Once upon a time there lived an old king of Britain. His name was Lear. He had three daughters: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. One day King Lear called his daughters and said to them: “lam very old and tired. I cannot be the king of Britain any more. I want to divide the country into three parts and give one part to each of you. Each of you wall be the queen of her part of the country. But first you must tell me how much you love me. Then I shall know which of you must get the better part.”
Goneril and Regan were not good daughters. They did not love their father. But they were very greedy. They wanted to become queens very much. They were glad to hear that their father wanted to divide his coun-rry into three parts. They only thought how to get the larger and better part of the country. So Goneril said: “Dear Father, I love you very much. I love you more than my eyes, more than my beauty, more than my life. No child loves his father more than I love you.”
Regan said the same, but in different words.
King Lear was very glad. Then he asked his youngest daughter Cordelia to speak. She was his favourite daughter.
Cordelia knew that her sisters were bad daughters. She loved her father very much, but she did not want to repeat the words of her sisters. So she said nothing. Only when King Lear told her angrily that she must speak, she said:
“I don`t understand why my sisters say that they love you more than anything else. They are married1. Don`t they love their husbands? You are my father, and of course I love you. But when I marry, I shall love my husband, too.”
King Lear did not like Cordelia`s words. He shouted at her and said that he did not want to have such a daughter. He divided the country between Goneril and Regan and gave Cordelia nothing.
Cordelia went to France and married the French king, who loved her very much.
Old King Lear had nothing now. He wanted to rest.
So he went to Goneril`s castle to stay there. But he did not stay long there. As we know, Goneril did not really love her father, and soon he understood it. Goneril did not speak with him and was not kind to him. At last she said she was tired of him.
So King Lear decided to leave his eldest daughter`s castle and go to his other daughter, Regan. He wanted to tell her how bad her sister was, and to stay in her castle.
But Regan was no better than Goneril. King Lear and his followers had to stand at the gates of the castle and wait for a long time. At last he saw Regan, but she was not glad to meet her father. She asked him to return to Goneril`s castle.
The old king did not know what to do. He just stayed at the gates of the castle. Soon Goneril came to Regan`s castle, and the king saw his two elder daughters again. He tried to speak to them, but they did not let him speak, they laughed at him and called him an old fool. Nearly all his knights and his servants left him.
Lear felt very sad. He could not stay there any more and he left Regan`s castle. He was homeless now.
One night there was a terrible storm. The rain beat in the old man`s face. A strong wind was blowing. It was dark and cold, and Lear had no roof over his poor old head. He was all wet and cold. Sad and unhappy, cold and wet, Lear went mad.
A brave knight Kent remained true to the old king and was with him. Kent sent a man to France with a letter for Cordelia. In the letter he told her everything. When Cordelia read the letter, she quickly gathered an army and went to Britain to fight her sisters` armies and make Lear king of Britain again.