All's Well That Ends Well

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Original text
Act III, Scene I
Flourish. Enter the Duke of Florence, the two
Frenchmen with a troope of Souldiers.

Duke.
So that from point to point, now haue you heard
The fundamentall reasons of this warre,
Whose great decision hath much blood let forth
And more thirsts after.

1.Lord.
Holy seemes the quarrell
Vpon your Graces part: blacke and fearefull
On the opposer.

Duke.
Therefore we meruaile much our Cosin France
Would in so iust a businesse, shut his bosome
Against our borrowing prayers.

French E.
Good my Lord,
The reasons of our state I cannot yeelde,
But like a common and an outward man,
That the great figure of a Counsaile frames,
By selfe vnable motion, therefore dare not
Say what I thinke of it, since I haue found
My selfe in my incertaine grounds to faile
As often as I guest.

Duke.
Be it his pleasure.

Fren.G.
But I am sure the yonger of our nature,
That surfet on their ease, will day by day
Come heere for Physicke.

Duke.
Welcome shall they bee:
And all the honors that can flye from vs,
Shall on them settle: you know your places well,
When better fall, for your auailes they fell,
To morrow to'th the field.
Flourish.
Original text
Act III, Scene II
Enter Countesse and Clowne

Count.
It hath happen'd all, as I would haue had it,
saue that he comes not along with her.

Clo.
By my troth I take my young Lord to be a verie
melancholly man.

Count.
By what obseruance I pray you.

Clo.
Why he will looke vppon his boote, and sing: mend
the Ruffe and sing, aske questions and sing, picke his teeth,
and sing: I know a man that had this tricke of melancholy
hold a goodly Mannor for a song.

Lad.
Let me see what he writes, and when he
meanes to come.

Clow.
I haue no minde to Isbell since I was at Court. Our
old Lings, and our Isbels a'th Country, are nothing like
your old Ling and your Isbels a'th Court: the brains of
my Cupid's knock'd out, and I beginne to loue, as an old
man loues money, with no stomacke.

Lad
What haue we heere?

Clo
In that you haue there.
exit
A Letter.
I haue sent you a
daughter-in-Law, shee hath recouered the King, and vndone
me: I haue wedded her, not bedded her, and sworne to make
the not eternall. You shall heare I am runne away, know it
before the report come. If there bee bredth enough in the
world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to you.
Your vnfortunate sonne,
Bertram.
This is not well rash and vnbridled boy,
To flye the fauours of so good a King,
To plucke his indignation on thy head,
By the misprising of a Maide too vertuous
For the contempt of Empire.
Enter Clowne.

Clow
O Madam, yonder is heauie newes within betweene
two souldiers, and my yong Ladie.

La
What is the matter.

Clo
Nay there is some comfort in the newes, some
comfort, your sonne will not be kild so soone as I thoght
he would.

La
Why should he be kill'd?

Clo
So say I Madame, if he runne away, as I heare he
does, the danger is in standing too't, that's the losse of
men, though it be the getting of children. Heere they
come will tell you more. For my part I onely heare your
sonne was run away.
Enter Hellen and two Gentlemen.

French E.
Saue you good Madam.

Hel.
Madam, my Lord is gone, for euer gone.

French G.
Do not say so.

La.
Thinke vpon patience, pray you Gentlemen,
I haue felt so many quirkes of ioy and greefe,
That the first face of neither on the start
Can woman me vntoo't. Where is my sonne I pray you?

Fren.G.
Madam he's gone to serue the Duke of Florence,
We met him thitherward, for thence we came:
And after some dispatch in hand at Court,
Thither we bend againe.

Hel.
Looke on his Letter Madam, here's my Pasport.
When thou canst get the Ring vpon my finger, which neuer
shall come off, and shew mee a childe begotten of thy bodie,
that I am father too, then call me husband: but in such a
(then) I write a Neuer.
This is a dreadfull sentence.

La.
Brought you this Letter Gentlemen?

1. G.
I Madam, and for the Contents sake are
sorrie for our paines.

Old La.
I prethee Ladie haue a better cheere,
If thou engrossest, all the greefes are thine,
Thou robst me of a moity: He was my sonne,
But I do wash his name out of my blood,
And thou art all my childe. Towards Florence is he?

Fren. G.
I Madam.

La.
And to be a souldier.

Fren. G.
Such is his noble purpose, and beleeu't
The Duke will lay vpon him all the honor
That good conuenience claimes.

La.
Returne you thither.

Fren. E.
I Madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.

Hel.
Till I haue no wife, I haue nothing in France,
'Tis bitter.

La.
Finde you that there?

Hel.
I Madame.

Fren. E.
'Tis but the boldnesse of his hand haply,
which his heart was not consenting too.

Lad.
Nothing in France, vntill he haue no wife:
There's nothing heere that is too good for him
But onely she, and she deserues a Lord
That twenty such rude boyes might tend vpon,
And call her hourely Mistris. Who was with him?

Fren. E.
A seruant onely, and a Gentleman: which I
haue sometime knowne.

La.
Parolles was it not?

Fren. E.
I my good Ladie, hee.

La.
A verie tainted fellow, and full of wickednesse,
My sonne corrupts a well deriued nature
With his inducement.

