The messenger meets and greets Ragan, giving her the letter. The messenger describes for the audience Ragan’s extreme and violent reaction, recognizing that more will come to him through her anger. The letter apparently charges Leir with staging all manner of mutinies–between Cornwall and Gonorill, the commons against the king–and that he intends the same between Ragan and Cambria on grounds the she usurps his manhood.
Going on, the letter says that Leir flees to her for fomenting popular rebellion, and he has already “forged cabilations against my state.” The letter also puts great trust in the messenger, whom Ragan now employs to enact a stratagem, with a stab or two. With poetic gusto (killing Leir is no more than killing a flea), the messenger accepts this second commission. She appoints a time and leaves, he dallies to give a short monologue, ending with a sexual pun (on giving her a stab).
Enter Messenger solus.
MESS: Now happily I am arrived here,
Before the stately Palace of the Cambrian King:
If Leir be here, safe-seated, and in rest,
To rouse him from it I will do my best. [Enter Ragan.]
Now bags of gold, your virtue is (no doubt)
To make me in my message bold and stout.
The King of heaven preserve your Majesty,
And send your Highness everlasting reign.
RAGAN: Thanks, good my friend; but what imports thy message?
MESS: Kind greetings from the Cornwall Queen: … [15.10]
The residue these letters will declare.
She opens the letters.
RAGAN: How fares our royal sister?
MESS: I did leave her at my parting, in good health.
She reads the letter, frowns and stamps.
See how her color comes and goes again,
Now red as scarlet, now as pale as ash:
See how she knits her brow, and bites her lips,
And stamps, and makes a dumb show of disdain,
Mixed with revenge, and violent extremes.
Here will be more work and more crowns for me.
RAGAN: Alas, poor soul, and hath he used her thus? … [15.20]
And is he now come hither, with intent
To set divorce betwixt my Lord and me?
Doth he give out, that he doth hear report,
That I do rule my husband as I list,
And therefore means to alter so the case,
That I shall know my Lord to be my head?
Well, it were best for him to take good heed,
Or I will make him hop without a head,
For this presumption, dotard that he is.
In Cornwall he hath made such mutinies, … [15.30]
First, setting of the King against the Queen;
Then stirring up the Commons ‘gainst the King;
That had he there continued any longer,
He had been called in question for his fact.
So upon that occasion thence he fled,
And comes thus slyly stealing unto us:
And now already since his coming-hither,
My Lord and he are grown in such a league,
That I can have no conference with his Grace:
I fear, he doth already intimate … [15.40]
Some forged cavilations ‘gainst my state:
Tis therefore best to cut him off in time,
Lest slanderous rumors once abroad dispersed,
It is too late for them to be reversed.
Friend, as the tenor of these letters shows,
My sister puts great confidence in thee.
MESS: She never yet committed trust to me.
But that (I hope) she found me always faithful:
So will I be to any friend of hers,
That hath occasion to employ my help. … [15.50]
RAGAN: Hast thou the heart to act a stratagem,
And give a stab or two, if need require?
MESS: I have a heart compact of Adamant,
Which never knew what melting pity meant.
I weigh no more the murd’ring of a man,
Than I respect the cracking of a Flea,
When I do catch her biting on my skin.
If you will have your husband or your father,
Or both of them sent to another world,
Do but command me do’t, it shall be done. … [15.60]
RAGAN: It is enough, we make no doubt of thee:
Meet us to morrow here, at nine a clock:
Mean while, farewell, and drink that for my sake. [Exit.]
MESS: Aye, this is it will make me do the deed:
Oh, had I every day such customers,
This were the gainfulest trade in Christendom!
A purse of gold giv’n for a paltry stab!
Why, here’s a wench that longs to have a stab.
Well, I could give it her, and ne’re hurt her neither.