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Titus Andronicus

ACT II SCENE III A lonely part of the forest. 
[Enter AARON, with a bag of gold]
AARONHe that had wit would think that I had none,
To bury so much gold under a tree,
And never after to inherit it.
Let him that thinks of me so abjectly
Know that this gold must coin a stratagem,5
Which, cunningly effected, will beget
A very excellent piece of villany:
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest
[Hides the gold]
That have their alms out of the empress' chest.
[Enter TAMORA]
TAMORAMy lovely Aaron, wherefore look'st thou sad,10
When every thing doth make a gleeful boast?
The birds chant melody on every bush,
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun,
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind
And make a chequer'd shadow on the ground:15
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,
Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns,
As if a double hunt were heard at once,
Let us sit down and mark their yelping noise;20
And, after conflict such as was supposed
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy'd,
When with a happy storm they were surprised
And curtain'd with a counsel-keeping cave,
We may, each wreathed in the other's arms,25
Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber;
Whiles hounds and horns and sweet melodious birds
Be unto us as is a nurse's song
Of lullaby to bring her babe asleep.
AARONMadam, though Venus govern your desires,30
Saturn is dominator over mine:
What signifies my deadly-standing eye,
My silence and my cloudy melancholy,
My fleece of woolly hair that now uncurls
Even as an adder when she doth unroll35
To do some fatal execution?
No, madam, these are no venereal signs:
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.
Hark Tamora, the empress of my soul,40
Which never hopes more heaven than rests in thee,
This is the day of doom for Bassianus:
His Philomel must lose her tongue to-day,
Thy sons make pillage of her chastity
And wash their hands in Bassianus' blood.45
Seest thou this letter? take it up, I pray thee,
And give the king this fatal plotted scroll.
Now question me no more; we are espied;
Here comes a parcel of our hopeful booty,
Which dreads not yet their lives' destruction.50
TAMORAAh, my sweet Moor, sweeter to me than life!
AARONNo more, great empress; Bassianus comes:
Be cross with him; and I'll go fetch thy sons
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe'er they be.
BASSIANUSWho have we here? Rome's royal empress,55
Unfurnish'd of her well-beseeming troop?
Or is it Dian, habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves
To see the general hunting in this forest?
TAMORASaucy controller of our private steps!60
Had I the power that some say Dian had,
Thy temples should be planted presently
With horns, as was Actaeon's; and the hounds
Should drive upon thy new-transformed limbs,
Unmannerly intruder as thou art!65
LAVINIAUnder your patience, gentle empress,
'Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning;
And to be doubted that your Moor and you
Are singled forth to try experiments:
Jove shield your husband from his hounds to-day!70
'Tis pity they should take him for a stag.
BASSIANUSBelieve me, queen, your swarth Cimmerian
Doth make your honour of his body's hue,
Spotted, detested, and abominable.
Why are you sequester'd from all your train,75
Dismounted from your snow-white goodly steed.
And wander'd hither to an obscure plot,
Accompanied but with a barbarous Moor,
If foul desire had not conducted you?
LAVINIAAnd, being intercepted in your sport,80
Great reason that my noble lord be rated
For sauciness. I pray you, let us hence,
And let her joy her raven-colour'd love;
This valley fits the purpose passing well.
BASSIANUSThe king my brother shall have note of this.85
LAVINIAAy, for these slips have made him noted long:
Good king, to be so mightily abused!
TAMORAWhy have I patience to endure all this?
DEMETRIUSHow now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother!
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?90
TAMORAHave I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have 'ticed me hither to this place:
A barren detested vale, you see it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O'ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe:95
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they show'd me this abhorred pit,
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,100
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
Would make such fearful and confused cries
As any mortal body hearing it
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
No sooner had they told this hellish tale,105
But straight they told me they would bind me here
Unto the body of a dismal yew,
And leave me to this miserable death:
And then they call'd me foul adulteress,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms110
That ever ear did hear to such effect:
And, had you not by wondrous fortune come,
This vengeance on me had they executed.
