Fiction > Harvard Classics > Beaumont and Fletcher > Philaster
Beaumont and Fletcher.  Philaster.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act the Fourth
Scene II
Enter two Woodmen 1

  1ST WOOD.  What, have you lodged the deer?
  2ND WOOD.  Yes, they are ready for the bow.
  1ST WOOD.  Who shoots?
  2ND WOOD.  The princess.        4
  1ST WOOD.  No, she’ll hunt.
  2ND WOOD.  She’ll take a stand, I say.
  1ST WOOD.  Who else?
  2ND WOOD.  Why, the young stranger-prince.        8
  1ST WOOD.  He shall shoot in a stone-bow 2 for me. I never lov’d his beyond-sea-ship since he forsook the say, 3 for paying ten shillings. He was there at the fall of a deer, and would needs (out of his mightiness) give ten groats for the dowcets; marry, his steward would have the velvet-head 4 into the bargain, to turf 5 his hat withal. I think he should love venery; he is an old Sir Tristrem; for, if you be rememb’red, he forsook the stag once to strike a rascal 6 miching 7 in a meadow, and her he killed in the eye. Who shoots else?
  2ND WOOD.  The Lady Galatea.
  1ST WOOD.  That’s a good wench. She’s liberal, and, by the Gods, they say she’s honest, and whether that be a fault, I have nothing to do. There’s all?
  2ND WOOD.  No, one more; Megra.        12
  1ST WOOD.  That’s a firker, 8 i’faith, boy. There’s a wench will ride her haunches as hard after a kennel of hounds as a hunting saddle, and when she comes home, get ’em clapt, and all is well again. I have known her lose herself three times in one afternoon (if the woods have been answerable), 9 and it has been work enough for one man to find her, and he has sweat for it. She rides well and she pays well. Hark! let’s go.  Exeunt.

  PHI.  Oh, that I had been nourish’d in these woods
With milt of goats and acorns, and not known
The right of crowns nor the dissembling trains        16
Of women’s looks; but digg’d myself a cave,
Where I, my fire, my cattle, and my bed,
Might have been shut together in one shed;
And then had taken me some mountain-girl,        20
Beaten with winds, chaste as the hard’ned rocks
Whereon she dwelt, that might have strewed my bed
With leaves and reeds, and with the skins of beasts,
Our neighbours, and have borne at her big breasts        24
My large coarse issue! This had been a life
Free from vexation.

  BEL.        Oh, wicked men!
An innocent may walk safe among beasts;        28
Nothing assaults me here. See, my griev’d lord
Sits as his soul were searching out a way
To leave his body!—Pardon me, that must
Break thy last commandment; for I must speak.        32
You that are griev’d can pity; hear, my lord!
  PHI.  Is there a creature yet so miserable,
That I can pity?
  BEL.        Oh, my noble lord,        36
View my strange fortune, and bestow on me,
According to your bounty (if my service
Can merit nothing), so much as may serve
To keep that little piece I hold of life        40
From cold and hunger!
  PHI.        Is it thou? Be gone!
Go, sell those misbeseeming clothes thou wear’st,
and feed thyself with them.        44
  BEL.  Alas, my lord, I can get nothing for them.!
The silly country-people think ’tis treason
To touch such gay things.
  PHI.        Now, by the gods, this is        48
Unkindly done, to vex me with thy sight.
Thou’rt fallen again to thy dissembling trade;
How shouldst thou think to cozen me again?
Remains there yet a plague untried for me?        52
Even so thou wept’st, and looked’st, and spok’st when first
I took thee up.
Curse on the time! If thy commanding tears
Can work on any other, use thy art;        56
I’ll not betray it. Which way wilt thou take,
That I may shun thee, for thine eyes are poison
To mine, and I am loath to grow in rage;
This way, or that way?        60
  BEL.  Any will serve; but I will choose to have
That path in chase that leads unto my grave.  Exeunt severally.
Enter [on one side] DION, and [on the other] the two Woodmen

  DION.  This is the strangest sudden chance!—You, woodmen!
  1ST WOOD.  My lord Dion?        64
  DION.  Saw you a lady come this way on a sable horse studded with stars of white?
  2ND WOOD.  Was she not young and tall?
  DION.  Yes. Rode she to the wood or to the plain?
  2ND WOOD.  Faith, my lord, we say none.  Exeunt Woodmen.        68
  DION.  Pox of your questions then!

