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themselves, one of them thought but of an if, as, If you said so, then I said so. And they shook hands and swore brothers. Your if is the only peace-maker; much virtue in if.
-“As You Like It."
The Lost Drum
BERTRAM and two FRENCH LORDS.
Ist Lord. Nay, good my lord, put him to't: let him have
2d Lord. If your lordship find him not a hilding, hold me no more in your respect.
Ist Lord. On my life, my lord, a bubble.
Ist Lord. Believe it, my lord: in mine own direct knowledge, without any malice, but to speak of him as my kinsman, he's a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality worthy your lordship's entertainment.
2d Lord. It were fit you knew him, lest, reposing too far in his virtue, which he hath not, he might, at some great and trusty business in a main danger, fail you.
Ber. I would I knew in what particular action to try him.
2d Lord. None better than to let him fetch off his drum, which you hear him so confidently undertake to do.
Ist Lord. I, with a troop of Florentines, will suddenly surprise him: such I will have whom, I am sure, he knows not from the enemy.
We will bind and hoodwink him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he is carried into the leaguer of the adversaries, when we bring him to our own tents. Be but your lordship present at his examination: if he do not, for the promise of his life, and in the highest compulsion of base fear, offer to betray you, and deliver all the intelligence in his power against you, and that with the divine forfeit of his soul upon oath, never trust my judgment in anything.
2d Lord. Oh, for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum; he says he has a stratagem fort. When your lordship sees the bottom of his success in't, and to what metal this counterfeit lump of ore will be melted, if you give him not John Drum's entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed. Here he comes.
Ist Lord. Oh, for the love of laughter, hinder not the honour of his design: let him fetch off his drum in any hand.
Ber. How now, monsieur ? This drum sticks sorely in your disposition.
2d Lord. A pox on't! Let it go: 'tis but a drum.
Par. But a drum! Is't but a drum? A drum so lost! There was an excellent command, to charge in with our horse upon our own wings, and to rend our own soldiers !
2d Lord. That was not to be blamed in the command of the service: it was a disaster of war that Cæsar himself could not have prevented, if he had been there to command.
Ber. Well, we cannot greatly condemn our success: some dishonour we had in the loss of that drum; but it is not to be recovered.
Par. It might have been recovered.
Par. It is to be recovered. But that the merit of service is seldom attributed to the true and exact performer, I would have that drum or another, or hic jacet.
Ber. Why, if you have a stomach to't, monsieur, if you think your mystery in stratagem can bring this instrument of honour again into his native quarter, be magnanimous in the enterprise, and go on; I will grace the attempt for a worthy exploit. If you speed well in it, the duke shall both speak of it, and extend to you what further becomes his greatness, even to the utmost syllable of your worthiness.
Par. By the hand of a soldier, I will undertake it.
Par. I'll about it this evening. And I will presently pen down my dilemmas, encourage myself in my certainty, put myself into my mortal preparation, and by midnight look to hear further from me.
Ber. May I be bold to acquaint his grace you are gone about it?
Par. I know not what the success will be, my lord; but the attempt I vow.
Ber. I know thou art valiant, and, to the possibility of thy soldiership, will subscribe for thee. Farewell.
FRENCH LORD, with SOLDIERS in ambush.
Lord. He can come no other way but by this hedgecorner. When you sally upon him, speak what terrible language you will: though you understand it not yourselves, no matter; for we must not seem to understand him, unless some one among us, whom we must produce for an interpreter.
Ist Sold. Good captain, let me be the interpreter.
Lord. Art not acquainted with him? Knows he not thy voice?
Ist Sold. No, sir, I warrant you.
Lord. But what linsey-woolsey hast thou to speak to us again?
Ist Sold. Even such as you speak to me.
Lord. He must think us some band of strangers i' the adversary's entertainment. Now, he hath a smack of all neighbouring languages; therefore we must every one be a man of his own fancy, not to know what we speak one to another; so we seem to know, is to know straight our purpose: chough's language, gabble enough, and good enough. As for you, interpreter, you must seem very politic. But couch, ho! here he comes, to beguile two hours in a sleep, and then to return and swear the lies he forges.
Par. Ten o'clock: within these three hours 'twill be time enough to go home. What shall I say I have done? It must be a very plausive invention that carries it. They begin to smoke me, and disgraces have of late knocked too often at my door. I find my tongue is too foolhardy; but my heart hath the fear of Mars before it, and of his creatures, not daring the reports of my tongue.
Lord (aside). This is the first truth that e'er thine own tongue was guilty of.
Par. What the devil should move me to undertake the recovery of this drum, being not ignorant of the impossi
bility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I must give myself some hurts, and say I got them in exploit. Yet slight ones will not carry it: they will say,
off with so little"? and great ones I dare not give. Vherefore? What's the instance? Tongue, I must put you into a butterwoman's mouth, and buy myself another of Bajazet's mule, if you prattle me into these perils.
Lord (aside). Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is ?
Par. I would the cutting of my garments would serve the turn, or the breaking of my Spanish sword.
Lord (aside). We cannot afford you so.
Par. Or the baring of my beard; and to say it was in stratagem.
Lord (aside). 'Twould not do.
Par. Though I swore I leaped from the window of the citadel
Lord (aside). How deep?
Lord (aside). Three great oaths would scarce make that be believed.
Par. I would I had any drum of the enemy's; I would swear I recovered it.
Lord (aside). You shall hear one anon.
Do not hide mine eyes. (SOLDIERS seize and blindfold him.)