Fren. E.
Indeed good Ladie
the fellow has a deale of that, too much,
which holds him much to haue.

La.
Y'are welcome Gentlemen,
I will intreate you when you see my sonne,
to tell him that his sword can neuer winne
the honor that he looses: more Ile intreate you
written to beare along.

Fren. G.
We serue you Madam
in that and all your worthiest affaires.

La.
Not so, but as we change our courtesies,
Will you draw neere?
Exit

Hel.
Till I haue no wife I haue nothing in France.
Nothing in France vntill he has no wife:
Thou shalt haue none Rossillion none in France,
Then hast thou all againe: poore Lord, is't I
That chase thee from thy Countrie, and expose
Those tender limbes of thine, to the euent
Of the none-sparing warre? And is it I,
That driue thee from the sportiue Court, where thou
Was't shot at with faire eyes, to be the marke
Of smoakie Muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride vpon the violent speede of fire,
Fly with false ayme, moue the still-peering aire
That sings with piercing, do not touch my Lord:
Who euer shoots at him, I set him there.
Who euer charges on his forward brest
I am the Caitiffe that do hold him too't,
And though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected: Better 'twere
I met the rauine Lyon when he roar'd
With sharpe constraint of hunger: better 'twere,
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No come thou home Rossillion
Whence honor but of danger winnes a scarre,
As oft it looses all. I will be gone:
My being heere it is, that holds thee hence,
Shall I stay heere to doo't? No, no, although
The ayre of Paradise did fan the house,
And Angels offic'd all: I will be gone,
That pittifull rumour may report my flight
To consolate thine eare. Come night, end day,
For with the darke (poore theefe) Ile steale away.
Exit.
Original text
Act III, Scene III
Flourish. Enter the Duke of Florence, Rossillion, drum
and trumpets, soldiers, Parrolles

Duke.
The Generall of our horse thou art, and we
Great in our hope, lay our best loue and credence
Vpon thy promising fortune.

Ber.
Sir it is
A charge too heauy for my strength, but yet
Wee'l striue to beare it for your worthy sake,
To th' extreme edge of hazard.

Duke.
Then go thou forth,
And fortune play vpon thy prosperous helme
As thy auspicious mistris.

Ber.
This very day
Great Mars I put my selfe into thy file,
Make me but like my thoughts, and I shall proue
A louer of thy drumme, hater of loue.
Exeunt omnes
Original text
Act III, Scene IV
Enter Countesse & Steward.

La
Alas! and would you take the letter of her:
Might you not know she would do, as she has done,
By sending me a Letter. Reade it agen.
Letter.
I am S. Iaques Pilgrim, thither gone:
Ambitious loue hath so in me offended,
That bare-foot plod I the cold ground vpon
With sainted vow my faults to haue amended.
Write, write, that from the bloodie course of warre,
My deerest Master your deare sonne, may hie,
Blesse him at home in peace. Whilst I from farre,
His name with zealous feruour sanctifie;
His taken labours bid him me forgiue;
I his despightfull Iuno sent him forth,
From Courtly friends, with Camping foes to liue,
Where death and danger dogges the heeles of worth.
He is too good and faire for death, and mee,
Whom I my selfe embrace, to set him free.
Ah what sharpe stings are in her mildest words?
Rynaldo you did neuer lacke aduice so much,
As letting her passe so: had I spoke with her,
I could haue well diuerted her intents,
Which thus she hath preuented.

Ste.
Pardon me Madam,
If I had giuen you this at ouer-night,
She might haue beene ore-tane: and yet she writes
Pursuite would be but vaine.

La.
What Angell shall
Blesse this vnworthy husband, he cannot thriue,
Vnlesse her prayers, whom heauen delights to heare
And loues to grant, repreeue him from the wrath
Of greatest Iustice. Write, write Rynaldo
To this vnworthy husband of his wife,
Let euerie word waigh heauie of her worrh,
That he does waigh too light: my greatest greefe,
Though little he do feele it, set downe sharpely.
Dispatch the most conuenient messenger,
When haply he shall heare that she is gone,
He will returne, and hope I may that shee
Hearing so much, will speede her foote againe,
Led hither by pure loue: which of them both
Is deerest to me, I haue no skill in sence
To make distinction: prouide this Messenger:
My heart is heauie, and mine age is weake,
Greefe would haue teares, and sorrow bids me speake.
Exeunt
Original text
Act III, Scene V
A Tucket afarre off. Enter old Widdow of Florence,
her daughter Violenta and Mariana, with other
Citizens.

Widdow.
Nay come, / For if they do approach the Citty, / We
shall loose all the sight.

Diana.
They say, the French Count has done / Most
honourable seruice.

Wid.
It is reported, / That he has taken their great'st
Commander, / And that with his owne hand he slew / The
Dukes brother:
we haue lost our labour, / They are gone a contrarie way:
harke, you may know by their Trumpets.

Maria.
Come lets returne againe, / And suffice our selues
with the report of it. / Well Diana take heed of this
French Earle, / The honor of a Maide is her name, / And no
Legacie is so rich / As honestie.

