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Shakespeare Quotes: Mum's the word

Shakespeare Quotes: Mum's the word

Mum's the word Introduction

I'm Hume. I might only be a servant, but I'm ambitious just like the nobles. I double-cross Eleanor by tipping Suffolk and Beaufort off to her latest dalliance of witchcraft. And you know what I think?

Hume must make merry with the duchess' gold;
Marry, and shall. But how now, Sir John Hume!
Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum:
The business asketh silent secrecy.
Dame Eleanor gives gold to bring the witch:
Gold cannot come amiss, were she a devil.
Yet have I gold flies from another coast;
I dare not say, from the rich cardinal
And from the great and new-made Duke of Suffolk,
Yet I do find it so; for to be plain,
They, knowing Dame Eleanor's aspiring humor,
Have hired me to undermine the duchess
And buz these conjurations in her brain. (1.2.87-99)

Who Said It and Where

Over at Gloucester's pad, his wife Eleanor asks the Duke what's wrong. Why so glum, chum? Maybe it has to do with dreaming of a certain crown? He is the second most powerful guy in the whole country, after King Henry VI of course. He's got an extra dose of authority because he's been Protector since Henry was crowned as a little kid. Since babies can't rule, Gloucester was appointed Protector, or guardian, of Henry and England until Henry grows old enough to rule.

But Gloucester chides his wife for even thinking that. Nope, he's down because of a bad dream he had. (Is it just us, or does that sound like foreshadowing?) In his dream, Gloucester saw his staff broken in two. Gasp. His staff is his sign of office, so maybe it means that his position will be ruined, too.

That's weird, because Eleanor had a dream as well. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey and Henry and Margaret bowed to her. Translation: she was queen and the current king and queen were her subjects.

Hearing this, Gloucester scolds his wife. He warns her that she's the second woman in the kingdom already because he's the Protector. If she even talks about de-throning Henry, she could be accused of treason.

Sheesh, Eleanor says. It was just a dream. I'll be sure to keep it to myself in the future. Okay, okay, we're all good, Gloucester replies. Just then a messenger arrives asking Gloucester to join up with the king on a hunting trip. Sure, he says, and leaves. 

Left alone, Eleanor thinks about how much easier it would be to take the crown if she were a man. Shucks. She asks a servant, Hume, to help her find a witch to ask about her future (ahem, as queen). Hume agrees, Eleanor pays him, and she leaves.

Then Hume does a little musing of his own. Eleanor has just paid him to hire a witch. Cardinal and Suffolk have also paid him to take down Eleanor. He's supposed to convince her to take up witchcraft. Well, that was easy. Hume realizes he's playing both sides, and that could be dangerous. At least he's got gold to keep him company, he decides.

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