The Two Noble Kinsmen/Act 3/Scene 6

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The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare
Act 3/Scene 6

Scaena 6. (Same as Scene III.)

[Enter Palamon from the Bush.]

PALAMON.

About this houre my Cosen gave his faith
To visit me againe, and with him bring
Two Swords, and two good Armors; if he faile,
He's neither man nor Souldier. When he left me,
I did not thinke a weeke could have restord
My lost strength to me, I was growne so low,
And Crest-falne with my wants: I thanke thee, Arcite,
Thou art yet a faire Foe; and I feele my selfe
With this refreshing, able once againe
To out dure danger: To delay it longer
Would make the world think, when it comes to hearing,
That I lay fatting like a Swine to fight,
And not a Souldier: Therefore, this blest morning
Shall be the last; and that Sword he refuses,
If it but hold, I kill him with; tis Iustice:
So love, and Fortune for me!—O, good morrow.

[Enter Arcite with Armors and Swords.]

ARCITE.

Good morrow, noble kinesman.

PALAMON.

I have put you to too much paines, Sir.

ARCITE.

That too much, faire Cosen,
Is but a debt to honour, and my duty.

PALAMON.

Would you were so in all, Sir; I could wish ye
As kinde a kinsman, as you force me finde
A beneficiall foe, that my embraces
Might thanke ye, not my blowes.

ARCITE.

I shall thinke either, well done,
A noble recompence.

PALAMON.

Then I shall quit you.

ARCITE.

Defy me in these faire termes, and you show
More then a Mistris to me, no more anger
As you love any thing that's honourable:
We were not bred to talke, man; when we are arm'd
And both upon our guards, then let our fury,
Like meeting of two tides, fly strongly from us,
And then to whom the birthright of this Beauty
Truely pertaines (without obbraidings, scornes,
Dispisings of our persons, and such powtings,
Fitter for Girles and Schooleboyes) will be seene
And quickly, yours, or mine: wilt please you arme, Sir,
Or if you feele your selfe not fitting yet
And furnishd with your old strength, ile stay, Cosen,
And ev'ry day discourse you into health,
As I am spard: your person I am friends with,
And I could wish I had not saide I lov'd her,
Though I had dide; But loving such a Lady
And justifying my Love, I must not fly from't.

PALAMON.

Arcite, thou art so brave an enemy,
That no man but thy Cosen's fit to kill thee:
I am well and lusty, choose your Armes.

ARCITE.

Choose you, Sir.

PALAMON.

Wilt thou exceede in all, or do'st thou doe it
To make me spare thee?

ARCITE.

If you thinke so, Cosen,
You are deceived, for as I am a Soldier,
I will not spare you.

PALAMON.

That's well said.

ARCITE.

You'l finde it.

PALAMON.

Then, as I am an honest man and love
With all the justice of affection,
Ile pay thee soundly. This ile take.

ARCITE.

That's mine, then;
Ile arme you first.

PALAMON.

Do: pray thee, tell me, Cosen,
Where gotst thou this good Armour?

ARCITE.

Tis the Dukes,
And to say true, I stole it; doe I pinch you?

PALAMON.

Noe.

ARCITE.

Is't not too heavie?

PALAMON.

I have worne a lighter,
But I shall make it serve.

ARCITE.

Ile buckl't close.

PALAMON.

By any meanes.

ARCITE.

You care not for a Grand guard?

PALAMON.

No, no; wee'l use no horses: I perceave
You would faine be at that Fight.

ARCITE.

I am indifferent.

PALAMON.

Faith, so am I: good Cosen, thrust the buckle
Through far enough.

ARCITE.

I warrant you.

PALAMON.

My Caske now.

ARCITE.

Will you fight bare-armd?

PALAMON.

We shall be the nimbler.

ARCITE.

But use your Gauntlets though; those are o'th least,
Prethee take mine, good Cosen.

PALAMON.

Thanke you, Arcite.
How doe I looke? am I falne much away?

ARCITE.

Faith, very little; love has usd you kindly.

PALAMON.

Ile warrant thee, Ile strike home.

ARCITE.

Doe, and spare not;
Ile give you cause, sweet Cosen.

PALAMON.