Widdow.
I haue told my neighbour / How you haue beene
solicited by a Gentleman / His Companion.

Maria.
I know that knaue, hang him, one Parolles,
a filthy Officer he is in those suggestions for the young
Earle, beware of them Diana; their promises, entisements,
oathes, tokens, and all these engines of lust, are
not the things they go vnder: many a maide hath beene
seduced by them, and the miserie is example, that so
terrible shewes in the wracke of maiden-hood, cannot for
all that disswade succession, but that they are limed with
the twigges that threatens them. I hope I neede not to
aduise you further, but I hope your owne grace will keepe
you where you are, though there were no further danger
knowne, but the modestie which is so lost.

Dia.
You shall not neede to feare me.
Enter Hellen.

Wid.
I hope so: looke here comes a pilgrim, I know
she will lye at my house, thither they send one another,
Ile question her. God saue you pilgrim, whether are
bound?

Hel.
To S. Iaques la grand.
Where do the Palmers lodge, I do beseech you?

Wid.
At the S. Francis heere beside the Port.

Hel.
Is this the way?
A march afarre.

Wid.
I marrie ist. Harke you, they come this way:
If you will tarrie holy Pilgrime
But till the troopes come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodg'd,
The rather for I thinke I know your hostesse
As ample as my selfe.

Hel.
Is it your selfe?

Wid.
If you shall please so Pilgrime.

Hel.
I thanke you, and will stay vpon your leisure.

Wid.
You came I thinke from France?

Hel.
I did so.

Wid.
Heere you shall see a Countriman of yours
That has done worthy seruice.

Hel.
His name I pray you?

Dia.
The Count Rossillion know you such a one?

Hel.
But by the eare that heares most nobly of him:
His face I know not.

Dia.
What somere he is
He's brauely taken heere. He stole from France
As 'tis reported: for the King had married him
Against his liking. Thinke you it is so?

Hel.
I surely meere the truth, I know his Lady.

Dia.
There is a Gentleman that serues the Count,
Reports but coursely of her.

Hel.
What's his name?

Dia.
Monsieur Parrolle.

Hel.
Oh I beleeue with him,
In argument of praise, or to the worth
Of the great Count himselfe, she is too meane
To haue her name repeated, all her deseruing
Is a reserued honestie, and that
I haue not heard examin'd.

Dian.
Alas poore Ladie,
'Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting Lord.

Wid.
I write good creature, wheresoere she is,
Her hart waighes sadly: this yong maid might do her
A shrewd turne if she pleas'd.

Hel.
How do you meane?
May be the amorous Count solicites her
In the vnlawfull purpose.

Wid.
He does indeede,
And brokes with all that can in such a suite
Corrupt the tender honour of a Maide:
But she is arm'd for him, and keepes her guard
In honestest defence.
Drumme and Colours. Enter Count Rossillion, Parrolles, and the
whole Armie.

Mar.
The goddes forbid else.

Wid.
So, now they come:
That is Anthonio the Dukes eldest sonne,
That Escalus.

Hel.
Which is the Frenchman?

Dia.
Hee,
That with the plume, 'tis a most gallant fellow,
I would he lou'd his wife: if he were honester
He were much goodlier. Is't not a handsom Gentleman

Hel.
I like him well.

Di.
'Tis pitty he is not honest: yonds that same knaue
That leades him to these places: were I his Ladie,
I would poison that vile Rascall.

Hel.
Which is he?

Dia.
That Iacke-an-apes with scarfes. Why is hee
melancholly?

Hel.
Perchance he's hurt i'th battaile.

Par.
Loose our drum? Well.

Mar.
He's shrewdly vext at something. Looke he
has spyed vs.

Wid.
Marrie hang you.

Mar
And your curtesie, for a ring-carrier.
Exit.

Wid.
The troope is past: Come pilgrim, I wil bring you,
Where you shall host: Of inioyn'd penitents
There's foure or fiue, to great S. Iaques bound,
Alreadie at my house.

Hel.
I humbly thanke you:
Please it this Matron, and this gentle Maide
To eate with vs to night, the charge and thanking
Shall be for me, and to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this Virgin,
Worthy the note.

Both.
Wee'l take your offer kindly.
Exeunt
Original text
Act III, Scene VI
Enter Count Rossillion and the Frenchmen, as at first.

Cap. E.
Nay good my Lord put him too't: let him
haue his way.

Cap. G.
If your Lordshippe finde him not a Hilding,
hold me no more in your respect.

Cap. E.
On my life my Lord, a bubble.

Ber.
Do you thinke I am so farre / Deceiued in him.

Cap. E.
Beleeue it my Lord, in mine owne direct
knowledge, without any malice, but to speake of him as
my kinsman, hee's a most notable Coward, an infinite and
endlesse Lyar, an hourely promise-breaker, the owner of no
one good qualitie, worthy your Lordships entertainment.

Cap. G.
It were fit you knew him, least reposing
too farre in his vertue which he hath not, he might at some
great and trustie businesse, in a maine daunger, fayle you.

Ber.
I would I knew in what particular action to try
him.

Cap. G.
None better then to let him fetch off his
drumme, which you heare him so confidently vndertake to
do.

