David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s “HENRY IV, PART 2”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scene 1

— 4.1 —

At the rebel camp in Gaultree Forest in Yorkshire, the Archbishop of York, Mowbray, Lord Hastings, and others were meeting in an open area.

The Archbishop of York asked, “What is this forest called?”

Hastings replied, “It is Gaultree Forest, if it shall please your grace.”

“Let us stand here, my lords,” the Archbishop of York said, “and send out scouts to learn the numbers of our enemies.”

“We have sent them out already,” Hastings said.

“That is well done,” the Archbishop of York said. “My friends and brethren in these great affairs, I must tell you that I have received letters recently from Northumberland. This is their cold intent, tenor, and substance: He says that he wishes that he could be here with such an army as someone of his rank and position ought to have, but he could not raise such an army, and therefore he has gone to Scotland to increase his power, and he concludes with hearty prayers that you and your armies may survive the hazard and fearful meeting of the armies that oppose them.”

“Thus do the hopes we have in him touch bottom like a ship and dash themselves to pieces,” Hastings said. “We will receive no reinforcements from Northumberland.”

A messenger arrived and Hastings asked, “What news do you bring?”

“West of this forest, scarcely a mile away, in well-ordered formation marches the enemy,” the messenger said. “And, by the ground they hide, I judge their number to be approximately thirty thousand.”

“That is exactly the number of opposing soldiers that we thought the opposing army would have,” Mowbray said. “Let us move on and face them in the field.”

Seeing someone from the enemy approaching, the Archbishop of York asked, “Who is the leader in full military regalia coming toward us?”

Mowbray replied, “I think it is the Lord of Westmoreland.”

Westmoreland rode up to them and said, “Health and fair greetings from our general: Prince John.”

“Speak in peace, Lord of Westmoreland,” the Archbishop of York said. “What do you have to say to us?”

“My lord,” Westmoreland replied, “I chiefly address my speech to you. If rebellion came like it truly is, in base and abject routs, led on by bloody youth, trimmed with rags, and escorted by Rage, and approved by boys and beggars — I say, if damned rebellion were to so appear in its true, native, and most proper shape, you, reverend father, and these noble lords would not be here to dress the ugly form of base and bloody insurrection with your fair honors. You are lending dignity to undignified rebellion. You, Lord Archbishop, whose diocese is maintained by a civil peace, whose silver beard the hand of peace has touched, whose learning and good letters have been tutored by peace, whose white robes symbolize innocence, the dove and very blessed spirit of peace, why do you so badly translate yourself out of the speech of peace that bears such grace, transforming it to the harsh and boisterous tongue of war? Why are you transforming your books into graves, your ink into blood, your pens into lances, and your divine tongue into a trumpet and call to war?”

“Why do I do this?” the Archbishop of York said. “That is your question to me. Briefly, this is the answer: We are all diseased, and with our gluttonous and overindulgent and wanton hours we have brought ourselves into a burning fever, and we must bleed because of it. Our late sovereign, King Richard II, being infected with this disease, died.

“But, my most noble Lord of Westmoreland, I do not take on me here the role of a physician who makes men bleed, or do I as an enemy to peace troop here in the throngs of military men. Instead, I am making a show of fearful war in order to cure minds that are sick because of overindulgence and in order to purge the obstructions that begin to stop our very veins of life.

“Hear me more plainly. I have in equal and unbiased balance justly weighed what wrongs our arms may do against what wrongs we suffer, and I have found that our griefs are heavier than our offences. The rough torrent of occasion and the present rough circumstances have forced us away from the quiet we enjoyed. We have the summary of all our griefs written down so that we can reveal them at the proper time. Long ago, we offered this document to King Henry IV, but we were not allowed to see him and give him the document. We are denied access to the King by those men who have most done us wrong.

“The dangers of the days but newly gone, whose memory is written on the earth with still visible blood, and the bad events that happen every minute now, have made us put on this seemingly unbefitting armor.

“We do not wish to disrupt the peace or any part of it; instead, we wish to establish here a peace — one that is worthy of the name.”

Westmoreland replied, “When has your appeal ever been denied? How have you been oppressed by the King? What lord has been ordered to harm you? What has been done to you that you should seal this lawless bloody book of forged rebellion with a divine seal and consecrate the bitter edge of rebellion?”

“I am here with the rebellion because of my brothers general and my brother born. My brothers general are the citizens in this commonwealth who suffer. They are my brothers because they are my fellow citizens. King Henry IV had my birth brother, Lord Scroop, executed, and that is my personal and particular reason for being involved with this rebellion. My brother died without even being allowed to receive the final sacrament.”

“There is no need of any such redress — reparation and compensation — as you are demanding,” Westmoreland said, “and if there were, the redress would not go to you.”

Mowbray replied, “Why shouldn’t the redress go to him in part because of the murder of his brother, and to us all who feel the bruises of these days and suffer the condition of these times that lay a heavy and unequal hand upon our honors? We have suffered wrongs.”

