Act 4, Scene III

Scene: A Room in the House of Bessus.

Enter BESSUS, two Swordmen, and a Boy.

Bessus.
You're very welcome, both! Some stools there, boy
And reach a table. Gentlemen o' th' sword,
Pray sit, without more compliment. Begone, child!
I have been curious in the searching of you,
Because I understand you wise and variant persons.
1 Swordman.
We understand ourselves, sir.
Bessus.
Nay, gentlemen, and dear friends o' the sword,
No compliment, I pray; but to the cause
I hang upon, which, in few, is my honour.
2 Swordman.
You cannot hang too much, sir, for your honour.
But to your cause.
Bessus.
Be wise, and speak truth.
My first doubt is, my beating bv my prince.
1 Swordman.
Stay there a little, sir; Do you doubt a beating
Or, have you had a beating by your prince?
Bessus.
Gentlemen o' th' sword, my prince has beaten me.
2 Swordman.
Brother, what think you of this case?
1 Swordman.
If he has beaten him, the case is clear.
2 Swordman.
If he have beaten him, I grant the case.
But how? we cannot be too subtle in this business.
I say, but how?
Bessus.
Even with his royal hand.
1 Swordman.
Was it a blow of love, or indignation?
Bessus.
'Twas twenty blows of indignation, gentlemen;
Besides two blows o' th' face.
2 Swordman.
Those blows o' th' face have made a new cause on't;
The rest were but an honourable rudeness.
1 Swordman.
Two blows o' th' face, and given by a worse man
I must confess, as the swordmen say, had turn'd
The business: Mark me, brother, by a worse man:
But, being by his prince, had they been ten,
And those ten drawn ten teeth, besides the hazard
Of his nose for ever. all this had been but favours.
This is my flat opinion, which I'll die in.
2 Swordman.
The king may do much, captain, believe it;
For had he crack'd your skull through, like a bottle.,
Or broke a rib or two with tossing of you,
Yet you had lost'no honour. This is strange,
You may imagine, but this is truth now, captain.
Bessus.
I will be glad to embrace it, gentlemen.
But how far may he strike me?
1 Swordman.
There's another;
A new cause rising from the time and distance.,
In which I will deliver my opinion.
He may strike, beat, or cause to be beaten;
For these are natural to man:
Your prince, I say, may beat you so far forth
As his dominion reaches; tha't's for the distance;
The time, ten miles a-day, I take it.
2 Swordman.
Brother, you err, 'tis fifteen miles a-day;
His stage is ten, his beatings are fifteen.
Bessus.
'Tis of the longest, but we subjects must——
1 Swordman.
Be subject to it: You are wise and virtuous.
Bessus.
Obedience ever makes that noble use on't,
To which I dedicate my beaten body.
I must trouble you a little further, gentlemen o' th' sword.
2 Swordman.
No trouble at all to us , sir, if we may
Profit your understanding: We are bo'und,
By virtue of our calling, to utter our opinion
Shortly, and discretely.
Bessus.
Mv sorest business is, I have been kick'd.
2 Swordman.
How far 'sir ?
Bessus.
Not to flatter myself in it, all over:
My sword lost, but not forced; for discretely
I render'd, it, to save that imputation.
1 Swordman.
It show'd discretion, the best part of valour.
2 Swordman.
Brother this is a pretty cause; pray ponder on't:
Our friend here has been kick'd.
1 Swordman.
He has so, brother.
2 Swordman.
Sorely, he says. Now, had he set down here,
Upon the mere kick, 't had been cowardly.
1 Swordman.
I think, it had been cowardly, indeed.
2 Swordman.
But our friend has redeem'd it, in delivering
His sword without compulsion; and that man
That took it of him, I pronounce a weak one,
And his kicks nullifies.
He should have kick'd him after the delivering,
Which is the confirmation of a coward.
1 Swordman.
Brother, I take it you mistake the question;
For, say, that I were kick'd.
2 Swordman.
I must not say so
Nor I must not hear it spoke by th' tongue of man.
You kick'd, dear brother! You are merry.