C. E.
I with a troop of Florentines wil sodainly
surprize him; such I will haue whom I am sure he
knowes not from the enemie: wee will binde and hoodwinke
him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he is
carried into the Leager of the aduersaries, when we
bring him to our owne tents: be but your Lordship present
at his examination, if he do not for the promise of his
life, and in the highest compulsion of base feare, offer to
betray you, and deliuer all the intelligence in his power
against you, and that with the diuine forfeite of his soule
vpon oath, neuer trust my iudgement in anie thing.

Cap. G.
O for the loue of laughter, let him fetch
his drumme, he sayes he has a stratagem for't: when your
Lordship sees the bottome of this successe in't, and to what
mettle this counterfeyt lump of ours will be melted if you
giue him not Iohn drummes entertainement, your inclining
cannot be remoued. Heere he comes.
Enter Parrolles

Cap. E.
O for the loue of laughter hinder not the
honor of his designe, let him fetch off his drumme in any
hand.

Ber.
How now Monsieur? This drumme sticks sorely
in your disposition.

Cap. G.
A pox on't, let it go, 'tis but a drumme.

Par.
But a drumme: Ist but a drumme? A drum so lost.
There was excellent command, to charge in with our
horse vpon our owne wings, and to rend our owne souldiers.

Cap. G.
That was not to be blam'd in the command
of the seruice: it was a disaster of warre that Caesar
him selfe could not haue preuented, if he had beene there to
command.

Ber.
Well, wee cannot greatly condemne our successe:
some dishonor wee had in the losse of that drum, but it is
not to be recouered.

Par.
It might haue beene recouered.

Ber
It might, but it is not now.

Par.
It is to be recouered, but that the merit of
seruice is sildome attributed to the true and exact performer,
I would haue that drumme or another, or hic iacet.

Ber.
Why if you haue a stomacke, too't Monsieur: if
you thinke your mysterie in stratagem, can bring this
instrument of honour againe into his natiue quarter, be
magnanimious in the enterprize and go on, I wil grace
the attempt for a worthy exploit: if you speede well in it,
the Duke shall both speake of it, and extend to you what
further becomes his greatnesse, euen to the vtmost
syllable of your worthinesse.

Par.
By the hand of a souldier I will vndertake it.

Ber.
But you must not now slumber in it.

Par.
Ile about it this euening, and I will presently
pen downe my dilemma's, encourage my selfe in my certaintie,
put my selfe into my mortall preparation: and by
midnight looke to heare further from me.

Ber.
May I bee bold to acquaint his grace you are
gone about it.

Par.
I know not what the successe wil be my Lord,
but the attempt I vow.

Ber.
I know th'art valiant, / And to the possibility of
thy souldiership, / Will subscribe for thee: Farewell.

Par.
I loue not many words.
Exit

Cap. E.
No more then a fish loues water. Is not this a
strange fellow my Lord, that so confidently seemes to
vndertake this businesse, which he knowes is not to be
done, damnes himselfe to do, & dares better be damnd
then to doo't.

Cap. G.
You do not know him my Lord as we doe,
certaine it is that he will steale himselfe into a mans
fauour, and for a weeke escape a great deale of discoueries,
but when you finde him out, you haue him euer after.

Ber.
Why do you thinke he will make no deede at all
of this that so seriouslie hee dooes addresse himselfe vnto?

Cap. E.
None in the world, but returne with an inuention,
and clap vpon you two or three probable lies:
but we haue almost imbost him, you shall see his
all to night; for indeede he is not for your Lordshippes
respect.

Cap. G.
Weele make you some sport with the Foxe
ere we case him. He was first smoak'd by the old Lord
Lafew when his disguise and he is parted, tell me what
a sprat you shall finde him, which you shall see this verie
night.

Cap. E.
I must go looke my twigges, / He shall be caught.

Ber.
Your brother he shall go along with me.

Cap. G.
As't please your Lordship, Ile leaue you.

Ber.
Now wil I lead you to the house, and shew you
The Lasse I spoke of.

Cap. E.
But you say she's honest.

Ber.
That's all the fault: I spoke with hir but once,
And found her wondrous cold, but I sent to her
By this same Coxcombe that we haue i'th winde
Tokens and Letters, which she did resend,
And this is all I haue done: She's a faire creature,
Will you go see her?

Cap. E.
With all my heart my Lord.
Exeunt
Original text
Act III, Scene VII
Enter Hellen, and Widdow.

Hel.
If you misdoubt me that I am not shee,
I know not how I shall assure you further,
But I shall loose the grounds I worke vpon.

Wid.
Though my estate be falne, I was well borne,
Nothing acquainted with these businesses,
And would not put my reputation now
In any staining act.

Hel.
Nor would I wish you.
First giue me trust, the Count he is my husband,
And what to your sworne counsaile I haue spoken,
Is so from word to word: and then you cannot
By the good ayde that I of you shall borrow,
Erre in bestowing it.

Wid.
I should beleeue you,
For you haue shew'd me that which well approues
Y'are great in fortune.

