David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scene 2

— 4.2 —

Belarius (Morgan) came out of the cave. With him were Guiderius (Polydore), Arviragus (Cadwal), and Imogen (Fidele). Everyone still thought that Imogen was the young man Fidele.

Belarius (Morgan) said to Imogen (Fidele), “You are not well. Remain here in the cave, and we’ll come to you after hunting.”

Arviragus (Cadwal) said to her, “Brother, stay here.Are we not brothers?”

Not feeling well because of the hardships she had gone through, Imogen (Fidele) said, “Although both men are made from clay, and although both turn to dust when they die, yet they can differ in social class. But man and man should be brothers.”

Guiderius (Polydore) said to Belarius (Morgan) and Arviragus (Cadwal), “You two go and hunt. I’ll stay with him.”

“I am not sick, although I am not well,” Imogen (Fidele) said. “I am not so citified a pampered child that I seem ready to die before I am sick. Please, leave me here, alone. Stick to your normal daily activities. Breaking a routine upsets everything. I am ill, but your being beside me cannot heal me; society is no comfort to one who is not sociable. I am not very sick, since I can talk reasonably about it — I am not delirious. Please, trust me to be alone here. I’ll rob no one but myself; and let me die if I steal from one who is that poor. I will deserve to die since I am such a poor thief.”

Guiderius (Polydore) said to her, “I love you; I have said it. I love you as much and as deeply as I love my father.”

“What!” Belarius (Morgan) said, surprised.

“Even if it is a sin to say so, I share my good brother’s fault,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said. “I don’t know why I love this youth, and I have heard you say that love is without reason. If a bier were at the door, and I was asked who should die, I would say, ‘My father, not this youth.’”

Belarius (Morgan) marveled at how much his “sons” loved this young man whom they had just recently met. Such love must come from the young man’s good and noble character, which must be like the good and noble character — a result of their noble heritage — of his “sons.” It was likely that the young man also had a noble heritage.

He thought, Oh, noble strain! Oh, worthiness of nature! Oh, breed of greatness! Cowards father cowards and base things sire base things. Nature has meal and bran, contempt and grace. I’m not these two boys’ biological father; but whoever this Fidele is, it is a miracle that these two boys love him more than they love me.

He said out loud, “It is the ninth hour of the morning.”

“Brother, farewell,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said.

“I wish you good hunting,” Imogen (Fidele) said.

“I wish you health,” Arviragus (Cadwal) replied.

He said to Belarius (Morgan), “I am ready, sir.”

These are kind creatures, Imogen thought. By the gods, what lies I have heard! Our courtiers say everyone is savage except those who are at court. Experience, you have disproved what they say! The imperious seas breed monsters, but the poor tributary rivers breed no monsters although they breed as good fish for our dishes as the imperious seas do. I am still sick; I am heartsick. Pisanio, I’ll now taste of the drug that you gave me.

She swallowed some of the drug that Pisanio had given to her; it was the same drug that the Queen had given to Pisanio.

The three men talked quietly together, away from Imogen.

Guiderius (Polydore) said about Imogen (Fidele), “I could not get him to say much about himself. He said he was well born, but unfortunate; he was afflicted by dishonorable people, but he himself was still honest and honorable.”

“He said the same thing to me,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “but he added that later I might learn more.”

“To the field, to the field!” Belarius (Morgan) said. “It is time to hunt.”

He said to Imogen (Fidele), “We’ll leave you for awhile. Go in the cave and rest.”

“We’ll not be away for long,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said.

“Please, don’t be sick,” Belarius (Morgan) said to her, “because you must manage our household.”

“Whether I am well or ill, I am bound to you,” Imogen (Fidele) said.

“And shall be forever,” Belarius (Morgan) replied.

She had used the word “bound” to mean “obliged,” but he had used it to mean “bound by mutual affection.”

Imogen (Fidele) went into the cave.

Belarius (Morgan) then said, “This youth, however distressed he is, appears to have had good ancestors.”

“How like an angel he sings!” Arviragus (Cadwal) marveled.

“And his elegant cookery!” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “He cut our roots into shapes and letters, and he seasoned our broths just as if the goddess Juno — who would expect fine food — had been sick and he was her dietician.”

“Nobly he links a smile with a sigh, as if the sigh was what it was because it was not such a smile; the smile is mocking the sigh because it would fly from so divine a temple and mingle with winds that sailors rail at,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said.

