Act 3, Scene I

Scene: Iberia. A Room in the Palace.

Enter ARBACES and GOBRIAS.

Arbaces.
My sister take it ill?
Gobrias.
Not very ill:
Something unkindly she does take it, sir,
To have her husband chosen to her hands.
Arbaces.
Why, Gobrias, let her: I must have her know,
My will, and not her own, must govern her.
What, will she marry with some slave at home?
Gobrias.
Oh, she is far from any stubbornness;
You much mistake her; and, no doubt, will like
Where you will have her. But, when you behold her,
You will be loth to part with such a jewel.
Arbaces.
To part with her? Why, Gobrias, art thou mad?
She is my sister.
Gobrias.
Sir, I know she is:
But it were a pity to make poor our land,
With such a beauty to enrich another.
Arbaces.
Pish! Will she have him?
Gobrias.
I do hope she will not.——
[Aside.

I think she will, Sir.
Arbaces.
Were she my father, and my mother too,
And all the names for which we think folks friends,
She should be forced to have him, when I know
'Tis fit. I will not hear her say, she's loth.
Gobrias.
Heaven, bring my purpose luckily to pass!
You know 'tis just.—She will not need constraint,
She loves you so.
Arbaces.
How does she love me? Speak.
Gobrias.
She loves you more than people love their health,
That live by labour; more than I could love
A man that died for me, if he could live
Again.
Arbaces.
She is not like her mother, then.
Gobrias.
Oh, no! When you were in Armenia,
I durst not let her know when you were hurt:
For at the first, on every little scratch,
She kept her chamber, wept, and could not eat,
Till you were well; and many times the news
Was so long coming, that, before we heard,
She was as near her death, as you your health.
Arbaces.
Alas, poor soul! But yet she must be ruled.
I know not how I shall requite her well.
I long to see her: Have you sent for her,
To tell her I am ready?
Gobrias.
Sir, I have.

Enter 1 Gentleman and TIGRANES.

1 Gentleman.
Sir, here is the Armenian king.
Arbaces.
He's welcome.
1 Gentleman.
And the queen-mother and the princess wait
Without.
Arbaces.
Good Gobrias, bring 'em in.—
[Exit Gobrias.

Tigranes, you will think you are arrived
In a strange land, where mothers cast to poison
Their only sons: Think you, You shall be safe?
Tigranes.
Too safe I am, sir.

Enter GOBRIAS, ARANES, PANTHEA, SPACONIA, BACURIUS, MARDONIUS, BESSUS, and two Gentlemen.

