David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s OTHELLO: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 3

— 3.3 —

In the garden of the castle, Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia were talking. Emilia was serving as Desdemona’s chaperone.

Desdemona said, “Be assured, good Cassio, that I will do everything I can to help you regain your position as lieutenant.”

“Good madam, do so,” Emilia said. “I know that Cassio’s misfortune grieves my husband, Iago, as badly as if it had happened to him.”

“Iago is an honest man,” Desdemona said. “Do not doubt, Cassio, that I will soon have my husband and you together again as friendly to each other as you were before.”

“Generous madam,” Cassio said, “whatever shall become of Michael Cassio, he will never be anything but your true servant.”

“I know it,” Desdemona said. “I thank you. You do respect my husband. You have known him a long time. Be well assured that he shall be estranged from you no longer than is politically expedient. He needed to make an example of you.”

“Yes,” Cassio said, “but, lady, that political expediency may either continue so long, or continue because of weak and trivial reasons, or continue because of accidental, unrelated political events, that with myself absent and with someone else filling in as lieutenant, the general will forget his and my friendship and my service to him.”

“Don’t think that,” Desdemona said. “With Emilia as a witness, I promise you that you will regain your position as lieutenant. I assure you that if I promise to do something for a friend that I will do everything that I have promised.” She joked, “My husband will never rest: I’ll keep him awake just like I were taming a hawk. I will talk to him and nag him until he grows impatient. His bed shall seem like a school because of the lectures that I will give him, and when he eats his meals he will think that it is as if he were a priest hearing a long confession. Whatever he does, I will bring up Cassio’s petition to be reinstated as lieutenant. Therefore, be happy, Cassio. I will be the lawyer who pleads your case to Othello, and I would rather die than give up your cause.”

Emilia saw Othello and her husband, Iago, entering the garden, and said, “Madam, here comes my lord.”

Cassio said to Desdemona, “Madam, I’ll leave now.”

“Why, stay, and hear me speak to my husband about you,” she replied.

“Madam, not now,” Cassio said. “I am very ill at ease, and I am not prepared to plead to be reinstated.”

“Well, do what you think best,” Desdemona said.

Cassio departed.

Iago saw Cassio and said, quietly but deliberately loud enough for Othello to hear, “I don’t like that.”

“What did you say?” Othello asked.

“Nothing, my lord, but — I don’t know what I was saying.”

“Wasn’t that Cassio who just left my wife?” Othello asked.

“Cassio, my lord!” Iago said. “No, surely. I cannot think that it was he. Why would he steal away so guilty-like when he saw that you were coming?”

“I do believe that it was Cassio,” Othello said.

“How are you, my lord?” Desdemona greeted Othello. “I have been talking with a man here, a man who languishes because you are displeased with him.”

“Who is it you mean?”

“Why, your lieutenant, Cassio,” Desdemona replied. “My good lord, if I have any grace or power to move you, please be reconciled with him immediately. For if he is not someone who truly respects you, someone who has erred in ignorance and not on purpose, then I cannot judge who is honest. Please, call him back and be reconciled with him.”

“Was that Cassio who left just now?” Othello asked.

“Yes,” Desdemona replied. “He was so mournful that he left part of his grief with me, and I suffer with him. Good love, be reconciled with him.”

“Not now, sweet Desdemona. Some other time.”

“But shall it be shortly?”

“The sooner, sweetheart, for you.”

“Shall it be tonight at supper?”

“No, not tonight.”

“Tomorrow during the noon meal, then?”

“I shall not dine at home; I am meeting the captains at the citadel.”

“Why, then, tomorrow night, or Tuesday morning, or Tuesday noon, or Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning. Please, name the time that you will be reconciled with Cassio, but let it not exceed three days. Truly, he’s penitent, and yet his trespass, ordinarily, is almost not severe enough to incur a private rebuke, much less a public disgrace. Of course, it is understandable that in times of military struggle, you must make an example, when necessary, of even high-ranking officers.

“But when shall Cassio come and be reconciled to you? Tell me, Othello. I wonder in my soul what you could possibly ask me to do that I would refuse to do, or would put off with stammering.

“Remember what a friend Michael Cassio has been to you. He used to come with you when you wooed me, and whenever I disparaged you, he stood up for you and praised you.”

Desdemona thought, I used to disparage you on purpose just to hear Cassio defend you and praise you.

She added, “Is it really such a difficult decision to forgive his fault and bring him into your favor again?”