“I noticed that grief and patience, both of which are rooted in him, mingle their roots together,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “He is sorrowful, but he manages his sorrow well.”

“May the root of patience grow in him,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said. “And may grief — the dying and destructive root of the stinking elder tree, from which Judas hanged himself — untwine itself from the growing vine of patience!”

“It is now fully morning,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “Come, let’s go and hunt!”

He saw something move and said quietly to his “sons,” “Who’s there?”

Cloten came into view, but he did not see the three men immediately.

Cloten said to himself, “I cannot find those renegades; that villain has fooled me. I am faint.”

Belarius (Morgan) said quietly, “‘Those renegades!’ Doesn’t he mean us? I somewhat know him: He is Cloten, the son of the Queen. I fear some ambush. I have not seen him for many years, and yet I know it is he. We are regarded as outlaws! Run!”

Guiderius (Polydore) replied, “He is only one man; he is alone. You and my brother go and search to see which other people are near. Please, go. Let me alone with him. I will deal with him.”

Belarius (Morgan) and Arviragus (Cadwal) exited.

Cloten saw them leaving and called, “Wait! Who are you two who are running away from me like this? Are you some villainous criminals who live in the mountains? I have heard of such.”

He asked Guiderius (Polydore), “What slave are you?”

The word “slave” was an insult that meant “villain.”

“The most slavish thing I can ever do is to let you insult me without my giving you a blow in return,” Guiderius (Polydore) replied.

Cloten replied, “You are a robber, a law-breaker, a villain. Surrender, thief.”

“To whom? To you? Who are you? Don’t I have an arm as big as your arm? A heart as big? Your words, I grant, are bigger, for I don’t wear my dagger in my mouth. Say who you are. Explain why I should surrender to you.”

“You base villain, don’t you realize who I am by looking at the sort of clothing I am wearing?”

“No, I don’t know who you are,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “Nor, rascal, do I know who your tailor is, although he must be your grandfather. He made those clothes, and you think that your clothes make you, and so your tailor is your grandfather.”

“You worthless rascal,” Cloten said, “My tailor did not make these clothes.”

Cloten was wearing Posthumus’ clothing.

“Leave, then, and thank the man who gave them to you. You are some fool, and so I am loath to beat you.”

“You insulting thief, hear what my name is, and tremble.”

“What’s your name?”

“Cloten, you villain.”

“If Cloten, you double villain, is your name, I cannot tremble at it. If your name were Toad, or Adder, or Spider, all of which are venomous creatures, it would make a bigger impression on me.”

“To your further fear — no, to your complete confusion, you should know that I am the Queen’s son.”

“I am sorry that you are the son of the Queen; you don’t seem to be worthy of your high birth.”

“Aren’t you afraid now?” Cloten asked.

“I fear those whom I revere, the wise. I laugh at fools — I do not fear them.”

“Now you shall die,” Cloten said. “After I have slain you with my own hand, I’ll follow those who just now fled from here, and on the gates of Lud’s town I will display your heads. Surrender, hillbilly mountaineer.”

They exited, fighting.

Belarius (Morgan) met Arviragus (Cadwal) and asked, “Did you see any people nearby?”

“None in the world. You mistook the identity of this man, I am sure.”

“Let me think,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “It has been a long time since I saw him, but time has not blurred the facial features that he had the last time I saw him. Also, the hesitations in his speech, followed by bursts of speaking, are exactly the same as they were. I am absolutely sure that this man is really Cloten.”

“We left my brother and Cloten in this place. I hope that my brother makes short work of him. You say that Cloten is so savage and cruel.”

Belarius (Morgan) replied, “Cloten roars as if he is a terror; he frightens people with his bluster. Your brother is young; he is scarcely a man. Because of his youth, he has no experience of such blustery roaring ‘terrors’ as Cloten. I hope that your brother is not afraid of him, as he may be if he mistakes the bluster of threats for the reality of danger. Defective judgment about a man’s character can cause that man to be feared. But, look, your brother is coming.”

Carrying Cloten’s head, Guiderius (Polydore) walked over to them and said, “This Cloten was a fool. His head is an empty purse with no money in it. Hercules performed many almost impossible labors, but even he would be unable to knock out Cloten’s brains, because Cloten had none. Yet if I had not cut off his head, the fool would be carrying my head instead of me carrying his head.”

Belarius (Morgan), who was aware of the seriousness of killing the son of the Queen, said, “What have you done!”

