Act 2, Scene I

Scene: The Capital of Iberia. An Apartment in the Palace.

Enter GOBRIAS, BACURIUS, ARANE, PANTHEA, and MENDANE, Waiting-women and Attendants.

Gobrias.
My Lord Bacurius, you must have regard
Unto the queen she is your prisoner;
'Tis at your peril, if she make escape.
Bacurias.
My Lord, I know't; she is my prisoner,
From you committed: Yet she is a woman;
And, so I keep her safe, you will not urge me
To keep her close. I shall not shame to say,
I sorrow for her.
Gobrias.
So do I, my lord:
I sorrow for her, that so little grace
Doth govern her, that she should stretch her arm
Against her king; so little womanhood
And natural goodness, as to think the death
Of her own son.
Arane.
Thou know'st the reason why,
Dissembling as thou art, and wilt not speak.
Gobrias.
There is a lady takes not after you;
Her father is within her; that good man,
Whose tears paid down his sins. Mark, how she weeps;
How well it does become her! And if you
Can find no disposition In yourself
To sorrow, yet, by gracefulness in her,
Find out the way, and by your reason weep.
All this she does for you, and more she needs,
When for yourself you will not lose a tear.
Think, how this want of grief discredits you;
And you will weep, because you cannot weep.
Arane.
You talk to me, as having got a time
Fit for your purpose; but you know, I know
You speak not what you think.
Panthea.
I would my heart
Were stone, before my softness should be urged
Against my mother! A more troubled thought
No virgin bears about her! Should I excuse
My mother's fault, I should set light a life,
In losing which a brother and a king
Were taken from me: If I seek to save
That life so loved, I lose another life,
That gave me being; I should lose a mother;
A word of such a sound in a child's ear,
That it strikes reverence through it. May the will
Of Heaven be done, and if one needs must fall,
Take a poor virgin's life to answer all!
Arane.
But, Gobrias, let us talk. You know, this fault
Is not in me as in another woman.
[They walk apart.
Gobrias.
I know it is not.
Arane.
Yet you make it so.
Gobrias.
Why, is not all that's past beyond your help?
Arane.
I know it is.
Gobrias.
Nay, should you publish it
Before the world, think you 'twould be believed?
Arane.
I know, it would not.
Gobrias.
Nay, should I join with you,
Should we not both be torn, and yet both die
Uncredited ?
Arane.
I think we should.
Gobrias.
Why, then,
Take you such violent courses? As for me,
I do but right in saving of the king
From all your plots.
Arane.
The king!
Gobrias.
I bade you rest
With patience, and a time would come for me
To reconcile all to your own content:
But, by this way, you take away my power.
And what was done, unknown, was not by me,
But you; your urging. Being done,
I must preserve mine own; but time may bring
All this to light, and happily for all.
Arane.
Accursed be this over-curious brain,
That gave that plot a birth! Accurs'd this womb,
That after did conceive, to my disgrace!
Bacurias.
My lord-protector, they say, there are divers letters come from Armenia, that Bessus has done good service, and brought again a day by his particular valour: Received you any to that effect?
Gobrias.
Yes; 'tis most certain.
Bacurias.
I'm sorry for't; not that the day was won, but that 'twas won by him. We held him here a coward: He did me wrong once, at which I laughed, and so did all the world; for nor I, nor any other, held him worth my sword.

Enter BESSUS and SPACONIA.