Hel
Take this purse of Gold,
And let me buy your friendly helpe thus farre,
Which I will ouer-pay, and pay againe
When I haue found it. The Count he woes your daughter,
Layes downe his wanton siedge before her beautie,
Resolue to carrie her: let her in fine consent
As wee'l direct her how 'tis best to beare it:
Now his important blood will naught denie,
That shee'l demand: a ring the Countie weares,
That downward hath succeeded in his house
From sonne to sonne, some foure or fiue discents,
Since the first father wore it. This Ring he holds
In most rich choice: yet in his idle fire,
To buy his will, it would not seeme too deere,
How ere repented after.

Wid.
Now I see
the bottome of your purpose.

Hel.
You see it lawfull then, it is no more,
But that your daughter ere she seemes as wonne,
Desires this Ring; appoints him an encounter;
In fine, deliuers me to fill the time,
Her selfe most chastly absent: after
To marry her, Ile adde three thousand Crownes
To what is past already.

Wid.
I haue yeelded:
Instruct my daughter how she shall perseuer,
That time and place with this deceite so lawfull
May proue coherent. Euery night he comes
With Musickes of all sorts, and songs compos'd
To her vnworthinesse: It nothing steeds vs
To chide him from our eeues, for he persists
As if his life lay on't.

Hel
Why then to night
Let vs assay our plot, which if it speed,
Is wicked meaning in a lawfull deede;
And lawfull meaning in a lawfull act,
Where both not sinne, and yet a sinfull fact.
But let's about it.
Modern text
Act III, Scene I
Flourish. Enter the Duke of Florence, and the two
French Lords, with a troop of soldiers.

DUKE
So that from point to point now have you heard
The fundamental reasons of this war,
Whose great decision hath much blood let forth,
And more thirsts after.

FIRST LORD
Holy seems the quarrel
Upon your grace's part, black and fearful
On the opposer.

DUKE
Therefore we marvel much our cousin France
Would in so just a business shut his bosom
Against our borrowing prayers.

SECOND LORD
Good my lord,
The reasons of our state I cannot yield,
But like a common and an outward man
That the great figure of a council frames
By self-unable motion; therefore dare not
Say what I think of it, since I have found
Myself in my incertain grounds to fail
As often as I guessed.

DUKE
Be it his pleasure.

FIRST LORD
But I am sure the younger of our nature
That surfeit on their ease will day by day
Come here for physic.

DUKE
Welcome shall they be,
And all the honours that can fly from us
Shall on them settle. You know your places well;
When better fall, for your avails they fell.
Tomorrow to the field.
Flourish. Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene II
Enter the Countess and the Clown

COUNTESS
It hath happened all as I would have had it,
save that he comes not along with her.

CLOWN
By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very
melancholy man.

COUNTESS
By what observance, I pray you?

CLOWN
Why, he will look upon his boot and sing, mend
the ruff and sing, ask questions and sing, pick his teeth
and sing. I knew a man that had this trick of melancholy
hold a goodly manor for a song.

COUNTESS
Let me see what he writes, and when he
means to come.
She opens the letter

CLOWN
I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court. Our
old lings and our Isbels o'th' country are nothing like
your old ling and your Isbels o'th' court. The brains of
my Cupid's knocked out, and I begin to love as an old
man loves money, with no stomach.

COUNTESS
What have we here?

CLOWN
E'en that you have there.
Exit

COUNTESS
(reading the letter aloud)
I have sent you a
daughter-in-law; she hath recovered the King and undone
me. I have wedded her, not bedded her, and sworn to make
the ‘ not ’ eternal. You shall hear I am run away; know it
before the report come. If there be breadth enough in the
world I will hold a long distance. My duty to you.
Your unfortunate son,
Bertram.
This is not well, rash and unbridled boy,
To fly the favours of so good a King,
To pluck his indignation on thy head
By the misprising of a maid too virtuous
For the contempt of empire.
Enter Clown

CLOWN
O madam, yonder is heavy news within, between
two soldiers and my young lady.

COUNTESS
What is the matter?

CLOWN
Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some
comfort: your son will not be killed so soon as I thought
he would.

COUNTESS
Why should he be killed?

CLOWN
So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he
does. The danger is in standing to't; that's the loss of
men, though it be the getting of children. Here they
come will tell you more. For my part, I only hear your
son was run away.
Exit
Enter Helena and the two French Lords

FIRST LORD
Save you, good madam.

HELENA
Madam, my lord is gone, for ever gone.

SECOND LORD
Do not say so.

COUNTESS
Think upon patience. Pray you, gentlemen –
I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief
That the first face of neither on the start
Can woman me unto't. Where is my son, I pray you?

SECOND LORD
Madam, he's gone to serve the Duke of Florence.
We met him thitherward, for thence we came,
And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
Thither we bend again.

HELENA
Look on his letter, madam: here's my passport.
(She reads the letter aloud)
When thou canst get the ring upon my finger, which never
shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body
that I am father to, then call me husband; but in such a
‘ then ’ I write a ‘ never.’
This is a dreadful sentence.

COUNTESS
Brought you this letter, gentlemen?

FIRST LORD
Ay, madam, and for the contents' sake are
sorry for our pains.

COUNTESS
I prithee, lady, have a better cheer.
If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine
Thou robbest me of a moiety. He was my son,
But I do wash his name out of my blood
And thou art all my child. Towards Florence is he?

