ACT II
Scene 3.
 

AUVERGNE. The Castle

Enter the COUNTESS and her PORTER

COUNTESS
Porter, remember what I gave in charge;
And when you have done so, bring the keys to me.

PORTER
Madam, I will.

COUNTESS
The plot is laid; if all things fall out right,
I shall as famous be by this exploit.
As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death.
Great is the rumour of this dreadful knight,
And his achievements of no less account.
Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears
To give their censure of these rare reports.

Enter MESSENGER and TALBOT.

MESSENGER
Madam, according as your ladyship desir'd,
By message crav'd, so is Lord Talbot come.

COUNTESS
And he is welcome. What! is this the man?

MESSENGER
Madam, it is.

COUNTESS
Is this the scourge of France?
Is this Talbot, so much fear'd abroad
That with his name the mothers still their babes?
I see report is fabulous and false.
I thought I should have seen some Hercules,
A second Hector, for his grim aspect
And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs.
Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf!
It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
Should strike such terror to his enemies.

TALBOT
Madam, I have been bold to trouble you;
But since your ladyship is not at leisure,
I'll sort some other time to visit you. [Going]

COUNTESS
What means he now? Go ask him whither he
goes.

MESSENGER
Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves
To know the cause of your abrupt departure.

TALBOT
Marry, for that she's in a wrong belief,
I go to certify her Talbot's here.

Re-enter PORTER With keys

COUNTESS
If thou be he, then art thou prisoner.

TALBOT
Prisoner! To whom?

COUNTESS
To me, blood-thirsty lord
And for that cause I train'd thee to my house.
Long time thy shadow hath been thrall to me,
For in my gallery thy picture hangs;
But now the substance shall endure the like
And I will chain these legs and arms of thine
That hast by tyranny these many years
Wasted our country, slain our citizens,
And sent our sons and husbands captivate.

TALBOT
Ha, ha, ha!

COUNTESS
Laughest thou, wretch? Thy mirth shall turn to
moan.

TALBOT
I laugh to see your ladyship so fond
To think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow
Whereon to practise your severity.

COUNTESS
Why, art not thou the man?

TALBOT
I am indeed.

COUNTESS
Then have I substance too.

TALBOT
No, no, I am but shadow of myself.
You are deceiv'd, my substance is not here;
For what you see is but the smallest part
And least proportion of humanity.
I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here,
It is of such a spacious lofty pitch
Your roof were not sufficient to contain 't.

COUNTESS
This is a riddling merchant for the nonce;
He will be here, and yet he is not here.
How can these contrarieties agree?

TALBOT
That will I show you presently.

Winds his horn; drums strike up; a peal of ordnance. Enter soldiers

How say you, madam? Are you now persuaded
That Talbot is but shadow of himself?
These are his substance, sinews, arms, and strength,
With which he yoketh your rebellious necks,
Razeth your cities, and subverts your towns,
And in a moment makes them desolate.

COUNTESS
Victorious Talbot! pardon my abuse.
I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited,
And more than may be gathered by thy shape.
Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath,
For I am sorry that with reverence
I did not entertain thee as thou art.

TALBOT
Be not dismay'd, fair lady; nor misconster
The mind of Talbot as you did mistake
The outward composition of his body.
What you have done hath not offended me.
Nor other satisfaction do I crave
But only, with your patience, that we may
Taste of your wine and see what cates you have,
For soldiers' stomachs always serve them well.

COUNTESS
With all my heart, and think me honoured
To feast so great a warrior in my house.

Exeunt