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The Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 3, scene 6
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Navigate this workThe Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 3, scene 6
Act 3, scene 6
Arcite arrives in the forest with armor and swords. The two cousins dress each other in armor and prepare as if for a formal trial by combat. Theseus comes upon the combat, arrests them, and sentences them both to immediate death. He is persuaded to pardon them; but in order to end their violent rivalry, he sets up a competition that will include companion knights from Thebes and that will end with the victor winning Emilia and the loser and his companions being executed.Enter Palamon from the bush.
1791 About this hour my cousin gave his faith
1792 To visit me again, and with him bring
1793 Two swords and two good armors. If he fail,
1794 He’s neither man nor soldier. When he left me,
1795 5 I did not think a week could have restored
1796 My lost strength to me, I was grown so low
1797 And crestfall’n with my wants. I thank thee, Arcite,
1798 Thou art yet a fair foe, and I feel myself,
1799 With this refreshing, able once again
1800 10 To outdure danger. To delay it longer
1801 Would make the world think, when it comes to
1803 That I lay fatting like a swine to fight
1804 And not a soldier. Therefore, this blest morning
1805 15 Shall be the last; and that sword he refuses,
p. 1351806 If it but hold, I kill him with. ’Tis justice.
1807 So, love and fortune for me!
Enter Arcite with armors and swords.
1808 O, good morrow.
1809 Good morrow, noble kinsman.
PALAMON 1810 20 I have put you
1811 To too much pains, sir.
ARCITE 1812 That too much, fair cousin,
1813 Is but a debt to honor and my duty.
1814 Would you were so in all, sir; I could wish you
1815 25 As kind a kinsman as you force me find
1816 A beneficial foe, that my embraces
1817 Might thank you, not my blows.
ARCITE 1818 I shall think either,
1819 Well done, a noble recompense.
PALAMON 1820 30 Then I shall quit you.
1821 Defy me in these fair terms, and you show
1822 More than a mistress to me. No more anger,
1823 As you love anything that’s honorable!
1824 We were not bred to talk, man; when we are armed
1825 35 And both upon our guards, then let our fury,
1826 Like meeting of two tides, fly strongly from us,
1827 And then to whom the birthright of this beauty
1828 Truly pertains—without upbraidings, scorns,
1829 Despisings of our persons, and such poutings,
1830 40 Fitter for girls and schoolboys—will be seen,
1831 And quickly, yours or mine. Will ’t please you arm,
1833 Or if you feel yourself not fitting yet
1834 And furnished with your old strength, I’ll stay,
1835 45 cousin,
1836 And ev’ry day discourse you into health,
p. 1371837 As I am spared. Your person I am friends with,
1838 And I could wish I had not said I loved her,
1839 Though I had died. But loving such a lady,
1840 50 And justifying my love, I must not fly from ’t.
1841 Arcite, thou art so brave an enemy
1842 That no man but thy cousin’s fit to kill thee.
1843 I am well and lusty. Choose your arms.
ARCITE 1844 Choose you, sir.
1845 55 Wilt thou exceed in all, or dost thou do it
1846 To make me spare thee?
ARCITE 1847 If you think so, cousin,
1848 You are deceived, for as I am a soldier,
1849 I will not spare you.
PALAMON 1850 60 That’s well said.
ARCITE 1851 You’ll find it.
1852 Then, as I am an honest man and love
1853 With all the justice of affection,
1854 I’ll pay thee soundly.⌜He chooses armor.⌝
1855 65 This I’ll take.
ARCITE ⌜taking the other⌝ 1856 That’s mine, then.
1857 I’ll arm you first.
PALAMON 1858 Do.⌜Arcite begins arming him.⌝
1859 Pray thee tell me, cousin,
1860 70 Where got’st thou this good armor?
ARCITE 1861 ’Tis the Duke’s,
1862 And to say true, I stole it. Do I pinch you?
PALAMON 1863 No.
1864 Is ’t not too heavy?
PALAMON 1865 75 I have worn a lighter,
1866 But I shall make it serve.
ARCITE 1867 I’ll buckle ’t close.
1868 By any means.
ARCITE 1869 You care not for a grand guard?
1870 80 No, no, we’ll use no horses. I perceive
1871 You would fain be at that fight.
ARCITE 1872 I am indifferent.
1873 Faith, so am I. Good cousin, thrust the buckle
1874 Through far enough.
ARCITE 1875 85 I warrant you.
PALAMON 1876 My casque now.
1877 Will you fight bare-armed?
PALAMON 1878 We shall be the nimbler.
1879 But use your gauntlets though. Those are o’ th’ least.
1880 90 Prithee take mine, good cousin.
PALAMON 1881 Thank you, Arcite.