SECOND LORD
Ay, madam.

COUNTESS
And to be a soldier?

SECOND LORD
Such is his noble purpose; and, believe't,
The Duke will lay upon him all the honour
That good convenience claims.

COUNTESS
Return you thither?

FIRST LORD
Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.

HELENA
(reading)
Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
'Tis bitter.

COUNTESS
Find you that there?

HELENA
Ay, madam.

FIRST LORD
'Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply,
which his heart was not consenting to.

COUNTESS
Nothing in France until he have no wife!
There's nothing here that is too good for him
But only she, and she deserves a lord
That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
And call her, hourly, mistress. Who was with him?

FIRST LORD
A servant only, and a gentleman which I
have sometime known.

COUNTESS
Parolles, was it not?

FIRST LORD
Ay, my good lady, he.

COUNTESS
A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness.
My son corrupts a well-derived nature
With his inducement.

FIRST LORD
Indeed, good lady,
The fellow has a deal of that too much
Which holds him much to have.

COUNTESS
Y'are welcome, gentlemen.
I will entreat you, when you see my son,
To tell him that his sword can never win
The honour that he loses. More I'll entreat you
Written to bear along.

SECOND LORD
We serve you, madam,
In that and all your worthiest affairs.

COUNTESS
Not so, but as we change our courtesies.
Will you draw near?
Exeunt the Countess and the Lords

HELENA
‘ Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.’
Nothing in France until he has no wife!
Thou shalt have none, Rossillion, none in France,
Then hast thou all again. Poor lord, is't I
That chase thee from thy country, and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim, move the still-piecing air
That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there.
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to't;
And though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected. Better 'twere
I met the ravin lion when he roared
With sharp constraint of hunger; better 'twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rossillion,
Whence honour but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all. I will be gone;
My being here it is that holds thee hence.
Shall I stay here to do't? No, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
And angels officed all. I will be gone,
That pitiful rumour may report my flight
To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day!
For with the dark, poor thief, I'll steal away.
Exit
Modern text
Act III, Scene III
Flourish. Enter the Duke of Florence, Bertram, drum
and trumpets, soldiers, Parolles

DUKE
The general of our horse thou art, and we,
Great in our hope, lay our best love and credence
Upon thy promising fortune.

BERTRAM
Sir, it is
A charge too heavy for my strength; but yet
We'll strive to bear it for your worthy sake
To th' extreme edge of hazard.

DUKE
Then go thou forth,
And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm
As thy auspicious mistress!

BERTRAM
This very day,
Great Mars, I put myself into thy file;
Make me but like my thoughts and I shall prove
A lover of thy drum, hater of love.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene IV
Enter the Countess and the Steward

COUNTESS
Alas! and would you take the letter of her?
Might you not know she would do as she has done
By sending me a letter? Read it again.

STEWARD
(reading)
I am Saint Jaques' pilgrim, thither gone.
Ambitious love hath so in me offended
That barefoot plod I the cold ground upon,
With sainted vow my faults to have amended.
Write, write, that from the bloody course of war
My dearest master, your dear son, may hie.
Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far
His name with zealous fervour sanctify.
His taken labours bid him me forgive;
I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
From courtly friends, with camping foes to live
Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth.
He is too good and fair for death and me;
Whom I myself embrace to set him free.

COUNTESS
Ah, what sharp stings are in her mildest words!
Rynaldo, you did never lack advice so much
As letting her pass so. Had I spoke with her,
I could have well diverted her intents,
Which thus she hath prevented.

STEWARD
Pardon me, madam.
If I had given you this at overnight
She might have been o'erta'en; and yet she writes
Pursuit would be but vain.

COUNTESS
What angel shall
Bless this unworthy husband? He cannot thrive,
Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear
And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath
Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rynaldo,
To this unworthy husband of his wife.
Let every word weigh heavy of her worth
That he does weigh too light. My greatest grief,
Though little he do feel it, set down sharply.
Dispatch the most convenient messenger.
When haply he shall hear that she is gone,
He will return; and hope I may that she,
Hearing so much, will speed her foot again,
Led hither by pure love. Which of them both
Is dearest to me I have no skill in sense
To make distinction. Provide this messenger.
My heart is heavy and mine age is weak;
Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene V
A tucket afar off. Enter the old Widow of Florence,
her daughter Diana, and Mariana, with other
citizens

WIDOW
Nay, come, for if they do approach the city, we
shall lose all the sight.

DIANA
They say the French Count has done most
honourable service.

WIDOW
It is reported that he has taken their greatest
commander, and that with his own hand he slew the
Duke's brother.
Tucket
We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way.
Hark! You may know by their trumpets.

MARIANA
Come, let's return again and suffice ourselves
with the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this
French Earl. The honour of a maid is her name, and no
legacy is so rich as honesty.

WIDOW
I have told my neighbour how you have been
solicited by a gentleman his companion.

MARIANA
I know that knave, hang him! one Parolles; a
filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the young
Earl. Beware of them, Diana: their promises, enticements,
oaths, tokens, and all these engines of lust, are
not the things they go under. Many a maid hath been
seduced by them, and the misery is, example, that so
terrible shows in the wrack of maidenhood, cannot for
all that dissuade succession, but that they are limed with
the twigs that threatens them. I hope I need not to
advise you further; but I hope your own grace will keep
you where you are, though there were no further danger
known but the modesty which is so lost.

