Regan had taken up permanent residence in Gloucester’s castle, using it as her headquarters. Oswald had come from Goneril to keep her informed of how things were going in his mistress’ section of the kingdom.
‘But have my brother’s troops set out?’ Regan was saying.
‘Yes madam,’ said Oswald.
‘And he’s gone in person?’
Oswald smiled. ‘Madam, with a great deal of fuss about it. Your sister is the better soldier.’
‘And Lord Edmund didn’t speak to your lord when he was there?’
Oswald had been holding a letter all this time and Regan had been eying it.
‘What’s in my sister’s letter to him?’ she said.
‘I don’t know, lady.
‘Well, he’s gone away on some serious business. It was stupid to let Gloucester live once he had been blinded: wherever he goes he turns everyone’s heart against us. I think Edmund’s gone to put him out of his misery, and also to determine the strength of the enemy.’
‘I must go after him, madam, with my letter.’
‘Our troops are leaving tomorrow,’ she said. ‘Stay with us – the roads are dangerous.’
‘I can’t, madam. My lady has given me a special mission to do this.’
‘Why should she write to Edmund? Couldn’t you just have delivered her message by word? Probably… something… I don’t know what… I’d be very much obliged to you… Let me open the letter.’
‘Madam, I’d rather…’
Regan’s eyes pleaded. She put her hand on his arm. ‘I know your lady doesn’t love her husband,’ she said. ‘I’m sure about that: and when she was last here she was casting knowing glances and most significant looks at most noble Edmund. I know she’s taken you into her confidence.’
‘I know what I’m talking about.’ Regan didn’t take her eyes off the letter. ‘She has. I know it. I therefore advise you to listen carefully. My husband is dead: Edmund and I have discussed this, and he’s more appropriate for me than he is for your lady. I think you understand me.’ She took a ring off her finger and gave it to Oswald. ‘If you find him please give him this. And when your mistress has heard what I’ve told you I would like you to advise her to be reasonable. So goodbye then. If you should happen to hear of that blind traitor, there’s promotion for the one who cuts him off.’
‘I wish I could encounter him madam,’ he said. ‘I’d show where my loyalties lie.’
‘Goodbye,’ Regan said.