Arane.
[Kneels.] As low as this I bow to you; and would
As low as is my grave, to show a mind
Thankful for all your mercies.
Arbaces.
Oh, stand up,
And let me kneel! the light will be ashamed
To see observance done to me by you.
Arane.
You are my king.
Arbaces.
You are my mother. Rise!
As far be all your faults from your own soul,
As from my memory; then you shall be
As white as Innocence herself.
Arane.
I came
Only to show my duty and acknowledge
My sorrows for my sins: Lonoer to stay
Were but to draw eyes more attentively
Upon my shame. That power, that kept vou safe
From me, preserve you still!
Arbaces.
Your own desires
Shall be your guide.
[Exit Arane.
Panthea.
Now let me die!
Since I have seen my lord the king return
In safety, I have seen all good that life
Can show me. I have ne'er another wish
For Heaven to grant; nor were it fit I should;
For I am bound to spend my age to come,
In giving thanks that this was granted me.
Gobrias.
Why does not your majesty speak?
Arbaces.
To whom?
Gobrias.
To the princess.
Panthea.
Alas, sir, I am fearful! You do look
On me, as if I were some loathed thing,
That you were finding out a way to shun.
Gobrias.
Sir, you should speak to her.
Arbaces.
Ha?
Panthea.
I know I am unworthy, yet not ill.
Arm'd with which innocence, here I will kneel
Till I am one with earth, but I will gain
Some words and kindness from you.
[Kneels.
Tigranes.
Will you speak, sir?
Arbaces.
Speak! am I what I was?
What art thou, that dost creep into my breast,
And dar'st not see my face? Show forth thyself.
I feel a pair of fiery wings display'd
Hither, from thence. You shall not tarry there!
Up, and begone; if you be'st love, be gone!
Or I will tear thee from my wounded breast,
Pull thy lov'd down away, and with a quill,
By this right arm drawn from thy wanton wing,
Write to thy laughing mother in thy blood,
That you are powers belied, and all your darts
Are to be blown away, by men resolved,
Like dust. I know thou fear'st my words; away!
Tigranes.
Oh, misery; why should he be so slow?
[Apart.
There can no falsehood come of loving her.
Though I have given my faith, she is a thing
Both to be loved and served beyond my faith.
I would, he would present me to her quickly.
Panthea.
Will you not speak at all? Are you so far
From kind words? Yet, to save my modesty,
That must talk till you answer, do not stand
As you were dumb; say something, though it be
Poison'd with anger that it may strike me dead.
Mardonius.
Have you no life at all? For manhood sake,
Let her not kneel, and talk neglected thus.
A tree would find a tongue to answer her,
Did she but give it such a lov'd respect.
Arbaces.
You mean this lady. Lift her from the earth:
Why do you let her kneel so long?—Alas!
Madam, your beauty uses to command,
And not to beg. What is your suit to me?
It shall be granted; yet the time is short,
And my affairs are great. But where's my sister?
I bade, she should be brought.
Mardonius.
What, is he mad?
Arbaces.
Gobrias, where is she?
Gobrias.
Sir!
Arbaces.
Where is she, man?
Gobrias.
Who, sir?
Arbaces.
Who? hast thou forgot my sister?
Gobrias.
Your sister, sir?
Arbaces.
Your sister, sir! Some one that hath a wit,
Answer, where is she?
Gobrias.
Do you not see her there?
Arbaces.
Where?
Gobrias.
There.
Arbaces.
There? where ?
Mardonius.
'Slight, there! are you blind?
Arbaces.
Which do you mean? That little one?
Gobrias.
No, sir.
Arbaces.
No, sir? Why, do you mock me? I can see
No other here, but that petitioning lady.
Gobrias.
That's she.
Arbaces.
Away!
Gobrias.
Sir, it is she.
Arbaces.
'Tis false.
Gobrias.
Is it?
Arbaces.
As hell! By heaven, as false as hell!
My sister!—Is she dead? If it be so,
Speak boldly to me, for I am a man,
And dare not quarrel with Divinity;
And do not think to cozen me with this.
I see, you all are mute and stand amazed,
Fearful to answer me. It is too true;
A decreed instant cuts off every life,
For which to mourn is to repine. She died
A virgin though, more innocent than sleep,
As clear as her own eyes; and blessedness
Eternal waits upon her where she is.
I know she could not make a wish to change
Her state for new; and you shall see me bear
My crosses like a man. We all must die,
And she has taught us how.
Gobrias.
Do not mistake,
And vex yourself for nothing; for her death
Is a long life off yet, I hope. 'Tis she;
And if my speech deserve not faith, lay death
Upon me, and my latest words shall force
A credit from you.
Arbaces.
Which, good Gobrias?
That lady, dost thou mean?
Gobrias.
That lady, sir:
She is your sister; and she is your sister
That loves you so; 'tis she for whom I weep,
To see you use her thus.
Arbaces.
It cannot be.
Tigranes.
Pish! this is tedious:
[Apart.