“Please, say no more,” Othello said. “I will be reconciled to Cassio, and soon. He can come and see me whenever he wishes. I will deny you nothing.”

“Why, I am not asking for something that will benefit myself,” Desdemona said. “What I am asking for now is similar to asking you to put on your gloves when needed, or eat nourishing food, or wear warm clothing on cold days, or to do something else that benefits yourself. Being reconciled with Cassio means that you will have a good and competent lieutenant again. When I have a request that will put your love for me to the test, that request will be serious and heavy and fearful to be granted.”

“I will deny you nothing,” Othello said. “But now, please, grant me this request: Leave me and let me be by myself for a while.”

“Shall I deny you your request?” Desdemona said. “No, of course not. Farewell, my lord.”

“Farewell, my Desdemona. I’ll come to you soon.”

Desdemona said, “Emilia, let’s go.”

She said to Othello, her husband, “Do whatever you want to do. Whatever you do, I am and will be your obedient wife.”

Desdemona and Emilia departed.

Othello said to himself, with affection for his wife, “Excellent wench! Damn, but I do love you. If I should ever stop loving you, chaos, from which the world arose and to which it will return at the end of time, will come again.”

“My noble lord,” Iago said.

“What is it, Iago?”

“Did Michael Cassio, when you were wooing Desdemona, know about your love for her?”

“He did, from the beginning to the ending of my wooing her. Why do you ask?”

“To satisfy my curiosity,” Iago said. “No other reason.”

“Why are you curious about that, Iago?”

“I did not think he had been acquainted with her.”

“He was, and he very often served as a messenger between us.”

“Indeed!” Iago said.

“Indeed!” Othello repeated. “Yes, indeed. Do you see anything odd about that? Isn’t Cassio an honest man?”

“Honest, my lord!”

“Honest!” Othello repeated. “Yes, honest.”

“My lord, for all I know, he is honest.”

“What are you thinking?” Othello asked.

“Thinking, my lord?”

“Thinking, my lord?” Othello repeated. “By Heaven, you keep echoing me as if there were some monstrous thought in your brain that is too hideous to be revealed. You are thinking something. I heard you say just now that you didn’t like it when you saw Cassio leaving my wife. What didn’t you like? And when I told you that Cassio knew all my thoughts when I was wooing Desdemona, you said, ‘Indeed!’ And you furrowed your brow as if you had some horrible idea shut up in your brain. If you are my friend, tell me what you are thinking.”

“My lord, you know that I am your friend.”

“I think indeed that you are my friend,” Othello said. “And since I know that you are full of friendship and honesty, and that you carefully consider your words before you speak them, these sudden pauses of yours frighten me all the more. Such things in a false disloyal knave are tricks of a dishonest trade, but in a man who is just and fair they are expressions of hidden thoughts that come from the heart and that emotions cannot control.”

“I dare to swear that I think that Cassio is honest and trustworthy.”

“I dare to swear the same thing,” Othello said.

“Men should be what they seem to be,” Iago said. “I wish that men who are not honest would be seen and known to be not honest.”

“Certainly, men should be what they seem,” Othello said.

“Why, then, I think Cassio is an honest man,” Iago said.

“You are not telling me everything you are thinking,” Othello said. “Please, tell me what you think. Obviously, you suspect something. Give the worst of your thoughts the worst of words.”

“My good lord, pardon me,” Iago replied. “Though I am bound to every act of duty, I am not bound to do that which all slaves are free not to do. Utter my thoughts? Why, let’s say that my thoughts are vile and false; after all, where is that palace into which foul things never intrude? Who has a breast so pure that no unclean thoughts and ideas ever appear and sit beside pure thoughts and ideas?”

“You conspire against your friend, Iago, if you think that he has been wronged and you never tell him what you think.”

“Please do not make me tell you what I am thinking. Chances are, what I am thinking is wrong. It is a fault of my character to inquire into evils, and often my suspicions are about evils that turn out not to exist. I ask you not to take any notice of my suspicions, which often turn out to be wrong; do not bring yourself trouble because of my casual and unsure observations. It will disrupt your calm and quiet life and will not be good for you. Not for my manhood, honesty, or wisdom would I let you know my thoughts.”

“What do you mean?”

“The good name and reputation of man and woman, my dear lord, is the most precious jewel of their souls,” Iago said. “Who steals my money steals trash; it is something trivial. It was mine, now it is his, and it has been the servant of thousands of people. But he who steals from me my good name robs me of something that does not enrich him but makes me poor indeed.”