“I know exactly what I have done. I have cut off the head of Cloten, son of the Queen, according to his own report; he called me ‘traitor’ and ‘mountaineer,’ and he swore that with his own unassisted hand he would capture us and displace our heads from where — thank the gods! — they grow, and display them in Lud’s town.”

“We are all undone, ruined, and destroyed,” Belarius (Morgan) said.

“Why, worthy father, what have we to lose, except that which he swore to take, our lives?” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “The law does not protect us, so why then should we be so meek and spineless that we let an arrogant piece of flesh threaten us and play judge and executioner all by himself? Should we do that because we fear the law?”

He paused and then asked, “Did you discover any other men in this area?”

Belarius (Morgan) replied, “We have not laid an eye on a single soul, but level-headed reason tells me that he must have some attendants. His mood was very changeable, yes, and he changed from one bad thing to another that was worse; however, not frenzy, not even absolute madness could have so far possessed him that he would come here alone. Perhaps at court news is spread that such as we live in caves here, hunt here, are outlaws here, and in time may make some stronger fighting force; if he heard that news, then it is like him to break out in speech and swear that he would capture us and fetch us into the court, yet it is not probable that he would come alone. He is unlikely to want to come alone, and the others at court are unlikely to allow him to come alone, and so we have good grounds to fear that other men are near us. Like a scorpion, this body of men has a tail more perilous than the head. Cloten was not much of a danger, but the men he must have brought with him will be more dangerous than he.”

“Let what is ordained come just as the gods foretell it,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said. “However, my brother has done well.”

“I was not in the mood to hunt today,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “The boy Fidele’s sickness made my walk away from the cave seem long.”

Guiderius (Polydore) said, “With Cloten’s own sword, which he waved against my throat, I have taken his head away from him. I’ll throw it into the creek behind our cave and let it go to the sea, where it will tell the fishes he’s the Queen’s son, Cloten. That’s all I care about him.”

Guiderius (Polydore) exited.

“I am afraid that Cloten’s death will be revenged,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “I wish, Polydore, you had not killed him, although valor becomes you well enough.”

“I wish that I had killed him, as long as the revenge pursued only me!” Arviragus (Cadwal) said. “Polydore, I love you like the brother you are, but I am very envious of you because you have robbed me of this deed. I wish that avengers, whom we could fight with the strength we have, would thoroughly seek us and force us to fight them.”

“Well, it is done,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “Cloten is dead. We’ll hunt no more today, nor will we seek danger where there’s no profit in doing so. Please, go to our cave. You and Fidele be the cooks today; I’ll stay here until impulsive Polydore returns, and I’ll bring him home to dinner soon.”

“Poor sick Fidele! To get his color back to him, I’d willingly make a parish full of Clotens bleed, and I would praise myself for acting charitably.”

Arviragus (Cadwal) exited.

Belarius (Morgan) said to himself, “Oh, goddess, you divine Nature, how you proclaim yourself in these two Princely boys! They are as gentle as zephyrs blowing below the violets, not wagging their sweet heads; and yet they are as rough, once their royal blood is heated, as the rudest wind that takes the top of a mountain pine and makes it stoop to the valley. It is wonderful that an invisible, unseen instinct should shape them to act royally and honorably without having been taught to act that way, and to act civilly without seeing models of such behavior. Valor grows wild in them, but it yields a crop as if it had been sowed. They act like Princes without having been taught how to act like Princes.

“Yet it’s still a mystery what Cloten’s being here signifies to us, and what his death will bring us.”

Guiderius (Polydore) came back and said, “Where’s my brother? I have sent Cloten’s idiot head down the stream on an embassy to his mother. His body is being held hostage until his head’s return.”

Solemn music began to play.

“My ingenious musical instrument!” Belarius (Morgan) said. “Listen, Polydore, it is playing! But why is Cadwal now making it play? Listen!”

He was referring to a musical instrument that he had built to be played only on important solemn occasions.

“Is he at home?”

“He went there just now.”

Guiderius (Polydore) said, “What does he mean by starting up the musical instrument? It has not played since the death of my very dear mother. All solemn things, including solemn music, should correspond to solemn events. What is the matter? Triumphs to celebrate nothing and laments over trifles are fun for apes and grief for boys. Is Cadwal mad? Is he playing this music to grieve over the death of Cloten?”

