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  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 3

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FOOL

40Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind.
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne'er turns the key to th' poor.
But for all this thou shalt have as many dolors for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

FOOL

This story bodes more stormy weather.
Fathers who wear rags
Make their children neglect them.
But fathers who are rich
Make their children kind.
Lady Luck is a fickle whore
And never gives the poor a break.
But despite all this, your daughters will give you a lot of money—or do I mean pain?—in the coming year.

LEAR

O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
50Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow.
Thy element’s below.—Where is this daughter?

LEAR

I’m getting hysterical. I feel my stomach squeezing up against my heart. Calm down, you belong lower down!—Where is this daughter of mine?

KENT

With the earl, sir, here within.

KENT

Inside, sir, with the earl.

LEAR

Follow me not. Stay here.

LEAR

Don’t follow me. Stay here.
Exit LEAR
He exits.

GENTLEMAN

Made you no more offense but what you speak of?

GENTLEMAN

You didn’t do anything else to earn this punishment?

KENT

55None.
How chance the king comes with so small a train?

KENT

Nothing. Tell me, why did the king arrive with such a small entourage?

FOOL

An thou hadst been set i' th' stocks for that question, thou’dst well deserved it.

FOOL

If they’d put you in the stocks for asking that question, you would’ve deserved it.

KENT

Why, Fool?

KENT

Why, Fool?

FOOL

60We’ll set thee to school to an ant to teach thee there’s no laboring i' th' winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there’s not a nose among twenty but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following it.

FOOL

You need to learn what ants know well about winter—there’s no point in slaving away if there’s no hope for profit. Serving the king will get you nowhere. Everyone can see that, and even blind men can smell the stench of his misery now. When you see a huge wheel rolling down a hill, you shouldn’t try to hold on to it or it’ll break your neck.