Now to you, Sir:
Me thinkes this Armor's very like that, Arcite,
Thou wor'st the day the 3. Kings fell, but lighter.

ARCITE.

That was a very good one; and that day,
I well remember, you outdid me, Cosen.
I never saw such valour: when you chargd
Vpon the left wing of the Enemie,
I spurd hard to come up, and under me
I had a right good horse.

PALAMON.

You had indeede; a bright Bay, I remember.

ARCITE.

Yes, but all
Was vainely labour'd in me; you outwent me,
Nor could my wishes reach you; yet a little
I did by imitation.

PALAMON.

More by vertue;
You are modest, Cosen.

ARCITE.

When I saw you charge first,
Me thought I heard a dreadfull clap of Thunder
Breake from the Troope.

PALAMON.

But still before that flew
The lightning of your valour. Stay a little,
Is not this peece too streight?

ARCITE.

No, no, tis well.

PALAMON.

I would have nothing hurt thee but my Sword,
A bruise would be dishonour.

ARCITE.

Now I am perfect.

PALAMON.

Stand off, then.

ARCITE.

Take my Sword, I hold it better.

PALAMON.

I thanke ye: No, keepe it; your life lyes on it.
Here's one; if it but hold, I aske no more
For all my hopes: My Cause and honour guard me! [They bow
 severall wayes: then advance and stand.]

ARCITE.

And me my love! Is there ought else to say?

PALAMON.

This onely, and no more: Thou art mine Aunts Son,
And that blood we desire to shed is mutuall;
In me, thine, and in thee, mine. My Sword
Is in my hand, and if thou killst me,
The gods and I forgive thee; If there be
A place prepar'd for those that sleepe in honour,
I wish his wearie soule that falls may win it:
Fight bravely, Cosen; give me thy noble hand.

ARCITE.

Here, Palamon: This hand shall never more
Come neare thee with such friendship.

PALAMON.

I commend thee.

ARCITE.

If I fall, curse me, and say I was a coward,
For none but such dare die in these just Tryalls.
Once more farewell, my Cosen.

PALAMON.

Farewell, Arcite. [Fight.]

[Hornes within: they stand.]

ARCITE.

Loe, Cosen, loe, our Folly has undon us.

PALAMON.

Why?

ARCITE.

This is the Duke, a hunting as I told you.
If we be found, we are wretched. O retire
For honours sake, and safety presently
Into your Bush agen; Sir, we shall finde
Too many howres to dye in: gentle Cosen,
If you be seene you perish instantly
For breaking prison, and I, if you reveale me,
For my contempt. Then all the world will scorne us,
And say we had a noble difference,
But base disposers of it.

PALAMON.

No, no, Cosen,
I will no more be hidden, nor put off
This great adventure to a second Tryall:
I know your cunning, and I know your cause;
He that faints now, shame take him: put thy selfe
Vpon thy present guard—

ARCITE.

You are not mad?

PALAMON.

Or I will make th'advantage of this howre
Mine owne, and what to come shall threaten me,
I feare lesse then my fortune: know, weake Cosen,
I love Emilia, and in that ile bury
Thee, and all crosses else.

ARCITE.

Then, come what can come,
Thou shalt know, Palamon, I dare as well
Die, as discourse, or sleepe: Onely this feares me,
The law will have the honour of our ends.
Have at thy life.

PALAMON.

Looke to thine owne well, Arcite. [Fight againe. Hornes.]

[Enter Theseus, Hipolita, Emilia, Perithous and traine.]

THESEUS.

What ignorant and mad malicious Traitors,
Are you, That gainst the tenor of my Lawes
Are making Battaile, thus like Knights appointed,
Without my leave, and Officers of Armes?
By Castor, both shall dye.

PALAMON.