1 Swordman.
But put the case, I were kick'd.
2 Swordman.
Let them put it,
That are things weary of their lives, and know
Not honour! Put the case, you were kick'd!
1 Swordman.
I do not say I was kick'd.
2 Swordman.
Nor no sllly creature that wears his head
Without a case, his soul in a skin-coat.
You kick'd, dear brother!
Bessus.
Nay, gentlemen, let us do what we shall do,
Truly and honestly. Good sirs, to the question.
1 Swordman.
Why, then, I say, suppose your boy kick'd, captain.
2 Swordman.
The boy, mav be supposed, is liable.
But, kick my brother!
1 Swordman.
A foolish forward zeal, sir, in my friend.
But to the boy: Suppose, the boy were kick'd.
Bessus.
I do suppose it.
1 Swordman.
Has your boy a sword?
Bessus.
Surely, no; I pray, suppose a sword too.
1 Swordman.
I do suppose it. You grant, your boy was kick'd then.
2 Swordman.
By no means, captain; let it be supposed still;
The word "grant" makes not for us.
1 Swordman.
I say, this must be granted.
2 Swordman.
This must be granted, brother?
1 Swordman.
Ay. this must be franted.
2 Swordman.
Still, this must?
1 Swordman.
I say, this must be granted.
2 Swordman.
Ay! give me the must again! Brother, you palter.
1 Swordman.
I will not hear you, wasp.
2 Swordman.
Brother,
I say you palter; the must three times together!
I wear as sharp steel as another man,
And my fox bites as deep. Musted, my dear brother!
But to the cause again.
Bessus.
Nay, look you, gentlemen!
2 Swordman.
In a word, I ha' done.
1 Swordman.
A tall man, but intemperate; 'tis great pity.
Once more, suppose the boy kick'd.
2 Swordman.
Forward.
1 Swordman.
And, being thoroughly kick'd, laughs at the kicker.
2 Swordman.
So much for us. Proceed.
1 Swordman.
And in this beaten scorn, as I may call it,
Delivers up his weapon; where lies the error?
Bessus.
It lies i' the beating, sir: I found it four days since.
2 Swordman.
The error, and a sore one, as I take it,
Lies in the thing kicking.
Bessus.
I understand that well; 'tis sore indeed, sir.
1 Swordman.
That is according to the man that did it.
2 Swordman.
There springs a new branch: Whose was the foot?
Bessus.
A lord's.
1 Swordman.
The cause is mighty; but, had it been two lords,
And both had kick'd you, if you laugh'd, tis clear.
Bessus.
I did laugh; but how will that help me, gentlemen?
2 Swordman.
Yes, it shall help you, if you laugh'd aloud.
Bessus.
As loud as a kick'd man could laugh, I laugh'd, sir.
1 Swordman.
My reason now: The valiant man is known
By suffering and contemning; you have
Enough of both, and you are valiant.
2 Swordman.
If he be sure he has been kick'd enough:
For that brave sufferance you speak of, brother,
Consists not in a beating and away,
But in a cudgell'd body, from eighteen
To eight and thirty; in a head rebuked
With pots of all size, daggers, stools, and bedstaves:
This shows a valiant man.
Bessus.
Then I am valiant, as valiant as the proudest;
For these are all familiar things to me;
Familiar as my sleep' or want of money;
All my whole body's but one bruise, with beating.
I think I have been cudgell'd with all nations,
And almost all religions.
2 Swordman.
Embrace him, brother! this man is valiant;
I know it by myself, he's valiant.
1 Swordman.
Captain, thou art a valiant gentleman,
To bide upon, a very valiant man.
Bessus.
Mv equal friends o' th' sword, I must request
Your hands to this.
2 Swordman.
'Tis fit it should be.
Bessus.
Boy,
Get me some wine, and pen and ink, within.—
Am I clear, gentlemen?
1 Swordman.
Sir, when the world has taken notice what we have done,
Make much of your body; for I'll pawn my steel,
Men will be coyer of their legs hereafter.
Bessus.
I must request you go along, and testify
To the lord Bacurius, whose foot has struck me,
How you find my cause.
2 Swordman.
We will; and tell that lord he must be ruled;
Or there be those abroad, will rule his lordship.
[Exeunt.