DIANA
You shall not need to fear me.
Enter Helena

WIDOW
I hope so. Look, here comes a pilgrim. I know
she will lie at my house; thither they send one another.
I'll question her. God save you, pilgrim! Whither are
bound?

HELENA
To Saint Jaques le Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?

WIDOW
At the Saint Francis here beside the port.

HELENA
Is this the way?
A march afar

WIDOW
Ay, marry, is't. Hark you, they come this way.
If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodged;
The rather for I think I know your hostess
As ample as myself.

HELENA
Is it yourself?

WIDOW
If you shall please so, pilgrim.

HELENA
I thank you and will stay upon your leisure.

WIDOW
You came, I think, from France?

HELENA
I did so.

WIDOW
Here you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service.

HELENA
His name, I pray you?

DIANA
The Count Rossillion. Know you such a one?

HELENA
But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him;
His face I know not.

DIANA
Whatsome'er he is,
He's bravely taken here. He stole from France,
As 'tis reported, for the King had married him
Against his liking. Think you it is so?

HELENA
Ay, surely, mere the truth, I know his lady.

DIANA
There is a gentleman that serves the Count
Reports but coarsely of her.

HELENA
What's his name?

DIANA
Monsieur Parolles.

HELENA
O, I believe with him,
In argument of praise or to the worth
Of the great Count himself, she is too mean
To have her name repeated; all her deserving
Is a reserved honesty, and that
I have not heard examined.

DIANA
Alas, poor lady!
'Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.

WIDOW
I warrant, good creature, wheresoe'er she is,
Her heart weighs sadly. This young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleased.

HELENA
How do you mean?
Maybe the amorous Count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose?

WIDOW
He does indeed,
And brokes with all that can in such a suit
Corrupt the tender honour of a maid;
But she is armed for him and keeps her guard
In honestest defence.
Drum and colours. Enter Bertram, Parolles, and the
whole army

MARIANA
The gods forbid else!

WIDOW
So, now they come.
That is Antonio, the Duke's eldest son;
That Escalus.

HELENA
Which is the Frenchman?

DIANA
He –
That with the plume. 'Tis a most gallant fellow.
I would he loved his wife; if he were honester
He were much goodlier. Is't not a handsome gentleman?

HELENA
I like him well.

DIANA
'Tis pity he is not honest. Yond's that same knave
That leads him to these places. Were I his lady
I would poison that vile rascal.

HELENA
Which is he?

DIANA
That jackanapes with scarfs. Why is he
melancholy?

HELENA
Perchance he's hurt i'th' battle.

PAROLLES
Lose our drum! Well!

MARIANA
He's shrewdly vexed at something. Look, he
has spied us.

WIDOW
Marry, hang you!

MARIANA
And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!
Exeunt Bertram, Parolles, and the army

WIDOW
The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
Where you shall host. Of enjoined penitents
There's four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
Already at my house.

HELENA
I humbly thank you.
Please it this matron and this gentle maid
To eat with us tonight; the charge and thanking
Shall be for me, and, to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this virgin,
Worthy the note.

WIDOW and MARIANA
We'll take your offer kindly.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene VI
Enter Bertram and the two French Lords

FIRST LORD
Nay, good my lord, put him to't; let him
have his way.

SECOND LORD
If your lordship find him not a hilding,
hold me no more in your respect.

FIRST LORD
On my life, my lord, a bubble.

BERTRAM
Do you think I am so far deceived in him?

FIRST LORD
Believe it, my lord, in mine own direct
knowledge, without any malice, but to speak of him as
my kinsman, he's a most notable coward, an infinite and
endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no
one good quality worthy your lordship's entertainment.

SECOND LORD
It were fit you knew him; lest, reposing
too far in his virtue which he hath not, he might at some
great and trusty business in a main danger fail you.

BERTRAM
I would I knew in what particular action to try
him.

SECOND LORD
None better than to let him fetch off his
drum, which you hear him so confidently undertake to
do.

FIRST LORD
I, with a troop of Florentines, will suddenly
surprise him; such I will have whom I am sure he
knows not from the enemy. We will bind and hoodwink
him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he is
carried into the leaguer of the adversaries when we
bring him to our own tents. Be but your lordship present
at his examination. If he do not for the promise of his
life, and in the highest compulsion of base fear, offer to
betray you and deliver all the intelligence in his power
against you, and that with the divine forfeit of his soul
upon oath, never trust my judgement in anything.

SECOND LORD
O, for the love of laughter, let him fetch
his drum; he says he has a stratagem for't. When your
lordship sees the bottom of his success in't, and to what
metal this counterfeit lump of ore will be melted, if you
give him not John Drum's entertainment your inclining
cannot be removed. Here he comes.
Enter Parolles

FIRST LORD
O, for the love of laughter, hinder not the
honour of his design; let him fetch off his drum in any
hand.

BERTRAM
How now, monsieur! This drum sticks sorely
in your disposition.

