King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 3

page Act 5 Scene 3 Page 2

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25The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see 'em starve first.
Come.
Our jailers will shrivel up with old age before they make us cry again. We’ll watch them starve to death first.
Come on.
Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, led by soldiers
LEAR and CORDELIA exit, led by soldiers.

EDMUND

Come hither, captain. Hark.
(gives FIRST CAPTAIN a document)
30Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.
One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men
Are as the time is. To be tender-minded
35Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do ’t,
Or thrive by other means.

EDMUND

Come here, captain. Listen. (gives the FIRST CAPTAIN a sheet of paper) Take this note. Follow those two to prison and follow these instructions. I’ve already promoted you once. If you do as you’re told, you’ll be richly rewarded. Just remember this: you have to go with the times, and these are the times for being tough. A soldier can’t afford to be a ninny. There’ll be no quibbling about this assignment. Either you accept it, or go find some other way to support yourself.

FIRST CAPTAIN

   I’ll do ’t, my lord.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I’ll do it, sir.

EDMUND

About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done.
Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so
40As I have set it down.

EDMUND

Then off you go. When you’ve finished, you’ll be a happy man. Go immediately, and do exactly as I wrote down.

FIRST CAPTAIN

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t.

FIRST CAPTAIN

Jobs are hard to come by. I can’t pull a cart or eat dried oats like a horse. If it’s work for a man, I’ll do it.
Exit FIRST CAPTAIN
The FIRST CAPTAIN exits.
Flourish Enter the Duke of ALBANY, the two ladies GONERIL and REGAN, a SECOND CAPTAIN, and soldiers
Trumpets play. ALBANY enters with GONERIL and REGAN, a SECOND CAPTAIN, and more soldiers.

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Sir, you have shown today your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well. You have the captives
45That were the opposites of this day’s strife.

ALBANY

(to EDMUND) Sir, you’ve shown your true courage today, and luck was on your side. You’ve taken prisoner the leaders of the opposition. I need to take cus-