“My good Lord Mowbray,” Westmoreland said, “this is a time of war, and some things are necessary to do in times of war. Consider the times, and you shall say indeed that it is the times, and not the King, that are doing you injuries.

“Yet for your part, it does not appear to me that you have any inch of any ground — any reason — on which to build a grief against either King Henry IV or the times,” Westmoreland said. “The estates of your father, the noble and very well remembered Duke of Norfolk, were taken from him, but haven’t they been restored to you?”

Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk, was a rival of Henry Bolingbrook, now King Henry IV. King Richard II had banished Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk. His son was also named Thomas Mowbray — he was the Thomas Mowbray who now was speaking.

Mowbray replied, “What thing, in honor, had my father lost that now needs to be revived and animated in me? King Richard II respected him, but because of circumstances was forced to banish him.

“At Coventry, Harry Bolingbroke and my father intended to fight a duel. They had mounted their horses and were eager to face each other. Their neighing coursers waited excitedly for the spurs that would order them to charge. The beavers of the dueling men’s helmets were down. Their eyes of fire sparked through sights of steel, and the loud trumpet blew that it was time for them to charge each other. Then, then, when there was nothing that could have stopped my father from attacking the breast of Bolingbroke, King Richard II threw down his staff of command and stopped the duel. His own life hung upon the staff he threw down. When he threw down his staff of command, at the same time he threw down his own life and all the lives of those who have died because of Bolingbroke’s indictments and wars. If the duel had been allowed to continue, my father would have killed Bolingbroke and there would be no King Henry IV.”

“Lord Mowbray, you don’t know what you are saying,” Westmoreland said. “Bolingbroke was then reputed to be the most valiant gentleman in England. Who knows on whom fortune would then have smiled? Who knows who would have won the duel? But if your father had been victor there, he would never have made it alive out of Coventry because everyone there hated him, and they gave all their prayers and love to Bolingbrook, whom they loved and blessed and graced more than they did King Richard II.

“But this is mere digression from my purpose in coming here. I have come here from Prince John, our general, to learn your grievances and to tell you from his grace that he will give you audience; and if it should appear that your demands are just, they shall be met. Of course, he will not agree to any demands that make him think that you are enemies of the King.”

“But he has forced us to compel him to make this offer to us,” Mowbray said. “And he is making this offer from political considerations, not from any respect for us. This is a cold, calculated political maneuver.”

“Mowbray, you are presumptuous to think that,” Westmoreland said. “This offer comes from mercy, not from fear. Look! Our army is within our sight. Upon my honor, I swear that our army is much too confident to give a single thought to fear. Our army has many more men of military renown than yours, our men are better trained in the use of arms, our armor is at least as strong, our cause is the best. You should be thinking that we are making this offer because our heart is good, not because we are forced to make it.”

“Well, I say we shall admit no parley,” Mowbray said. “We will not have a conference with Prince John of Lancaster.”

“That is evidence that you are in the wrong,” Westmoreland said. “A rotten case abides no handling. A rotten container falls apart when it is touched, and a rotten cause falls apart when it is examined.”

Hastings asked, “Has Prince John full authority, as a plenipotentiary of his father, King Henry IV, to listen to our grievances and to come to a legal agreement with us?”

“Obviously, he does,” Westmoreland said. “The King made the Prince the general of this army. I am surprised that you would ask such a question.”

The Archbishop of York said, “Then take, my Lord of Westmoreland, this document; it contains a list of our general grievances. If each of the several different grievances herein is redressed, and if all the members of our rebellion, both here and elsewhere, that strengthen and form a part of our rebellion, are given a true and substantial and legal pardon and immediate satisfaction of our requests, we will again return to our boundaries and will return to peace. We will no longer be like a flooding river but will instead return to within the peaceful banks of the river.”

“I will show Prince John, our general, this document,” Westmoreland said. “If you agree, lords, we can meet in the middle of the no-man’s-land in between our armies. Within sight of our armies, we can either make an agreement that ends in peace, if God is willing, or we can make an agreement to do battle against each other.”

“My lord, we will meet Prince John,” the Archbishop of York said.

Westmoreland departed, carrying the document.

Mowbray said, “I have a feeling in my heart that no conditions of our peace can stand. Even if we agree to a peace, there will be no peace.”

“Don’t think that,” Hastings said. “If we can make our peace with such large and absolute terms as we shall insist on, then our peace shall stand on ground as firm as rocky mountains.”

“Yes, but the King shall be suspicious of us. He will regard us in such a way that every supposed slight and every false accusation and every idle, petty, and frivolous fault shall remind the King of this rebellion. Even if we were as devoted to the King as martyrs, we shall be winnowed with so rough a wind that even our corn shall seem as light as chaff. He will hold us to a standard that no one can attain, and he will not see the good things that we will do. He will see only bad even when we do good.”