1882 How do I look? Am I fall’n much away?
1883 Faith, very little; love has used you kindly.
1884 I’ll warrant thee, I’ll strike home.
ARCITE 1885 95 Do, and spare not.
1886 I’ll give you cause, sweet cousin.
PALAMON 1887 Now to you, sir.
⌜He begins to arm Arcite.⌝
1888 Methinks this armor’s very like that, Arcite,
1889 Thou wor’st that day the three kings fell, but lighter.
1890 100 That was a very good one, and that day,
1891 I well remember, you outdid me, cousin.
1892 I never saw such valor. When you charged
1893 Upon the left wing of the enemy,
p. 1411894 I spurred hard to come up, and under me
1895 105 I had a right good horse.
PALAMON 1896 You had, indeed;
1897 A bright bay, I remember.
ARCITE 1898 Yes, but all
1899 Was vainly labored in me; you outwent me,
1900 110 Nor could my wishes reach you; yet a little
1901 I did by imitation.
PALAMON 1902 More by virtue;
1903 You are modest, cousin.
ARCITE 1904 When I saw you charge first,
1905 115 Methought I heard a dreadful clap of thunder
1906 Break from the troop.
PALAMON 1907 But still before that flew
1908 The lightning of your valor. Stay a little;
1909 Is not this piece too strait?
ARCITE 1910 120 No, no, ’tis well.
1911 I would have nothing hurt thee but my sword.
1912 A bruise would be dishonor.
ARCITE 1913 Now I am perfect.
1914 Stand off, then.
ARCITE 1915 125 Take my sword; I hold it better.
1916 I thank you, no; keep it; your life lies on it.
1917 Here’s one; if it but hold, I ask no more
1918 For all my hopes. My cause and honor guard me!
1919 And me my love!
They bow several ways, then advance and stand.
1920 130 Is there aught else to say?
1921 This only, and no more: thou art mine aunt’s son.
1922 And that blood we desire to shed is mutual—
1923 In me thine, and in thee mine. My sword
p. 1431924 Is in my hand, and if thou kill’st me,
1925 135 The gods and I forgive thee. If there be
1926 A place prepared for those that sleep in honor,
1927 I wish his weary soul that falls may win it.
1928 Fight bravely, cousin. Give me thy noble hand.
ARCITE, ⌜as they shake hands⌝
1929 Here, Palamon. This hand shall never more
1930 140 Come near thee with such friendship.
PALAMON 1931 I commend thee.
1932 If I fall, curse me, and say I was a coward,
1933 For none but such dare die in these just trials.
1934 Once more farewell, my cousin.
PALAMON 1935 145 Farewell, Arcite.
Horns within. They stand.
1936 Lo, cousin, lo, our folly has undone us!
PALAMON 1937 Why?
1938 This is the Duke, a-hunting, as I told you.
1939 If we be found, we are wretched. O, retire,
1940 150 For honor’s sake, and safely, presently
1941 Into your bush again. Sir, we shall find
1942 Too many hours to die in. Gentle cousin,
1943 If you be seen, you perish instantly
1944 For breaking prison, and I, if you reveal me,
1945 155 For my contempt. Then all the world will scorn us,
1946 And say we had a noble difference,
1947 But base disposers of it.
PALAMON 1948 No, no, cousin,
1949 I will no more be hidden, nor put off
1950 160 This great adventure to a second trial.
1951 I know your cunning, and I know your cause.
1952 He that faints now, shame take him! Put thyself
1953 Upon thy present guard—
p. 145ARCITE 1954 You are not mad?
1955 165 Or I will make th’ advantage of this hour
1956 Mine own, and what to come shall threaten me
1957 I fear less than my fortune. Know, weak cousin,
1958 I love Emilia, and in that I’ll bury
1959 Thee and all crosses else.
ARCITE 1960 170 Then come what can come,
1961 Thou shalt know, Palamon, I dare as well
1962 Die as discourse or sleep. Only this fears me:
1963 The law will have the honor of our ends.
1964 Have at thy life!
PALAMON 1965 175 Look to thine own well, Arcite.
Horns. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia,
Pirithous and train.
1966 What ignorant and mad malicious traitors
1967 Are you, that ’gainst the tenor of my laws
1968 Are making battle, thus like knights appointed,
1969 Without my leave and officers of arms?
1970 180 By Castor, both shall die.
PALAMON 1971 Hold thy word, Theseus.
1972 We are certainly both traitors, both despisers
1973 Of thee and of thy goodness. I am Palamon,
1974 That cannot love thee, he that broke thy prison.
1975 185 Think well what that deserves. And this is Arcite.
