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know what was the smallest dower that he would receive with Cordelia, whom he had asked in marriage. The Duke answered that he craved no more than what the king had previously offered, nor did he expect him to offer less. But he was mistaken. Lear, drawing his attention to Cordelia, said—“ There she stands; she's there, and she is yours.” But Burgundy, who had cared more for Cordelia's portion than for herself—whose love, in fact, did not deserve the name of love-basely declined to marry her. With calm dignity, Cordelia answered, “ Peace be with Burgundy; since that respects of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.” Glad indeed she must have been to escape marrying one who cared not for her. The King of France was amazed. He could not think what great crime Cordelia must have perpetrated to have caused her father's fierce anger. Touched with the deepest pity, and respect, and love, he said she was herself a dowry. Then turning to her, he added, “ Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor, most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised.” But Lear, more and more infuriated, said he would never see her more. “Begone,” he cried, “ without our love or blessing." So the patient, injured Cordelia bade farewell to her sisters, begged them to use her father well—but evidently feared that they would not do som and said that time would unfold what cunning now hid. “ Prescribe not to us our duties,” said Goneril haughtily; and Regan added, “ Let your study be to content your lord,” with other insulting words. After France and Cordelia were gone, King Lear and his attendants having left the apartment before, Goneril and Regan began to talk over their plans. The king was to go first to stay with Goneril, and afterwards with Regan.
Instead of feeling the least gratitude for his generous gifts, they spoke of him most undutifully, and remarked that his faults were the infirmities of age, instead of reverencing his
CHAPTER III. BEFORE saying anything more about King Lear, and his daughters, I must tell you that the Earl of Gloster, who was one of the first noblemen at court, had two sons. Their names were Edgar and Edmund; Edgar was the eldest and much the most worthy son, loving his noble father, and having no idea that his brother was ill-disposed towards him. But Edmund hated Edgar because he was the heir; he envied him the large possessions which would be his when his father died, and he determined to try to set the earl against Edgar, and to make him believe everything that was bad of him. One day when the earl came in, he found Edmund reading a letter ; but as soon as he saw his father, he pretended to make haste to put it into his pocket. “ How now, Edmund, what news ? ” said the duke. “So please your lordship, none.” “Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter ?” “I know no news, my lord,” said Edmund.
paper were you reading ?” Nothing," Edmund answered. “What needed, then, that terrible despatch of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself.
Come, if it be nothing, I shall need no spectacles.” Edmund had been wishing and hoping all this time that his father would insist upon seeing the letter.
It was one he had written himself, and he made the earl believe that it was from Edgar. “Give me the letter, sir,” said the earl, impatiently. He took it and read it. It was a very bad letter; one sentence will suffice to show its nature :—“If our father should sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever.” “Sleep till I waked him!” exclaimed the angry father. “You should enjoy half his revenue ! My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this ? a heart and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?” “It was not brought to me, my lord; it was thrown in through the casement of my closet.” O villain, villain,” said the unhappy
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father. “ Abominable villain, where is he? go seek him.” Edward replied, “I will seek him sir, presently." Soon after the earl had left the room, and the treacherous Edmund was rejoicing in the success of his plan, Edgar unexpectedly came in. When Edmund saw him, he affected to sigh, and to look very melancholy. Edgar, struck with his appearance, said, " How now, brother Edmund ? What serious contemplation are
Edmund asked, “When saw you my father last ?” “Why the night gone by,” said Edgar. “Spake you with him?” “Ay, two hours together.” “Parted you in good terms ? found you no displeasure in him, by word or countenance ?” « None at all.” “ Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him.” Edgar, astonished, exclaimed, “Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edmund then, pretending great anxiety about his brother, told him his father was enraged with him, and advised him to keep out of his way for a time; asked him to retire with him to his lodging, and advised him to go armed, if he