        What, is she found?
  CLE.  Nor will be, I think.
  DION.  Let him seek his daughter himself. She cannot stray about a little necessary natural business, but the whole court must be in arms. When she has done, we shall have peace.        72
  CLE.  There’s already a thousand fatherless tales amongst us. Some say, her horse ran away with her; some, a wolf pursued her; others, ’twas a plot to kill her, and that arm’d men were seen in the wood: but questionless she rode away willingly.

  KING.  Where is she?
  CLE.        Sir, I cannot tell.
  KING.        How’s that?        76
Answer me so again!
  CLE.        Sir, shall I lie?
  KING.  Yes, lie and damn, rather than tell me that.
I say again, where is she? Mutter not!—        80
Sir, speak you; where is she?
  DION.        Sir, I do not know.
  KING.  Speak that again so boldly, and, by Heaven,
It is thy last!—You, fellows, answer me;        84
Where is she? Mark me, all; I am your King:
I wish to see my daughter; show her me;
I do command you all, as you are subjects,
To show her me! What! am I not your King?        88
If ay, then am I not to be obeyed?
  DION.  Yes, if you command things possible and honest.
  KING.  Things possible and honest! Hear me, thou,—
Thou traitor, that dar’st confine thy King to things        92
Possible and honest! Show her me,
Or, let me perish, if I cover not
All Sicily with blood!
  DION.        Faith, I cannot,        96
Unless you tell me where she is.
  KING.  You have betray’d me; you have let me lose
The jewel of my life. Go, bring her to me,
And set her here before me. ’Tis the King        100
Will have it so; whose breath can still the winds,
Uncloud the sun, charm down the swelling sea,
And stop the floods of heaven. Speak, can it not?
  DION.  No.        104
  KING.        No! cannot the breath of kings do this?
  DION.  No; nor smell sweet itself, if once the lungs
Be but corrupted.
  KING.        Is it so? Take heed!        108
  DION.  Sir, take you heed how you dare the powers
That must be just.
  KING.        Alas! what are we kings!
Why do you gods place us above the rest,        112
To be serv’d, flatter’d, and ador’d, till we
Believe we hold within our hands your thunder?
And when we come to try the power we have,
There’s not a leaf shakes at our threatenings.        116
I have sinn’d, ’tis true, and here stand to be punish’d;
Yet would not thus be punish’d. Let me choose
My way, and lay it on!
  DION.  [Aside.]  He articles with the gods. Would somebody would draw bonds for the performance of covenants betwixt them!        120

  KING.  What, is she found?
  PHA.        No; we have ta’en her horse;
He gallop’d empty by. There is some treason.
You, Galatea, rode with her into the wood;        124
Why left you her?
  GAL.        She did command me.
  KING.  Command! you should not.
  GAL.  ’Twould ill become my fortunes and my birth        128
To disobey the daughter of my King.
  KING.  You’re all cunning to obey us for our hurt;
But I will have her.
  PHA.        If I have her not,        132
By this hand, there shall be no more Sicily.
  DION.  [Aside.]  What, will he carry it to Spain in’s pocket?
  PHA.  I will not leave one man alive, but the King,
A cook, and a tailor.        136
  KING.  [Aside.]  I see the injuries I have done must be reveng’d.
  DION.  Sir, this is not the way to find her out.
  KING.  Run all, disperse yourselves. The man that finds her,
Or (if she be kill’d) the traitor, I’ll make him great.        140
  DION.  I know some would give five thousand pounds to find her.
  PHA.  Come, let us seek.
  KING.  Each man a several way; here I myself.
  DION.  Come, gentlemen, we here.        144
  CLE.  Lady, you must go search too.
  MEG.  I had rather be search’d myself.  Exeunt severally.
Note 1. A forest. [back]
Note 2. With a Cross-bow for shooting stones. [back]
Note 3. The assay or slitting of the deer, in order to test the quality of the flesh, which involved a fee of ten shillings to the keeper. [back]
Note 4. The hart’s horns, which are covered with velvet pile when new. [back]
Note 5. Re-cover. [back]
Note 6. A lean doe. [back]
Note 7. Creeping stealthily. [back]
Note 8. A fast one. [back]
Note 9. Suitable. [back]


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