“By Heaven, I will know what you are thinking.”

“You cannot — not even if my heart were in your hand,” Iago said, “and you shall not, while my heart is in my custody.”

“We will see about that,” Othello said.

“Beware, my lord, of jealousy, which is traditionally associated with the color green,” Iago replied. “Jealousy is a green-eyed monster that mocks and torments its victim. A man who is sure that his wife has made him a cuckold by sleeping with another man lives in bliss when he does not love the wife who cuckolded him. But damned are the minutes of a man who loves his wife but doubts her and suspects her and still strongly loves her!”

“Such a life would be miserable,” Othello said.

“A man who is poor but is happy despite being poor is a rich man indeed,” Iago said, “but a man with unlimited wealth is as poor as winter if he always is afraid that he may become poor. Good Heaven, may the spirits of all my ancestors protect me from jealousy!”

“Why are you saying these things?” Othello asked. “Do you think that I would live a life of jealousy and have new suspicions with each change of the Moon? No. To be once in doubt is to resolve on a course of action — one can form a plan of action to find out whether the doubt is justified. If I should ever turn the business of my soul to such exaggerated and inflated surmises that match what you are implying, then I will be a goat. It is not enough to make me jealous to say that my wife is beautiful, is good company during meals, loves the company of other people, speaks interestingly, and sings, plays musical instruments, and dances well. When a woman has virtue, such abilities increase her virtue. Nor from my own weak merits will I draw the smallest fear or doubt about her fidelity. When she was single, she saw clearly with her eyes, and she chose to marry me. No, Iago. I will have to see evidence before I doubt her fidelity; when I doubt her fidelity, I will seek proof either that she is faithful or that she is not faithful. On the basis of that proof, I will either cease loving her or stop being jealous of her!”

“I am glad of it,” Iago replied, “because now I have reason to show you openly the love and duty that I owe you; therefore, as I am bound to speak the truth, hear it from me. I am not speaking yet of proof. Watch your wife; observe her carefully when she is with Cassio. Watch with an open mind. Do not let your eyes be biased either by jealousy or by overconfidence that your wife is faithful. I do not want you to be hurt by falsely assuming that because you are honest and trustworthy, other people are also honest and trustworthy. Be careful. I know the people of Venice. In Venice, wives are willing to let Heaven see the sins that they dare not show their husbands. Their consciences do not tell them not to sin, but instead to keep the sin hidden.”

“Do you truly believe that?” Othello asked.

“Desdemona deceived her father when she eloped with you without first getting his permission, and when she seemed to tremble and fear your looks to deceive her father, that is when she loved you most. Remember what her father told you: ‘Watch her carefully, Moor,’ Brabantio said, ‘if you have eyes to use. She has deceived her father, and she may deceive you.’”

“She did deceive her father,” Othello said.

“Why, there you are,” Iago said. “She is one who, despite being so young, could act and deceive her father so well that it was as if he were blind — her father even thought that you had manipulated her with witchcraft. But I am much to blame for telling you this. I humbly do beg your pardon that I have spoken so freely because I respect you so much.”

“I am forever in your debt,” Othello said.

“I see that this has dampened your spirits a little.”

Othello lied, “Not at all. Not at all.”

“I am afraid that it has,” Iago replied. “I hope that you know that I have spoken these things because of my concern for you. But I can see that you’re affected by what I have said. Please do not overanalyze what I have said and jump to conclusions — just be suspicious.”

“I won’t jump to conclusions.”

“Should you do so, my lord, my speech could have a vile effect. I did not intend that. Cassio is my worthy friend — my lord, I see you’re upset.”

“No, not very upset,” Othello said. “I do not think anything except that Desdemona is faithful to me.”

“May she live long and be faithful to you!” Iago said. “And may you live long and think that she is faithful to you!”

“Yet,” Othello said, “a person may turn away from one’s true nature.”

“Yes, that’s the point!” Iago said. “If I may be blunt with you, a woman sometimes does not want a marriage — even if she has had many marriage proposals of this kind — with a man from her own climate, of her own color, and from her own social standing. Yet that is the kind of marriage that our nature inclines us toward. In rejecting such a marriage, such a woman’s use of her free will shows itself to be most rank. She engages in foul impropriety and indulges her unnatural thoughts.

“But pardon me; I do not positively and specifically speak about Desdemona, although I fear that she, returning to her better judgment, may begin to compare you with her fellow countrymen and perhaps may repent having married you.”