I cannot hold; I must present myself.
And yet the sight of my Spaconia
Touches me, as a sudden thunder clap
Does one that is about to sin.
Arbaces.
Away!
No more of this! Here I pronounce him traitor,
The direct plotter of my death, that names
Or thinks her for my sister: 'Tis a lie,
The most malicious of the world, invented
To mad your king. He that will say so next,
Let him draw out his sword and sheathe it here;
It is a sin fully as pardonable.
She is no kin to me, nor shall she be:
If she were ever, I create her none.
And which of you can question this? My power
Is like the sea, that is to be obey'd,
And not disputed with. I have decreed her
As far from having part of blood with me,
As the naked Indians. Come and answer me,
He that is boldest now: Is that my sister?
Mardonius.
Oh, this is fine!
Bessus.
No, marry, she is not, an't please your majesty.
I never thought she was; she's nothing like you.
Arbaces.
No; 'tis true, she is not.
Mardonius.
Thou shouldst be hang'd.
[To Bessus.
Panthea.
Sir, I will speak but once: By the same power
You make my blood a stranger unto yours,
You may command me dead and so much love
A stranger may importune; pray you, do.
If this request appear too much to grant,
Adopt me of some other family,
By your unquestioned word; else I shall live
Like sinful issues, that are left in streets
By their regardless mothers, and no name
Will be found for me.
Arbaces.
I will hear no more.—
Why should there be such music in a voice,
And sin for me to hear it? All the world
May take delight in this; and 'tis damnation
For me to do so.—You are fair, and wise,
And virtuous, I think; and he is blessed
That is so near you as a brother is;
But you are naught to me but a disease;
Continual torment without hope of ease.
Such an ungodly sickness I have got,
That he, that undertakes my cure, must first
O'erthrow divinity, all moral laws,
And leave mankind as unconfin'd as beasts;
Allowing 'em to do all actions,
As freely as they drink when they desire.
Let me not hear you' speak again; yet so
I shall but languish for the want of that,
The having which would kill me.—No man here
Offer to speak for her for I consider
As much as you can say I will not toil
My body and my mind too; rest thou there;
Here's one within will labour for you both.
Panthea.
I would I were past speaking.
Gobrias.
Fear not, madam;
The king will alter: 'Tis some sudden raoe,
And you shall see it end some other way.
Panthea.
Pray Heaven it do!
Tigranes.
[Aside.] Though she to whom I swore be here, I cannot
Stifle my passion longer; if my father
Should rise again, disquieted with this,
And charge me to forbear, yet it would out—
[Comes forward.
Madam, a stranger, and a prisoner begs
To be bid welcome.
Panthea.
You are welcome, sir,
I think; but if you be not, 'tis past me
To make you so; for I am here a stranger
Greater than you: We know from whence vou come;
But I appear a lost thing, and by whom
Is yet uncertain; found here i' the court,
And only suffer'd to walk up and down,
As one not worth the owning.
Spaconia.
Oh, I fear
Tigranes will be caught; he looks, methinks,
As he would change his eyes with her. Some help
There is above for me, I hope!
Tigranes.
Why do you turn away, and weep so fast,
And utter things that misbecome your looks?
Can you want owning?
Spaconia.
Oh, 'tis certain so.
Tigranes.
Acknowledge yourself mine.
Arbaces.
How now?
Tigranes.
And then
See if you want an owner.
Arbaces.
They are talking!
Tigranes.
Nations shall own you for their queen.
Arbaces.
Tigranes! art not thou my prisoner?
Tigranes.
I am.
Arbaces.
And who is this?
Tigranes.
She is your sister.
Arbaces.
She is so.
Mardonius.
Is she so again? that's well.
Arbaces.
And how, then, dare you offer to change words with her?
Tigranes.
Dare do it? Why, you brought me hither, sir,
To that intent.
Arbaces.
Perhaps, I told you so:
If I had sworn it, had you so much follv
To credit it? The least word that she speaks
Is worth a life. Rule your disordered tongue,
Or I will temper it!
Spaconia.
Blest be that breath!
Tigranes.
Temper my tongue! Such incivilities
As these no barbarous people ever knew:
You break the laws of nature, and of nations;
You talk to me as if I were a prisoner
For theft. My tongue be temper'd! I must speak,
If thunder check me, and I will.
Arbaces.
You will?
Spaconia.
Alas, my fortune!
Tigranes.
Do not fear his frown.
Dear madam, hear me.
Arbaces.
Fear not my frown? But that 'twere base in me
To fight with one I know I can o'ercome,
Again thou shouldst be conquered by me.
Mardonius.
He has one ransom with him already; methinks, 'twere good to fight double or quit.
Arbaces.
Away with him to prison!—Now, sir, see
If my frown be regardless.—Why delay you?
Seize him, Bacurius!—You shall know my word
Sweeps like a wind; and all it grapples with
Are as the chaff before it.
Tigranes.
Touch me not.
Arbaces.
Help there!
Tigranes.
Away!
1 Gentleman.
It is in vain to struggle.
2 Gentleman.
You must be forced.
Bacurius.
Sir, you must pardon us;
We must obey.
Arbaces.
Why do you dally there?
Drag him away by anything.
Bacurius.
Come, sir.
Tigranes.
Justice, thou ought'st to give me strength enough
To shake all these off.—This is tyranny,
Arbaces, subtler than the burning bull's,
Or that famed tyrant's bed. Thou might'st as well
Search i' the deep of winter through the snow
For half-starved people, to bring home with thee
To show 'em fire and send 'em back again,
As use me thus.
Arbaces.
Let him be close, Bacurius.
[Exit Tigranes, led off by Bacurius and Gentlemen.
Spaconia.
I ne'er rejoiced at any ill to him,
But this imprisonment: What shall become
Of me forsaken?
Gobrias.
You will not let your sister
Depart thus discontented from you, sir?
Arbaces.
By no means, Gobrias: I have done her wrong,
And made myself believe much of myself,
That is not in me.—You did kneel to me,
Whilst I stood stubborn and regardless by,
And, like a god incensed, gave no ear
To all your prayers. [Kneels.] Behold, I kneel to you:
S'how a contempt as large as was my own,
And I will suffer it; yet, at the last,
Forgive me.
Panthea.
Oh, you wrong me more in this
Than in your rage you did: You mock me now.
Arbaces.
Never forgive me, then; which is the worst
Can happen to me.
Panthea.
If you be in earnest,
Stand up, and give me but a gentle look,
And two kind words, and I shall be in Heaven.
Arbaces.
Rise you then too: Here I acknowledge thee,
My hope, the only jewel of my life,
The best of sisters, dearer than my breath,
A happiness as high as I could think;
And when my actions call thee otherwise,
Perdition light upon me!
Panthea.
This is better
Than if you had not frowned; it comes to me
Like mercy at the block; And when I leave
To serve you with my life, your curse be with me.
Arbaces.
Then thus I do salute thee; and again,
To make this knot the stronger. Paradise
Is there! It may be, you are yet in doubt;
This third kiss blots it out.—I wade in sin,
[Aside.

