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    Act 1. Scene VI

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    Chapter 6
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    SCENE VI. Near the camp of Cominius.

    Enter COMINIUS, as it were in retire, with soldiers
    COMINIUS
    Breathe you, my friends: well fought;
    we are come off
    Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,
    Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,
    We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,
    By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
    The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!
    Lead their successes as we wish our own,
    That both our powers, with smiling
    fronts encountering,
    May give you thankful sacrifice.

    Enter a Messenger

    Thy news?

    Messenger
    The citizens of Corioli have issued,
    And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle:
    I saw our party to their trenches driven,
    And then I came away.

    COMINIUS
    Though thou speak'st truth,
    Methinks thou speak'st not well.
    How long is't since?

    Messenger
    Above an hour, my lord.

    COMINIUS
    'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:
    How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
    And bring thy news so late?

    Messenger
    Spies of the Volsces
    Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel
    Three or four miles about, else had I, sir,
    Half an hour since brought my report.

    COMINIUS
    Who's yonder,
    That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods
    He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have
    Before-time seen him thus.

    MARCIUS
    [Within] Come I too late?

    COMINIUS
    The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabour
    More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue
    From every meaner man.

    Enter MARCIUS

    MARCIUS
    Come I too late?

    COMINIUS
    Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
    But mantled in your own.

    MARCIUS
    O, let me clip ye
    In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart
    As merry as when our nuptial day was done,
    And tapers burn'd to bedward!

    COMINIUS
    Flower of warriors,
    How is it with Titus Lartius?

    MARCIUS
    As with a man busied about decrees:
    Condemning some to death, and some to exile;
    Ransoming him, or pitying, threatening the other;
    Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
    Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
    To let him slip at will.

    COMINIUS
    Where is that slave
    Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
    Where is he? call him hither.

    MARCIUS
    Let him alone;
    He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,
    The common file--a plague! tribunes for them!--
    The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge
    From rascals worse than they.

    COMINIUS
    But how prevail'd you?

    MARCIUS
    Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
    Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field?
    If not, why cease you till you are so?

    COMINIUS
    Marcius,
    We have at disadvantage fought and did
    Retire to win our purpose.

    MARCIUS
    How lies their battle? know you on which side
    They have placed their men of trust?

    COMINIUS
    As I guess, Marcius,
    Their bands i' the vaward are the Antiates,
    Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius,
    Their very heart of hope.

    MARCIUS
    I do beseech you,
    By all the battles wherein we have fought,
    By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
    We have made to endure friends, that you directly
    Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;
    And that you not delay the present, but,
    Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
    We prove this very hour.

    COMINIUS
    Though I could wish
    You were conducted to a gentle bath
    And balms applied to, you, yet dare I never
    Deny your asking: take your choice of those
    That best can aid your action.

    MARCIUS
    Those are they
    That most are willing. If any such be here--
    As it were sin to doubt--that love this painting
    Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
    Lesser his person than an ill report;
    If any think brave death outweighs bad life
    And that his country's dearer than himself;
    Let him alone, or so many so minded,
    Wave thus, to express his disposition,
    And follow Marcius.

    They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps

    O, me alone! make you a sword of me?
    If these shows be not outward, which of you
    But is four Volsces? none of you but is
    Able to bear against the great Aufidius
    A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
    Though thanks to all, must I select
    from all: the rest
    Shall bear the business in some other fight,
    As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march;
    And four shall quickly draw out my command,
    Which men are best inclined.

    COMINIUS
    March on, my fellows:
    Make good this ostentation, and you shall
    Divide in all with us.

    Exeunt
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