Modern English Henry IV Part 1 Ebook Sample: Act 3, Scene 1
Owen Glendower, Worcester, Mortimer and Hotspur had gathered at Glendower’s North Wales castle for a council of war. Mortimer slapped the pile of letters that lay on the huge oak table.
‘These promises are fair,’ he said. ‘Our allies are reliable. We’ve made a good start.’
‘Lord Mortimer, and cousin Glendower, please sit down,’ said Hotspur. ‘And Uncle Worcester. Damn! I’ve forgotten the map!’
Glendower snapped his fingers at a servant, who stepped forward with a rolled-up map. ‘No, here it is. Sit, cousin Percy, sit, dear cousin Hotspur.’ He smiled mischievously. ‘Whenever John of Lancaster refers to you by that name his cheeks grow pale and with a deep sigh he wishes you in heaven.’
‘And you in hell,’ said Hotspur, ‘whenever he hears the name Owen Glendower!’
‘I don’t blame him! At the moment of my birth the sky was filled with the fiery shapes of burning beacons and when I was delivered the whole of the huge earth shook as though quaking with fear.’
Hotspur’s expression showed how unimpressed he was. ‘Why, it would have done that during that season if your mother’s cat had just littered and you had never been born.’
Glendower’s eyes blazed. ‘I’m telling you the earth shook when I was born!’
Hotspur laughed. ‘And I’m telling you the earth disagreed with me if, as you’re claiming, it shook because it was frightened of you.’
Glendower pointed a finger emphatically at the young man. ‘The heavens were all on fire, the earth trembled…..’
‘Oh, then the earth shook when it saw the heavens on fire and not because of your birth. When nature’s sick it often breaks out in strange eruptions. Sometimes the fertile earth is cramped and troubled by a kind of colic because a wayward wind is trapped inside her womb. When it tries to get out it shakes the grandmother earth and steeples and moss-covered towers come toppling down. When you were born our grandma earth shook from this farting.’
The others stared at the two as the tension grew. Hotspur was relentless in his attack, refusing to concede to the old Welshman, and Glendower was all the more incensed by the young man’s posture – sprawling, his legs spread out informally.
‘Cousin,’ Glendower said as he stood up. ‘There not many men whom I would tolerate crossing me like this. Allow me to tell you once again that at my birth the sky was filled with fiery shapes. The goats ran from the mountains and the herds filled the frightened fields with unfamiliar noise. These portents have marked me out as special, and the events of my life have shown that I’m not like the common man. Where is the man, within the shores of England, Scotland and Wales who can call me subordinate or can say that he’s taught me anything? And bring out the son of mortal woman who can match me in the mysterious arts of magic and keep company with me in those deep experiences.’
As he spoke his accent became more and more pronounced and when Hotspur, after regarding him for a long time, answered, it was in a Welsh accent that mocked the old magician’s. ‘I don’t think there’s anyone who speaks better Welsh.’ Ignoring the Welshman’s open-mouthed response he yawned and stood up. ‘I think I’ll go to dinner,’ he said.
‘Quiet. Cousin Percy,’ Mortimer hissed. ‘You’ll make him mad!’
Hotspur began to walk away. Glendower stopped him with a hand on his chest. ‘I can call up spirits from the most profound depths.’
Hotspur side-stepped him. ‘Why, so can I, and so can anyone. But will they come when you call them?’
‘Well I can teach you to command the devil!’
‘And I can teach you, cousin, to shame the devil by telling the truth. Tell the truth and shame the devil. If you have the power to raise him bring him here and I swear I have the power to shame him back again. Oh, as long as you’re alive, tell the truth and shame the devil!’
It looked as though Glendower was about to strike the hot-headed young man but Mortimer stepped in between them. ‘Come come, no more of this pointless chat,’ he said.
Hotspur laughed and slapped Glendower on the back. The older man glared at him then resumed his place at the head of the table. Hotspur sat down again.
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