Gloucester looked for, and found, Edmund. He carried a torch, as though about to go out.
‘Oh dear, oh dear, Edmund,’ he said. ‘I don’t like this unnatural behaviour. When I asked them for permission to take pity on him they took possession of my house. They ordered me on pain of their permanent displeasure, not to talk about him, nor plead on his behalf, nor in any way sustain him.’
‘How savage and unnatural that is!’ exclaimed Edmund.
‘Shhh! Quiet, don’t say anything,’ said Gloucester. ‘There is some division between the Dukes, and something even worse. I’ve received a letter tonight – it’s too dangerous to talk about it, I’ve locked it in my bedroom. These wrongs the king is now suffering will be fully avenged. Part of an army has already landed. We must take the King’s side. I’m going to look for him and secretly give him aid. Go and keep the Duke busy so that he won’t notice what I’m doing. If he asks for me tell him I’m ill and gone to bed. Even if I die for it, as has been threatened, the King, my old master, must be given relief. Some strange things are going to happen, Edmund. I beg you, be careful.’
When he had gone Edmund stood for a while. The kindness, which his father had been forbidden to perform, had to be related to the Duke at once. And the letter too. That should be worth something to him: it would gain for him what his father was going to lose – nothing less than everything. The young rise when the old fall.
He went off to find Cornwall.
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