Belarius (Morgan) said, “Look, here he comes. We have been blaming him for playing this music, but he carries the dire reason for this solemn music in his arms.”

Arviragus (Cadwal), carrying the stiff body of Imogen (Fidele) in his arms, walked over to them.

He said, “The bird is dead that we have made so much about. I would rather have skipped from sixteen years of age to sixty, to have turned my vigorous and youthful leaping-time into a time in which I need a crutch, than to have seen this.”

“Oh, sweetest, fairest lily!” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “My brother wears you like a flower that is not even one-half as good as when you were still alive and growing.”

Arviragus (Cadwal) placed the body on the ground.

“Melancholy!” Belarius (Morgan) said. “Whoever yet could sound your bottom as if you were a river and plumb your depths? Whoever could find the ooze at the bottom, to show what coast your sluggish small trading boat might most easily harbor in? You blessed thing! Jove knows what man you might have been when you grew up; but I know that you, a very rare boy, died of melancholy.”

He said to Arviragus (Cadwal), “How was he when you found him?”

“Stiff, as you see him now, and smiling like he is now, as if some fly had tickled him in his slumber, not as if he was laughing at death’s dart. His right cheek was resting on a cushion.”

“Where was he?” Guiderius (Polydore) asked.

“On the floor. His arms were crossed against his chest. I thought he slept, and took off my hobnailed boots, whose coarseness made my steps too loud.”

“Why, he is only sleeping,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “If he is dead and gone, he’ll make his grave into a bed. Female fairies will stay near his tomb —”

He turned to the body of Imogen (Fidele) and said, “— and worms will not come to you.”

Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “With the fairest flowers while summer lasts and I live here, Fidele, I’ll sweeten your sad grave. You shall not lack the flower that’s like your face, pale primrose, nor shall you lack the colored-like-a-clear-sky bluebell, which is the same color as your veins, nor shall you lack the leaf of eglantine, which I do not mean to slander when I say that it does not smell sweeter than your breath. The robin, with its charitable bill — the bill that greatly shames those rich heirs who allow their fathers to lie without a monument! — will bring your body all these flowers, and furred moss besides, when in winter there are no flowers, to cover your corpse.”

“Please, finish,” the practical Guiderius (Polydore) said, “and do not play with womanish words in that which is so serious. Let us bury him, and not defer with admiration and wonder what is now a due debt. Let’s carry his body to the grave.”

“Where shall we bury him?” Arviragus (Cadwal) asked.

“By good Euriphile, our mother.”

“Let’s do it,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “and let us, Polydore, though now our voices have the broken-voice quality of young men, sing as we bury him, as once we buried our mother. We will sing the same notes and words, except that we are singing for Fidele and not for Euriphile.”

“Cadwal, I cannot sing,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “I’ll weep and say the words with you. Sorrowful notes that are out of tune are worse than priests and oracles who lie.”

“We’ll speak the words, then.”

Belarius (Morgan) said, “Great griefs, I see, cure lesser griefs because Cloten is quite forgotten. He was a Queen’s son, boys, and although he came to us as our enemy, remember that he paid for that. Although the lowly and the mighty, rotting together, have one dust, yet respectful esteem, that angel of the world, makes a distinction of place between highly born and lowly born. Our foe was Princely, and although you took his life, because he was our foe, yet we should bury him as a Prince should be buried.”

Guiderius (Polydore) said to Belarius (Morgan), “Please, fetch Cloten’s body here. Thersites’ body is as good as Great Ajax’s body, when neither is alive.”

Great Ajax was a great Greek warrior in the Trojan War, second only to Achilles. Thersites, a common Greek soldier, was ugly and quarrelsome.

“If you’ll go and fetch him,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “we’ll say our song while you are gone. Brother, begin.”

Belarius (Morgan) exited to get Cloten’s body.

“No, Cadwal,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “The body is not placed correctly. We must lay his head to the east; my father has a reason for it.”

They were not Christian; they worshipped the Sun.

“That is true,” Arviragus (Cadwal) said.

“Come on then, and let’s move him.”

They moved the body, and Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “Good. Begin.”

Guiderius (Polydore) began the song:

Fear no more the heat of the Sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages.

You your worldly task have done,

Home have you gone, and taken your wages.

Golden lads and girls all must,

Like chimney sweepers, come to dust.”

Arviragus (Cadwal) next took up the song:

Fear no more the frown of the great;

You are past the tyrant’s stroke.