“No, no, my lord,” the Archbishop of York said. “Note this; the King is weary of dainty and trifling grievances. He has learned that to end one danger by killing the offender results in reviving two greater dangers among those who are still alive. Killing one supposed enemy results in the creation of two real enemies. Therefore, King Henry IV will wipe the tablet clean and will forget anything that would bring to mind what has happened here. He knows very well that he cannot weed this land of just anyone whom he suspects of being an enemy. His foes are so enrooted with his friends that, when he plucks an enemy to remove him, he ends up hurting a friend. He is in the situation of a husband who has been so enraged that he wants to strike his wife. He raises his arm so that he can hit her, but she hold his infant up, and he stops his arm before it lashes out at her.”

“Besides,” Hastings said, “King Henry IV has wasted all his rods on recent offenders, and he now lacks the instruments of chastisement. He is like a fangless lion: He can threaten to hurt someone, but he cannot hurt anyone.”

“That is very true,” the Archbishop of York said. “And therefore be assured, my good Lord Marshal Mowbray, if we do now well make our atonement, our peace will be like a broken bone that has mended. It has grown stronger after being broken.”

“I hope that you are right,” Mowbray said. “I see that Westmoreland is returning now.”

Westmoreland arrived and said, “Prince John is near. Does it please you to meet him at an equal distance between our armies? Does it please you to meet him in no-man’s-land? If it does, Archbishop of York, move forward.”

“Go ahead of us and greet Prince John,” the Archbishop of York said. “Tell him that we are coming to meet him.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

Posted in Books, Retellings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Myuu: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Piano Version)

https://myuu.bandcamp.com/album/dance-of-the-sugar-plum-fairy-piano-version

 

Posted in Christmas, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

davidbrucehaiku: Trigger Warning

ravishing rapist

rider on other men’s wives

horny negation!

Posted in Books, Haiku | Tagged | Leave a comment

Young old souls

Well done.
Maybe this is why so many babies look like Winston Churchill!
Reblogged on davidbruceblog.

Haiku out of africa

it is in their eyes ~ the depth of intelligence ~ of so many lives


© Lize Bard

@ Haiku out of Africa

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s “HENRY IV, PART 2”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 2

— 3.2 —

In front of Justice Shallow’s house, Justice Shallow and Justice Silence met. A few servants were also present. The two justices were waiting for Sir John Falstaff to show up. He was headed North to fight, drafting soldiers into his company as he went.

Justice Shallow said, “Come on, come on, come on, sir. Give me your hand, sir; give me your hand, sir. You are an early riser, by the cross! And how is my good cousin Silence doing?”

Justice Silence said, “Good morning, good cousin Shallow.”

“And how is my cousin, your bedfellow?” Justice Shallow said. By “bedfellow,” he meant wife.

He added, “And how is your fairest daughter and mine, my goddaughter Ellen?”

“Unfortunately, she is a blackbird, cousin Shallow.”

At that time in England, dark hair and dark skin were unfashionable. English men at that time preferred light hair and light skin.

“I dare say that my cousin William has become a good scholar,” Justice Shallow said. “He is at Oxford still, isn’t he?”

“Indeed he is, sir, to my cost.”

“He must, then, be admitted to the Inns of Court to study law shortly. I was once a student at Clement’s Inn, where I think they still talk of crazy Shallow.”

“You were called ‘lusty Shallow’ then, cousin,” Justice Silence said.

“Lusty” can mean lively and merry as well as filled with lust.

“By the Mass, I was called anything, and I would have done anything, too — and thoroughly and eagerly done anything, too.

“There was I, and little John Doit of Staffordshire, and black George Barnes, and Francis Pickbone, and Will Squele, a Cotswold man,” Justice Shallow said.

“Shallow” is a good name for a shallow man. “Doit” is a good name for an insignificant man; a doit was a coin of very little value. “Barnes,” aka barns, is a good name for a man who has country wealth. “Pickbone” is a good name for a miser. “Squele” is a good name for someone who tattles, or for someone who squeals when frightened.

Justice Shallow continued, “You will not see four such swinge-bucklers, aka swashbucklers, in all the Inns of Court again, and I may say to you, we knew where the bona-robas — the best girls — were and we had the best of them all at our beck and call. At that time Jack Falstaff, who is now Sir John, was a boy; he served as the page of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.”

“Is he the Sir John, cousin, who is coming here soon to see about drafting soldiers?”

“He is the same Sir John, the very same,” Justice Shallow said. “I saw him break Skogan’s head at the court-gate, when he was a boy not thus high, and on the very same day I fought Sampson Stockfish, a fruiterer, behind Gray’s Inn. Jesus, Jesus, the mad days that I have spent! And to see how many of my old acquaintances are dead!”

“We shall all follow them in death, cousin,” Justice Silence said.

“That is certain, that is certain,” Justice Shallow said. “Very sure, very sure. Death, as the Psalmist says, is certain to happen to us all; all of us shall die. How much does a good yoke of bullocks sell for at Stamford Fair?”

“I don’t know. I was not there,” Justice Silence said.

“Death is certain. Is old Double of your town still living?”

“He is dead, sir.”