1976 A bolder traitor never trod thy ground,
1977 A falser ne’er seemed friend. This is the man
1978 Was begged and banished; this is he contemns thee
1979 And what thou dar’st do; and in this disguise,
1980 190 Against ⌜thine⌝ own edict, follows thy sister,
1981 That fortunate bright star, the fair Emilia,
1982 Whose servant—if there be a right in seeing
1983 And first bequeathing of the soul to—justly
p. 1471984 I am; and, which is more, dares think her his.
1985 195 This treachery, like a most trusty lover,
1986 I called him now to answer. If thou be’st
1987 As thou art spoken, great and virtuous,
1988 The true decider of all injuries,
1989 Say “Fight again,” and thou shalt see me, Theseus,
1990 200 Do such a justice thou thyself wilt envy.
1991 Then take my life; I’ll woo thee to ’t.
PIRITHOUS 1992 O heaven,
1993 What more than man is this!
THESEUS 1994 I have sworn.
ARCITE 1995 205 We seek not
1996 Thy breath of mercy, Theseus. ’Tis to me
1997 A thing as soon to die as thee to say it,
1998 And no more moved. Where this man calls me
2000 210 Let me say thus much: if in love be treason,
2001 In service of so excellent a beauty,
2002 As I love most, and in that faith will perish,
2003 As I have brought my life here to confirm it,
2004 As I have served her truest, worthiest,
2005 215 As I dare kill this cousin that denies it,
2006 So let me be most traitor, and you please me.
2007 For scorning thy edict, duke, ask that lady
2008 Why she is fair, and why her eyes command me
2009 Stay here to love her; and if she say “traitor,”
2010 220 I am a villain fit to lie unburied.
2011 Thou shalt have pity of us both, O Theseus,
2012 If unto neither thou show mercy. Stop,
2013 As thou art just, thy noble ear against us;
2014 As thou art valiant, for thy cousin’s soul,
2015 225 Whose twelve strong labors crown his memory,
2016 Let’s die together at one instant, duke;
2017 Only a little let him fall before me,
2018 That I may tell my soul he shall not have her.
2019 I grant your wish, for to say true, your cousin
2020 230 Has ten times more offended, for I gave him
2021 More mercy than you found, sir, your offenses
2022 Being no more than his.—None here speak for ’em,
2023 For ere the sun set both shall sleep forever.
2024 Alas, the pity! Now or never, sister,
2025 235 Speak not to be denied. That face of yours
2026 Will bear the curses else of after ages
2027 For these lost cousins.
EMILIA 2028 In my face, dear sister,
2029 I find no anger to ’em, nor no ruin.
2030 240 The misadventure of their own eyes kill ’em.
2031 Yet that I will be woman and have pity,
2032 My knees shall grow to th’ ground but I’ll get mercy.
2033 Help me, dear sister; in a deed so virtuous,
2034 The powers of all women will be with us.
2035 245 Most royal brother—
HIPPOLYTA 2036 Sir, by our tie of marriage—
2037 By your own spotless honor—
HIPPOLYTA 2038 By that faith,
2039 That fair hand, and that honest heart you gave me—
2040 250 By that you would have pity in another;
2041 By your own virtues infinite—
HIPPOLYTA 2042 By valor;
2043 By all the chaste nights I have ever pleased you—
2044 These are strange conjurings.
PIRITHOUS 2045 255 Nay, then, I’ll in too.
p. 1512046 By all our friendship, sir, by all our dangers;
2047 By all you love most, wars and this sweet lady—
2048 By that you would have trembled to deny
2049 A blushing maid—
HIPPOLYTA 2050 260 By your own eyes; by strength,
2051 In which you swore I went beyond all women,
2052 Almost all men, and yet I yielded, Theseus—
2053 To crown all this: by your most noble soul,
2054 Which cannot want due mercy, I beg first—
2055 265 Next hear my prayers—
EMILIA 2056 Last let me entreat, sir—
2057 For mercy.
HIPPOLYTA 2058 Mercy.
EMILIA 2059 Mercy on these princes.
2060 270 You make my faith reel. (⌜To Emilia.⌝) Say I felt
2061 Compassion to ’em both, how would you place it?
⌜They rise from their knees.⌝
2062 Upon their lives, but with their banishments.
2063 You are a right woman, sister: you have pity,
2064 But want the understanding where to use it.
2065 275 If you desire their lives, invent a way
2066 Safer than banishment. Can these two live,
2067 And have the agony of love about ’em,
2068 And not kill one another? Every day
2069 They’d fight about you, hourly bring your honor
2070 280 In public question with their swords. Be wise, then,
2071 And here forget ’em; it concerns your credit
2072 And my oath equally. I have said they die.
p. 1532073 Better they fall by th’ law than one another.