Care no more to clothe and eat;

To you the reed is the same as the oak.

The scepter, learning, physic, must

[“The scepter, learning, physic” referred to Kings and worldly power, scholars and education, and doctors and medicine.]

All endure death, and come to dust.”

Guiderius (Polydore) spoke next:

Fear no more the lightning flash,”

Then Arviragus (Cadwal) spoke:

Nor the all-dreaded thunderstone.”

[The thunderstone was a lightning bolt, which people of that time thought came down with stones from the sky.]

Guiderius (Polydore):

Fear not slander, censure rash;”

Arviragus (Cadwal):

You have finished joy and moan.”

Both together:

All lovers young, all lovers must

Do like you, and come to dust.”

Guiderius (Polydore):

May no exorciser [spirit-raiser] harm you!

Arviragus (Cadwal):

Nor no witchcraft charm you!

Guiderius (Polydore):

Ghost unlaid forbear you!

[“May no restless ghost trouble you!”]

Arviragus (Cadwal):

May nothing ill come near you!

Both together:

Quiet end of life have;

And renowned be your grave!

Belarius (Morgan) returned, carrying the headless body of Cloten.

Guiderius (Polydore) said, “We have done our obsequies. Come, lay him down.”

“Here are a few flowers,” Belarius (Morgan) said, “but at about midnight, there will be more. The herbs that have on them the cold dew of the night are the best and fittest to be strewn on graves. Put these flowers on the front of their bodies.”

He said to the two bodies, “You were like flowers, but now you are withered. So shall be these little herbs, which we now strew upon you.”

He then said to his two “sons”: “Come on, let’s go. Away from them, we’ll get upon our knees and pray. The ground that gave them first has them again. Their pleasures here in the living world are past, and so is their pain.”

They exited.

Imogen (Fidele) had not taken poison, but only a drug that made her sleep deeply for a while.

She woke up next to the headless Cloten, who was wearing her husband’s clothes.

Still dreaming and thinking that she was asking for directions to Milford Haven, she said, “Yes, sir, to Milford Haven; which is the way? … I thank you. … By yonder bush? … Please, how much farther is it? … God, have pity! Can it really be six more miles? … I have walked all night. Indeed, I’ll lie down and sleep for a while.”

She then fully woke up, felt Cloten’s body next to her, and said, “But, wait! I need no bedfellow!”

She looked at Cloten’s body and said, “Oh, gods and goddesses! These flowers are like the pleasures of the world; this bloody man is like the sorrow in it. I hope I am dreaming because I also dreamt that I was a cave-dweller and a cook to honest men, but that is not so — it was but an arrow of nothing, shot at nothing, an arrow that the brain makes of fumes. Our own eyes are sometimes like our judgments, blind.”

People of the time thought that fumes rising from the body would go to the brain and cause dreams.

She continued, “Truly, I tremble stiff with fear, but if there is yet left in Heaven a drop of pity as small as a wren’s eye, feared gods, give me a part of it! The dream is still here. Even when I awake, it is outside me, as it was within me; it is not imagined — it is felt.”

Because Cloten was dressed in the clothing of her husband, Imogen (Fidele) thought that it was her husband lying dead beside her.

She continued, “A headless man! The garments of Posthumus! I know the shape of his leg. This is his hand. This is his foot like that of the messenger god Mercury. This is his thigh like that of Mars, the god of war. These are the muscles of Hercules, but his face that is like that of Jupiter … is there murder in Heaven? … what! … his face is gone!

“Pisanio, may all the curses that insane Hecuba gave the Greeks, and my curses, also, be shot at you!”

Following the fall of Troy, its Queen, Hecuba, became insane as a result of grief. She cursed the Greeks for the deaths they had inflicted on members of her family.

Imogen (Fidele) continued, “Pisanio, you must have conspired with that lawless devil, Cloten, and have here killed my husband. To write and to read are from now on treacherous! Pisanio has with his forged letters — damned Pisanio — from this most splendid vessel of the world struck off the top of the main mast! Posthumus! I mourn! Where is your head? Where is it? Pisanio might have killed you by striking you in the heart, and left you your head.

“How could this come to be? Pisanio? He and Cloten have done this! Cloten’s malice and Pisanio’s greed have laid this woeful corpse here. Oh, it is clear, clear! The drug Pisanio gave me, which he said was precious and medicinal to me, have I not found it murderous to the senses? That completely confirms it. This is Pisanio’s deed, as well as Cloten’s.”

