Act 5, Scene I

Scene: Before the Palace.

Enter MARDONIUS and LYGONES.

Mardonius.
Sir, the king has seen your commission, and believes it; and freely by this warrant gives you power to visit prince Tigranes, your noble master.
Lygones.
I thank his grace, and kiss his hand.
Mardonius.
But is the main of all your business ended in this?
Lygones.
I have another, but a worse; I am ashamed! It is a business——
Mardonius.
You serve a worthy person; and a stranger, I am sure you are: You may employ me, if you please, without your purse; such offices should ever be their own rewards.
Lygones.
I am bound to your nobleness.
Mardonius.
I may have need of you, and then this courtesy,
If it be any, is not ill bestow'd.
But may I civilly desire the rest?
I shall not be a hurter, if no helper.
Lygones.
Sir, you shall know: I have lost a foolish daughter
And with her all my patience: pilfer'd away
By a mean captain of your king's.
Mardonius.
Stay there, sir:
If he have reach'd the noble worth of captain,
He may well claim a worthy gentlewoman
Though she were yours, and noble.
Lygones.
I grant all that too: But this wretched fellow
Reaches no further than the empty name,
That serves to feed him. Were he valiant,
Or had but in him any noble nature,
That might hereafter promise him a good man,
My cares were so much lighter, and my grave
A span yet from me.
Mardonius.
I confess, such fellows
Be in all royal camps, and have and must be,
To make the sin of coward more detested
In the mean soldier, that with such a foil
Sets off much valour. By description,
I should now guess him to you; it was Bessus,
I dare almost with confidence pronounce it.
Lygones.
'Tis such a scurvy name as Bessus;
And, now I think, 'tis he.
Mardonius.
Captain do you call him?
Believe me, sir, you have a misery
Too mighty for your age: A pox upon him!
For that must be an end of all his service.
Your daughter was not mad, sir?
Lygones.
No; 'would she had been!
The fault had had more credit. I would do something.
Mardonius.
I would fain counsel you; but to what I know not.
He's so below a beating, that the women
Find him not worthy of their distaves, and
To hang him were to cast away a rope.
He's such an airy, thin, unbodied coward,
That no revenge can catch him.
I'll tell you, sir, and tell you truth; this rascal
Fears neither God nor man; has been so beaten,
Sufferance has made him wainscot; he has had,
Since he was first a slave.
At least three hundred daggers set in's head,
As little boys do new knives in hot meat.
There's not a rib in's body, o' my conscience,
That has not been thrice broken with dry beating!
And now his sides look like two wicker targets,
Every way bended;
Children will shortly take him for a wall,
And set their stone-bows in his forehead.
He is of so base a sense,
I cannot in a week imagine what
Shall be done to him.
Lygones.
Sure, I have committed some great sin,
That this base fellow should be made my rod.
I would see him; but I shall have no patience.
Mardonius.
'Tis no great matter, if you have not: If a laming of him, or such a toy, may do you pleasure, sir, he has it for you; and I'll help you to him. 'Tis no news to him to have a leg broken, or a shoulder out with being, turn'd o' th' stones like a tansy. Draw not your sword, if you love it; for, on my conscience, his head will break it; We use him i' th' wars like a ram, to shake a wall withal. Here comes the very person of him; do as you shall find your temper; I must leave you: But if you do not break him like a biscuit, you're much to blame, sir.
[Exit Mardonius.

Enter BESSUS, and the Swordmen.

Lygones.
Is your name Bessus?
Bessus.
Men call me Captain Bessus.
Lygones.
Then, Captain Bessus, you are a rank rascal, without more exordiums; a dirty frozen slave! and, with the favour of your friends here, I will beat vou.
2 Swordman.
Pray use your pleasure, sir; you seem to be a gentleman.
Lygones.
[Beats him.] Thus, Captain Bessus, thus!
Thus twinge your nose, thus kick, thus tread upon you.
Bessus.
I do beseech you, yield your cause sir, quickly.
Lygones.
Indeed, I should have told you that first.
Bessus.
I take, it so.
1 Swordman.
Captain, he should, indeed; he is mistaken.
Lygones.
Sir, you shall have it quickly, and more beating:
You have stolen away a lady, Captain Coward,
And such a one——
[Beats him.
Bessus.
Hold, I beseech you, hold, sir;
I never yet stole any living thing
That had a tooth about it.
Lygones.
I know you dare lie.
Bessus.
With none but summer-whores, upon my life, sir:
My means and manners never could attempt
Above a hedge or haycock.
Lygones.
Sirrah, that quits not me: Where is this lady?
Do that you do not use to do, tell truth,
Or, by my hand, I'll beat your captain's brains out,
Wash 'em, and put 'em in again, that will I.
Bessus.
There was a lady, sir, I must confess,
Once in my charge: The prince Tigranes gave her
To my guard, for her safety. How I used her
She may herself report; she's with the prince now.
I did but wait upon her like a groom,
Which she will testify, I am sure: If not,
My brains are at your service, when you please, sir,
And glad I have 'em for you.
Lygones.
This is most likely. Sir, I ask your pardon and am sorry I was so intemperate.
Bessus.
Well, I can ask no more. You would think it strange now, to have me beat you at first sight.
Lygones.
Indeed, I would; but, I know, your goodness can forget twenty beatings: You must forgive me.
Bessus.
Yes; there's my hand. Go where you will, I shall think you a valiant fellow for all this.
Lygones.
My daughter is a whore.
[Aside.
I feel it now too sensible; yet I will see her;
Discharge myself from beiny father to her,
And then back to my country, and there die.—
Farewell, captain.
Bessus.
Farewell, sir, farewell! Commend me to the gentlewoman, I pray.
[Exit Lygones.
1 Swordman.
How now, captain? bear up, man.
Bessus.
Gentlemen o' th' sword, your hands once more; I have been kick'd again; but the foolish fellow is penitent, has ask'd me mercy, and my honour's safe.
2 Swordman.
We knew that, or the foolish fellow had better have kick'd his grandsire.
Bessus.
Confirm, confirm, I pray.
1 Swordman.
There be our hands again! Now let him come, and say he was not sorry, and he sleeps for it.
Bessus.
Alas! good ignorant old man, let him go, let him go: these courses will undo him.
[Exeunt.