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Chi. Belike, for joy the emperor hath a son.

180 Dem. Soft; who comes here?

Enter Nurse, with a Black-a-Moor Child.
Nurse. Good-morrow, lords:
O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor?

Aar. Well, more, or less, or ne'er a whit at all.
Here Aaron is; and what with Aaron now?

Nur. O gentle Aaron, we are all undone !
Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!

Aar. Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep?
What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms ?
Nur. O, that which I would hide from heaven's

190 Our emperess' shame, and stately Rome's dis.

grace ;
She is deliver'd, lords, she is deliver'd.

Aar. To whom?
Nur. I mean, she is brought to bed.

dar. Well, God
Give her good rest! What hath he sent her!

Nur. A devil.
Aar. Why, then she is the devil's dam; a joyful

Nur. A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful

issue :
Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad
Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime.
The emperess’ sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,
And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.


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Aar. Out, out, you whore ! is black so base a

hueSweet blowse, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.

Dem. Villain, what hast thou done?

Aar. That which thou
Can'st not indo,

Chi, Thou hast undone our mother.
Mar. Villain, I have done thy mother.

Dem. And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone. Woe to her chance, and damn'd her loathed choice! Accurs'd the offspring of so foul a fiend !

Chi. It shall not live.
Aar. It shall not die.
Nur. Aaron, it must; the mother wills it so.

Aar. What, must it nurse ? then let no man, but I, Do execution on my flesh and blood.

Dem. I'll broach the tadpole on my rapier's point: Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon dispatch it.

Aar. Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up. Stay, murderous villains ! will you kill your brother? Now, by the burning tapers of the sky, That shone so brightly when this boy was got, He dies upon my scymitar's sharp point, That touches this my first-born son and heir ! I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus, With all his threat'ning band of Typhon's brood, Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war, Shall seize this prey, out of his father's hands. 230 What, what; ye sanguine shallow-hearted boys ! Ye white-lim'd walls! ye alehouse painted signs !


Coal-black is better than another hue,
In that it scorns to bear another hue :
For all the water in the ocean
Can never turn the swan's black legs to white,
Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
Tell the emperess from me, I am of age
To keep mine own; excuse it how she can. 239

Dem. Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus ?

Aar. My Mistress is my mistress; this, myself;
The vigour, and the picture of my youth :
This, before all the world, do I prefer;
This, maugre all the world, will I keep safe,
Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.

Dem. By this our mother is for ever sham'd.
Chi. Rome will despise her for this foul escape.
Nur. The emperor, in his rage, will doom her

Chi. I blush to think upon this ignomy. 249

Aar. Why there's the privilege your beauty bears :
Fye, treacherous hue! that will betray with blushing
The close enacts and counsels of the heart !
Here's a young lad fram'd of another leer:
Look, how the black slave smiles upon the father ;
As who should say, Old lad, I am thine own.
He is your brother, lords; sensibly fed
Of that self-blood that first gave
And, from that womb, where you imprison'd were,
He is enfranchised and come to light:
Nay, he's your brother by the surer side,

260 Although my seal is stamped in his face.


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life to you;

Nur. Aaron, what shall I say unto the emperess ?

Dem. Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,
And we will all subscribe to thy advice;
Save you the child, so we may all be safe.

Aar. Then sit we down, and let us all consult.
My son and I will have the wind of you :
Keep there: Now talk at pleasure of your safety.

[They sit on the Ground. Dem. How many women saw this child of his? Aar. Why, so, brave lords; When we all join in league,

970 I am a lamb: but if you brave the Moor, The chafed boar, the mountain lioness, The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms.But, say again, how many saw the child ?

Nur. Cornelia the midwife, and myself, And no one else, but the deliver'd emperess.

Aar. The emperess, the midwife, and yourself:Two may keep counsel, when the third's away: Go to the emperess; tell her this I said :

[He kills her. Weke, weke!~so cries a pig, prepar'd to the spit. Dem. What mean'st thou, Aaron? Wherefore did'st

thou this?
Aar. O lord, sir, 'tis a deed of policy :
Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours ?
A long-tongu'd babbling gossip? no, lords, no.
And now be it known to you my full intent.
Not far, one Muliteus lives, my countryman,
His wife but yesternight was brought to bed ;


His child is like to her, fair as you are :
Go pack with him, and give the mother gold,
And tell them both the cirumstance of all; 29
And how by this their child shall be advanc'd,
And be received for the emperor's heir,
And substituted in the place of mine,
To calm this tempest whirling in the court;
And let the emperor dandle him for his own.
Hark ye, my lords; ye see, I have given her physick,

[Pointing to the Nurse.
And you must needs bestow her funeral ;
The fields are near, and you are gallant grooms:
This done, see that you take no longer days,
But send the midwife presently to me.

300 The midwife, and the nurse, well made away, Then let the ladies tattle what they please.

Chi. Aaron, I see, thou wilt not trust the air With secrets.

Dem. For this care of Tamora, Herself, and hers, are highly bound to thee. [Exeunt.

Aar. Now to the Goths, as swift as swallow flies ; There to dispose this treasure in my arms, And secretly to greet the emperess' friends.Come on, you thick-lip'd slave, I bear you hence; For it is you that puts us to our shifts :

311 I'll make


feed on berries, and on roots,
And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,
And cabin in a cave; and bring you up
To be a warrior, and command a camp.

[ Exit.

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