Revenge it, as you love your mother's life,
Or be ye not henceforth call'd my children.115
DEMETRIUSThis is a witness that I am thy son.
CHIRONAnd this for me, struck home to show my strength.
[Also stabs BASSIANUS, who dies]
LAVINIAAy, come, Semiramis, nay, barbarous Tamora,
For no name fits thy nature but thy own!
TAMORAGive me thy poniard; you shall know, my boys120
Your mother's hand shall right your mother's wrong.
DEMETRIUSStay, madam; here is more belongs to her;
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw:
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,125
And with that painted hope braves your mightiness:
And shall she carry this unto her grave?
CHIRONAn if she do, I would I were an eunuch.
Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust.130
TAMORABut when ye have the honey ye desire,
Let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.
CHIRONI warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice-preserved honesty of yours.135
LAVINIAO Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's face,--
TAMORAI will not hear her speak; away with her!
LAVINIASweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
DEMETRIUSListen, fair madam: let it be your glory
To see her tears; but be your heart to them140
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
LAVINIAWhen did the tiger's young ones teach the dam?
O, do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee;
The milk thou suck'dst from her did turn to marble;
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.145
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike:
Do thou entreat her show a woman pity.
CHIRONWhat, wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard?
LAVINIA'Tis true; the raven doth not hatch a lark:
Yet have I heard,--O, could I find it now!--150
The lion moved with pity did endure
To have his princely paws pared all away:
Some say that ravens foster forlorn children,
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests:
O, be to me, though thy hard heart say no,155
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful!
TAMORAI know not what it means; away with her!
LAVINIAO, let me teach thee! for my father's sake,
That gave thee life, when well he might have
slain thee,160
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.
TAMORAHadst thou in person ne'er offended me,
Even for his sake am I pitiless.
Remember, boys, I pour'd forth tears in vain,
To save your brother from the sacrifice;165
But fierce Andronicus would not relent;
Therefore, away with her, and use her as you will,
The worse to her, the better loved of me.
LAVINIAO Tamora, be call'd a gentle queen,
And with thine own hands kill me in this place!170
For 'tis not life that I have begg'd so long;
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
TAMORAWhat begg'st thou, then? fond woman, let me go.
LAVINIA'Tis present death I beg; and one thing more
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell:175
O, keep me from their worse than killing lust,
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,
Where never man's eye may behold my body:
Do this, and be a charitable murderer.
TAMORASo should I rob my sweet sons of their fee:180
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.
DEMETRIUSAway! for thou hast stay'd us here too long.
LAVINIANo grace? no womanhood? Ah, beastly creature!
The blot and enemy to our general name!
Confusion fall--185
CHIRONNay, then I'll stop your mouth. Bring thou her husband:
This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him.
[ DEMETRIUS throws the body of BASSIANUS into the pit; then exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON, dragging off LAVINIA ]
TAMORAFarewell, my sons: see that you make her sure.
Ne'er let my heart know merry cheer indeed,
Till all the Andronici be made away.190
Now will I hence to seek my lovely Moor,
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflow'r.
[Re-enter AARON, with QUINTUS and MARTIUS]
AARONCome on, my lords, the better foot before:
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.195
QUINTUSMy sight is very dull, whate'er it bodes.
MARTIUSAnd mine, I promise you; were't not for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile.
[Falls into the pit]
QUINTUSWhat art thou fall'n? What subtle hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover'd with rude-growing briers,200
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood
As fresh as morning dew distill'd on flowers?
A very fatal place it seems to me.
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall?
MARTIUSO brother, with the dismall'st object hurt205
That ever eye with sight made heart lament!
AARON[Aside] Now will I fetch the king to find them here,
That he thereby may give a likely guess
How these were they that made away his brother.
MARTIUSWhy dost not comfort me, and help me out210
From this unhallowed and blood-stained hole?
QUINTUSI am surprised with an uncouth fear;
A chilling sweat o'er-runs my trembling joints:
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see.
MARTIUSTo prove thou hast a true-divining heart,215
Aaron and thou look down into this den,
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.