And foolishly entice myself along!—
Take her away; see her a prisoner
In her own chamber, closely, Gobrias!
Panthea.
Alas, sir, why?
Arbaces.
I must not stay the answer. Do it.
Gobrias.
Good sir!
Arbaces.
No more! Do it, I say!
Mardonius.
This is better and better.
Panthea.
Yet, hear me speak.
Arbaces.
I will not hear you speak.—
Away with her! Let no man think to speak
For such a creature; for she is a witch,
A poisoner, and a traitor!
Gobrias.
Madam, this office grieves me.
Panthea.
Nay, 'tis well;
The king is pleased with it.
Arbaces.
Bessus, go you along too with her. I will prove
All this that I have said, if I may live
So long. But I am desperately sick;
For she has given me poison in a kiss:
She had it 'twixt her lips; and with her eyes
She witches people. Go, without a word!
[Exeunt Gobrias, Panthea, Bessus, and Spaconia.

Why should You, that have made me stand in war
Like Fate itself, cutting what threads I pleased,
Decree such an unworthy end of me,
And all my glories? What am I, alas,
That you oppose me! If my secret thoughts
Have ever harboured swellings against you,
They could not hurt you; and it is in you
To give me sorrow, that will render me
Apt to receive your mercy: Rather so,
Let it be rather so, than punish me
With such unmanly sins. Incest is in me
Dwelling already; and it must be holy,
That pulls it thence.—Where art, Mardonius!
Mardonius.
Here, sir.
Arbaces.
I pray thee, bear me, if thou canst.
Am I not grown a strange weight?
Mardonius.
As you were.
Arbaces.
No heavier?
Mardonius.
No. sir.
Arbaces.
Why, my legs
Refuse to bear my body! Oh, Mardonius,
Thou hast in field beheld me, when thou know'st
I could have gone, though I could never run.
Mardonius.
And so I shall again.
Arbaces.
Oh, no, tis past.
Mardonius.
Pray you, go rest yourself.
Arbaces.
Wilt thou, hereafter, when they talk of me,
As thou shalt hear nothing but infamy,
Remember some of those things?
Mardonius.
Yes, I will.
Arbaces.
I pray thee, do; for thou shalt never see
Me so again.
[Exeunt.