“Farewell, farewell,” Othello said. “If you see anything more, let me know. Also, tell your wife to watch Desdemona. Leave me now, Iago.”

“My lord, I take my leave.”

Iago walked away.

Othello thought, Why did I get married? This honest man — Iago — doubtless sees and knows more, much more, than he has told me.

Iago returned and said, “My lord, I wish to ask your honor to consider this matter no further. Wait and see what happens. Although it is fitting that Cassio be reinstated as your lieutenant, because indeed he does his job with great ability, yet if you are willing not to reinstate him for a while, you will be able to watch him and see how he responds. See whether your wife strongly or vehemently urges that he be reinstated. That will tell you much. In the meantime, think that I am overreacting to my fears — although I think I have worthy reasons for my fears — and please consider her to be innocent.”

“You need not fear my self-control,” Othello replied.

“I once more take my leave.”

Iago departed.

“Iago is a man of great honesty,” Othello said to himself. “He understands different kinds of people and how and why they act as they do. If I discover proof that Desdemona is wild and untamed and not like a civilized and obedient wife, I will — even though the ties that bind her to me are my own heartstrings — cast her aside and let her be wild and untamed and take care of herself. Perhaps, because I am black and do not converse as well as courtiers and ladies’ men, or because I am older than she is — yet I am not that old — she has not been faithful to me. I am and have been deceived, and my relief must be to hate her. It is the curse of marriage that we can call these delicate creatures ours, and yet their desires are not ours! I would prefer to be a loathsome toad and live in the foul air of a dungeon than allow the pudendum of my wife to be used by other men. Yet, this is the plague of great men; they are less likely than less important men to have faithful wives because their duties keep them so often and so long away from home. This is a destiny that cannot be avoided, like death. The fate of a cuckold is ours even from the time we begin to move in our mother’s womb.”

He looked up and said to himself, “I see Desdemona coming now. If she is unfaithful to me, then Heaven is mocking itself by creating a woman who is so beautiful and yet is unfaithful — I will not believe that Heaven has done such a thing.”

Desdemona and Emilia walked over to Othello.

Desdemona asked, “How are you, my dear Othello! Your dinner and the generous islanders whom you have invited to eat with us are waiting for your arrival.”

“My lateness is my fault,” Othello replied.

“Why do you speak so faintly?” Desdemona asked. “Are you not well?”

“I have a pain on my forehead here,” Othello said, pointing to where the horns of a cuckold were supposed to grow.

“Your headache is caused by a lack of sleep,” Desdemona said. “It will go away. Let me tie your head with my handkerchief, and within an hour your headache will vanish.”

“Your handkerchief is too small,” Othello said, pushing it away.

The handkerchief fell to the ground.

Othello said, “You need not bind my head. Come, I will go in to dinner with you.”

“I am very sorry that you are not well,” Desdemona said. Because she was so concerned about her husband’s not feeling well, she did not think about her handkerchief.

She and Othello left to go to dinner, leaving the handkerchief on the ground.

Emilia picked up the handkerchief and said, “I am glad I have found this handkerchief. This was the first keepsake the Moor gave her. My headstrong husband has a hundred times urged me to steal it, but she loves the love-token. Her husband made her swear to keep it forever, and she keeps it always with her so that she can kiss it and talk to it. I’ll have the embroidery — a pattern of strawberries that is a work of art — copied onto another handkerchief and give it to my husband, Iago. What he will do with it, Heaven knows and not I. I want nothing except to gratify his whim.”

Iago appeared and said to Emilia, “How are you? What are you doing here alone?”

“Don’t rebuke me. I have a thing for you.”

“A thing for me? It is a common thing —”

Iago and Emilia did not always get along. Iago now seemed to be insulting his wife. Nowadays, “thing” refers to a penis, but in Iago’s country and day, “thing” referred to both male and female genitalia. To say that Emilia’s thing was common meant that her thing was open to all.

Shocked, Emilia said, “What!”

And Iago concluded, “— to have a foolish wife.”

Emilia said, “Is that all? I was expecting a much worse insult.”

Wanting to keep on her husband’s good side — he could be especially mean when she was not on his good side — Emilia said, “What will you say to me now if I give you a handkerchief?”

“What handkerchief?”

“What handkerchief? Why, the handkerchief that the Moor first gave to Desdemona — the handkerchief that so often you have asked me to steal.”

“Did you steal it from her?”

“No. She negligently let it drop to the ground. I was lucky enough to be present and picked it up.”

“Good girl,” Iago said. “Give it to me.”

