[Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS]
- Cleopatra. Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
- Attendants. The music, ho!
- Cleopatra. Let it alone; let's to billiards: come, Charmian.
- Charmian. My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.
- Cleopatra. As well a woman with an eunuch play'd
As with a woman. Come, you'll play with me, sir?
- Mardian. As well as I can, madam.
- Cleopatra. And when good will is show'd, though't come
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now:
Give me mine angle; we'll to the river: there,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn'd fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and, as I draw them up,
I'll think them every one an Antony,
And say 'Ah, ha! you're caught.'
- Charmian. 'Twas merry when
You wager'd on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.
- Cleopatra. That time,—O times!—
I laugh'd him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience; and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.
[Enter a Messenger]
O, from Italy
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.
- Messenger. Madam, madam,—
- Cleopatra. Antonius dead!—If thou say so, villain,
Thou kill'st thy mistress: but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss; a hand that kings
Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.
- Messenger. First, madam, he is well.
- Cleopatra. Why, there's more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.
- Messenger. Good madam, hear me.
- Cleopatra. Well, go to, I will;
But there's no goodness in thy face: if Antony
Be free and healthful,—so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown'd with snakes,
Not like a formal man.
- Messenger. Will't please you hear me?
- Cleopatra. I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak'st:
Yet if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.
- Messenger. Madam, he's well.
- Messenger. And friends with Caesar.
- Cleopatra. Thou'rt an honest man.
- Messenger. Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.
- Cleopatra. Make thee a fortune from me.
- Messenger. But yet, madam,—
- Cleopatra. I do not like 'But yet,' it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon 'But yet'!
'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together: he's friends with Caesar:
In state of health thou say'st; and thou say'st free.
- Messenger. Free, madam! no; I made no such report:
He's bound unto Octavia.
- Cleopatra. For what good turn?
- Messenger. For the best turn i' the bed.
- Cleopatra. I am pale, Charmian.
- Messenger. Madam, he's married to Octavia.
- Cleopatra. The most infectious pestilence upon thee!
[Strikes him down]
- Messenger. Good madam, patience.
- Cleopatra. What say you? Hence,
[Strikes him again]
Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head:
[She hales him up and down]
Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine,
Smarting in lingering pickle.
- Messenger. Gracious madam,
I that do bring the news made not the match.
- Cleopatra. Say 'tis not so, a province I will give thee,
And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage;
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
- Messenger. He's married, madam.
- Cleopatra. Rogue, thou hast lived too long.
[Draws a knife]
- Messenger. Nay, then I'll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.
- Charmian. Good madam, keep yourself within yourself:
The man is innocent.
- Cleopatra. Some innocents 'scape not the thunderbolt.
Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! Call the slave again:
Though I am mad, I will not bite him: call.
- Charmian. He is afeard to come.
- Cleopatra. I will not hurt him.
These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause.
[Re-enter CHARMIAN and Messenger]
Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message.
An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.
- Messenger. I have done my duty.
- Cleopatra. Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do,
If thou again say 'Yes.'
- Messenger. He's married, madam.
- Cleopatra. The gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still?
- Messenger. Should I lie, madam?
- Cleopatra. O, I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerged and made
A cistern for scaled snakes! Go, get thee hence:
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
- Messenger. I crave your highness' pardon.
- Cleopatra. He is married?
- Messenger. Take no offence that I would not offend you:
To punish me for what you make me do.
Seems much unequal: he's married to Octavia.
- Cleopatra. O, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art not what thou'rt sure of! Get thee hence:
The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too dear for me: lie they upon thy hand,
And be undone by 'em!
- Charmian. Good your highness, patience.
- Cleopatra. In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.
- Charmian. Many times, madam.
- Cleopatra. I am paid for't now.
Lead me from hence:
I faint: O Iras, Charmian! 'tis no matter.
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination, let him not leave out
The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly.
Let him for ever go:—let him not—Charmian,
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way's a Mars. Bid you Alexas
Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian,
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.