All's Well That Ends Well - Act 3, scene 2
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Act 3, scene 2
The Fool returns to Rossillion with a letter from Bertram that tells the Countess of his plan to run away from the French court and his determination never to “bed” Helen. Helen enters with her own letter from Bertram, which sets seemingly impossible obstacles in the way of Bertram’s ever being a husband to her. Helen decides to leave Rossillion since her presence there is keeping Bertram away and endangering his life in the war.Enter Countess, ⌜with a paper,⌝ and ⌜Fool.⌝
COUNTESS 1398 It hath happened all as I would have had it,
1399 save that he comes not along with her.
FOOL 1400 By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very
1401 melancholy man.
COUNTESS 1402 5By what observance, I pray you?
FOOL 1403 Why, he will look upon his boot and sing, mend
1404 the ruff and sing, ask questions and sing, pick his
1405 teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of
1406 melancholy ⌜sold⌝ a goodly manor for a song.
COUNTESS 1407 10Let me see what he writes and when he
1408 means to come.⌜She opens the letter.⌝
FOOL 1409 I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court. Our
1410 old lings and our Isbels o’ th’ country are nothing
1411 like your old ling and your Isbels o’ th’ court. The
1412 15 brains of my Cupid’s knocked out, and I begin to
1413 love as an old man loves money, with no stomach.
COUNTESS 1414 What have we here?
FOOL 1415 E’en that you have there.He exits.
⌜COUNTESS reads.⌝ 1416 I have sent you a daughter-in-law.
1417 20 She hath recovered the King and undone me. I have
1418 wedded her, not bedded her, and sworn to make the
1420 before the report come. If there be breadth enough in
1421 the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to
1422 25 you.
1423 Your unfortunate son,
1425 This is not well, rash and unbridled boy:
1426 To fly the favors of so good a king,
1427 30 To pluck his indignation on thy head
1428 By the misprizing of a maid too virtuous
1429 For the contempt of empire.
FOOL 1430 O madam, yonder is heavy news within, between
1431 two soldiers and my young lady.
COUNTESS 1432 35What is the matter?
FOOL 1433 Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some
1434 comfort. Your son will not be killed so soon as I
1435 thought he would.
COUNTESS 1436 Why should he be killed?
FOOL 1437 40So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he
1438 does. The danger is in standing to ’t; that’s the loss
1439 of men, though it be the getting of children. Here
1440 they come will tell you more. For my part, I only
1441 hear your son was run away.⌜He exits.⌝
Enter Helen, ⌜with a paper,⌝ and two Gentlemen.
FIRST GENTLEMAN, ⌜to Countess⌝ 1442 45Save you, good
1444 Madam, my lord is gone, forever gone.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 1445 Do not say so.
1446 Think upon patience, pray you.—Gentlemen,
1447 50 I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief
1448 That the first face of neither on the start
1449 Can woman me unto ’t. Where is my son, I pray you?
1450 Madam, he’s gone to serve the Duke of Florence.
1451 We met him thitherward, for thence we came,
1452 55 And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
1453 Thither we bend again.
1454 Look on his letter, madam; here’s my passport.
1455 ⌜She reads.⌝ When thou canst get the ring upon
1456 my finger, which never shall come off, and show me
1457 60 a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then
1458 call me husband. But in such a “then” I write a
1460 This is a dreadful sentence.
1461 Brought you this letter, gentlemen?
SECOND GENTLEMAN 1462 65 Ay, madam,
1463 And for the contents’ sake are sorry for our pains.
1464 I prithee, lady, have a better cheer.
1465 If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
1466 Thou robb’st me of a moiety. He was my son,
1467 70 But I do wash his name out of my blood,
1468 And thou art all my child.—Towards Florence is he?
SECOND GENTLEMAN 1469 Ay, madam.
COUNTESS 1470 And to be a soldier?
1471 Such is his noble purpose, and, believe ’t,
1472 75 The Duke will lay upon him all the honor
1473 That good convenience claims.
COUNTESS 1474 Return you thither?
1475 Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.
1476 Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
1477 80 ’Tis bitter.
HELEN 1479 Ay, madam.
1480 ’Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply,
1481 Which his heart was not consenting to.
1482 85 Nothing in France until he have no wife!
1483 There’s nothing here that is too good for him
1484 But only she, and she deserves a lord
1485 That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
1486 And call her hourly mistress. Who was with him?
1487 90 A servant only, and a gentleman
1488 Which I have sometime known.
COUNTESS 1489 Parolles was it not?
FIRST GENTLEMAN 1490 Ay, my good lady, he.
1491 A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness.
1492 95 My son corrupts a well-derivèd nature
1493 With his inducement.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 1494 Indeed, good lady,
1495 The fellow has a deal of that too much
1496 Which holds him much to have.
COUNTESS 1497 100 You’re welcome,
1499 I will entreat you when you see my son
1500 To tell him that his sword can never win
1501 The honor that he loses. More I’ll entreat you
1502 105 Written to bear along.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 1503 We serve you, madam,
1504 In that and all your worthiest affairs.
1505 Not so, but as we change our courtesies.
1506 Will you draw near?
She exits ⌜with the Gentlemen.⌝
1507 110 “Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.”
1508 Nothing in France until he has no wife.
1509 Thou shalt have none, Rossillion, none in France.
1510 Then hast thou all again. Poor lord, is ’t I
1511 That chase thee from thy country and expose
1512 115 Those tender limbs of thine to the event
1513 Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
1514 That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
1515 Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
1516 Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers
1517 120 That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
1518 Fly with false aim; move the still-’pearing air
1519 That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.
1520 Whoever shoots at him, I set him there;
1521 Whoever charges on his forward breast,
1522 125 I am the caitiff that do hold him to ’t;
1523 And though I kill him not, I am the cause
1524 His death was so effected. Better ’twere
1525 I met the ravin lion when he roared
1526 With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere
1527 130 That all the miseries which nature owes
1528 Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rossillion,
1529 Whence honor but of danger wins a scar,
1530 As oft it loses all. I will be gone.
1531 My being here it is that holds thee hence.
1532 135 Shall I stay here to do ’t? No, no, although
1533 The air of paradise did fan the house
1534 And angels officed all. I will be gone,
1535 That pitiful rumor may report my flight
1536 To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day;
1537 140 For with the dark, poor thief, I’ll steal away.