“What will you do with it? Why have you been so eager for me to steal it?”

Iago snatched the handkerchief away from his wife and said, “What business is that of yours?”

“If you don’t need it for something important,” Emilia said, “give it back to me. Poor Desdemona will be very upset when she discovers that she has lost it.”

“Pretend that you know nothing about this handkerchief. I need it. Go, now, leave me.”

Emilia departed.

Iago thought, I will plant this handkerchief in Cassio’s lodging and let him find it. Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations as strong as the proofs found in holy scripture. This handkerchief will advance my plot. The Moor is already changing with my poisonous words: Dangerous thoughts are, in their nature, poison. At first, the poisonous words seem to have little effect, then the poison spreads and infects one’s whole being. The poisonous thoughts burn like sulfur mines. I say this because I know this.

Iago looked up and saw Othello walking toward him.

Iago thought, Already my poison is working. Opium and other soporifics will never again give the Moor the sweet sleep that he enjoyed as recently as yesterday.

Othello was mumbling to himself, “Has she been unfaithful to me? Has she cheated on me?”

“How are you, general?” Iago said. “Please, torment yourself no longer with jealousy.”

“Go away!” Othello said. “Leave! Your words have put me on the rack and are torturing me. I swear that it is better to be cheated on continuously and not know it than to be cheated on a little and know it.”

“What do you mean, my lord?” Iago asked.

“What did I know about her stolen hours of lust? I did not see them, I did not think about them, they did not harm me. Each time she was unfaithful, I slept well the following night and I was free of jealousy and I was happy. I was not aware of Cassio’s kisses on her lips. A man who was robbed, but does not know he was robbed, has not been robbed at all.”

“I am sorry to hear this,” Iago said.

“I would be happy, if all the soldiers of the camp, including the very lowest in rank, had tasted her sweet body, as long as I was not aware of it,” Othello said. “But now, my tranquil mind is gone forever. Farewell, tranquility! Farewell, happiness! And farewell to my career! Farewell to the troops! Farewell to the big wars that turn ambition into a virtue! Farewell to the neighing steeds, and the shrill trumpets, the spirit-stirring drums, the ear-piercing fifes, the royal banners, and all attributes, proud display, pomp, and ceremonies of glorious war! All you deadly cannon whose rude throats counterfeit the deadly thunder and lightning of immortal Jove, farewell! My career is over!”

“Can that be possible, my lord?” Iago asked.

“Villain, make sure that you prove my wife is a whore,” Othello said. “Make sure of it. Give me proof that I can see with my eyes, or I swear by my immortal soul that it would have been better for you to be born a dog than to face my awakened wrath!”

“Has it come to this?”

“Show me proof, or, at the least, so prove that my wife is a whore that the proof will have nowhere on which a doubt can hang — or you will lose your life!”

“My noble lord —”

“If you are slandering her and torturing me, do not bother to pray and abandon all repentance for your sins. Horrors accumulate on the head of a man who is horrible. Do deeds so evil that they will make Heaven weep and amaze everybody on Earth because you can do nothing that can add more to your damnation than what you have already done!”

“May the grace of God and Heaven forgive me for being so honest,” Iago said. “Are you a man? Do you have a soul or sense? May God be with you. I resign my office — make someone else your ancient. I am a wretched fool because I have lived to see that my honesty is considered a vice! Oh, monstrous world! Take note, people, take note: To be direct and honest is not safe. I thank you for this wisdom I have learned, and from here on I will have no friends because making friends leads to abuse from those so-called friends.”

Iago started to walk away.

Othello said, “Stay. You ought to be honest.”

“I ought to be wise,” Iago replied. “An honest man is a fool who loses the friends he tries to help.”

“I would bet the world that my wife is faithful to me, and yet I think that she is not. I think that you are just and yet I think that you are not. I need some proof. My wife’s name, that was as fresh and clean as the face of the virgin goddess Diana, is now as begrimed and black as my own face. If ropes, or knives, or poison, or fire, or suffocating streams, exist, I will not endure it.”

Iago thought, Are you thinking about killing Desdemona and Cassio — or yourself? I am OK with either decision.

“I wish I knew the truth for certain!” Othello said.

“I see, sir, that you are eaten up with suffering,” Iago said. “I am sorry that I told you what I suspect. But do you really want to know the truth?”

“I do want to know the truth — and I willknow the truth!”

“And you shall know the truth,” Iago said. “But how? How can we get you the proof you need? Would you have to catch her in the act of betraying you? Would you have to see her in bed with a man on top of her?”

