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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 3 > Act 2, scene 4

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SCENE IV. - A WOOD.

Enter PASCENTIUS, FLAVIA disguised, and FOOL.

Pas. Speak, dearest sister, say, how fares it with thee ?
For those soft limbs were form'd for gentler usage;
But cheer thee up, my Flavia; whilst I'm with thee,
Thou must not faint: if there be comfort near,
I'll seek it, and from out the tiger's jaw
Tear forth its food; or if the thirsty lion
Should stand betwixt me and the bubbling brook,
This arm should find a passage to its heart.
But an thou need'st nor food, nor element,
Then will I sit and comfort thy sweet tears;
And as the smaller stream doth ofttimes mingle,
And add its nothingness to the vasty sea,
So on thy streaming cheek will I let fall
One pitying tear, one tender drop of sorrow.

Fla. Oh! gentle, excellent, most loving brother,
It is my aching heart which thus o'ercomes me.
Wretch that I am! what hath my mother done,
That, lacking pity, I could leave her thus:
How can her drooping heart bear this sad shock?
Can her meek soul my father's rage encounter?
No, no! impossible! thus am I wretched.
Then O! you righteous and all-powerful Judge,
If human breath, with pure soul offer'd up,
Can touch you, or obtain your gentle hearing,
Behold a maiden for a mother sues,
And on her bended knees implores protection.
Let some kind angel, minister of mercy,
Pour on her wounded soul the balm of comfort;
And, in the place of overwhelming sorrow,
Let the dear plant of smiling joy bud forth:
And should she weep, then may her dewy tears
Be those of tender peace and charity.

Fool. By my troth, mine eyes did never water so be-
fore: sweet mistress, an thou hast charm'd thy Fool,
methinks the choir o' angels needs must listen to thy
prayer: and yet these underprops o' mine do sorely ache;
and wherefore should they? for an I do eat, then am I
loaded, and do bear it well; but now that I am empty,
these porters wont carry me; this is strange, and needs
more wisdom to unveil than lies in my poor, foolish brain.

Fla. Methinks, I'd sit and rest me here awhile.

Pas. Then to the shade of yon imperial oak
I'll lead thee; there thou calmly may'st repose:
Our honest knave the while shall sing a strain,
And sooth thy sad and secret melancholy.

Fool. Why, to be brief, good master, I needs would
sing; but that gentle lady bath crack'd the strings o' my
voice: an 'twill please you weep, marry I'll take the
loudest pipe; and should I fail in giving entertainment,
why then I'll to Paul's, and there, i'the presence of Bon-
ner, be whipped for a slanderer.

Pas. I pray thee, Fool, do as I list.

Fool. Now, then, I'll pipe; but, by my troth, you seem
sad, and needs will me to sing merrily well, an folly will
please you, I'll to't straight.

Fool. sings.

A Fool must needs be merry,
Lack, lack, and a well a day!
And in his shoes must buy
His sorrow, and all his care.
Then is not the Fool's lot hard;
Is not his mind sore treated;
Do not his friends, of's poor brains,
Make physic for their senses?
Then lack, lack, and well a day!

But in this our world, 'tis true,
Lack, lack, and well a day!
We our old friends change for new,
When they no longer snit us.
Then heigh-ho, poor dobbins all,
Be sharp with men, I pray you;
They bear the minds of fools indeed,
Yet are but knaves, I tell you.
Then lack, lack, and well a day!

Fla. Good, honest Fool, I do sincerely thank thee.

Fool. Nay, nay, say not so; an I had flattered, why then,
perchance, I had merited this; but i'faith, gentle lady,
he that say nought, save the bare truth, doth ofttimes
meet but a bare compliment. But an you do flatter,
methinks the compliment will savour more of untruth,
than did the flattery; but thus it goes with our slippery
world.

Pas. Who is it comes this way?

Fla. Let us retire;
Perchance, it may be one of our pursuers.

Fool. An thou'lt listen awhile to me, I'll tell thee thou
need'st not fear; 'tis but the post on 'a way to your
father's palace

Enter POST.

Pas. Friend, thou outrunnest almost speed itself;
Whither art bound?

Post. I am for London, sir.

Pas. Nay, stop one moment; I conjure thee, stop!
Say what these tidings that demand such haste ?

Post. That which my packets do contain.

Pas. An thou will tell me their contents, there's gold.

Fool. Now, i' troth, thou'lt unlock letters, packets,
and all: look, look! the knave doth handle it with good
grace! Sirrah, an thou play'dst on David's harp, thy
fingers ne'er would move so glibly o'er the strings, as
o'er yon gold. Dost hear me?

Post. Thy gold, indeed, doth please; it fills my purse;
And though it should not, yet what matters it?
I am well fee'd for telling that alone,
Which every simple peasant soon must know.
Then thus it is - Vortigern is accus'd
Of the base murder of Constantius!

Fla. Heavens!

Post. Yea; and even now the princes marching hither
From Scotland, with them bring a numerous army.

Pas. Alas! my father: yet, I do beseech thee,
How know they this? Who was't instructed them?

Post. Swift messengers, despatch'd by friends to Rome:
Further I know not - therefore, must away. [Exit Post.

Fool. Go to, go to, I do believe thee: marry, an thou
art humble, thy purse is somewhat prouder. Good sir,
wer't not best we put on; I am faint at heart: marry,
'tis pity my wits did not fill their owner, as well as those
who do beg them.

Pas. Let's on; and yet what course is't fit we take?
The night doth throw his sooty mantle round,
And robs us of the cheering light of day.

Fla. Oh! would this night could pluck my sorrow
from me!
Or that the long, eternal sleep of death
Would close life's wretclied, weary pilgrimage.

Pas. Oh! sister, an thou lov'st me, grieve not so.

Fla. If charity be meek, e'en so will I;
And where thou lead'st, resign'd I'll follow thee.

Fool. Marry! an you'll listen to a fool, perchance he
may, for once, speak wisely.

Pas. Out with thy counsel, then.

Fool. Thus it is: - chance hath made me your Fool;
and chance will now, that your Fool speak something
like wisdom: marry, is not this the road to Scotland?
Dost understand me?

Pas. Truly, I understand thee.

Fool. To't again: - what say'st thou o' joining the young
princes on their march?

Pas. It is most wisely utter'd, my good Fool!
Come, gentle sister; we'll to th' skirt o'th' wood,
And find some cottage that may serve to night,
As 'twere a palace. - All may yet be well. [Exeunt.

END OF THE SECOND ACT.

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