Hold thy word, Theseus.
We are certainly both Traitors, both despisers
Of thee and of thy goodnesse: I am Palamon,
That cannot love thee, he that broke thy Prison;
Thinke well what that deserves: and this is Arcite,
A bolder Traytor never trod thy ground,
A Falser neu'r seem'd friend: This is the man
Was begd and banish'd; this is he contemnes thee
And what thou dar'st doe, and in this disguise
Against thy owne Edict followes thy Sister,
That fortunate bright Star, the faire Emilia,
Whose servant, (if there be a right in seeing,
And first bequeathing of the soule to) justly
I am, and, which is more, dares thinke her his.
This treacherie, like a most trusty Lover,
I call'd him now to answer; if thou bee'st,
As thou art spoken, great and vertuous,
The true descider of all injuries,
Say, 'Fight againe,' and thou shalt see me, Theseus,
Doe such a Iustice, thou thy selfe wilt envie.
Then take my life; Ile wooe thee too't.

PERITHOUS.

O heaven,
What more then man is this!

THESEUS.

I have sworne.

ARCITE.

We seeke not
Thy breath of mercy, Theseus. Tis to me
A thing as soone to dye, as thee to say it,
And no more mov'd: where this man calls me Traitor,
Let me say thus much: if in love be Treason,
In service of so excellent a Beutie,
As I love most, and in that faith will perish,
As I have brought my life here to confirme it,
As I have serv'd her truest, worthiest,
As I dare kill this Cosen, that denies it,
So let me be most Traitor, and ye please me.
For scorning thy Edict, Duke, aske that Lady
Why she is faire, and why her eyes command me
Stay here to love her; and if she say 'Traytor,'
I am a villaine fit to lye unburied.

PALAMON.

Thou shalt have pitty of us both, o Theseus,
If unto neither thou shew mercy; stop
(As thou art just) thy noble eare against us.
As thou art valiant, for thy Cosens soule
Whose 12. strong labours crowne his memory,
Lets die together, at one instant, Duke,
Onely a little let him fall before me,
That I may tell my Soule he shall not have her.

THESEUS.

I grant your wish, for, to say true, your Cosen
Has ten times more offended; for I gave him
More mercy then you found, Sir, your offenses
Being no more then his. None here speake for 'em,
For, ere the Sun set, both shall sleepe for ever.

HIPPOLITA.

Alas the pitty! now or never, Sister,
Speake, not to be denide; That face of yours
Will beare the curses else of after ages
For these lost Cosens.

EMILIA.

In my face, deare Sister,
I finde no anger to 'em, nor no ruyn;
The misadventure of their owne eyes kill 'em;
Yet that I will be woman, and have pitty,
My knees shall grow to'th ground but Ile get mercie.
Helpe me, deare Sister; in a deede so vertuous
The powers of all women will be with us.
Most royall Brother—

HIPPOLITA.

Sir, by our tye of Marriage—

EMILIA.

By your owne spotlesse honour—

HIPPOLITA.

By that faith,
That faire hand, and that honest heart you gave me.

EMILIA.

By that you would have pitty in another,
By your owne vertues infinite.

HIPPOLITA.

By valour,
By all the chaste nights I have ever pleasd you.

THESEUS.

These are strange Conjurings.

PERITHOUS.

Nay, then, Ile in too:
By all our friendship, Sir, by all our dangers,
By all you love most: warres and this sweet Lady.

EMILIA.

By that you would have trembled to deny,
A blushing Maide.

HIPPOLITA.

By your owne eyes: By strength,
In which you swore I went beyond all women,
Almost all men, and yet I yeelded, Theseus.

PERITHOUS.

To crowne all this: By your most noble soule,
Which cannot want due mercie, I beg first.

HIPPOLITA.

Next, heare my prayers.

EMILIA.

Last, let me intreate, Sir.

PERITHOUS.

For mercy.

HIPPOLITA.

Mercy.

EMILIA.

Mercy on these Princes.

THESEUS.

Ye make my faith reele: Say I felt
Compassion to'em both, how would you place it?

EMILIA.

Vpon their lives: But with their banishments.

THESEUS.

You are a right woman, Sister; you have pitty,
But want the vnderstanding where to use it.
If you desire their lives, invent a way
Safer then banishment: Can these two live
And have the agony of love about 'em,
And not kill one another? Every day
They'ld fight about you; howrely bring your honour
In publique question with their Swords. Be wise, then,
And here forget 'em; it concernes your credit
And my oth equally: I have said they die;
Better they fall by'th law, then one another.
Bow not my honor.

EMILIA.