“Death and damnation!” Othello exclaimed.

“It would be difficult, I think, to catch your wife and her lover in the act of betraying you,” Iago said. “Damn them if ever mortal eyes other than their own see them go to bed together! So what can we do? How can we get proof? How can your need for proof be satisfied? It is impossible for you to see them in bed together. They will take precautions even if they are as lecherous as goats, as horny as monkeys, as lustful as wolves in heat, and as foolish as stupid, drunken people. But still, I say, if rational inferences and strong circumstantial evidence that together lead directly to the door of truth will give you satisfactory evidence, you may have your proof.”

“Give me valid evidence that she is disloyal to me.”

“I do not like this job you are giving to me,” Iago said. “But, since I am already involved in this situation because of my foolish honesty and respect for you, I will go on. As you know, in our culture, it is acceptable for two people of the same sex to share a bed. I lay beside Cassio recently. Because I was troubled with a raging toothache, I could not sleep. Some men are so indiscrete that when they are asleep they will mutter about their affairs. Cassio is such a man. As he lay asleep, I heard him say, ‘Sweet Desdemona, let us be wary. Let us hide our love for each other.’ And then, sir, he gripped and wrung my hand, cried, ‘Sweetheart!’ and kissed me hard, as if he were plucking up kisses by the roots that grew upon my lips. He then laid his leg over my thigh, and sighed, and kissed, and then he cried, ‘Cursed be the fate that gave you to the Moor!’”

The Moor is likely to believe this lie, Iago thought.

“Oh, monstrous! Monstrous!” Othello said.

“This was only his dream.”

“But this is evidence of a previous coupling,” Othello said. “Cassio’s dream is circumstantial evidence that he is having an affair with my wife.”

“This dream may serve to bolster other evidence that only weakly points to an affair.”

“I will tear her to pieces!” Othello cried.

“Don’t,” Iago said. “But be wise. So far, we have no visual evidence. We may yet find out that your wife is faithful to you. But tell me, doesn’t your wife own an expensive handkerchief that is embroidered with a pattern of strawberries?”

“I gave her that handkerchief,” Othello said. “It was my first gift to her.”

“I did not know that,” Iago said. “But I saw today Cassio wiping his beard with that handkerchief — I am sure that it is your wife’s.”

“If that was the handkerchief I gave her —”

“If it was, or if it was any handkerchief that belonged to her, it is yet more evidence that she is unfaithful to you.”

“I wish that this slave — Cassio — had forty thousand lives! One is not enough for me to give adequate expression to my rage. I know now that he is having an affair with my wife! Iago, listen. All the foolish love I had for my wife I now blow up to Heaven — that love is gone. Arise, black vengeance, from your home in hollow Hell! My love for Desdemona, leave my mind and heart and give up your place to tyrannous hatred! Swell, mind and heart, with your burden, which is the venom of poisonous snakes!”

“Calm down,” Iago advised.

“I want blood!” Othello said. “Blood! Blood! Blood!”

“Be patient and wait a while,” Iago said. “You may change your mind.”

“Never, Iago,” Othello replied. “My bloody thoughts are like the current of the Black Sea, which always flows strongly to the Mediterranean Sea. Because water always flows from a higher to a lower elevation, the current never flows from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. Similarly, my bloody thoughts shall never look backward toward a humble love but shall always violently rush forward toward a suitable and all-encompassing revenge.”

Othello knelt and said, “I swear a sacred vow by Heaven, which is shining and changeless, that I will get revenge.”

Iago said, “Do not rise yet.”

He knelt beside Othello and made his own vow: “Witness, you ever-burning lights above, you elements that encircle us, that here Iago gives up the control of his mind, hands, and heart to Othello — Iago will follow the orders of Othello, who has been wronged by his wife. Let him command me to do anything at all, and I will do whatever bloody business he orders me to do as if I were doing a good deed. I will feel no remorse but instead shall value serving Othello.”

They rose.

Othello said, “I will acknowledge your service to me not with empty thanks, but with profit to you. Immediately, I ask you to keep your vow: Within three days bring it about that I will hear that Cassio no longer lives.”

“Cassio, who is my friend, will die,” Iago said. “I will kill him as you request, but let Desdemona continue to live.”

“Damn her, that lewd and wanton whore! Damn her! Come with me. I will go inside and equip myself with some means to swiftly kill that beautiful devil. You are now my lieutenant.”

“I am yours to command forever.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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