Goneril’s steward, Oswald, was complaining to his lady about her father’s behaviour. The King had been staying with Goneril for some months and he was really getting on her nerves.
She looked at her steward in astonishment. ‘Did my father actually hit my gentleman for rebuking his fool?’ she said.
She sighed loudly. ‘He offends me night and day ,’ she snapped. ‘Not an hour goes by without him committing some annoying offence or other that upsets us all. I won’t tolerate it. His knights are getting riotous and he himself complains about every little thing. When he gets back from hunting I won’t talk to him. Tell him I’m sick. If you’re less respectful than you have been till now it will be alright. I’ll take the responsibility for it.’
There was the sound of horns and barking dogs. ‘He’s coming madam: I can hear him,’ said Oswald.
‘Be as offhand with him as you like,’ she said, ‘both you and your fellow servants. I want to bring it to a head. If he doesn’t like it let him go to my sister. I know that she and I are in agreement that we’re not going to give in. Silly old man, still wanting to hang on to those powers that he’s given away! I do declare, old fools are babies again and have to be put right when they are wrong. Don’t forget what I said.’
‘I won’t madam.’
‘Be frosty towards his knights, all of you. Don’t worry about the consequences. Tell your fellow servants to do that. I want to use that to bring matters to a head, and I’m going to so that I’ll have an excuse to speak out. I’ll write to my sister to do the same. Go and prepare for dinner.’