O my noble Brother,
That oth was rashly made, and in your anger,
Your reason will not hold it; if such vowes
Stand for expresse will, all the world must perish.
Beside, I have another oth gainst yours,
Of more authority, I am sure more love,
Not made in passion neither, but good heede.

THESEUS.

What is it, Sister?

PERITHOUS.

Vrge it home, brave Lady.

EMILIA.

That you would nev'r deny me any thing
Fit for my modest suit, and your free granting:
I tye you to your word now; if ye fall in't,
Thinke how you maime your honour,
(For now I am set a begging, Sir, I am deafe
To all but your compassion.) How, their lives
Might breed the ruine of my name, Opinion!
Shall any thing that loves me perish for me?
That were a cruell wisedome; doe men proyne
The straight yong Bowes that blush with thousand Blossoms,
Because they may be rotten? O Duke Theseus,
The goodly Mothers that have groand for these,
And all the longing Maides that ever lov'd,
If your vow stand, shall curse me and my Beauty,
And in their funerall songs for these two Cosens
Despise my crueltie, and cry woe worth me,
Till I am nothing but the scorne of women;
For heavens sake save their lives, and banish 'em.

THESEUS.

On what conditions?

EMILIA.

Sweare'em never more
To make me their Contention, or to know me,
To tread upon thy Dukedome; and to be,
Where ever they shall travel, ever strangers
To one another.

PALAMON.

Ile be cut a peeces
Before I take this oth: forget I love her?
O all ye gods dispise me, then! Thy Banishment
I not mislike, so we may fairely carry
Our Swords and cause along: else, never trifle,
But take our lives, Duke: I must love and will,
And for that love must and dare kill this Cosen
On any peece the earth has.

THESEUS.

Will you, Arcite,
Take these conditions?

PALAMON.

He's a villaine, then.

PERITHOUS.

These are men.

ARCITE.

No, never, Duke: Tis worse to me than begging
To take my life so basely; though I thinke
I never shall enjoy her, yet ile preserve
The honour of affection, and dye for her,
Make death a Devill.

THESEUS.

What may be done? for now I feele compassion.

PERITHOUS.

Let it not fall agen, Sir.

THESEUS.

Say, Emilia,
If one of them were dead, as one must, are you
Content to take th'other to your husband?
They cannot both enjoy you; They are Princes
As goodly as your owne eyes, and as noble
As ever fame yet spoke of; looke upon 'em,
And if you can love, end this difference.
I give consent; are you content too, Princes?

BOTH.

With all our soules.

THESEUS.

He that she refuses
Must dye, then.

BOTH.

Any death thou canst invent, Duke.

PALAMON.

If I fall from that mouth, I fall with favour,
And Lovers yet unborne shall blesse my ashes.

ARCITE.

If she refuse me, yet my grave will wed me,
And Souldiers sing my Epitaph.

THESEUS.

Make choice, then.

EMILIA.

I cannot, Sir, they are both too excellent:
For me, a hayre shall never fall of these men.

HIPPOLITA.

What will become of 'em?

THESEUS.

Thus I ordaine it;
And by mine honor, once againe, it stands,
Or both shall dye:—You shall both to your Countrey,
And each within this moneth, accompanied
With three faire Knights, appeare againe in this place,
In which Ile plant a Pyramid; and whether,
Before us that are here, can force his Cosen
By fayre and knightly strength to touch the Pillar,
He shall enjoy her: the other loose his head,
And all his friends; Nor shall he grudge to fall,
Nor thinke he dies with interest in this Lady:
Will this content yee?

PALAMON.

Yes: here, Cosen Arcite,
I am friends againe, till that howre.

ARCITE.

I embrace ye.

THESEUS.

Are you content, Sister?

EMILIA.

Yes, I must, Sir,
Els both miscarry.

THESEUS.

Come, shake hands againe, then;
And take heede, as you are Gentlemen, this Quarrell
Sleepe till the howre prefixt; and hold your course.

PALAMON.

We dare not faile thee, Theseus.

THESEUS.

Come, Ile give ye
Now usage like to Princes, and to Friends:
When ye returne, who wins, Ile settle heere;
Who looses, yet Ile weepe upon his Beere. [Exeunt.]