SECOND LORD
A pox on't! Let it go, 'tis but a drum.

PAROLLES
But a drum! Is't but a drum? A drum so lost!
There was excellent command: to charge in with our
horse upon our own wings and to rend our own soldiers!

SECOND LORD
That was not to be blamed in the command
of the service: it was a disaster of war that Caesar
himself could not have prevented if he had been there to
command.

BERTRAM
Well, we cannot greatly condemn our success;
some dishonour we had in the loss of that drum, but it is
not to be recovered.

PAROLLES
It might have been recovered.

BERTRAM
It might, but it is not now.

PAROLLES
It is to be recovered. But that the merit of
service is seldom attributed to the true and exact performer,
I would have that drum or another, or hic jacet.

BERTRAM
Why, if you have a stomach, to't, monsieur! If
you think your mystery in stratagem can bring this
instrument of honour again into his native quarter, be
magnanimous in the enterprise and go on. I will grace
the attempt for a worthy exploit. If you speed well in it
the Duke shall both speak of it and extend to you what
further becomes his greatness, even to the utmost
syllable of your worthiness.

PAROLLES
By the hand of a soldier, I will undertake it.

BERTRAM
But you must not now slumber in it.

PAROLLES
I'll about it this evening, and I will presently
pen down my dilemmas, encourage myself in my certainty,
put myself into my mortal preparation; and by
midnight look to hear further from me.

BERTRAM
May I be bold to acquaint his grace you are
gone about it?

PAROLLES
I know not what the success will be, my lord,
but the attempt I vow.

BERTRAM
I know th'art valiant, and to the possibility of
thy soldiership will subscribe for thee. Farewell.

PAROLLES
I love not many words.
Exit

FIRST LORD
No more than a fish loves water. Is not this a
strange fellow, my lord, that so confidently seems to
undertake this business, which he knows is not to be
done, damns himself to do, and dares better be damned
than to do't.

SECOND LORD
You do not know him, my lord, as we do.
Certain it is that he will steal himself into a man's
favour and for a week escape a great deal of discoveries,
but when you find him out you have him ever after.

BERTRAM
Why, do you think he will make no deed at all
of this that so seriously he does address himself unto?

FIRST LORD
None in the world, but return with an invention,
and clap upon you two or three probable lies.
But we have almost embossed him. You shall see his
fall tonight; for indeed he is not for your lordship's
respect.

SECOND LORD
We'll make you some sport with the fox
ere we case him. He was first smoked by the old Lord
Lafew. When his disguise and he is parted tell me what a
sprat you shall find him; which you shall see this very
night.

FIRST LORD
I must go look my twigs. He shall be caught.

BERTRAM
Your brother, he shall go along with me.

FIRST LORD
As't please your lordship. I'll leave you.
Exit

BERTRAM
Now will I lead you to the house and show you
The lass I spoke of.

SECOND LORD
But you say she's honest.

BERTRAM
That's all the fault. I spoke with her but once
And found her wondrous cold, but I sent to her
By this same coxcomb that we have i'th' wind
Tokens and letters which she did re-send,
And this is all I have done. She's a fair creature;
Will you go see her?

SECOND LORD
With all my heart, my lord.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene VII
Enter Helena and the Widow

HELENA
If you misdoubt me that I am not she,
I know not how I shall assure you further
But I shall lose the grounds I work upon.

WIDOW
Though my estate be fallen, I was well born,
Nothing acquainted with these businesses,
And would not put my reputation now
In any staining act.

HELENA
Nor would I wish you.
First give me trust the Count he is my husband,
And what to your sworn counsel I have spoken
Is so from word to word, and then you cannot,
By the good aid that I of you shall borrow,
Err in bestowing it.

WIDOW
I should believe you,
For you have showed me that which well approves
Y'are great in fortune.

HELENA
Take this purse of gold,
And let me buy your friendly help thus far,
Which I will overpay, and pay again
When I have found it. The Count he woos your daughter,
Lays down his wanton siege before her beauty,
Resolved to carry her; let her in fine consent,
As we'll direct her how 'tis best to bear it.
Now his important blood will naught deny
That she'll demand. A ring the County wears
That downward hath succeeded in his house
From son to son some four or five descents
Since the first father wore it. This ring he holds
In most rich choice, yet, in his idle fire,
To buy his will it would not seem too dear,
Howe'er repented after.

WIDOW
Now I see
The bottom of your purpose.

HELENA
You see it lawful then. It is no more
But that your daughter, ere she seems as won,
Desires this ring; appoints him an encounter;
In fine, delivers me to fill the time,
Herself most chastely absent. After,
To marry her I'll add three thousand crowns
To what is passed already.

WIDOW
I have yielded.
Instruct my daughter how she shall persever
That time and place with this deceit so lawful
May prove coherent. Every night he comes
With musics of all sorts, and songs composed
To her unworthiness. It nothing steads us
To chide him from our eaves, for he persists
As if his life lay on't.

HELENA
Why then tonight
Let us assay our plot, which, if it speed,
Is wicked meaning in a lawful deed,
And lawful meaning in a lawful act,
Where both not sin, and yet a sinful fact.
But let's about it.
Exeunt
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