Bessus.
Health to my lord-protector? From the king these letters; and to your grace, madam, these.
Gobrias.
How does his majesty?
Bessus.
As well as conquest, by his own means and his valiant commanders, can make him: Your letters will tell you all.
Panthea.
I will not open mine, till I do know
My brother's health: Good captain, is he well?
Bessus.
As the rest of us that fought are.
Panthea.
But how's that? is he hurt?
Bessus.
He's a strange soldier that gets not a knock.
Panthea.
I do not ask how strange that soldier is
That gets no hurt, but whether he have one.
Bessus.
He had divers.
Panthea.
And is he well again?
Bessus.
Well again, an't please your grace? Why, I was run twice through the body, and shot i' th' head with a cross arrow, and yet am well again.
Panthea.
I do not care how thou do'st: is he well?
Bessus.
Not care how I do? Let a man, out of the mightiness of his spirit, fructify foreign countries with his blood, for the good of his own, and thus he shall be answered. Why, I may live to relieve, with spear and shield, such a lady distressed.
Panthea.
Why, I will care: I'm glad that thou art well;
I pr'ythee, is he so?
Gobrias.
The king is well, and will be here to-morrow.
Panthea.
My prayer is heard. Now will I open mine.
[Reads.
Gobrias.
Bacurius, I must ease you of your charge.—
Madam, the wonted mercy of the king,
That overtakes your faults, has met with this,
And struck it out; he has forgiven you freely.
Your own will is your law; be where you please.
Arane.
I thank him.
Gobrias.
You will be ready
To wait upon his majesty to-morrow?
Arane.
I will.
Bacurias.
Madam, be wise, hereafter. I am glad
I have lost this office.
[Exit Arane.
Gobrias.
Good captain Bessus, tell us the discourse
Betwixt Tigranes and our king, and bow
We got the victory.
Panthea.
I pr'ythee do;
And if my brother were in any danger,
Let not thy tale make him abide there long,
Before thou bring him off; for all that while
My heart will beat.
Bessus.
Madam, let what will beat 'I must tell truth, and thus
it was: They fought single in lists, but one to one.
As for my own part, I was dangerously hurt but three
days before: else, perhaps, we had been two to two;
I cannot tell, some thought we had. And the occasion
of my hurt was this: the enemy had made trenches——
Gobrias.
Captain, without the manner of your hurt
Be much material to this business,
We'll hear't some other time.
Panthea.
I pr'ythee, leave it, and go on with my brother.
Bessus.
I will; but 'twould be worth your hearing. To the lists they came, and single sword and gauntlet was their fight.
Panthea.
Alas!
Bessus.
Without the lists there stood some dozen captains of either side mingled, all which were sworn, and one of those was I; And 'twas my chance to stand next a captain of the enemies' side, call'd Tiribasus; valiant, they said, he was. Whilst these two kings were stretching themselves, this Tiribasus cast something a scornful look on me, and ask'd me, whom I thought would overcome? I smiled, and told him, if he would fight with me, he should perceive by the event of that whose king would win. Something he answer'd, and a scuffle was like to grow, when one Zipetus offered to help him: I——
Panthea.
All this of is thyself: I pr'ythee, Bessus,
Tell something of my brother; did he nothing?
Bessus.
Why, yes; I'll tell vour grace. They, were not to fight till the word given; which for my own part, by my troth, I was not to give.
Panthea.
See, for his own part!
Bacurias.
I fear, yet, this fellow's abused with a good report.
Bessus.
Ay, but I——
Panthea.
Still of himself!
Bessus.
Cried, "Give the word;" when, as some of them say, Tigranes was stooping; but the word was not given then: yet one Cosroes, of the enemies' part, held up his finger to me, which is as much with us martialists, as, "I will fight with you:" I said not a word, nor made sign during the combat; but that once done——
Panthea.
He slips over all the fight.
Bessus.
I call'd him to me; "Cosroes," said I——
Panthea.
I will hear no more.
Bessus.
No, no, I lie.
Bessus.
I dare be sworn thou dost.
Bessus.
"Captain," said I; so 'twas.
Panthea.
I tell thee, I will hear no further.
Bessus.
No? Your grace will wish you had.
Panthea.
I will not wish it. What, is this the lady
My brother writes to me to take?
Bessus.
An't please your grace this is she.—Charge, will you come near the princess?
Panthea.
You are welcome from your country and this land
Shall show unto you all the kindnesses
That I can make it. What's your name?
Spaconia.
Thalestris.
Panthea.
You're very welcome: You have got a letter
To put you to me, that has power enough
To place mine enemy here; then much more you,
That are so far from being so to me,
That you ne'er saw me.
Bessus.
Madam, I dare pass my word for her truth.
Spaconia.
My truth?
Panthea.
Why, captain, do you think I am afraid she'll steal?
Bessus.
I cannot tell; servants are slippery; but I dare give my word for her, and for honesty: she came along with me, and many favours she did me by the way; but, bv this light, none but what she might do with modesty, to a man of my rank.
Panthea.
Why, captain, here's nobody thinks otherwise.
Bessus.
Nay, if you should, your grace may think your pleasure; but I am sure I brought her from Armenia, and in all that way, if ever I touched any bare of her above her knee, I pray God I may sink where I stand.
Spaconia.
Above my knee?
Bessus.
No, you know I did not; and if any man will say I did, this sword shall answer. Nay' I'll defend the reputation of my charge whilst I live. Your grace shall understand, I am secret in these businesses, and know how to defend a lady's honour.
