.
Pisanio, thou that stand’st so for Posthumus!
He hath a drug of mine; I pray his absence
Proceed by swallowing that; for he believes
It is a thing most precious. But for her,
Where is she gone? Haply despair hath seiz’d her;
Or wing’d with fervor of her love, she’s flown
To her desir’d Posthumus. Gone she is
To death or to dishonor, and my end
Can make good use of either. She being down,
I have the placing of the British crown.
How now, my son?
’Tis certain she is fled.
Go in and cheer the King, he rages, none
Dare come about him.
All the better. May
This night forestall him of the coming day!
I love and hate her; for she’s fair and royal,
And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite
Than lady, ladies, woman, from every one
The best she hath, and she, of all compounded,
Outsells them all. I love her therefore, but
Disdaining me and throwing favors on
The low Posthumus slanders so her judgment
That what’s else rare is chok’d; and in that point
I will conclude to hate her, nay indeed,
To be reveng’d upon her. For when fools shall—
Who is here? What, are you packing, sirrah?
Come hither. Ah, you precious pandar! Villain,
Where is thy lady? In a word, or else
Thou art straightway with the fiends.
O, good my lord!
Where is thy lady? Or, by Jupiter,
I will not ask again. Close villain,
I’ll have this secret from thy heart, or rip
Thy heart to find it. Is she with Posthumus?
From whose so many weights of baseness cannot
A dram of worth be drawn.
Alas, my lord,
How can she be with him? When was she miss’d?
He is in Rome.
Where is she, sir? Come nearer.
No farther halting. Satisfy me home,
What is become of her?
O, my all-worthy lord!
Discover where thy mistress is, at once,
At the next word. No more of “worthy lord”!
Speak, or thy silence on the instant is
Thy condemnation and thy death.
This paper is the history of my knowledge
Touching her flight.
Presenting a letter.
Let’s see’t. I will pursue her
Even to Augustus’ throne.
Or this, or perish.
She’s far enough, and what he learns by this
May prove his travel, not her danger.
I’ll write to my lord she’s dead. O Imogen,
Safe mayst thou wander, safe return again!
Sirrah, is this letter true?
Sir, as I think.
It is Posthumus’ hand, I know’t. Sirrah, if thou wouldst not be a villain, but do me true service, undergo those employments wherein I should have cause to use thee with a serious industry, that is, what villainy soe’er I bid thee do, to perform it directly and truly, I would think thee an honest man. Thou shouldst neither want my means for thy relief nor my voice for thy preferment.
Well, my good lord.
Wilt thou serve me? For since patiently and constantly thou hast stuck to the bare fortune of that beggar Posthumus, thou canst not, in the course of gratitude, but be a diligent follower of mine. Wilt thou serve me?
Sir, I will.
Give me thy hand, here’s my purse. Hast any of thy late master’s garments in thy possession?
I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit he wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.
The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit hither. Let it be thy first service, go.
I shall, my lord.
Meet thee at Milford-Haven! (I forgot to ask him one thing, I’ll remember’t anon.) Even there, thou villain Posthumus, will I kill thee. I would these garments were come. She said upon a time (the bitterness of it I now belch from my heart) that she held the very garment of Posthumus in more respect than my noble and natural person, together with the adornment of my qualities. With that suit upon my back will I ravish her; first kill him, and in her eyes; there shall she see my valor, which will then be a torment to her contempt. He on the ground, my speech of insultment ended on his dead body, and when my lust hath din’d (which, as I say, to vex her I will execute in the clothes that she so prais’d), to the court I’ll knock her back, foot her home again. She hath despis’d me rejoicingly, and I’ll be merry in my revenge.
Enter Pisanio with the clothes.
Be those the garments?
Ay, my noble lord.
How long is’t since she went to Milford-Haven?
She can scarce be there yet.
Bring this apparel to my chamber. That is the second thing that I have commanded thee. The third is, that thou wilt be a voluntary mute to my design. Be but duteous, and true preferment shall tender itself to thee. My revenge is now at Milford; would I had wings to follow it! Come, and be true.
Thou bid’st me to my loss; for true to thee
Were to prove false, which I will never be
To him that is most true. To Milford go,
And find not her whom thou pursuest. Flow, flow,
You heavenly blessings, on her! This fool’s speed
Be cross’d with slowness; labor be his meed.