“Jesus, Jesus, dead!” Justice Shallow said. “He drew a good bow, and he is now dead! He shot arrows well. John of Gaunt greatly respected him and bet a lot of money on his archery prowess. Dead! He could hit a target at twelve score yards — two hundred and forty yards. He also could shoot an arrow in a straight line for fourteen score or fourteen and a half score yards — two hundred and eighty or two hundred and ninety yards. It did a man’s heart good to see him do that. How much is a score of ewes now?”

“It depends on their quality,” Justice Silence said. “A score of good ewes may be worth ten pounds.”

“And is old Double really dead?”

Justice Silence looked up and said, “Here come two of Sir John Falstaff’s men, I think.”

Bardolph and another man walked up to the two justices.

Justice Shallow said, “Good morning, honest gentlemen.”

Bardolph asked, “Please, which of you is Justice Shallow?”

“I am Robert Shallow, sir; I am a poor esquire of this county, and I am one of the King’s justices of the peace.”

An esquire was a social rank just below that of a knight.

He continued, “How can I help you?”

“My Captain, sir, commends himself to you,” Bardolph replied. “My Captain, Sir John Falstaff, is a brave and valiant gentleman, by Heaven, and he is a most gallant leader.”

Justice Shallow replied, “Sir John greets me well, sir. I knew him back in the day to be a good backsword man. He used to fence with a fencing stick. How is the good knight? May I ask how his wife is doing?”

“Pardon me, sir,” Bardolph replied, “but a soldier is better accommodated than with a wife. Falstaff is not married.”

Justice Shallow took delight in the word “accommodated,” which was a new word to him.

“It is well said, truly, sir,” he said, “and it is well said indeed, too. Better accommodated! It is good; yes, indeed, it is. Good phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable. ‘Accommodated!’ This word comes from accommodo, Latin for “I adapt,” and it is very good; it is a good phrase.”

“Pardon me, sir,” Bardolph said. He was unsure about the meaning of the word “phrase,” which meant expression. “I have heard the word. ‘Phrase’ you called it? By this good day, I do not know the phrase, but I will maintain the word with my sword to be a soldier-like word, and a word of exceedingly good command, by Heaven.

“Accommodated: the meaning of the word is, when a man is, as they say, accommodated; or when a man is, being, whereby he may be thought to be accommodated — which is an excellent thing.”

“It is very just,” Justice Shallow said.

Sir John Falstaff walked up to the group, and Justice Shallow said, “Look, here comes good Sir John. Give me your good hand, give me your worship’s good hand. Truly, you are thriving well and you bear your years very well. Welcome, good Sir John.”

“I am glad to see that you are well, good Master Robert Shallow,” Falstaff replied. He looked at the other justice and asked, “Aren’t you Master Surecard?”

“No, Sir John,” Justice Shallow said. “This is my cousin Silence, who has a commission as Justice of the Peace, as do I.”

“Good Master Silence,” Falstaff said, “your name is very fitting for a Justice of the Peace.”

“You are welcome,” Justice Silence said.

Falstaff fanned himself and said, “This is hot weather, gentlemen. Have you provided me here with half a dozen fit and able men for me to look over and see if they should serve in the King’s army?”

“Yes, we have, sir,” Justice Shallow said. “Will you sit down?”

Falstaff replied, “Let me see them now, please.”

The possible recruits walked over to them.

“Where’s the roll? Where’s the roll? Where’s the roll?” Justice Shallow said. “Let me see, let me see, let me see. So, so. Yes, sir! Ralph Moldy! Let them come forward as I call their names; let them do so, let them do so. Let me see; where is Moldy?”

Moldy, who was on the verge of middle age, replied, “Here I am, if it please you.”

“What do you think, Sir John?” Justice Shallow asked. “Isn’t he a good-limbed fellow: young, strong, and from a good family?”

“Is your name Moldy?” Falstaff asked.

“Yes, if it please you.”

“It is time that you were used.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” Justice Shallow laughed. “That jest was most excellent, truly! Things that are moldy lack use. That was a very good jest! Truly well said, Sir John, very well said.”

“Prick him,” Falstaff said.

Justice Shallow was carrying a wax tablet in which the names of the possible recruits were listed. He used a stick to prick a mark by Moldy’s name. That meant that Moldy had been drafted into the King’s army.

Moldy complained, “I was pricked well enough before, so you could have let me alone.”

He meant that he was already provided with — had been born with — a prick.

Moldy continued, “My old lady — my wife — will be undone now.”

With Moldy gone to the war, his wife would have no one to “do” her.

Moldy continued, “She will have no one to do her husbandry and her drudgery.”

Husbandry involves the planting of seeds. With Moldy gone to the war, his wife would have no one to plant seeds — semen — in her womb. Also, she would have no one to do the work that is less fun than the planting of those seeds.

Moldy continued, “You need not to have pricked me; there are other men fitter to go to the war than I am.”

“Stop complaining,” Falstaff said. “Be quiet, Moldy. You shall go to the war. Moldy, it is time that you were spent.”

“Spent!” Moldy said.

