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Enter CHIRON and DEMETRIUS.
DEMET. How now, dear sovereign, and our gracious mother,
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan?
Tam. Have I not reason, think you, to look pale ?
These two have 'tic'd 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 misseltoe.
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,
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,
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 terms
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.
DEMET. This is a witness that I am thy son.
[Stabs him. CHI. And this for me struck home to show my strength. [Stabs him likewise. Lav. Ay, come, Semiramis,-nay, barbarous Tamora !
For no name fits thy nature but thy own.
Tam. Give me thy poniard; you shall know, my boys,
Your mother's hand shall right your mother's wrong.
DEMET. Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her;
First thresh the corn, then after burn the straw;
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,
And, with that painted hope, braves your mightiness :
And shall she carry this unto her grave?
Chi. And 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. Tam. But when ye have the honey you desire,
Let not this wasp outlive us both to sting.
Chr. I warrant you, madam, we will make that sure.
Come, mistress, now perforce we will enjoy
That nice preserved honesty of yours.
Lav. Oh, Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's face-
Tam. I will not hear her speak; away with her!
Lav. Sweet lords, entreat her hear me but a word.
DEMET. Listen, fair madam ; let it be your glory
To see her tears, but be your heart to them
As unrelenting flint to drops of rain.
Lav. When did the tiger's young ones teach the dam ?
0, do not learn her wrath; she taught it thee.
The milk thou suck'st from her did turn to marble;
Even at thy teat thou hadst thy tyranny.
Yet every mother breeds not sons alike;
Do thou entreat her show a woman pity.
Chi. What! wouldst thou have me prove myself a bastard ?
Lav. 'T is true; the raven doth not hatch a lark :
Yet have I heard, -oh could I find it now!--
The lion, mov'd with pity, did endure
To have his princely paws par'd all away.
that ravens foster forlorn children,
The whilst their own birds famish in their nests :
Oh, be to me, though thy hard heart say no,
Nothing so kind, but something pitiful !
Tam. I know not what it means; away with her.
Lav. Oh let me teach thee! For my father's sake,
thee life when well he might have slain thee,
Be not obdurate, open thy deaf ears.
Tam. Hadst 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;
But fierce Andronicus would not relent:
Therefore, away with her, and use her as you will ;
The worse to her, the better lov'd of me.
Lav. Oh Tamora, be call'd a gentle queen,
And with thine own hands kill me in this place:
For 't is not life that I have begg'd so long;
Poor I was slain when Bassianus died.
Tam. What begg'st thou then? fond woman, let me go.
Lav. 'T is present death I beg; and one thing more,
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell :
Oh, 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.
Tam. So should I rob my sweet sons of their fee.
No, let them satisfy their lust on thee.
DEMET. Away, for thou hast stay'd us here too long.
Lav. No grace !-no womanhood! Ah, beastly creature,
The blot and enemy to our general name!
Chi. Nay, then I 'll stop your mouth; bring thou her husband :
[Dragging off LAVINIA. This is the hole where Aaron bid us hide him. Tam. Farewell, my sons; see that you make her sure:
Ne'er let my heart know merry cheer indeed,
Till all the Andronici be made
Now will I hence to seek my lovely. Moor,
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflour.
Enter Aaron, with QUINTUS and MARTIUS. Aaron. Come on, my lords, the better foot before:
Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit,
Where I espied the panther fast asleep.
Quint. My sight is very dull, whate'er it bodes.
Mart. And mine, I promise you ; were 't not for shame,
Well could I leave our sport to sleep awhile. [Martius falls into the pit. Quint. What, art thou fallen ? What subtle hole is this,
Whose mouth is cover'd with rude growing briers,
Upon whose leaves are drops of new-shed blood,
As fresh as morning's dew distill'd on flowers ?
A very fatal place it seems to me:
Speak, brother, hast thou hurt thee with the fall ?
MART. O brother, with the dismall'st object hurt a
That ever eye with sight made heart lament.
Aaron. [Aside.] Now will I fetch the king to find them here,
That he thereby may have a likely guess,
How these were they that made away his brother.
. Mart. Why dost not comfort me and help me out
From this unhallow'd and blood-stained hole? Quint. I am surprised with an uncouth fear;
A chilling sweat o'erruns my trembling joints ;
My heart suspects more than mine eye can see. Mart. To prove thou hast a true-divining heart,
Aaron and thou look down into this den,
And see a fearful sight of blood and death.
Quint. Aaron is gone, and my compassionate heart
Will not permit mine eyes once to behold
The thing whereat it trembles by surmise:
O, tell me how it is, for ne'er till now
Was I a child, to fear I know not what.
Mart. Lord Bassianus lies embrued here,
All on a heap, like to a slaughter'd lamb,
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit.
Quint. If it be dark, how dost thou know 't is he?
MART. Upon 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 earthly cheeks,
And shows the ragged entrails of this pit:
So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus,
When he by night lay bath'd in maiden blood.
O, brother, help me with thy fainting hand, -
If fear hath made thee faint, as me it hath,-
Out of this fell devouring receptacle,
As hateful as Cocytus' misty mouth.
Quint. Reach 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 womb
Of this deep pit, poor Bassianus' grave.
I have no strength to pluck thee to the brink.
MART. Nor I no strength to climb without thy help.
Quint. Thy hand once more; I will not loose again,
Till thou art here aloft, or I below :
Thou canst not come to me, I come to thee.
Enter SATURNINUS and AARON.
Sat. Along 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?
Mart. The unhappy son of old Andronicus,
Brought hither in a most unlucky hour,
To find thy brother Bassianus dead.
Sat. My brother dead? I know thou dost but jest:
He and his lady both are at the lodge,
Upon the north side of this pleasant chase;
'T is not an hour since I left him there.
Mart. We know not where you left him all alive,
But out, alas ! here have we found him dead.
Enter TAMORA, ANDRONICUS, and Lucius.
Tam. Where is my lord the king?
Sat. Here, Tamora, though griev'd with killing grief.
Tam. Where is thy brother Bassianus?
Sat. Now to the bottom dost thou search my wound;
Poor Bassianus here lies murthered.
Tam. Then all too late I bring this fatal writ,
The complot of this timeless tragedy;
And wonder greatly that man's face can fold
In pleasing smiles such murderous tyranny. [She gives SATURNINE a letter.
SATURNINUS reads the letter.
“An if we miss to meet him handsomely,-
Sweet huntsman, Bassianus 't is we mean,-
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.
Do this, and purchase us thy lasting friends."
Sat. Oh 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 murther'd Bassianus here.
Aaron. My gracious lord, here is the bag of gold.
Sat. Two of thy whelps [to Tirus], fell curs of bloody kind,
Have here bereft my brother of his life :
Sirs, drag them from the pit unto the prison ;
There let them bide until we have devis'd
Some never-heard-of torturing pain for them.
Tam. What, are they in this pit ? oh wondrous thing!
How easily murther is discovered !
Tır. High emperor, upon my feeble knee,
I beg this boon, with tears not lightly shed,
That this fell fault of my accursed sons,
Accursed, if the fault be prov'd in them,-
Sat. If it be prov'd! you see it is apparent.
Who found this letter, Tamora, was
Tam. Andronicus himself did take it up.
TIT. I did, my lord; yet let me be their bail :
For by my father's reverent tomb I vow
They shall be ready at your highness' will,
To answer their suspicion with their lives.
SAT. Thou shalt not bail them, see thou follow me.
Some bring the murther'd body, some the murtherers :