Edmund orders Lear and Cordelia guarded until a higher authority (Albany, Goneril, or Regan) can decide their fate. Cordelia is depressed, but Lear makes light of their state: “No, no, no, no. Come let’s away to prison. . . .” He is taken out defiantly. Secretly Edmund passes a paper to a captain with orders to kill Cordelia and Lear on the promise of fortune and the threat of unemployment. “If it be man’s work, I’ll do it.”
ACT V. SCENE III. SEGMENT A. The British camp near Dover.
Enter in conquest with drum and colors, Edmund, Lear and
Cordelia as prisoners, Soldiers, Captain.
Some officers take them away. Good guard,
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.
CORDELIA We are not the first
Who with best meaning have incurred the worst. 
For thee, oppressed King, am I cast down.
Myself could else outfrown false fortune’s frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
No, no, no, no. Come, let’s away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i’th’ cage. 
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news. And we’ll talk with them too, 
Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out,
And take upon’s the mystery of things
As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out
In a walled prison packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon. 
EDMUND Take them away.
Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes. 
The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see ‘em starve
Exit [Lear and Cordelia, guarded]
Come hither, captain. Hark.
Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison. 
One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
Are as the time is; to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword. Thy great employment 
Will not bear question. Either say thou’lt do’t,
Or thrive by other means.
Captain I’ll do ‘t, my lord.
About it, and write “happy” when thou’st done’t.
Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so 
As I have set it down.
I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
If it be man's work, I'll do 't.]