“To spend” means “to ejaculate semen.” It can also mean “to come to an end,” which is that happens to many men’s lives in wartime.

“Be quiet, fellow, be quiet,” Justice Shallow said. “Stand aside. Do you know where you are and to whom you are talking?”

Moldy stepped back.

Justice Shallow paused and then he said, “As for the others, Sir John, let me see.”

He looked at the roll and then called, “Simon Shadow!”

Falstaff joked, “I should draft him into the army so that I can sit under him. He is likely to be a cold soldier.”

“Where’s Shadow?” Justice Shallow asked.

Shadow stepped forward and said, “Here, sir.”

“Shadow, whose son are you?” Falstaff asked.

“My mother’s son, sir.”

“Your mother’s son! That is likely enough, and you are your father’s shadow: The son of the female is the shadow of the male. It is often so, indeed; but I wonder how much of the father’s substance is in you!”

Falstaff was joking that perhaps Shadow’s mother had committed adultery and so there was little of her husband’s substance in her son.

“Do you like him, Sir John?” Justice Shallow asked. “Do you think that he will make a good soldier?”

“Shadow will serve for the summer,” Falstaff said. “Prick him, for we have a number of shadows to fill up the muster-book.”

“Shadow” was a term for a soldier who was nonexistent but whose name was in the roll. Falstaff had a number of shadows in the roll so that he could collect their pay and keep it.

Shadow stepped back.

“Thomas Wart!” Justice Shallow called.

“Where’s he?” Falstaff asked.

Wart stepped forward and said, “Here, sir.”

“Is your name Wart?” Falstaff asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“You are a very ragged Wart,” Falstaff said.

This was true. Wart’s clothing consisted of rags pinned together.

“Shall I prick him down, Sir John?” Justice Shallow asked.

“It would be superfluous,” Falstaff said, “for his apparel is built upon his back and the whole frame stands upon pins. He is like a building that is held together by pins. He is already being pricked by the pins holding his clothing together, so let us prick him no more.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” Justice Shallow said. “You can do it, sir; you can do it. You can make a joke! I commend you well.”

Wart stepped back and Justice Shallow called, “Francis Feeble!”

Feeble stepped forward and said, “Here, sir.”

“What trade are you in, Feeble?” Falstaff asked.

“I am a woman’s tailor, sir.”

“Shall I prick him, sir?” Justice Shallow said.

“You may,” Falstaff said, “but if he had been a man’s tailor, he would have pricked you with one or more of his pins.”

He asked Feeble, “Will you make as many holes in an enemy’s front line as you have made in a woman’s petticoat?”

“I will do my best, sir,” Feeble said. “You can have no more than that.”

“Well said, good woman’s tailor!” Falstaff replied. “Well said, courageous Feeble! You will be as valiant as the wrathful dove or most stout-hearted mouse.”

He added, “Prick the woman’s tailor well, Master Shallow; prick his name deeply, Master Shallow.”

“I wish Wart might have been drafted, sir,” Feeble said.

“I wish that you were a man’s tailor,” Falstaff said, “so that you might mend his clothing and make him fit to go. I cannot draft Wart as a private because he is the leader of so many thousands — of lice. Let that answer be enough for you, most forcible Feeble.”

“It shall suffice, sir,” Feeble said, stepping back.

“I am bound to you, reverend Feeble,” Falstaff said.

He asked Justice Shallow, “Who is next?”

“Peter Bullcalf from the village green!” Justice Shallow called.

“Yes, let’s see Bullcalf,” Falstaff said.

Bullcalf, who was a strong young man, stepped forward and said, “Here, sir.”

“By God, here is a likely fellow!” Falstaff said. “Come, prick Bullcalf until he roars again.”

Bull calves were known for bellowing, and when a bull was pricked in a bullfight, it would bellow.

Bullcalf, who did not want to go to war, said, “Oh, Lord! My good Captain —”

“What, are you roaring before you have been pricked?” Falstaff said.

“Oh, Lord, sir! I am a diseased man.”

“What disease do you have?” Falstaff asked.

“A very bad cold, sir, a cough, sir, which I caught as I rang the bells to celebrate the anniversary of King Henry IV’s coronation day, sir.”

“Come, you shall go to the wars in an invalid’s gown,” Falstaff said. “We will take away your cold with us, and I will leave orders for my friends to ring the bells for you.”

Unhappy, Bullcalf stepped back.

Falstaff asked Justice Shallow, “Is this everybody?”

“To give you a choice of the best men, here are two more than the number you must draft,” Justice Shallow said. “You must draft four soldiers from here, sir, and you have seen everybody. Therefore, please go in and have dinner with me.”

“I will go drink with you,” Falstaff said, “but I cannot stay for dinner. I am truly glad to see you, Master Shallow.”

“Oh, Sir John, do you remember when we lay all night in the windmill in Saint George’s field?” Justice Shallow asked. He was remembering the wild times of his youth again: drinking, staying up all night, and whoring.