She smeared her cheeks with blood while saying to the corpse, “Give color to my pale cheek with your blood, so that we may seem all the more horrid to those who chance to find us. Oh, my lord, my lord!”

She lay on the corpse.

General Caius Lucius, a Roman Captain, some other officers, and a soothsayer arrived on the scene, but they did not immediately notice Imogen (Fidele) and the headless corpse. They were busy discussing military preparations.

The Captain said to Caius Lucius, “In addition to those forces, the legions garrisoned in France, following your orders, have crossed the sea, and are awaiting you here at Milford Haven with your ships. They are all ready.”

Caius Lucius asked, “What forces are coming from Rome?”

The Captain replied, “The Senate has stirred up the inhabitants and gentlemen of Italy, who are very willing spirits and who promise to provide noble service, and they are coming here under the command of bold Iachimo, the brother of the Duke of Siena.”

“When do you expect them?”

“I expect them to arrive with the next favorable wind.”

“This state of preparedness makes our hopes of success fair,” Caius Lucius said. “Command our present numbers to be mustered; order the captains to do it.”

He then asked the soothsayer, “Now, sir, what have you dreamed recently about this war’s outcome?”

“Last night the gods themselves showed me a vision — I fasted and prayed for them to give me information. I saw Jove’s bird, the Roman eagle, fly from the damp south to this part of the west, where it vanished in the sunbeams, which portends — unless my sins interfere with my divination — success to the Roman army.”

“Dream such dreams often, and may they always be true,” Caius Lucius replied.

Seeing Imogen (Fidele) and the corpse, he said, “Wait! What trunk is here without his top? The ruin shows that once this was a worthy building. What! A page! Either dead, or sleeping on him? But the page must be dead because it is not natural for him to make his bed by the deceased or to sleep on a corpse.”

Referring to Imogen (Fidele), he ordered, “Let’s see the boy’s face.”

The Captain said, “He’s alive, my lord.”

“He’ll tell us about this body,” Caius Lucius said.

He then said to Imogen (Fidele), “Young one, tell us about your fortunes, for it seems they must be told. Who is this whom you are making your bloody pillow? Or tell us who was he who has altered that good picture otherwise than noble nature did. What’s your interest in this sad wreck? How came this to be? Who is he? Who are you?”

“I am nothing,” Imogen (Fidele) said. “Or if I am not nothing, it would be better if I were nothing. This was my master. He is a very good and valiant Briton who was slain here by mountaineers. Alas! There are no more such masters as he. I may wander from the east to the west, cry out for employment, try many masters, all good, and serve them truly and loyally, but never find another such master.”

“I pity you, good youth!” Caius Lucius said. “You move me no less with your grieving than your master moves me with his bleeding. Tell me his name, good friend.”

“He was named Richard du Champ,” Imogen (Fidele) replied.

She thought, If I lie but do no harm by lying, then if the gods hear my lie, I hope they’ll pardon it.

Seeing Caius Lucius looking expectantly at her, she asked, “Did you say something, sir?”

“What is your name?”

“Fidele, sir.”

“You have proven that you are faithful, as your name says that you are. Your name fits your faith well, and your faith fits your name well. Will you take a chance and serve me? Will you enter my employ? I will not say you shall have as good a master as you did, but you can be sure that you will be no less beloved than you were. The Roman Emperor’s letters, sent by a consul to me, should not sooner than your own worth recommend you to me. Come, go with me and be in my employ.”

“I’ll follow you, sir,” Imogen (Fidele) said. “But first, if it please the gods, I’ll hide my dead master from the flies, as deep as these poor pickaxes — my fingers — can dig; and when with wild tree leaves and weeds I have strewn his grave, and on it said a hundred prayers that I know, twice, I’ll weep and sigh. Then, leaving his service, I will follow you, if it pleases you to employ me.”

“Yes, it does please me, good youth! And I will be more of a father to you than a master,” Caius Lucius said.

He then ordered, “My friends, the boy has taught us manly duties. Let us find the prettiest daisied plot we can, and make a grave with our pikes and partisans for the boy’s master. Come, carry the body in your arms.”

Pikes and partisans are long-handled weapons.

He then said to Imogen (Fidele), “Boy, your late master is recommended by you to us, and he shall be interred as well as soldiers can inter him. Be cheerful; wipe your eyes. Some falls are the means for happier things to arise. Good can come from evil.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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