Spaconia.
I hope your grace knows him so well already, I shall not need to tell you he's vain and foolish.
Bessus.
Ay, you may call me what you please, but I'll defend your good name against the world. And so I take my leave of your grace, and of you, my lord-protector.— I am likewise glad to see your lordship well.
Bacurias.
Oh, captain Bessus, I thank you. I would speak with you anon.
Bessus.
When you please I will attend your lordship.
[Exit Bessus.
Bacurias.
Madam I'll take my leave too.
Panthea.
Good Bacurius!
[Exit Bacurius.
Gobrias.
Madam, what writes his majesty to you
Panthea.
Oh, my lord,
The kindest words! I'll keep 'em while I live,
Here in my bosom; there's no art in 'em;
They lie disordered in this paper, just
As hearty nature speaks 'em.
Gobrias.
And to me
He writes, what tears of joy he shed, to hear
How you were grown in every virtuous way:
And yields all thanks to me, for that dear care
Which I was bound to have in training you.
There is no princess living that enjoys
A brother of that worth.
Panthea.
My lord, no maid
Longs more for anything, and feels more heat
And cold within her breast, than I do now,
In hope to see him.
Gobrias.
Yet I wonder much
At this: He writes, he brings along with him
A husband for you, that same captive prince;
And if he love you, as he makes a show,
He will allow you freedom in your choice.
Panthea.
And so he will, my lord, I warrant you;
He will but offer, and give me the power
To take or leave.
Gobrias.
Trust me, were I a lady,
I could not like that man were bargain'd with,
Before I chose him.
Panthea.
But I am not built
On such wild humours; if I find him worthy,
He is not less because he's offered.
Spaconia.
'Tis true he is not; 'would, he would seem less!
[Apart.
Gobrias.
I think there is no lady can affect
Another prince, your brother standing by;
He doth eclipse men's virtues so with his.
Spaconia.
I know a lady may, and, more I fear,
Another lady will.
[Apart.
Panthea.
'Would I might see him!
Gobrias.
Why so you shall. My businesses are great:
I will attend you when it is his pleasure
To see you, madam.
Panthea.
I thank you, good my lord.
Gobrias.
You will be ready, madam?
Panthea.
Yes.
[Exit Gobrias.
Spaconia.
I do beseech you, madam, send away
Your other women, and receive from me
A few sad words, which, set against your joys,
May make 'em shine the more.
Panthea.
Sirs, leave me all.
[Exeunt Women.
Spaconia.
I kneel a stranger here, to beg a thing
[Kneels.
Unfit for me to ask, and you to grant.
'Tis such another strange ill-laid request,
As if a beggar should entreat a king
To leave his sceptre and his throne to him
And take his rags to wander o'er the world,
Hungry and cold.
Panthea.
That were a strange request.
Spaconia.
As ill is mine.
Panthea.
Then do not utter it.
Spaconia.
Alas, tis of that nature, that it must
Be utter'd, ay, and granted, or I die!
I am ashamed to speak it; but where life
Lies at the stake, I cannot think her woman,
That will not talk something unreasonably
To hazard saving of it. I shall seem
A strange petitioner, that wish all ill
To them I beg of, ere they give me aught;
Yet so I must: I would you were not fair,
Nor wise, for in your ill consists my good:
If you were foolish, you would hear my prayer;
If foul, you had not power to hinder me;
He would not love you.
Panthea.
What's the meaning of it?
Spaconia.
Nay, my request is more without the bounds
Of reason yet: for 'tis not in the power
Of you to do, what I would have you grant.
Panthea.
Why, then, 'tis idle. Pr'ythee speak it out.
Spaconia.
Your brother brings a prince into this land,
Of such a noble shape, so sweet a grace,
So full of worth withal, that every maid
That looks upon him gives away herself
To him for ever; and for you to have
He brings him: And so mad is my demand,
That I desire you not to have this man,
This excellent man; for whom you needs must die,
If you should miss him. I do now expect
You should laugh at me.
Panthea.
Trust me, I could weep
Rather; for I have found in all thy words
A strange disjointed sorrow.
Spaconia.
'Tis by me
His own desire so, that you would not love him.
Panthea.
His own desire! Why, credit me, Thalestris,
I am no common wooer: If he shall woo me,
His worth may be such, that I dare not swear
I will not love him; but if he will stay
To have me woo him, I will promise thee
He may keep all his graces to himself,
And fear no ravishing from me.
Spaconia.
'Tis yet
His own desire; but when he sees your face,
I fear, it will not be: therefore I charge you,
As you have pity, stop those tender ears
From his enchanting voice; close up those eyes:
That you may neither catch a dart from him,
Nor he from you. I charge you, as you hope
To live in quiet; for when I am dead,
For certain I shall walk to visit him,
If he break promise with me. For as fast
As oaths, without a formal ceremony,
Can make me, I am to him.
Panthea.
Then be fearless;
For if he were a thing 'twixt God and man,
I could gaze on him (if I knew it sin
To love him) without passion. Dry your eyes:
I swear, you shall enjoy him still for me
I will not hinder you. But I perceive,
You are not what you seem: Rise, rise, Thalestris,
If your right name be so.
Spaconia.
Indeed, it is not:
Spaconia is my name; but I desire
Not to be known to others.
Panthea.
Why, by me
You shall not; I will never do you wrong;
What good I can, I will: Think not my birth
Or education such, that I should injure
A stranger virgin. You are welcome hither.
In company you wish to be commanded:
But, when we are alone, I shall be ready
To be your servant.
[Exeunt.