“No more of that, good Master Shallow, no more of that,” Falstaff said. He still did the things that Justice Shallow had given up decades ago.

“Ha! It was a merry night,” Justice Shallow said. “And is Jane Nightwork still alive?”

Since her last name was “Nightwork,” no one needs to guess at Jane’s occupation.

“She is still alive, Master Shallow.”

“She could never stand me.”

“Never, never,” Falstaff agreed. “She would always say she could not stand Master Shallow.”

“By the Mass, I could anger her to the heart,” Justice Shallow said. “She was then a fine-looking woman. Does she hold her own well?”

“She is old, old, Master Shallow.”

“She must be old now,” Justice Shallow said. “She cannot choose but be old; it is certain that she’s old. She had her son, Robin Nightwork, by old Nightwork before I came to Clement’s Inn.”

“That’s fifty-five years ago,” Justice Silence said.

“Ha, cousin Silence,” Justice Shallow said. “I wish that you had seen the things that this knight and I have seen! Ha, Sir John, isn’t that the truth!”

“We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow,” Falstaff replied.

“That we have, that we have, that we have,” Justice Shallow said. “Truly, Sir John, we have. Our motto was ‘Hem, boys! Clear your throat, and down the hatch!’ Come, let’s go to dinner; come, let’s go to dinner. Jesus, the days that we have seen! Come, come.”

Falstaff and the two justices departed.

Bullcalf saw a chance to get out of military service. He said, “Good Master Corporate Bardolph, be my friend, and take these four Harry ten shillings in French crowns. They are worth one pound. Truly, sir, I had rather be hanged, sir, than go to war, and yet, for my own part, sir, I do not care; but rather, because I am unwilling, and, for my own part, I have a desire to stay with my friends; else, sir, I did not care, for my own part, so much.”

Of course, he cared greatly — he did NOT want to go to war. However, he did not want to confess to cowardice.

“I see,” Bardolph said. “Stand over there.”

Moldy was especially worried about fighting in the army. He said to Bardolph, “And, good master Corporal Captain, for my old wife’s sake, be my friend. She has nobody to do anything about her when I am gone; and she is old, and cannot help herself: You shall have forty shillings, sir. They are worth two pounds.”

“I see,” Bardolph said. “Stand over there.”

Feeble witnessed what was happening. An honorable man, he said, “Truly, I do not wish to avoid my military service through dishonest means. A man can die but once, and we owe God a debt that can be paid only with our death. I will not act dishonorably. If it is my destiny to die in battle, so be it; if it is not my destiny to die in battle, so be it. No man is too good to serve his Prince. So let me die in battle or not die in battle. A man who dies this year owes no death the following year.”

“Well said,” Bardolph replied. “You are a good man.”

This did not mean that Bardolph would not accept the bribes of Bullcalf and Moldy.

“Truly, I will do nothing dishonorable,” Feeble declared.

Falstaff and the two justices returned.

“Come, sir, which men shall I have?” Falstaff said.

“Whichever four you want,” Justice Shallow replied.

Bardolph said to Falstaff, “Sir, may I have a word with you.” He whispered, “I have been offered three pounds not to draft Moldy and Bullcalf.”

“I see,” Falstaff said. “Good!”

“Come, Sir John, which four will you have?” Justice Shallow said.

“You choose for me,” Falstaff said.

Justice Shallow chose the men that most men would agree would make the best soldiers: “Moldy, Bullcalf, Feeble, and Shadow.”

“Moldy and Bullcalf!” Falstaff said. “As for you, Moldy, old man, stay at home until you are past service: and as for you, Bullcalf, youngster, grow until you come of age to be of service. I want neither of you.”

Falstaff was saying — falsely — that Moldy was too old for military service and that Bullcalf was too young for military service.

“Sir John, Sir John, do not yourself wrong,” Justice Shallow objected. “They are the men likeliest to be good soldiers, and I want you to have the best men you can get.”

“Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a man for military service?” Falstaff said. “Care I for the body, the strength, the height, the bulk, and the overall physical bigness of a man! Give me the spirit, Master Shallow.

“Here’s Wart; you see what a ragged appearance he has, and yet he shall charge at you and discharge a light musket with the motion of a pewterer’s hammer that rapidly taps-taps-taps metal into shape. He will run to the front, fire his weapon, and then run back to reload faster than a man gulps the contents of a brewer’s beer bucket.

“And look at this half-faced fellow, Shadow. He is so thin and narrow that you can’t even see his face unless he is standing sideways. Give me this man: He presents no target to the enemy. The enemy may as accurately aim at the edge of a penknife. And as for a retreat; how swiftly will this Feeble the woman’s tailor run away!

“Oh, give me the spare, thin men, and spare me the great ones.

“Put a light musket into Wart’s hand, Bardolph.”

Bardolph gave Wart a light musket and then ordered, “March! Hut! Hut! Hut!”

“Come, show me what you can do with your light musket,” Falstaff said. “Good. Very good. Go on. Very good. Exceedingly good. Oh, give me always a little, lean, old, dried-up, bald gunman. Well done, truly, Wart; you are a good scab. Wait, here’s sixpence for you.”

