"How now, you dog?"
I stopped where I was, too startled to do anything but stand there and listen to them argue. Not that I would have been able to do anything to stop them anyway, even if it had occurred to me.
I was shocked. Carlisle was shouting. He was actually shouting at someone, and he sounded furious. Even more surprising, he was shouting at Jasper.
And Jasper was shouting back.
"If you did wear a beard upon your chin, I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean!" Jasper all but snarled back at Carlisle. I stared at the door separating me from them, wondering what would cause them to shout at each other like this.
"Villain!" Came Carlisle's fierce reply.
"Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger!" Jasper challenged him. They both had to be furious to fall back into such antiquated speaking habits. I darted back downstairs, wondering where to go for help.
I was afraid they might tear each other apart.
It made no sense. I had never heard Carlisle raise his voice with anyone, and I had certainly never seen Jasper so much as express any disagreement with anything Carlisle had said or done. To have them upstairs, in the study, ready to go at each other was unthinkable.
But it had happened, hadn't it?
I stopped as I heard the clash of steel on steel. Were they fighting? With swords? Now I was really confused.
They were arguing, shouting insults at each other, and apparently dueling. What on earth was going on? What had Jasper done to make Carlisle so angry? For that matter, what had Carlisle done to make Jasper so upset? Or had Carlisle started this argument?
I couldn't really see either of them starting a fight, but Carlisle least of all. If there were any Cullen you could count on to keep their calm, it was Carlisle.
So what was the deal here?
I wondered if it would do any good to go in there and try to calm them down. Nobody else was around, and by the time I found help it might be too late.
There was nothing else for it. I turned and headed back up the stairs. I hesitated at the top of the stairs, hearing their swords clanging against each other.
Taking a deep breath, I marched to the study. Far more timidly than I would have liked, I opened the door. I stared in horror at the scene before me.
Jasper held both blades, Carlisle's tip downward, resting on the floor, his own blade at Carlisle's throat. Carlisle's eyes were closed. He was waiting for Jasper to deliver the final blow. Jasper moved to strike-
"Stop!" I practically shrieked. Without thinking about how absolutely stupid I was being, I threw myself at Jasper, hoping to deflect his blow from Carlisle.
Jasper dropped both swords and darted away from Carlisle and myself, eyes wide. He stared at me even as he crouched into a defensive position, as if he weren't quite certain I wasn't a threat.
"Bella?" Carlisle asked softly, carefully. I turned to face him. He was alright. He was alive and unharmed, though confused. "Is something wrong?"
I stared at him. "You were fighting." I said. "You and Jasper. He was going to-to-"
Carlisle placed a hand on my shoulder. I was shaking. "It's alright, Bella." He said reassuringly. "Calm down."
Carlisle shook his head as he led me to the chair behind his desk. "We weren't fighting."
"You weren't?" I asked, now more confused than ever. "But Jasper was going to-"
Carlisle shook his head again. "I'm sorry we frightened you." He apologized.
I stared at him. What was going on? He and Jasper had just been all but at each other's throats. They had been shouting, arguing-
"It's a play." It was Jasper who spoke this time, though his voice was harsh, ragged. I turned to stare at him, still trying to understand.
"A play?" I repeated uncertainly.
"King Lear." Carlisle explained. "One of Shakespeare's plays."
I frowned. I still didn't understand.
Carlisle shrugged. He seemed almost- embarrassed? "We were acting out Shakespeare." He explained. "Jasper and I are both fond of his work, and the best way to appreciate it is to see it acted out."
"So you were just acting out a play?" I asked, still not quite certain of myself. "You weren't fighting?'
"No, Bella." Carlisle assured me. "We weren't fighting."
I sighed. That was a relief. It was also kind of embarrassing. "Sorry." I said.
Carlisle smiled. "Don't worry about it." He said. Then he turned his attention to Jasper. "Jasper?" He called softly.
Jasper forced a tight smiled of his own. "I'll be alright. Bella just startled me. She was pretty upset when she came in."
"Sorry." I said again.
Jasper shook his head as he stood up. "It happens." He said, still a bit tense. "Just caught me off guard, is all."
Carlisle retrieved the two swords. "I think that's enough for today." He decided.
"You don't have to." I said quickly. "I didn't mean to interrupt. If you want to finish your play, I don't mind."
Carlisle looked over at Jasper, who shrugged. Then he looked at me. "Do you want to join us?"
I hesitated. "I think I'll just watch." I decided. I didn't want to get any closer to those swords than I had to. That would be asking for trouble.
The thought seemed to occur to Jasper too, because he looked relieved when Carlisle didn't press the matter.
They started up again, and soon Jasper again had his sword at Carlisle's throat. I watched his death scene still a bit nervously, but was soon entranced.
I had read King Lear, and had even seen a production of it, but that was nothing compared to this. Carlisle and Jasper switched roles so easily, delivered lines so convincingly, that it almost seemed real. It had been convincing enough earlier that I had thought that they actually were fighting.
All too soon the play came to its tragic end, and I found myself wishing I had gotten to see the beginning of it. "That was amazing." I said.
Carlisle and Jasper seemed pleased, if a bit embarrassed. "You're the first to say so." Carlisle said cheerfully. "No one else can stand it."
"They all leave whenever Alice sees it coming." Jasper added. "They should be returning soon, though, now that it's over."
Sure enough, they were. I could hear the five of them downstairs now, back from wherever they had hidden. I shook my head. I didn't understand it.
"No appreciation for culture." Jasper informed me sadly.
Disclaimer: Twilight does not belong to me.