2074 Bow not my honor.
EMILIA 2075 285 O, my noble brother,
2076 That oath was rashly made, and in your anger;
2077 Your reason will not hold it. If such vows
2078 Stand for express will, all the world must perish.
2079 Besides, I have another oath ’gainst yours,
2080 290 Of more authority, I am sure more love,
2081 Not made in passion neither, but good heed.
2082 What is it, sister?
PIRITHOUS 2083 Urge it home, brave lady.
2084 That you would ne’er deny me anything
2085 295 Fit for my modest suit and your free granting.
2086 I tie you to your word now; if you ⌜fail⌝ in ’t,
2087 Think how you maim your honor—
2088 For now I am set a-begging, sir, I am deaf
2089 To all but your compassion—how their lives
2090 300 Might breed the ruin of my name. Opinion!
2091 Shall anything that loves me perish for me?
2092 That were a cruel wisdom. Do men prune
2093 The straight young boughs that blush with thousand
2095 305 Because they may be rotten? O, Duke Theseus,
2096 The goodly mothers that have groaned for these,
2097 And all the longing maids that ever loved,
2098 If your vow stand, shall curse me and my beauty,
2099 And in their funeral songs for these two cousins
2100 310 Despise my cruelty, and cry woe worth me,
2101 Till I am nothing but the scorn of women.
2102 For heaven’s sake, save their lives, and banish ’em.
2103 On what conditions?
EMILIA 2104 Swear ’em never more
2105 315 To make me their contention, or to know me,
p. 1552106 To tread upon thy dukedom, and to be,
2107 Wherever they shall travel, ever strangers
2108 To one another.
PALAMON 2109 I’ll be cut a-pieces
2110 320 Before I take this oath! Forget I love her?
2111 O, all you gods, despise me then! Thy banishment
2112 I not mislike, so we may fairly carry
2113 Our swords and cause along; else never trifle,
2114 But take our lives, duke. I must love, and will,
2115 325 And for that love must and dare kill this cousin
2116 On any piece the Earth has.
THESEUS 2117 Will you, Arcite,
2118 Take these conditions?
PALAMON 2119 He’s a villain, then.
PIRITHOUS 2120 330These are men!
2121 No, never, duke. ’Tis worse to me than begging
2122 To take my life so basely; though I think
2123 I never shall enjoy her, yet I’ll preserve
2124 The honor of affection, and die for her,
2125 335 Make death a devil!
2126 What may be done? For now I feel compassion.
2127 Let it not fall again, sir.
THESEUS 2128 Say, Emilia,
2129 If one of them were dead, as one must, are you
2130 340 Content to take th’ other to your husband?
2131 They cannot both enjoy you. They are princes
2132 As goodly as your own eyes, and as noble
2133 As ever fame yet spoke of. Look upon ’em,
2134 And, if you can love, end this difference.
2135 345 I give consent.—Are you content too, princes?
2136 With all our souls.
THESEUS 2137 He that she refuses
2138 Must die then.
p. 157BOTH 2139 Any death thou canst invent, duke.
2140 350 If I fall from that mouth, I fall with favor,
2141 And lovers yet unborn shall bless my ashes.
2142 If she refuse me, yet my grave will wed me,
2143 And soldiers sing my epitaph.
THESEUS, ⌜to Emilia⌝ 2144 Make choice, then.
2145 355 I cannot, sir; they are both too excellent.
2146 For me, a hair shall never fall of these men.
2147 What will become of ’em?
THESEUS 2148 Thus I ordain it—
2149 And, by mine honor, once again, it stands,
2150 360 Or both shall die: you shall both to your country,
2151 And each within this month, accompanied
2152 With three fair knights, appear again in this place,
2153 In which I’ll plant a pyramid; and whether,
2154 Before us that are here, can force his cousin
2155 365 By fair and knightly strength to touch the pillar,
2156 He shall enjoy her; the other lose his head,
2157 And all his friends; nor shall he grudge to fall,
2158 Nor think he dies with interest in this lady.
2159 Will this content you?
PALAMON 2160 370 Yes.—Here, Cousin Arcite,
2161 I am friends again till that hour.⌜He offers his hand.⌝
ARCITE 2162 I embrace you.
⌜They shake hands.⌝
2163 Are you content, sister?
EMILIA 2164 Yes, I must, sir,
2165 375 Else both miscarry.
THESEUS, ⌜to Palamon and Arcite⌝
2166 Come, shake hands again, then,
p. 1592167 And take heed, as you are gentlemen, this quarrel
2168 Sleep till the hour prefixed, and hold your course.
2169 We dare not fail thee, Theseus.
⌜They shake hands again.⌝
THESEUS 2170 380 Come, I’ll give you
2171 Now usage like to princes and to friends.
2172 When you return, who wins I’ll settle here;
2173 Who loses, yet I’ll weep upon his bier.