Falstaff gave Wart a coin.

“He has not mastered marching,” Justice Shallow said. “He is not marching correctly. I remember at Mile-end Green, when I was staying at Clement’s Inn — I was then playing Sir Dagonet, King Arthur’s fool, in the exhibition of archery dedicated to Arthur. I remember a nimble little fellow who really knew how to handle a musket. He would do this, and this, and this —”

Justice Shallow demonstrated the various maneuvers.

“— and he would say ‘rah, tah, tah,’ imitating the loading of the musket, and then he would run in front of the front line, and then he would say ‘boom,” imitating the discharge of the musket, and he would retreat and then come forward again. I shall never again see such a fellow.”

“These fellows I have drafted will also do well, Master Shallow,” Falstaff said. “May God keep you well, Master Silence. I will not talk your ear off. Fare you well, both of you gentlemen. I thank you. I must travel a dozen miles tonight.”

He then said, “Bardolph, give the soldiers uniforms.”

“Sir John, may the Lord bless you!” Justice Shallow said. “May God prosper your affairs! May God send us peace! At your return, visit our house; let our old acquaintance be renewed; perhaps I will go with you to the court.”

“I swear to God that I wish you would, Master Shallow,” Falstaff said.

“Good,” Justice Shallow said. “I was not kidding. May God keep you well.”

“Fare you well, gentle gentlemen,” Falstaff said.

The two justices departed.

“Forward, Bardolph,” Falstaff ordered, “lead the men away.”

Everyone left except Falstaff, who said to himself, “When I return, I will take advantage of and cheat these justices. I can see the bottom of Justice Shallow — I can see through him. Lord, Lord, how susceptible we old men are to this vice of lying! This same starved, skinny justice has done nothing but prate to me about the wildness of his youth, and the feats he once did about Turnbull Street, a favorite gathering place for thieves and whores, and every third word he has spoken is a lie that he pays to the hearer quicker than a Turk pays tribute to the Sultan — who punished those who paid tribute late by killing them.

“I remember Shallow when he was at Clement’s Inn. He looked like a man who had been carved from a piece of cheese left after supper. When he was naked, he was, for all the world, like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife. He was so skinny and wretched that his dimensions to any imperfect sight were invincible: He would have been good in a battle because no one with less than perfect sight could see and shoot him — to an enemy soldier with bad eyesight, he would be invisible. He was the very embodiment of famine; yet he was as lecherous as a monkey, and the whores called him a mandrake because it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac.

“He always adopted fashionable things just after they went out of fashion, and he sang tunes to the worn-out whores that he had heard the wagon drivers whistle, and he would swear that they were his own fanciful musical compositions and serenades. And now this Vice’s dagger — this skinny piece of wood — has become a squire, and talks as familiarly of John of Gaunt as if he had been sworn brother to him; and I’ll be sworn that he never saw John of Gaunt except once at a jousting tournament, where John of Gaunt hit him on the head for crowding among the Marshal’s men. I saw it, and I told John of Gaunt that he had beaten his own name because you could have thrust Shallow and all his apparel into a long, skinny eel-skin. The case for a long, skinny treble oboe — the smallest oboe — was a mansion for Justice Shallow, it was an entire court, and now he owns land and cattle. Well, I will seek his company, if I return, and I won’t forgive myself if I don’t make him a philosopher’s two stones to me. I intend to make him a source of profit for myself — as profitable as if I had the philosopher’s stone that will turn base metal into gold and the philosopher’s stone — or elixir vitae, aka elixir of life — that will keep a man forever young.

“If a young and small fish can be a bait — a temptation and a food — for the old pike, I see no reason in the law of nature why I may not snap at him. The great fish eat the small. Time will tell, and I have nothing more to say.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

Posted in Books, Retellings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s “HENRY IV, PART 2”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 1

— 3.1 —

In a room of the palace at Westminster at night, King Henry IV, wearing night clothing, said to his young servant, “Go and call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick to come to me, but tell them to read these letters and carefully consider their content before they come. Hurry.”

His young servant left to do the errands.

King Henry IV said to himself, “How many thousands of my poorest subjects are at this hour asleep! Sleep, gentle Sleep, Nature’s soft nurse, how have I so frightened you that you will no longer weigh my eyelids down and steep my senses in forgetfulness? Why, Sleep, do you prefer to lie in smoky hovels, stretching yourself upon uncomfortable straw mattresses and being sung to by buzzing night insects as you go to your slumber, rather than to lie in the perfumed chambers of the nobility, under costly canopies, and lulled to slumber with the sound of sweetest melodies?

“Oh, you dull god, why do you lie with the lowly born in loathsome beds, and allow me, the King, to lie in my Kingly bed as if I were the mechanism in a watch case? The mechanism keeps on moving and is ready to raise an alarm, but the watch case is still and does not move.