QUINTUSAaron is gone; and my compassionate heart
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise;220
O, tell me how it is; for ne'er till now
Was I a child to fear I know not what.
MARTIUSLord Bassianus lies embrewed here,
All on a heap, like to a slaughter'd lamb,
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.225
QUINTUSIf it be dark, how dost thou know 'tis he?
MARTIUSUpon his bloody finger he doth wear
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole,
Which, like a taper in some monument,
Doth shine upon the dead man's earthy cheeks,230
And shows the ragged entrails of the pit:
So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus
When he by night lay bathed in maiden blood.
O brother, help me with thy fainting hand--
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath--235
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
As hateful as Cocytus' misty mouth.
QUINTUSReach me thy hand, that I may help thee out;
Or, wanting strength to do thee so much good,
I may be pluck'd into the swallowing womb240
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus' grave.
I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.
MARTIUSNor I no strength to climb without thy help.
QUINTUSThy hand once more; I will not loose again,
Till thou art here aloft, or I below:245
Thou canst not come to me: I come to thee.
[Falls in]
SATURNINUSAlong with me: I'll see what hole is here,
And what he is that now is leap'd into it.
Say who art thou that lately didst descend
Into this gaping hollow of the earth?250
MARTIUSThe unhappy son of old Andronicus:
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.
SATURNINUSMy brother dead! I know thou dost but jest:
He and his lady both are at the lodge255
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase;
'Tis not an hour since I left him there.
MARTIUSWe know not where you left him all alive;
But, out, alas! here have we found him dead.
[ Re-enter TAMORA, with Attendants; TITUS ANDRONICUS, and Lucius ]
TAMORAWhere is my lord the king?260
SATURNINUSHere, Tamora, though grieved with killing grief.
TAMORAWhere is thy brother Bassianus?
SATURNINUSNow to the bottom dost thou search my wound:
Poor Bassianus here lies murdered.
TAMORAThen all too late I bring this fatal writ,265
The complot of this timeless tragedy;
And wonder greatly that man's face can fold
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny.
[She giveth SATURNINUS a letter]
SATURNINUS[Reads] 'An if we miss to meet him handsomely--
Sweet huntsman, Bassianus 'tis we mean--270
Do thou so much as dig the grave for him:
Thou know'st our meaning. Look for thy reward
Among the nettles at the elder-tree
Which overshades the mouth of that same pit
Where we decreed to bury Bassianus.275
Do this, and purchase us thy lasting friends.'
O Tamora! was ever heard the like?
This is the pit, and this the elder-tree.
Look, sirs, if you can find the huntsman out
That should have murdered Bassianus here.280
AARONMy gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.
SATURNINUS[To TITUS] Two of thy whelps, fell curs of
bloody kind,
Have here bereft my brother of his life.
Sirs, drag them from the pit unto the prison:285
There let them bide until we have devised
Some never-heard-of torturing pain for them.
TAMORAWhat, are they in this pit? O wondrous thing!
How easily murder is discovered!
TITUS ANDRONICUSHigh emperor, upon my feeble knee290
I beg this boon, with tears not lightly shed,
That this fell fault of my accursed sons,
Accursed if the fault be proved in them,--
SATURNINUSIf it be proved! you see it is apparent.
Who found this letter? Tamora, was it you?295
TAMORAAndronicus himself did take it up.
TITUS ANDRONICUSI did, my lord: yet let me be their bail;
For, by my father's reverend tomb, I vow
They shall be ready at your highness' will
To answer their suspicion with their lives.300
SATURNINUSThou shalt not bail them: see thou follow me.
Some bring the murder'd body, some the murderers:
Let them not speak a word; the guilt is plain;
For, by my soul, were there worse end than death,
That end upon them should be executed.305
TAMORAAndronicus, I will entreat the king;
Fear not thy sons; they shall do well enough.
TITUS ANDRONICUSCome, Lucius, come; stay not to talk with them.

Back to: Titus Andronicus, Act 2, Scene 4