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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 3 > Act 5, scene 4

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SCENE IV. - THE GATE OF CAESAR'S TOWER.

Enter Lord and Troops.

Lord. In, in! for they do scar our very backs;
And score us cowards in our hasty flight.

Enter VORTIGERN.

Vor. Give me another sword! I have so clogg'd,
And badged this with blood and slipp'ry gore,
That it doth mock my gripe. A sword, I say!

Lord. Here, here, my noble lord!

Vor. As with their bloods I stain'd my reeking blade,
From summit of the tow'r, the raven croak'd
Th' heavy-wing'd crow did chatter o'er my head,
And seem'd to bear black laurels for this brow;
Yet, did not, erst, the sun-defying eagle
O'er the world-conquering Macedonian hero,
Flutter, and point his way to victory?
Then from thy jarring throat spit pestilence;
And, bird of hell, I'll take thee for my guide.

Lord. The troops are entered; please you follow them?

Vor. I love not to be shut in walls of flint:
My soul likes better this vast field of air.
Let them come on.

Lord. Consider, my dear lord; think of your safety.

Vor. Must we not die? then, wherefore in a door,
And rot with famine, and with pale-fac'd hunger?
No; 'twere better nobly fall, full-stoniach'd,
Than linger out a six weeks' tedious siege.
Do as ye list, here firmly will I stand.

Lord. Is it your pleasure, then, they shall proceed ?

Vor. Ay; e'en to it straight.
Nay, stop! why should all these be doom'd to death ?
Mine is the crime, not theirs.

Enter AURELIUS.

Aur. Villain and traitor! at thy word I take thee.

Vor. Ah! thy face the semblance of thy father's bears.
Thine eyes do pierce, more than thy steel-clad arm.
Were fifty souls within that body cas'd,
Proudly I'd scorn them all: but, ah! thy looks

Aur. Thou perjur'd wretch! thou most abhorred villain!

Vor. Prate on, prate on: 'tis true, I merit this.
But go not yet too far, lest, stripling boy,
You should, to indignation, fire my blood,
Which thou hast turn'd from out its wonted course,
And make it fall on thee.

Aur. Alike, I do defy thy rage and threat.
Where is my father?

Vor. Curse upon thee, thou grat'st my soul!
0! if around this tatter'd conscience, e'er
Did cling repentance, I now cast it off.

[They fight and pause.

Nay, stand aloof, and hear me yet awhile.

Aur. I will not.

Vor. 'Twere better that thou didst, lest, waxing warm,
I rise, and pour upon thy unform'd limbs
That rage, which 'gins to swell within my veins,
And lay a double murder on my soul.

Aur. Come on; come on, I say!

[They fight; Vortigem is thrown to the ground.

Now, tyrant! now, I have thee in my power.

Vor. Dost think I'll blanch my face, and be a coward ?
A lily coward ? No! strike, then!
Ne'er will I crave thy mercy.

Aur. Now, traitor! where's my father?

Vor. Murdered!

Aur. And by whom ?

Vor. Is not the crown thine own?

Aur. Ay; and is mine by right: then, speak, I say !

Vor. I will not, boy: hadst thou ten thousand voices,
And lungs of brass to give them utterance,
I'd not answer aught.

Aur. Then die!

FLAVIA rushes forward.

Fla. 0! stop, Aurelius! stay thy hand!
Remember, he is still my father!

Vor. My daughter, here! then curse the tardy blow,
That lingers thus performing of its office.
Strike, strike, I now beseech thee; for I'm sick,
And do abhor the very light of heaven.

Fla. 0, mercy! on my knees I sue for mercy.

Vor. 'Twas I, 'twas I! this hand thy father murder'd.

Aur. And say'st thou this, e'en to my very face?

Vor. Ay, to thy face, and in thy ears I'll ring it,
Till thou for mercy's sake shalt strike the blow.

Enter WORTIMERUS, CATAGRINUS, Soldiers, Lords, &c.

Wort. What! my father?

Aur. My Flavia, for thy sake, I grant him life.

Vor. In charity, then, I pray ye bear me hence I

Aur. Ay, lead him toward the Friars.

Vor. Yea, where ye list; but, take me from this sight.

[Vor is led out.

Aur. How speeds Edmunda ?

Wort. Her mind far better fares, yet is she feeble.

Aur. And of your father doth she e'er say aught ?

Wor. Yea, truly; but she haply thinks him dead.

Enter UTER.

Uter. Of all, the King hath truly made confession.
To you he justly renders up the crown,
And bade me hail you Albion's rightful King.

(All Kneel.)

All. Hail to Aurelius,
Lawful King of Britain.

PASCENTIUS enters.

Pas. to Aur. Vortigern on thee bestows our sister,
And bade me, in his name, present her hand:

Aur. Which thus I kiss; and, with the self-same breath,
Do hail her wife, and Britain's lovely Queen.

All. All hail to Flavia, Queen of Britain.

Aur. Much, we confess, we owe to all here present;
Each distinct service we shall well repay,
As best our dignity and state befit.
To-morrow, Lords, we'll meet at Westminster;
For your ripe ages and experience,
Must teach our young and giddy years the way,
To sow content after these dismal times. [Curtain drops.

" FOOL comes forward."

" Methinks, but now I heard some gentles say,
" Where's master Fool ? Ptroth, he's run away.
" Right! for look you, when there's danger near,
" He, then, most courage hath, who most doth fear;
" Besides, observe, I came not here to fight,
" Let him that dares, say nay. I'm in the right:
" I will not out and risk a knocking down,
" For though I like our king, I like my crown :
" Besides, there is a time for Fools to play;
" But, then, they must have nought, save good to say.
" Chance, you will ask if this be tragedy;
" We kill, indeed, but still 'tis comedy:
" For none save bad do fall, which draws no tear,
" Nor lets compassion sway your tender ear:
" Play! grant it, thenthe story ye have read,
" For 'tis well chronicled in Hollinshed.
" Now give your plaudits, and when that be done,
" Your Fool shall bow, and thank ye ev'ry one,"

FINIS.

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