“Sleep, you seal shut the eyes of the ship-boy who is in the crow’s nest at the top of the high and giddy mast, although his brains are rocked by the rude imperious surge of a tossing sea and by the visitation of the winds that take the ruffian waves by their tops, curling their monstrous heads and hanging them with such a deafening clamor in the slippery clouds that the noise wakes up Death itself.

“How can you, partial Sleep, give your repose to the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude and violent and noisy, and yet in the calmest and stillest night deny your repose to a King who has everything that is needed to make Sleep comfortable?

“Then happy lowly born, lie down! Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

Warwick and Surrey entered the room.

“May your majesty enjoy many happy mornings!” Warwick said.

“Is it morning, lords?” King Henry IV asked.

“It is past one o’clock,” Warwick said.

“Why, then, good morning to you all, my lords. Have you read over the letters that I sent you?”

“We have, my liege,” Warwick replied.

“Then you perceive how foul the body of our Kingdom is. You understand with what danger rank diseases grow near the heart of our Kingdom. You understand how serious the rebellion is.”

“The Kingdom is like a body that is ill, but that can be restored to its former health with good advice and a little medicine,” Warwick said. “My Lord Northumberland will soon be cooled and his rebellion stopped.”

“I wish to God that I could read the Book of Fate, and see the passage of time and the process of change that make mountains level, and the continent, which becomes weary of solid firmness, melt itself into the sea! And I would like to see, at other times, how the beaches grow and become so big that tides can no longer wash over them. The beaches are the belt of the sea-god Neptune, and they can grow until they become too large for his hips and so parts of the beaches are no longer touched by sea-tides. I would like to see the ironic tricks played by chance occurrences upon men, and how changes fill the cup of alteration with many different liquors!

“If it were possible to see these things in a book, the happiest youth, viewing the course of his life — what perils he would encounter, and what crosses he would bear — would shut the book and then sit down and die.

“Not ten years have passed since Richard II and the Earl of Northumberland, who were then great friends, feasted together. Two years after they were feasting together, they were at war against each other. Only eight years ago, Northumberland was the man nearest my soul. Like a brother, he toiled for me and he laid his love and life under my foot — he submitted himself to me. For my sake, he even defied King Richard II.

“But which of you was there? If I remember correctly, you were present, Warwick, when Richard II, with his eyes brimful of tears, rebuked and berated by Northumberland, spoke these words that are now proved to be a prophecy: ‘Northumberland, you are the ladder by which my cousin Henry Bolingbroke — King Henry IV — ascends to my throne.’

“However, God knows that I then had no such intent of ever becoming King. But necessity so bowed the state that a new King was needed, and therefore greatness and I were compelled to kiss.

“Richard II continued, ‘The time shall come that foul sin, gathering head, growing to a boil and raising an army, shall break into corruption.’ He continued to speak, foretelling this same time’s condition and the division of our amity. He foretold that Northumberland would rebel against my rule.”

“There is a history in all men’s lives,” Warwick replied, “that tells what happened in the past. Observing the past, a man may identify with a high degree of accuracy the things that are most likely to happen. These things that have not yet occurred have their seeds and weak beginnings stored in the past as if they were in a treasury.

“Such things hatch and become the brood of time. And by knowing the necessary pattern of cause and effect, King Richard II might create a guess — which turned out to be accurate — that great Northumberland, who was then false to him, would from that seed grow to a greater falseness that could find no ground to take root upon, except on you.”

“Are these things then necessities?” King Henry IV asked. “Then let us meet them like necessities although that same word ‘necessities’ cries out against us. I hate to think that these things had to happen.

“They say the Archbishop of York and the Earl of Northumberland have an army of fifty thousand soldiers.”

“That cannot be, my lord,” Warwick replied. “Rumor does double, like the voice and echo, the numbers of the feared. That number is exaggerated. May it please your grace to go to bed. I swear upon my soul, my lord, that the armies that you already have sent forth shall bring this prize in very easily. Your armies shall stop the rebellion.

“To comfort you the more, let me now tell you that I have received verified information that Glendower is dead.

“Your majesty has been ill for the past two weeks, and these late hours will worsen your illness.”

“I will take your advice,” King Henry IV said. “Once this rebellion has been stopped, we wish, dear lords, to go on a Crusade to the Holy Land.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

Posted in Books, Retellings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reasons Why it Has Always Been Taylor Swift

She was great at the trial, too.

Reblogged on davidbruceblog.

semipoetry

Before i start listing down the reasons why i am head over heals with Taylor Swift, let me tell you that it hasn’t always been Taylor Swift because I once didn’t like her. It didn’t reach to the point where i bashed her, i just flinched every once in a while when i see her “Love Story” video. I used to think that Taylor Swift tried so hard to look like a princess in that video, and when i hear it on the radio i just think that her voice doesn’t stand out at all. I never thought about her that much back then, but when i do, i’d know that she’s not my type of artist. However, i was given an ipod with songs downloaded by someone else and i found myself repeatedly listening to “Untouchable” and “Teardrops on My Guitar.” I thought that it was so good. The…

View original post 621 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment