All’s Well that Ends Well simplified

Synopsis

Rossillion is a region in the south of France, near its border with Spain, near the Mediterranean, and it must be a beautiful place, beautiful part of the world the south of France is.  Three principals in the play are from Rossillion, and they are on stage as the play opens, Bertram, Helen and the Countess.

Bertram is the son of the late Count of Rossillion and heir to his father’s position.  Helen is the daughter of Gerard de Narbon who was the late count’s attending physician.  He too has recently died.  The Countess is Bertram’s mother.  She has been charged with overseeing Helen’s well-being, the Countess saying “Her father bequeathed her to me.”

Our guess is that Bertram and Helen are both in their late teens.  Helen has a crush on Bertram, a central theme in the play.  Bertram, too young to inherit his father’s position as Rossillion’s count, has been called to the king’s court in Paris to attend the king under a guardianship.  And Helen is love-sick over the thought of Bertram’s going to Paris while she has to stay there in Rossillion.

We learn that France’s king has a medical problem.  Ever resourceful Helen, whose father bequeathed her his prescriptions, conceives of a plan to aid the king.  Her plan is to restore the king to good health by using the best of her father’s medications, but first she has to get to Paris and to get the king’s attention, but she’s good and she does.  But her greater interest in designing her plan is to get to get closer to Bertram and perhaps win him, but that’s getting ahead of the story.  Parolles, a rascally sort of guy and a friend of Bertram’s, has a talk with Helen, telling her among other things to “get thee a good husband, and use him as he uses thee.”

We soon learn that a regional war has erupted in northern Italy between Siena and Florence, and for whatever reasons, the French King suggests his soldiers go to Italy and fight for the cause they believe in, wishing them well, saying “Go not to woo honor but to wed it.” Bertram has now arrived in Paris and is warmly greeted by the king, who immediately reminisces about the friendship he and Bertram’s father had when they were boys. The king asks “How long since the physician at your father’s side died?”  Bertram answers “Some six months since.”  The king says “If he were living, I would try him yet, the rest have worn me out with several applications.” 

Meanwhile back in Rossillion, the Countess learns from her steward Rinaldo that Helen “loves your son.”  The relationship between the Countess and Helen all along has been a little cool.  The Countess confronts Helen, saying “Helen, I am mother to you.”  Helen responds “The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother.”  The Countess continues to press Helen, saying “Do you love my son?”  Helen replies “Be not angry; he is not hurt by my love for him.”  Helen then tells the Countess that she plans to go to Paris with hopes to aid the king with her father’s “prescriptions of rare and proved effects.”

At about the time Helen arrives in Paris, the French soldiers are preparing to leave for Italy. The king tells the young men “Those girls of Italy, take heed of them. Beware of being captives before you serve.” Aware that Helen has arrived in Paris, Lafew, a French lord who was close to Bertram’s father and is well connected to the king, tells the king “I have seen a medicine that’s able to breathe life into a stone, and make you dance with sprightly fire and motion, and write to her a love line.”  The king responds “What ‘her’ is this?”  Lafew says “Why, Doctor She.  My lord, there’s one arrived, if you will see her.”  The king says “Now, good Lafew, bring in the admiration.”  Helen enters saying “Ay, my good lord, Gerard de Narbon was my father.” The king says “I knew him.” She wastes no time making her case to the king, an impressive and persuasive presentation, offering the king her father’s chief prescription, “the dearest of his practice.” But the king abruptly rejects her offer. Not to be denied, Helen presses forward and the king relents, saying “Thy medicine I will try.”  She offers a quid pro quo, saying “Not helping, death’s my fee. But if I help, what do you promise me?”  He takes the bait.  She tells him she wants him to help her get the husband of her choice.  The king says in effect that if you help me “What husband in thy power I will command.”  Helen’s ‘rare’ prescription “restores the king to health.”  Holding up her end of the bargain, she tells the king she wants Bertram for a husband.  But when the king talks to Bertram, suggesting he marry Helen, Bertram rebuffs him, saying “A poor physician’s daughter my wife?  I cannot love her, nor will strive to do ‘t.”  The king, as kings can do, suggests to Bertram in a firmer tone that it’s in his best interest to reconsider his position. Bertram does. Bertram and Helen are married late that afternoon.  But immediately after the wedding Bertram turns to his friend Parolles and says “They have married me!  I’ll to the Tuscan wars.”  He instructs Helen to pack her bags and to return to Rossillion, to be cared for by his mother.  He promptly leaves for Florence; she for Rossillion.

While in Italy Bertram sends his mother a letter, meant for her and his new wife Helen, bringing them up to date with current events.  The letter is delivered to the Countess soon after Helen arrives in Rossillion. In his letter Bertram says: “Show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband.”  A broken-hearted Helen decides to slip away alone that night on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Saint Jacques.

Meanwhile in Italy, the Duke of Florence has welcomed Bertram and his support of his cause, whatever it might be.  Helen writes a letter to the Countess who in turn instructs Rinaldo to write to her son, hoping he’ll return to Rossillion once he learns that Helen has left, and if he does, the Countess believes that Helen “hearing so much, will speed her foot again, led hither by pure love.” It doesn’t work out that way.  On her way to the shrine at Saint Jacques Helen meets the Widow of Florence and her daughter, Diana.  Feeling sorry for Helen, alone and forlorn, the Widow offers her room and board, and Helen accepts.  In their conversations, the Widow and Diana tell Helen about a Frenchman, a Count Rossillion, who “has done worthy service” for the Florentines.  When asked if she knows him, Helen says “but by the ear. His face I know not.”  When they tell Helen that they’ve heard that “the king had married him against his liking” she says only that “I know his lady.”  Helen soon learns that the not-ready-to-be-married Bertram has been expressing a serious interest in Diana.

In Italy, two French lords tell Bertram that Parolles is “a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar.”  No one seems to disagree.  At about this time we learn that Parolles is concerned with the loss of a drum.  It seems no one else has even thought about the missing drum. He says “I’ll about it this evening.”  Bertram’s plans that evening are to visit Diana.  All the while resourceful Helen is gaining the trust of the Widow.  Quick-thinking and clever Helen suggests to her two new-found friends that she substitute herself for Diana in the dark of the night, in the dark bedroom, very early in the morning, at the time Bertram plans to visit.  During the heat and passion of the moment, Helen plans is to talk Bertram out of his ring, an ancestral ring that had been given to him by his father, who had received it from his father, as it had for generations been handed down father-to-son.  The Widow and Diana like the idea. Helen says “Why then tonight let us assay our plot, which, is wicked meaning in a lawful deed. But let’s about it.”    

Meanwhile, Parolles, having slipped away to look for the lost drum, finding himself seemingly alone in the woods, begins to realize the fruitlessness of his effort and says to himself “What devil should move me to undertake the recovery of this drum?”  Unbeknownst to him the French Lords, hiding in wait, snare him when they see him.  He’s blindfolded and led off crying “Let me live. And all the secrets of our camp I’ll show, their force, their purposes.” 

Separately, Diana has agreed to meet Bertram in her bedroom at midnight.  The ancestral ring is transferred and the other part of the bargain is kept. In setting up the encounter with Bertram, Diana had earlier told him that “on your finger in the night I’ll put another ring, that what in time proceeds may represent to the future our past deeds.”  An in-love Bertram had told her “A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.”  Consumed with desire, Bertram was oblivious to the thought of whose ring he might get that night.

The French Lords let us know that Bertram has been heard to have been bragging about town about his night with Diana; that she has his ancestral ring; that it has been reported that Helen died on her pilgrimage to Saint Jaques; and that Bertram has now decided to return to Rossillion.  The First Lord says “The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” 

Parolles had made some unfortunate-for-himself comments while captive and blindfolded earlier that evening, such as when asked “If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the Florentine?”  Parolles had said “Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rossillion.”  All the while he had been surrounded by Bertram and the two French Lords.  As his blindfold is removed, Bertram says “Good morrow, noble captain.”  Bertram and the French Lords kindly let him slink away. 

Meanwhile, Helen persuades the Widow and Diana to travel with her to Marseilles.  Their hope, having heard that the king is there, is that they can visit with the French king, all believing he can help them.  At Marseilles, they learn that the king was there but has left for Rossillion.  In Rossillion, the king hears the report that Helen has died; that in turn Lafew has encouraged Bertram to marry his daughter; and that Bertram has agreed to marry her.  To set things up, Shakespeare has the king forgive Bertram for his past indiscretions. Bertram casually gives Lafew a ring, Lafew having requested it “as a favor to sparkle in the spirits of my daughter.” 

Events move swiftly here.  Lafew shows the ring to the king, who says “This ring was mine, and then I gave it Helen, I bade her if her fortunes ever stood necessitied to help, that by this token I would relieve her.”  The king, Lafew and the Countess all swear the ring was Helen’s, but Bertram denies the possibility. The king has Bertram taken away under guard.  The king reads a letter from Diana implicating Bertram.  The king calls Bertram back.  Bertram is followed onto the stage by Diana and the Widow. Bertram’s arguments collapse when Diana shows Bertram’s ancestral ring to the king.  Talking about his own ring, the king says to Diana “This ring you say was yours?”  Diana agrees, but refuses to tell him how she came to have it and the king says “To prison with her.”  She says to her mother “fetch my bail,” which she does.  The Widow leaves and returns to the stage with a pregnant Helen.  Helen then reads part of Bertram’s letter from back in Act three where he had written “Call me husband when from my finger you can get this ring and are by me with child.”  Helen wins Bertram back as her husband, a dubious victory.  He says “I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.”

Principal Characters

Bertram.  Bertram is heir to his recently deceased father’s position as Count of Rossillion, his father having died just before the play begins.  He is too young to be Rossillion’s count and must spend time as a member of the King’s court until he comes of proper age.  He gets trapped into marrying Helen and then immediately runs off to war.  His ring, “An honor ‘longing to our house, bequeathed down from many ancestors,” is central to the plot.  He is kind of a cad, but Helen loves him and Helen is wonderful. 

Countess.   The Countess is Bertram’s mother and Helen’s guardian or “adopted mother” as set up in Helen’s father’s will, Helen’s father having died some six months before the play begins, having been the physician to the Count of Rossillion.  The Countess struggles throughout the play, loving her “adopted daughter” Helen dearly, but with a son, whom she also dearly loves, but who to the Countess’ distress treats his wife Helen terribly.

Diana.  Her name is Diana Capilet, the daughter of the Widow of Florence.  She and her mother are often together in the play.  Bertram falls for her at first sight, quickly claiming “I love thee.”  Helen, the Widow and Diana become fast friends and quite an effective team. 

Helen.  Helen is Helen de Narbon, Gerard de Narbon’s daughter, he having been the attending physician to the recently deceased Count of Rossillion.  She has an enormously one-sided crush on Bertram.  She takes her father’s best prescription and applies it to the ill king, who “is restored to health,” and in turn gives her full credit.  The deal was that if she helped the king reclaim his health he would help her marry whomever she wished.  She is the leading lady, central to the play, and has one of the great roles Shakespeare offered to women.  Her weakness is her love for philandering Bertram, but he too has his endearing characteristics.

Lafew.  Lafew is a French lord, close to the king and to Bertram, as he had been to Bertram’s father.  He handles himself well. Late in the play he offers his daughter in marriage to Bertram, at a time when all of them have been led to believe that Helen has died.  He reneges on the offer that his daughter may become Bertram’s wife, once he hears Diana and the Widow tell their side of the “Bertram” story.

Parolles.  Parolles is Bertram’s close friend; accompanies him to Paris and then on to the Florence-Siena war.  His greatest skill appears to be as a front-man for Bertram.  Parolles is made out to be every bit the fool, Shakespeare having a legitimate Fool in the play, who is legitimately wise, as they always are.

Widow.  The Widow is the Widow of Florence and is Diana’s mother.  Mariana is her good friend and neighbor, Mariana having a minor role. The Widow beautifully supports her daughter and Helen.  She in a real way helps make the play the great play that it is.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • Bertram, Helen, Lafew and Bertram’s mother are on stage. Bertram is about to leave for Paris, having been assigned to the King’s court.
  • COUNTESS
  • In leaving me son, I bury a second husband.
  • BERTRAM
  • And I in going, madam, weep o’er my father’s death anew; but I must attend his Majesty’s command.
  • LAFEW
  • You shall find in the King a husband, madam; you, sir, a father.
  • COUNTESS
  • What hope is there with his Majesty’s condition?
  • LAFEW
  • He hath renounced his physicians, madam, and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.
  • COUNTESS
  • This young gentlewoman had a father whose skill was almost as great as his honesty. Would for the King’s sake he were living! I think it would be the death of the King’s disease.
  • LAFEW
  • How called you the man you speak of, madam?
  • COUNTESS
  • Gerard de Narbon.
  • LAFEW
  • The King very lately spoke of him admiringly, and mourningly.
  • BERTRAM
  • What is it, my good lord, the King languishes of?
  • LAFEW
  • An ulcer, my lord. Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?
  • COUNTESS
  • His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking. Her dispositions she inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer. In her they are the better for their simpleness.
  • LAFEW
  • Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
  • COUNTESS
  • The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood from her cheek. No more of this Helen.
  • LAFEW
  • Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
  • BERTRAM
  • Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
  • COUNTESS
  • Be thou blessed, Bertram, and succeed thy father in manners as in appearance. Thy goodness share with thy birthright. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. Be disapproved for silence, but never reprimanded for speech.
  • COUNTESS TO LAFEW
  • Farewell, my lord. Good my lord, advise him.
  • LAFEW
  • He cannot lack the advice that shall attend his love.
  • COUNTESS
  • Heaven bless him. Farewell, Bertram.
  • BERTRAM
  • The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts be servants to you.
  • Countess exits.
  • BERTRAM TO HELEN
  • Be comforting to my mother.
  • LAFEW
  • Farewell, pretty lady. You must hold the credit of your father.
  • Bertram and Lafew exit.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to Herself, No. 1
  •  
  • O, I think not of my father, rather
  • These tears, more than I shed for my father
  • At his death, fall at the thought of him. What
  • Was he like? I have too soon forgot. My
  • Jumbled mind carriers no face in it but
  • Bertram’s. I’m undone. It is as if I
  • Should love a star and think to wed it, he
  • So above me. In his light must I be
  • Comforted. The ambition of my love
  • Plagues it self. ‘Twas pleasing, though a plague, to
  • Present to my mind’s eye a picture of
  • Each expression of his face; of he who
  • Curls my heart with his arched brows and plays on
  • My weak will with his keen eye. Now he’s gone.
  • HELEN
  • Who comes here?
  • Parolles enters.
  • HELEN ASIDE
  • I love him for his sake, yet know him a notorious liar, think him largely a fool, solely a coward. Yet these fixed evils sit fit in him. Besides, full often we see cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
  • PAROLLES
  • Save you, fair queen.
  • HELEN
  • And you, monarch.
  • PAROLLES
  • Are you meditating on virginity?
  • HELEN
  • You have some trace of soldier in you. Man is enemy to virginity. How may we fortify ourselves against him?
  • PAROLLES
  • Keep him out.
  • HELEN
  • But he assails, and we, though valiant in the defense, yet are weak. Unfold to us some warlike resistance.
  • PAROLLES
  • There is none. It is not judicious in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity.
  • HELEN
  • I will stand for ‘t a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
  •  
  •  
  • Parolles to Helen
  •  
  • There’s little that can be said for it. ‘Tis
  • True that to speak for virginity is
  • To accuse your mothers, which is certain
  • Disobedience. And virginity
  • Is made of self-love, the most forbidden
  • Sin in the book. ‘Tis a commodity;
  • The longer it’s kept, the less it’s worth. ‘Tis
  • Too cold a mate; out with it while it is
  • Capable to be sold in the flower
  • Of life when there’s demand for such beauty.
  • Old virginity is like one of our
  • Forsaken French withered pears, formerly
  • Better. Virginity extracts a cost;
  • By being e’er kept, it is ever lost.
  • HELEN
  • How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking? God send him well. The court’s a learning place, and he is one ----
  • PAROLLES
  • What one, i’ faith?
  • HELEN
  • That I wish well. ‘Tis pity ---
  • PAROLLES
  • What’s pity?
  • HELEN
  • That wishing well had not a body in ‘t that might be felt, that we, the poorer born, whose destiny does shut us up in wishes, might with outward manifestations show what we can only think.
  • A Page enters.
  • PAGE
  • Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
  • PAROLLES
  • Little Helen, farewell. If I can remember thee, I will think of thee at court.
  • HELEN
  • Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
  • PAROLLES
  • Under Mars, I. Farewell. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends. Get thee a good husband, and use him as he uses thee. So, farewell.
  • Parolles and Page exit.
  • HELEN
  • Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky gives us free scope, only doth backward pull our slow designs when we ourselves are dull. What power is it which mounts my love so high, that makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye? Who ever strove to show her merit that did miss her love? The King’s disease --- my project may deceive me, but my intents are fixed and will not leave me.
  • She exits.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • The King decides not to take sides in the war between Siena and Florence. He enters with letters and two lords.
  • KING
  • The Florentines and Senoys continue a braving war.
  • FIRST LORD
  • So ‘tis reported, sir.
  • KING
  • We here receive it a certain vouched from the Duke of Austria, with caution that the Florentine will move us for speedy aid.
  • FIRST LORD
  • His love and wisdom may plead for amplest credence.
  • KING
  • He hath armed our answer, and Florence is denied before he comes.
  • Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles enter.
  • KING
  • What’s he comes here?
  • FIRST LORD
  • It is the Count Rossillion, my good lord, young Bertram.
  • KING
  • Youth, thou bear’st thy father’s face. Thy father’s moral parts mayst thou inherit too. Welcome to Paris.
  • BERTRAM
  • My thanks and duties are your Majesty’s.
  •  
  •  
  • King to Bertram
  •  
  • That corporal soundness now do I wish
  • I had, when we tried soldiership, haggish
  • Age wearing us to inactivity.
  • He had the wit of today’s youth whose deeds
  • Of honor eclipse their frivolity,
  • But his mind showed not the scorn that feeds
  • Contempt. And he knew the true minute when
  • Reprimand bid him speak; his tongue would then
  • Obey his hand. He would say, “Let me not
  • Live after my flame lacks oil; not to strive
  • As the snuff of younger men.” Since I ought
  • But now cannot bring home the honey, I’ve
  • Set free from my hive to give another
  • More room. Welcome count. My son’s no dearer.
  • SECOND LORD
  • You’re loved, sir.
  • KING
  • I fill a place, I know ‘t. How long is ‘t count, since the physician at your father’s side died? He was much famed.
  • BERTRAM
  • Some six months since, my lord.
  • KING
  • If he were living, I would try him yet. The rest have worn me out with several applications.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 3
  • The Countess and Steward are on stage. The Fool enters.
  • COUNTESS
  • I will now hear. What does this knave here?
  • COUNTESS TO FOOL
  • Get you gone, sirrah. The complaints I have heard of you I do not all believe.
  • FOOL
  • ‘Tis not unknown to you, madam. I am a poor fellow.
  • COUNTESS
  • Well, sir.
  • FOOL
  • No, madam, ‘tis not so well that I am a poor fellow.
  • COUNTESS
  • Wilt thou needs be a beggar?
  • FOOL
  • I do beg your good will in this case.
  • COUNTESS
  • In what case?
  • FOOL
  • In mine own. Servants have little to bequeath.
  • COUNTESS
  • Get you gone, sir. I’ll talk with you later.
  • STEWARD
  • May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come to you.
  • COUNTESS
  • Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her --- Helen, I mean.
  • FOOL
  • I am going, forsooth. The business is for Helen to come hither.
  • He exits.
  • COUNTESS
  • Well, now.
  • STEWARD
  • I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.
  • COUNTESS
  • Faith, I do. Her father bequeathed her to me.
  • STEWARD
  • Madam, I was very late more near her than I think she wished me. Her matter was she loved your son. Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such difference betwixt their two estates. This she delivered in the most bitter touch of sorrow that e’er I heard virgin exclaim in, which I held my duty speedily to acquaint you withal.
  • COUNTESS
  • You have discharged this honestly. Keep it to yourself. Pray you leave me.
  • Steward exits. Helen enters.
  • COUNTESS ASIDE
  • Even so it was with me when I was young. If ever we are nature’s, these are ours. This thorn doth to our rose of youth rightly belong. It is the show and seal of nature’s truth, where love’s strong passion is impressed in youth. By our remembrances of days foregone, such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
  • HELEN
  • What is your pleasure, madam?
  • COUNTESS
  • You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.
  • HELEN
  • Mine honorable mistress.
  • COUNTESS
  • Nay, a mother. Why not a mother? ‘Tis often seen adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds a native grafting from a different plant to us from foreign seeds. You ne’er oppressed me with a mother’s groan, yet I express to you a mother’s care. What’s the matter that you are my daughter?
  • HELEN
  • That I am not.
  • COUNTESS
  • I say I am your mother.
  • HELEN
  • Pardon, madam. The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother. I am from humble, he from honored name; no distinction attached to my parents, his all noble. He must not be my brother.
  • COUNTESS
  • Nor I your mother?
  • HELEN
  • Would you were --- so that my lord your son were not my brother --- indeed my mother! Or were you both our mothers, so I were not his sister. There is no other option but, I your daughter, he must be my brother?
  • COUNTESS
  • Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law. God shield you mean it not! “Daughter” and “Mother” so strive upon your pulse. What, pale again? My fear has caught your love for Bertram.
  •  
  •  
  • Countess to Helen
  •  
  • The mystery of your sadness now appears
  • As does what is the source of your salt tears,
  • And to all my senses ‘tis now clear: you
  • Love my son. For you to say thou dost not
  • Misrepresents the truth as proclaimed through
  • Thy passion. Therefore, if Bertram has caught
  • Your heart tell me true and tell me then ‘tis
  • So, for look, your cheeks confess what seems is
  • So, and thine eyes see it as clearly shown
  • In thy behavior. In their way each eye
  • Doth speak it. Thy obstinate tongue alone
  • Doth act to keep truth secret. However, I
  • Charge thee: heaven will work through me as one
  • To fill your wishes. Do you love my son?
  • HELEN
  • Do not you love him, madam?
  • COUNTESS
  • My love hath in ‘t a bond whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose the state of your affection.
  • Helen kneels.
  • HELEN
  • Then I confess here on my knee before high heaven and you that I love your son.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to Countess
  •  
  • My family was poor but honest; so’s my
  • Love. Be not angry; he is not hurt by
  • My love for him. I follow him not by
  • Any token of presumption, knowing
  • I love in vain, strive against hope, and try
  • To pour through this capricious, forgiving
  • Sieve the waters of my unlimited
  • Love and go on losing. Let it be said,
  • My dearest madam, if ever you did
  • Imagine a virtuous youth who woos
  • A star, then give pity to her who bid
  • Not to choose, gave where she was sure to lose;
  • Who sought not to find what her search implies,
  • But sweetly bewildered lives where she dies.
  • COUNTESS
  • Had you not lately an intent --- speak truly --- to go to Paris?
  • HELEN
  • Madam, I had.
  • COUNTESS
  • Wherefore? Tell true.
  • Helen stands.
  • HELEN
  • I will tell truth, by grace itself I swear. You know my father left me some prescriptions of rare and proved effects. Amongst the prescriptions there is a remedy to cure the desperate languishings whereof the King is rendered lost.
  • COUNTESS
  • This was your motive for Paris, was it?
  • HELEN
  • My lord your son made me to think of this.
  • COUNTESS
  • But think you, Helen, if you should tender your supposed aid, he would receive it? How shall his physicians credit a poor unlearned virgin.
  • HELEN
  • There’s something in ‘t more than my father’s skill. Give me leave to try success.
  • COUNTESS
  • Dost thou believe ‘t?
  • HELEN
  • Ay, madam, knowingly.
  • COUNTESS
  • Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love. I’ll stay at home and pray God’s blessing into thy attempt.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • The King with a diverse group of young lords are on stage, the lords ready to leave France to serve in the war between Florence and Siena.
  • KING
  • Farewell, young lords. These warlike principles do not throw from you. Let northern Italy see that you come not to woo honor but to wed it. I say farewell.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Health at your bidding serve your majesty!
  • KING
  • Those girls of Italy, take heed of them. Farewell.
  • The King asks Bertram, Parolles and other Lords to come forward.
  • FIRST LORD
  • O my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!
  • BERTRAM
  • I am commanded here and kept annoyed with “Too young,” and “The next year,” and “’Tis too early.” By heaven, I’ll steal away!
  • FIRST LORD
  • There’s honor in the theft.
  • PAROLLES
  • Commit it, count.
  • SECOND LORD
  • I am your assistant. And so, farewell.
  • The Lords exit.
  • PAROLLES TO BERTRAM
  • What will you do?
  • BERTRAM
  • Stay the King.
  • PAROLLES
  • Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble lords. You have restrained yourself within the limit of too cold an adieu.
  • Bertram and Parolles exit. Lafew enters.
  • LAFEW TO KING
  • My good lord, ‘tis thus: will you be cured of your infirmity?
  • KING
  • No.
  • LAFEW
  • I have seen a medicine that’s able to breathe life into a stone, quicken a rock, and make you dance with sprightly fire and motion, whose simple touch is powerful enough to give great Charlemagne a pen in ‘s hand and write to her a love line.
  • KING
  • What “her” is this?
  • LAFEW
  • Why, Doctor She. My lord, there’s one arrived, if you will see her.
  • KING
  • Now, good Lafew, bring in the admiration.
  • He goes to get Helen. Helen enters.
  • KING
  • This haste hath wings indeed.
  • LAFEW TO HELEN
  • This is his Majesty. Say your mind to him. Fare you well.
  • He exits.
  • KING
  • Now, fair one, does your business aim at me?
  • HELEN
  • Ay, my good lord, Gerard de Narbon was my father, in what he did profess was of proven merit.
  • KING
  • I knew him.
  • HELEN
  • The rather will I spare my praises towards him. Knowing him is enough.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to King
  •  
  • On his bed of death he gave me many
  • Remedies, chiefly one, the one clearly
  • The dearest of his practice, and of his
  • Experience the most precious, that he
  • Bade me hold safe, and I have so, and is
  • With me, hearing your high Majesty be
  • Abused with that malignant cause wherein
  • The strength of my father’s gift stands chief in
  • Power, and so I come to tender it
  • And my services with humbleness. What
  • I can do can’t harm if you test my wit,
  • For oft hopes fail where most is promised, but
  • Succeed when least noticed and hope coldest,
  • Delivered through one who looks the weakest.
  • KING
  • We thank you, maiden, but may not be so credulous of cure, when our most learned doctors leave us and the Faculty of Medicine has concluded that laboring art can never ransom nature from her inaidible estate. I cannot give thee less, to be called grateful. Thou thought’st to help me, and such thanks I give as one near death to those that wish him live. But what at full I know, thou know’st no part, I knowing all my peril, thou no learning. I must not hear thee. Fare thee well, kind maid.
  • HELEN
  • Dear sir, to my endeavors give consent. Of heaven, not me, make an experiment. I am not an imposter that proclaims myself against the level of mine aim, but know I think and think I know most sure my art is not past power nor you past cure.
  • KING
  • Art thou so confident? Upon thy certainty and confidence what dar’st thou venture?
  • HELEN
  • Tax of impudence, a divulged shame; my maiden’s name seared otherwise; nay extended with vilest torture let my life be ended.
  • KING
  • Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak his powerful sound within an organ weak. Thy life is dear, for all that life can reckon worth name of life has a claim to be considered in your value: youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all that happiness and prime can happy call. Sweet practitioner, thy medicine I will try, that ministers thine own death if I die.
  • HELEN
  • If I fail to keep time or draw back in any attribute of what I spoke, unpitied let me die, and well deserved. Not helping, death’s my fee. But if I help, what do you promise me?
  • KING
  • Make thy demand.
  • HELEN
  • Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand what husband in thy power I will command.
  • KING
  • Here is my hand. The forgoing matters observed thy will by my performance shall be served. So make the choice of thy own time, for I, thy resolved patient, on thee still rely. If thou proceed as you promise, my deed shall match thy deed.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • The Countess and the Fool are on stage.
  • COUNTESS
  • Come on, sir. I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.
  • FOOL
  • I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught. I know my business is but to the court.
  • COUNTESS
  • “To the court?” Why, what place make you special when you put off that with such contempt.
  • FOOL
  • Ask me if I am a courtier: it shall do you no harm to learn.
  • COUNTESS
  • To be young again, if we could! I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?
  • FOOL
  • O Lord, sir! I ne’er had worse luck in my life in my “O Lord, sir!” I see things may serve long but not serve ever.
  • COUNTESS
  • I’m wasting time as a noble housewife to entertain so merrily with a fool.
  • She gives him a paper.
  • COUNTESS
  • Give Helen this, and urge her to a present answer back. Commend me to my kinsmen and my son. This is not much.
  • FOOL
  • Not much commendation to them?
  • COUNTESS
  • Not much employment for you. You understand me.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 3
  • Helen has helped cure the King and the ready to hold up his end of the bargain. Bertram, Lafew and Parolles are on stage.
  • LAFEW
  • They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar things supernatural.
  • PAROLLES
  • Right, so I say. Right, as ‘twere a man assured of a ----
  • LAFEW
  • Uncertain life and sure death.
  • PAROLLES
  • Just. You say well. So would I have said.
  • The King, Helen and attendants enter.
  • PAROLLES
  • I would have said it. You say well. Here comes the King. Is not this Helen?
  • LAFEW
  • ‘Fore God, I think so.
  • KING
  • Go, call before me all the lords in court.
  • An Attendant exits.
  • KING
  • Sit my preserver, by thy patient’s side, and with this healthful hand a second time receive the confirmation of my promised gift, which but attends thy naming.
  • Several court Lords enter.
  • KING
  • Fair maid, send forth thine eye. This youthful parcel of noble bachelors stand at my bestowing. Thy frank election make. Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake.
  • HELEN
  • To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress fall when it pleases the god of love.
  • KING
  • Peruse them well. Not one of those but had a noble father.
  • HELEN
  • Gentlemen, heaven hath through me restored the King to health.
  • ALL
  • We understand it and thank heaven for you.
  • HELEN
  • I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest that I protest I simply am a maid.
  • KING
  • Make choice and see. Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me.
  • HELEN TO THE FIRST LORD
  • Sir, will you hear my suit?
  • FIRST COURT LORD
  • And grant it.
  • HELEN TO ANOTHER LORD
  • The honor, sir, that flames in your fair eyes before I speak too threat’ningly replies.
  • SECOND LORD
  • I wish no better, if you please.
  • HELEN
  • My wish receive, which great Love grant, and so I take my leave.
  • LAFEW ASIDE
  • Do all they deny her?
  • HELEN TO ANOTHER LORD
  • Be not afraid that I your hand should take. I’ll never do you wrong, for your own sake.
  • LAFEW ASIDE
  • These boys are boys of ice; they’ll none have her.
  • HELEN TO ANOTHER LORD
  • You are too young, too happy, and too good to make yourself a son out of my blood.
  • FOURTH LORD
  • Fair one, I think not so.
  • LAFEW ASIDE
  • There’s one grape left. I am sure thy father drunk wine.
  • HELEN TO BERTRAM
  • I give myself ever whilst I live into your guiding power. This is the man.
  • KING
  • Why then, young Bertram, take her. She’s thy wife.
  • BERTRAM
  • My wife, my liege? I shall beseech your Highness in such a business give me leave to use the help of mine own eyes.
  • KING
  • Know’st thou not, Bertram, what she has done for me?
  • BERTRAM
  • Yes, my good lord, but never hope to know why I should marry her.
  • KING
  • Thou know’st she has raised me from my sickly bed.
  • BERTRAM
  • But follows it, my lord, to bring me down must answer for your raising? I know her well. A poor physician’s daughter my wife?
  • KING
  • ‘Tis only lack of title thou disdain’st in her, the which I can build up.
  •  
  •  
  • King to Bertram, No. 2
  •  
  • ‘Tis strange that our bloods poured all together
  • Could not be distinguished, yet do sever
  • Us mightily. If she but be to you
  • “A poor physician’s daughter,” then you’ve tied
  • This maid, if she be all that is virtue,
  • To a name. Low places are dignified
  • By th’ doer’s deed. Good alone is good
  • Without a name; the nature of it should
  • Not be known by the title. She is fair,
  • Young and wise, attributes that breed honor,
  • Leaving little more to ask of this heir
  • To nature. If with this maid you seek more,
  • I can create the more. Virtue and she
  • Are one; honor and wealth she gets from me.
  • BERTRAM
  • I cannot love her, nor will strive to do ‘t.
  • KING
  • Thou wrong’st thyself if thou shouldst strive to have your own way.
  • HELEN
  • That you are well restored, my lord, I’m glad. Let the rest go.
  • KING
  • My honor’s at the stake, which to defeat I must produce my power. Here, take her hand, proud, scornful boy. Check thy contempt; obey our will, which travails in thy good. Immediately do thine own fortunes or I will throw thee from my care forever; my revenge and hate loosing upon thee in the name of justice without all terms of pity. Speak. Thine answer.
  • BERTRAM
  • Pardon, my gracious lord, for I submit my fancy to your eyes.
  • KING
  • Take her by the hand, and tell her she is thine.
  • BERTRAM
  • I take her hand.
  • KING
  • Good fortune and the favor of the King smile upon this contract, whose ceremony shall be performed tonight.
  • They exit. Parolles and Lafew remain behind.
  • LAFEW
  • Do you hear, monsieur? Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.
  • PAROLLES
  • “Recantation”? My “lord”? My “master”?
  • LAFEW
  • Are you companion to the Count Rossillion?
  • PAROLLES
  • To any count, to all counts, to what is man?
  • LAFEW
  • To what is the servant to a count.
  • PAROLLES
  • You are too old, sir. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon the ----
  • LAFEW
  • Do not plunge thyself too far in anger lest thou hasten thy trial.
  • Lafew exits.
  • PAROLLES
  • I’ll have no more pity of his age than I would have of --- I’ll beat him, an if I could but meet him again.
  • Lafew re-enters.
  • LAFEW
  • Sirrah, your lord and master’s married.
  • PAROLLES
  • He is my good lord; whom I serve above is my master.
  • LAFEW
  • Who? God?
  • PAROLLES
  • Ay, sir.
  • LAFEW
  • The devil it is that’s thy master. By mine honor, if I were but two hours younger, I’d beat thee. Methink’st thou art a general offense, and every man should beat thee.
  • PAROLLES
  • This is hard and undeserved measure, my lord.
  • LAFEW
  • Go to, sir. You are a vagabond, and no true traveler. You are not worth another word.
  • He exits.
  • PAROLLES
  • Good, very good!
  • Bertram enters.
  • BERTRAM
  • O my Parolles, they have married me! I’ll to the Tuscan wars.
  • PAROLLES
  • France is a dog-hole. To th’ wars. To other regions France is a stable, we that dwell in ‘t broken-down horses. Therefore, to th’ war!
  • BERTRAM
  • It shall be so. I’ll send her to my house, acquaint my mother with my hate to her and wherefore I am fled, write to the King that which I durst not speak. Wars is no strife to the dark house and the detested wife. Tomorrow I’ll to the wars, she to her single sorrow.
  • PAROLLES
  • A young man married is a man that’s marred. Therefore away, and leave her bravely. Go. The King has done you wrong, but hush, ‘tis so.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 4
  • Helen and the Fool are on stage.
  • HELEN
  • My mother greets me kindly. Is she well?
  • FOOL
  • She is not well, but yet she has her health. She’s very well indeed, but for two things.
  • HELEN
  • What two things?
  • FOOL
  • One, that she’s not in heaven; the other, that she’s in earth.
  • Parolles enters.
  • PAROLLES
  • Bless you, my fortunate lady. O my knave, how does my old lady?
  • FOOL
  • So that you had her wrinkles and I her money, I would she did as you say.
  • PAROLLES
  • Why, I say nothing.
  • FOOL
  • Marry, you are the wiser man, for many a man’s tongue shakes out his master’s undoing.
  • PROLLES
  • Away. Thou’rt a knave.
  • FOOL
  • Did you find me in yourself, sir, or were you taught to find me?
  • PAROLLES
  • -------
  • FOOL
  • The search, sir, was profitable, and much fool may you find in you.
  • PAROLLES
  • Madam, my lord will go away tonight; a very serious business calls on him.
  • HELEN
  • What’s his will else?
  • PAROLLES
  • That you will take your instant leave o’ th’ King and make this haste as your own good proceeding.
  • HELEN
  • In everything I wait upon his will.
  • PAROLLES
  • I shall report it so.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 5
  • Lafew and Bertram enter.
  • LAFEW
  • But I hope your Lordship thinks not him a soldier.
  • BERTRAM
  • I do assure you, my lord, he is very great in knowledge and accordingly valiant. Here he comes. I pray you make us friends.
  • Parolles enters.
  • PAROLLES TO BERTRAM
  • These things shall be done, sir.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE TO PAROLLES
  • Is she gone to the King?
  • PAROLLES
  • She is.
  • BERTRAM
  • Will she away tonight?
  • PAROLLES
  • As you’ll have her.
  • LAFEW ASIDE
  • God save you, captain.
  • BERTRAM TO PAROLLES
  • Is there any unkindness between my lord and you, monsieur?
  • PAROLLES
  • I know not how I have deserved to incur my lord’s displeasure.
  • BERTRAM TO LAFEW
  • It may be you have mistaken him, my lord.
  • LAFEW
  • And shall do so ever. The soul of this man is his clothes. Trust him not in matter of heavy consequence. Farewell.
  • He exits.
  • PAROLLES
  • An idle lord, I swear.
  • BERTRAM
  • I think not so.
  • PAROLLES
  • Why, do you not know him?
  • BERTRAM
  • Yes, I do know him well, and common speech gives him a worthy pass.
  • Helen enters.
  • HELEN
  • I have, sir, as I was commanded from you, spoke with the King and have procured his leave for present parting. Only he desires some private speech with you.
  • BERTRAM
  • I shall obey his will. You must not marvel, Helen, at my course. Prepared I was not for such a business; therefore am I found so much unsettled. This drives me to entreat you that presently you take your way for home.
  • He gives her a paper.
  • BERTRAM
  • This to my mother. ‘Twill be two days ere I shall see you, so I leave you to your wisdom.
  • HELEN
  • Sir, I can nothing say but that I am your most obedient servant.
  • BERTRAM
  • Come, come, no more of that. My haste is very great. Farewell. Hie home.
  • HELEN
  • Pray, sir, your pardon.
  • BERTRAM
  • Well, what would you say? What would you have?
  • HELEN
  • Faith, yes
  • Strangers and foes do break apart and not kiss.
  • BERTRAM
  • I pray you stay not, but in haste to horse.
  • HELEN
  • Monsieur, farewell.
  • She exits.
  • BERTRAM
  • Go thou toward home, where I will never come whilst I can shake my sword or hear the drum. Away, and for our flight.
  • Bertram and Parolles exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • The Duke of Florence and French courtiers are on stage.
  • DUKE
  • So that from point to point now have you heard the fundamental reasons of this war.
  • FRENCH LORD
  • Holy seems the quarrel upon your Grace’s part, black and fearful on the opposer. I am sure the younger of our nation that grow oppressed or sick through too much leisure will day by day come here for remedy.
  • DUKE
  • Welcome shall they be, and all the honors that can fly from us shall on them settle. Tomorrow to th’ field.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • The Countess, with a paper, and the Fool are on stage.
  • COUNTESS
  • It hath happened all as I would have had it, save that he comes not along with her. Let me see what he writes and when he means to come.
  • She opens the letter.
  • FOOL
  • 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?
  • He exits.
  • COUNTESS READS
  • I have sent you a daughter-in-law. She hath recovered the King and undone me. I have wedded her. You shall hear I am run away. Know it before the report come. I will hold a long distance. My duty to you. Your unfortunate son, Bertram.
  • COUNTESS
  • This is not well, rash and unbridled boy.
  • Helen, with a paper, and two Gentlemen enter.
  • HELEN
  • Madam, my lord is gone, forever gone.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • Do not say so.
  • COUNTESS
  • Where is my son, I pray you?
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • Madam, he’s gone to serve the Duke of Florence.
  • HELEN
  • Look on his letter, madam.
  • HELEN READS
  • 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.”
  • HELEN
  • This is a dreadful sentence.
  • COUNTESS
  • I prithee, lady, have a better cheer. 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 GENTLEMAN
  • Ay, madam.
  • COUNTESS
  • And to be a soldier?
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • Such is his noble purpose.
  • HELEN READS
  • Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
  • HELEN
  • ‘Tis bitter.
  • COUNTESS
  • Find you that there?
  • HELEN
  • Ay, madam.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • ‘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. Who was with him?
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • A servant only, and a gentleman which I have sometime known.
  • COUNTESS
  • Parolles was it not?
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Ay, my good lady, he.
  • COUNTESS
  • A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness. I will entreat you, gentlemen, when you see my son to tell him that his sword can never win the honor that he loses. More I’ll entreat you written to bear along.
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN
  • We serve you, madam.
  • COUNTESS
  • Will you draw near?
  • She exits with the Gentlemen.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to Herself, No. 2
  •  
  • Poor lord, is it I that chase thee from thy
  • Country, exposing thee to war; ‘tis I
  • That drive thee from the amorous court where
  • Thou wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the
  • Mark of smoky muskets? I set him there
  • Subject to war’s miseries and would be
  • The cause, if his death were so effected,
  • Though I kill him not. Fly with false aim lead
  • Messengers that pierce the air; touch not my
  • Lord. No, come thou home, Bertram, with honor
  • And out of danger. I will be gone, for by
  • My being here, thou art not; do so for
  • Thy dear mother. Come night to end this day
  • That I may in the dark then steal away.
  • She exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • The Duke of Florence and Bertram are on stage.
  • DUKE TO BERTRAM
  • The general of our horse thou art, and we 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, make me but like my thoughts, and I shall prove a lover of thy drum, hater of love.
  • All exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 4
  • The Countess and the Steward, with a paper, are on stage.
  • COUNTESS
  • Might you not know she would do as she has done by sending me a letter? Read it again.
  • STEWARD READS
  • I am Saint Jaques’ pilgrim, thither gone. Ambitious love hath so in my offended that barefoot plod I with sainted vow my faults to have amended. Write, write, that from the bloody course of war my dearest master, your dear son, may hasten. Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far his name with zealous fervor sanctify. I 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! Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much as letter her pass so. Had I spoke with her, I could have well diverted her intents, which thus she hath prevented.
  • STEWARD
  • Pardon me, madam. She writes pursuit would be but vain.
  •  
  •  
  • Countess to Rinaldo
  •  
  • Unless her prayers, whom heaven loves to grant,
  • Reprieve him from the wrath of God, he can’t
  • Thrive. Write, write Rinaldo to this husband
  • Unworthy of his wife, for he does owe
  • Much to her that he does weigh too light, and
  • Set down sharply this my greatest grief, though
  • Little he doth feel it. When he hears that
  • She is gone he may return. I hope at
  • Hearing so much she’ll do what women do
  • For love and speed her foot home, hoping she
  • May enter his heart. I have no skill to
  • Decide which of them is dearest to me.
  • My heart’s heavy and this grief makes me weak.
  • Grief sheds these tears and sorrow bids me speak.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 5
  • On her trip to Saint Jaques, Helen meets the Widow of the Duke of Florence, her daughter Diana and Mariana, one of the Widow’s neighbors. The Widow, Diana and Mariana are on stage.
  • DIANA
  • They say the French count has done most honorable service.
  • WIDOW
  • It is reported that he has taken their great’st commander, and that he slew the Duke of Siena’s brother.
  • A trumpet sounds.
  • MARIANA
  • Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl.
  • WIDOW TO DIANA
  • I have told my neighbor how you have been solicited by a gentleman, his companion.
  • MARIANA
  • I know that knave, hang him! One Parolles. Beware of them, Diana. Many a maid hath been seduced by them. I hope I need not to advise you further.
  • DIANA
  • You shall not need to fear me.
  • WIDOW
  • I hope so.
  • Helen enters as a pilgrim.
  • WIDOW
  • Look, here comes a pilgrim. I know she will stay at my house for at least a night. God save you, pilgrim. Whither are bound?
  • HELEN
  • To Saint Jaques le Grand. Is this the way?
  • WIDOW
  • Ay, marry, is ‘t. If you will tarry 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.
  • HELEN
  • Is it yourself?
  • WIDOW
  • If you shall please so, pilgrim.
  • HELEN
  • I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.
  • WIDOW
  • You came I think from France?
  • HELEN
  • I did so.
  • WIDOW
  • Here you shall see a countryman of yours that has done worthy service.
  • HELEN
  • His name, I pray you?
  • DIANA
  • The Count Rossillion. Know you such a one?
  • HELEN
  • But by the ear. His face I know not.
  • DIANA
  • He stole from France, as ‘tis reported, for the King had married him against his liking. Think you it is so?
  • HELEN
  • Ay, surely, mere the truth. I know his lady.
  • DIANA
  • There is a gentleman that serves the Count reports but coarsely of her
  • HELEN
  • What’s his name?
  • DIANA
  • Monsieur Parolles.
  • HELEN
  • O, I believe as he does. She is too mean to have her name repeated.
  • 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, his heart weighs sadly. This young maid might do her a shrewd turn if she pleased.
  • HELEN
  • How do you mean? Maybe the amorous count solicits her in the unlawful purpose.
  • WIDOW
  • He does indeed, but she is armed for him and keeps her guard in honestest defense.
  • MARIANA
  • The gods forbid else!
  • Bertram, Parolles and the army enter.
  • WIDOW
  • So, now they come.
  • HELEN
  • Which is the Frenchman?
  • DIANA
  • He, that with the plume. ‘Tis a most gallant fellow. Is ‘t not a handsome gentleman?
  • HELEN
  • I like him well.
  • DIANA
  • ‘Tis a 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.
  • HELEN
  • Which is he?
  • DIANA
  • That jackanapes with scarves. Why is he melancholy? Perchance he’s hurt i’ th’ battle.
  • MARIANA
  • Look he has spied us.
  • WIDOW TO PAROLLES
  • Marry, hang you.
  • Bertram, Parolles and the army exit.
  • WIDOW
  • The troop is passed. Of enjoined penitents there’s four or five, to Great Saint Jaques bound, already at my house.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 6
  • Bertram and the French Lords that appeared in Act 2 are on stage.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Nay, good my lord, challenge him.
  • SECOND LORD
  • If your Lordship find him not a good-for-nothing, hold me no more in your respect.
  • BERTRAM
  • Do you think I am so far deceived in him?
  • FIRST LORD
  • Believe it, my lord. He’s a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker.
  • SECOND LORD
  • It were fit you knew him, lest, he might at some great danger fail you.
  • BERTRAM
  • I would I knew in what particular action to try him.
  • SECOND LORD
  • None better than to let him rescue his drum.
  • FIRST LORD
  • I, with a troop of Florentines, will suddenly surprise him. We will bind and hood wink him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he is carried into the military camp of the adversary’s 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 offer to betray you and deliver all the intelligence in his power against you, never trust my judgment in anything.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Here he comes.
  • Parolles enters.
  • FIRST LORD ASIDE TO BERTRAM
  • O, for the love of laughter, let him rescue his drum.
  • BERTRAM TO PAROLLES
  • How now, monsieur? This drum sticks sorely in your disposition.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Let it go. ‘Tis but a drum.
  • PAROLLES
  • But a drum! Is ‘t but a drum?
  • BERTRAM
  • Some dishonor 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. I would have that drum or another, or die trying.
  • BERTRAM
  • Why, if you have the desire, to ‘t, monsieur! If you think your mystery in stratagem can bring this instrument of honor again into his native quarter, be courageous to the enterprise and go on.
  • PAROLLES
  • I will undertake it.
  • BERTRAM
  • But you must not now slumber in it.
  • PAROLLES
  • I’ll about it this evening. 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 thou ‘rt valiant. Farewell.
  • Parolles exits.
  • 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.
  • SECOND LORD
  • You do not know him, my lord, as we do. Certain it is that he will steal himself into a man’s favor 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 a fiction or three probable lies.
  • SECOND LORD
  • We’ll make you some sport with the fox ere we case him. When his disguise and he is parted, tell me what a small fish you shall find him, which you shall see this very night.
  • FIRST LORD
  • He shall be caught.
  • First Lord exits.
  • BERTRAM
  • Now will I lead you to the house and show you the lass I spoke of.
  • SECOND LORD
  • But you say she’s chaste.
  • BERTRAM
  • That’s all the fault. I spoke with her but once and found her wondrous cold. But I sent to her tokens and letters, which she did return. She’s a fair creature. Will you go see her?
  • SECOND LORD
  • With all my heart, my lord.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 7
  • Helen and the Widow are on stage.
  • HELEN
  • If you misdoubt me that I am not she, I know not how I shall assure you further.
  • WIDOW
  • Though my fortune be fall’n, I was well born, nothing acquainted me with these businesses, and would not put my reputation now in any staining act.
  • HELEN
  • Nor would I wish you. First, believe me, the Count is my husband.
  • WIDOW
  • I should believe you, for you have showed me that which well approves you’re great in position and wealth.
  • HELEN
  • Take this purse of gold, and let me buy your friendly help thus far, which I will overpay and pay again when I have received your help.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to Widow
  •  
  • The Count of Rossillion woos your daughter,
  • Firmly committed is he to win her,
  • Lustily besieging her beauty. Let
  • Her soon consent and, as we’ll direct her,
  • How best ‘tis for her to proceed. My bet
  • Is that his strong passion will not deter
  • Her demand. A ring he wears hath downward
  • Moved through his family and now moves forward,
  • Son to son, just as the first father wore
  • It. He holds this ring dear, yet, in his mad
  • Fire she could buy his will, he being sore
  • After. She sets a time to meet the lad,
  • But in the dark of the room I be sent,
  • Leaving your daughter chastely absent.
  • WIDOW
  • I see the nature of your purpose, and I yield. Instruct my daughter how she shall persevere 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.
  • HELEN
  • 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.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • One of the French Lords and six soldiers lie in ambush.
  • LORD
  • He can come no other way but by this hedge corner. When you sally upon him, speak what terrible language you will. Though you understand it not yourselves, no matter. For we must not seem to understand him, unless some one among us whom we produce for an interpreter.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Good captain, let me be th’ interpreter.
  • LORD
  • Art not acquainted with him? Knows he not thy voice?
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • No, sir, I warrant you.
  • LORD
  • He must think us some band of strangers i’ th’ adversary’s employment. We must every one be a man of his own fancy, not to know what we speak one to another. As for you, interpreter, you must seem very wise. Here he comes.
  • They move aside. Parolles enters.
  • PAROLLES
  • Ten o’clock. Within these three hours ‘twill be time enough to go home. What shall I say I have done? It must be a very plausible invention that will carry it off. They smoke me out, and disgraces have of late knocked too often at my door.
  • LORD ASIDE
  • This is the first truth that e’er thine own tongue was guilty of.
  • PAROLLES
  • What the devil should move me to undertake the recovery of this drum? I must give myself some hurts and say I got them in battle.
  • LORD ASIDE
  • Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is?
  • PAROLLES
  • I would the cutting of my garments would serve the turn, or the breaking of my Spanish sword.
  • LORD ASIDE
  • ‘Twould not do.
  • PAROLLES
  • Or to drown my clothes and say I was stripped.
  • LORD ASIDE
  • Hardly serve.
  • PAROLLES
  • I wish I had any drum of the enemy’s. I would swear I recovered it.
  • LORD ASIDE
  • You shall hear one soon.
  • Alarm within. They seize him.
  • PAROLLES
  • O ransom, ranson! Do not hide mine eyes.
  • They blindfold him.
  • PAROLLES
  • I know you are of the Muscovites army.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • I understand thee and can speak thy tongue. The General is content to spare thee yet and, hoodwinked as thou art, will lead thee on to gather from thee. Haply thou mayst inform something to save thy life.
  • PAROLLES
  • O, let me live, and all the secrets of our camp I’ll show, their force, their purposes.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • But wilt thou faithfully?
  • PAROLLES
  • If I do not, damn me.
  • Parolles exits under guard.
  • LORD
  • Go tell the Count Rossillion and my brother we have caught the woodcock.
  • SECOND SOLDIER
  • Captain, I will.
  • LORD
  • He will betray us all unto ourselves. Till then I’ll keep him dark and safely locked.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Bertram and Diana are on stage.
  • BERTRAM
  • Fair soul, in your fine frame is love not an attribute? Now you should be as your mother was when your sweet self was got.
  • DIANA
  • She then was honest.
  • BERTRAM
  • So should you be.
  • DIANA
  • No, my mother did but duty --- such, my lord, as you owe to your wife.
  • BERTRAM
  • No more o’ that. I prithee do not strive against my vows. I was compelled to her, but I love thee. My integrity ne’er knew the crafts that you do charge men with. Say thou art mine, and ever my love as it begins shall so persevere. My house, mine honor, yea, my life be thine, and I’ll be commanded by you.
  •  
  •  
  • Diana to Bertram
  •  
  • ‘Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
  • But rather the plain vow that is in sooth
  • True. Your oaths are but words, at least in my
  • View. Give me that ring. My chastity is
  • Such a ring, bequeathed down to me. If I
  • Lost it, ‘twould exceed each man’s vows to his
  • Ancestors. Ah, the ring. Right at midnight
  • Knock at my window. Then, before first light,
  • Once you have conquered my yet maiden bed,
  • Remain quiet for an hour when then this
  • Ring shall be delivered. That being said,
  • That night on your finger and with a kiss
  • I’ll put another ring, one dearly bought,
  • To speak to our past deeds. Till then, fail not.
  • DIANA
  • You have won a wife of me, though there my hope be finished.
  • BERTRAM
  • A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.
  • DIANA
  • For which live long to thank both heaven and me! You may so in the end.
  • Bertram exits.
  • DIANA
  • My mother told me just how he would woo as if she sat in ‘s heart. She says all men have the like oaths. He had sworn to marry me when his wife’s dead. Since Frenchmen are so deceitful, I live and die a maid. Only in this deception I think ‘t no sin to cozen him that would unjustly win.
  • She exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • The two French Lords and three Soldiers are on stage.
  • FIRST LORD
  • You have not given him his mother’s letter?
  • SECOND LORD
  • I have delivered it an hour since. There is something in ‘t that stings his nature.
  • FIRST LORD
  • He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking off so good a wife.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Especially he hath incurred the everlasting displeasure of the King. I will tell you a thing, but you shall let it dwell secretly with you.
  • FIRST LORD
  • When you have spoken it, ‘tis dead, and I am the grave of it.
  • SECOND LORD
  • He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in Florence of a most chaste renown and this night he gratifies his lust in the spoil of her honor. He has given her his ancestral ring.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Now God delay the rebellion of our flesh.
  • SECOND LORD
  • We are merely our own traitors.
  • FIRST LORD
  • We shall not, then, have his company tonight?
  • SECOND LORD
  • Not till after midnight, because of the appointment he has.
  • FIRST LORD
  • In the meantime, what hear you of these wars?
  • SECOND LORD
  • I hear there is an overture of peace.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
  • SECOND LORD
  • What will Count Rossillion do then?
  • FIRST LORD
  • I perceive by this demand you are not altogether in his confidence.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Let it be forbid, sir!
  • FIRST LORD
  • Sir, his wife some two months since fled from his house. Her pretense is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques le Grand. There residing, the tenderness of her nature became as a prey to her grief; in short, made a groan of her last breath, and now she sings in heaven.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Hath the Count all this intelligence?
  • FIRST LORD
  • Ay.
  • SECOND LORD
  • I am heartily sorry that he’ll be glad of this.
  • FIRST LORD
  • How mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our losses.
  • SECOND LORD
  • And how mightily some other times we drown our gain in tears. The great dignity that his valor hath here acquired for him shall at home be encountered with a shame as ample.
  • FIRST LORD
  • The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • His Lordship will next morning for France. The Duke hath offered him letters of commendations to the King.
  • SECOND LORD
  • They cannot be too sweet for the King’s tartness.
  • Bertram enters.
  • SECOND LORD
  • How now, my lord? Is ‘t not after midnight?
  • BERTRAM
  • I have tonight dispatched sixteen businesses, taken ceremonious leave of the Duke, done my adieu with those nearest him, buried a wife, mourned for her, writ to my lady mother I am returning, hired my convoy, and between these effected many nicer needs. Come, bring forth this counterfeit module; has deceived me like a double-meaning prophesier.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Bring him forth. He has sat i’ th’ stocks all night, poor gallant knave.
  • Soldiers exit.
  • BERTRAM
  • No matter. How does he carry himself.
  • SECOND LORD
  • He hath confessed himself to the other Lord, whom he supposes to be a friar. And what think you he hath confessed?
  • BERTRAM
  • Nothing of me, has he?
  • SECOND LORD
  • If your Lordship be in ‘t, as I believe you are, you must have patience to hear it.
  • Parolles enters, blindfolded.
  • FIRST SOLDIER TO PAROLLES
  • He calls for the tortures. What will you say without ‘em?
  • PAROLLES
  • I will confess what I know without constraint.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Our general bids you answer to what I shall ask you out of a written statement
  • PAROLLES
  • And truly, as I hope to live.
  • FIRST SOLDIER AS IF READING
  • First demand of him what is the strength of the Duke’s cavalry.
  • PAROLLES
  • Five or six thousand, but very weak and unserviceable. The troops are all scattered, and the commanders very poor rogues.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Shall I set down your answer so?
  • PAROLLES
  • Do.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE
  • What a past-saving slave is this!
  • FIRST LORD ASIDE TO BERTRAM
  • You’re deceived, my lord. This is Monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist --- that was his own phrase.
  • SECOND LORD
  • I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword clean.
  • FIRST SOLDIER TO PAROLLES
  • Well, that’s set down.
  • PAROLLES
  • Five or six thousand horse, I said.
  • FIRST LORD ASIDE
  • He’s very near the truth in this.
  • BERTRAM
  • But I can not thank him for ‘t, in the nature he delivers it.
  • FIRST SOLDIER AS IF READING A NOTE
  • Demand of him what strength they are o’ foot.
  • PAROLLES
  • The official list, rotten and sound, upon my life amounts not to fifteen thousand individuals, half of the which dare not shake the snow from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves to pieces.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE
  • What shall be done to him?
  • FIRST SOLDIER PRETENDING TO READ
  • What is the reputation of Captain Dumaine with the Duke?
  • PAROLLES
  • The Duke knows him for no other but a poor officer of mine, and write to me this other day. I think I have his letter in my pocket.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Marry, we’ll search.
  • They search Parolles’ pockets.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Here ‘tis. Shall I read it to you?
  • PAROLLES
  • I do not know if it be it or no.
  • FIRST SOLDIER READS
  • Diana, the Count’s a fool and full of gold ----
  • PAROLLES
  • That is not the Duke’s letter, sir. That is a warning to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one Count Rossillion, a foolish idle boy. I pray you, sir, put it up again.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Nay, I’ll read it first, by your favor.
  • PAROLLES
  • My meaning in ‘t, I protest, was very honest in the behalf of the maid, for I knew the young count to be a dangerous and lascivious boy.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE
  • Damnable both-sides rogue!
  • FIRST SOLDIER READS
  • He ne’er pays after-debts. Take it before. Men are to associate with; boys are not to kiss. For count of this: the Count’s a fool, I know it, who pays before, but not when he does owe it. Parolles.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE
  • He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme in ‘s forehead.
  • SECOND LORD ASIDE
  • This is your devoted friend, sir.
  • PAROLLES
  • My life, sir, in any case! Let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i’ th’ stocks, or anywhere, so I may live.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • We’ll see what may be done, so you confess freely. You have answered to Captain Dumaine’s reputation with the Duke, and to his valor. What is his honesty?
  • PAROLLES
  • He will steal, sir. He professes not keeping of oaths. He will lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool. Drunkenness is his best virtue. What an honest man should have, he has nothing.
  • FIRST LORD ASIDE
  • I begin to love him for this.
  • BERTRAM ASIDE
  • For this description of thine honesty?
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • What’s his brother, the other Captain Dumaine?
  • SECOND LORD
  • Why does he ask him of me?
  • PAROLLES
  • He is e’en a crow o’ th’ same nest. He excels his brother for a coward. In a retreat he outruns any lackey.
  • FIRT SOLDIER
  • If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the Florentine.
  • PAROLLES
  • Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rossillion.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • I’ll whisper with the General and know his pleasure.
  • PAROLLES ASIDE
  • I’ll no more drumming. A plague of all drums! Who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • There is no remedy, sir, but you must die. The General says you have so traitorously revealed the secrets of your army that you can serve the world for no honest use. Come, headsman, off with his head.
  • PAROLLES
  • O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • That shall you.
  • He removes the blindfold.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • So look about you. Know you any here?
  • BERTRAM
  • Good morrow, noble captain.
  • SECOND LORD
  • God bless you, Captain Parolles.
  • FIRST LORD
  • God save you, noble captain. Good captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count Rossillion?
  • Bertram and the Lords exit.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • You are undone, captain. Fare you well, sir. I am for France too. We shall speak of you there.
  • He exits.
  • PAROLLES
  • Yet am I thankful. Captain I’ll be no more, but I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft as captain shall. Simply the thing I am shall make me live. Parolles live safest in shame. Being fooled, by fool’ry thrive. There’s place and means for every man alive. I’ll after them.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 4
  • Helen, the Widow and Diana are on stage.
  •  
  •  
  • Helen to the Widow and Diana
  •  
  • That you may believe that you may trust me,
  • The King of France shall be my surety,
  • Whose help I need. His Grace is at Marseilles
  • To where we have an escort. You must know
  • I am supposed dead, and with the army
  • Breaking and he hieing home, we must go
  • Swiftly. But O, strange men, who can such sweet
  • Use make of what they hate when they do greet
  • A lascivious thought, their deceiving
  • Actions defiling the night. So lust sends
  • Men to play with that which they loathe, taking
  • It for what is away. All’s well that ends
  • Well. Always, the conclusion is the crown.
  • Whate’er our course, the end is our renown.
  • WIDOW
  • Gentle madam, you never had servants to whose trust your business was more welcome.
  • DIANA
  • Let death and honesty go with your commands. I am yours upon your will to suffer.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 5
  • The Countess, Lafew and the Fool are on stage.
  • LAFEW
  • No, no, no, your son was misled with a snipped-taffeta fellow there. Your daughter-in-law would have been alive at this hour, and your son here at home, more advanced by the King than by that bumble-bee I speak of.
  • COUNTESS
  • I would I had not known him. It was the death of the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had praise for creating.
  • LAFEW
  • ‘Twas a good lady, ‘twas a good lady.
  • FOOL
  • Indeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the salad, or rather the herb of grace.
  • LAFEW
  • Go thy ways. I begin to be aweary of thee. Go thy ways.
  • The Fool exits.
  • LAFEW
  • A shrewd knave and an unhappy.
  • COUNTESS
  • So he is. My lord that’s gone made himself much sport out of him.
  • LAFEW
  • I like him well. And I was about to tell you, since I heard of the good lady’s death and that my lord your so was upon his return home, I moved the King my master to speak in the behalf of my daughter. His Highness hath promised me to do it. How does your Ladyship like it?
  • COUNTESS
  • With very much content, my lord, and I wish it happily effected.
  • LAFEW
  • His Highness comes post from Marseilles. He will be here tomorrow.
  • COUNTESS
  • It rejoices me that, I hope, I shall see him ere I die. I have letters that my son will be here tonight. I shall beseech your Lordship to remain with me till they meet together.
  • LAFEW
  • Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might safely be allowed to remain here.
  • The Fool enters.
  • FOOL
  • O madam, yonder’s my lord your son with a patch of velvet on ‘s face.
  • LAFEW
  • A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good uniform of honor. Let us go see your son, I pray you. I long to talk with the young noble soldier.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Helen, the Widow, Diana and two attendants are on stage. A Gentleman enters.
  • HELEN
  • This man may help me to his Majesty’s ear. God save you, sir.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • And you.
  • HELEN
  • Sir, I have seen you in the count of France.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • I have been sometimes there. What’s your will?
  • Helen takes out a paper.
  • HELEN
  • That it will please you to give this poor petition to the King.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • The King’s not here.
  • HELEN
  • Not here, sir?
  • GENTLEMAN
  • He hence removed last night, and with more haste than is his use.
  • WIDOW
  • Lord, how we lose our pains!
  • HELEN
  • All’s well that ends well yet. I do beseech you, whither is he gone.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • Marry, as I take it, to Rossillion, whither I am going.
  • Helen gives him the paper.
  • HELEN
  • I do beseech you, sir, since you are like to see the King before me, commend the paper to his gracious hand.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • This I’ll do for you.
  • HELEN
  • And you shall find yourself to be well thanked whate’er falls more. Go, go, provide.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • In Rossillion, The Fool and Parolles are on stage. Lafew enters.
  • FOOL
  • He looks like a poor, decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do pity his distress in my smiles of comfort, and leave him to your Lordship.
  • The Fool exits.
  • PAROLLES
  • My lord, I am a man whom Fortune hath cruelly scratched.
  • LAFEW
  • And what would you have me to do?
  • PAROLLES
  • I beseech your Honor to hear me one single word.
  • LAFEW
  • You shall ha ‘t.
  • PAROLLES
  • My name, my good lord, is Parolles.
  • LAFEW
  • How does your drum?
  • PAROLLES
  • O my good lord, you were the first that found me.
  • LAFEW
  • Was I, in sooth?
  • PAROLLES
  • It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace, for you did bring me out.
  • LAFEW
  • Out upon thee, knave!
  • Trumpets sound.
  • LAFEW
  • The King’s coming. Sirrah, inquire after me. I had talk of you last night. Though you are a fool and a knave, you shall eat.
  • PAROLLES
  • I praise God for you.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 3
  • The King, the Countess, Lafew, the two French Lords and attendants are on stage.
  • KING
  • We lost a jewel in her, and our worth was made much poorer by it. But our son as though mad in folly, lacked the sense to know her valuation fully.
  • COUNTESS
  • ‘Tis past, my liege, and I beseech your Majesty to make it a natural rebellion done in unripened youth.
  • KING
  • My honored lady, I have forgiven and forgotten all.
  • LAFEW
  • He lost a wife whose beauty did astonish the survey of richest eyes, whose words all ears took captive, whose dear perfection hearts humbly called mistress.
  • KING
  • Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear. We are reconciled, and the first view shall kill all further mention. Let him approach as if he were someone new to me, no offender, and inform him so ‘tis our will he should. Call him hither.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • I shall, my liege.
  • He exits.
  • KING
  • What says he to your daughter? Have you spoke?
  • LAFEW
  • All that he is to be decided by your Highness.
  • KING
  • Then shall we have a match.
  • Bertram enters.
  • KING
  • I am not a day of season, for thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail in me at once. So stand thou forth. The time is fair again.
  • BERTRAM
  • My high-repented blames, dear sovereign, pardon to me.
  •  
  •  
  • King to Bertram, No. 3
  •  
  • Distracted clouds must give way to sunny
  • Beams. Let’s take this instant before it be
  • Gone; as we grow old the noiseless foot of
  • Time, quiet as it is, steals our quickest
  • Decrees before we can effect them. Love
  • That comes too late turns into the saddest
  • Cry: “That’s good that’s gone.” Rash faults devalue
  • The best we have, not knowing what we do
  • Until we know their graves. Oft our displeasures,
  • To ourselves unjust, destroy those we tell
  • Goodbye before we weep their death. It assures
  • We’ll regret what’s done. Be this Helen’s knell
  • And now we will forget her. Here we’ll stay
  • For our widower’s second marriage day.
  • LAFEW
  • Come on, my son, give a favor from you to sparkle in the spirits of my daughter, that she may quickly come.
  • Bertram gives him a ring.
  • LAFEW
  • By my old beard and ev’ry hair that’s on ‘t, Helen that’s dead was a sweet creature. Such a ring as this, the last that e’er I took her leave at court, I saw upon her finger.
  • BERTRAM
  • Hers it was not.
  • KING
  • Now, pray you, let me see it.
  • Lafew passes the ring to the King.
  • KING
  • This ring was mine, and when I gave it Helen, I bade her if her fortunes ever stood in need of help, that by this token I would relieve her.
  • KING TO BERTRAM
  • Had you that craft to deprive her of what should stead her most?
  • BERTRAM
  • My gracious sovereign, the ring was never hers.
  • COUNTESS
  • Son, on my life, I have seen her wear it, and she reckoned it at her life’s worth.
  • LAFEW
  • I am sure I saw her wear it.
  • BERTRAM
  • You are deceived, my lord. She never saw it. In Florence was it from a casement thrown me, wrapped in a paper which contained the name of her that threw it.
  • KING
  • ‘Twas mine, ‘twas Helen’s, whoever gave it you. Confess ‘twas hers and by what rough enforcement you got it from her. She called the saints to surety that she would never put from her finger unless she gave it to yourself in bed.
  • BERTRAM
  • She never saw it.
  • KING
  • Thou speak’st it falsely, as I love mine honor, and mak’st conjectural fears to come into me which I would fain shut out. Thou didst hate her deadly, and she is dead, which nothing but to close her eyes myself could win me to believe more than to see this ring. Away with him. We’ll sift this matter further.
  • BERTRAM
  • If you shall prove this ring was ever hers, you shall as easy prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence, where yet she never was.
  • He exits under guard. A Gentleman enters and gives the King a paper.
  • GENTLEMAN
  • Here’s a petition from a Florentine who hath come short to tender it herself. She told me it did concern your Highness with herself.
  • KING READS
  • Upon his many protestations to marry me when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the Count Rossillion a widower, his vows are forfeited to me and my honor’s paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice. Grant it me, O king. In you it best lies. Otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone. Diana Capilet.
  • LAFEW
  • I’ll none of him.
  • KING
  • Seek these suitors. Go speedily, and bring again the Count.
  • A Gentleman and attendants exit. Bertram enters under guard.
  • KING
  • I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you and that you fly them as you swear them lordship, yet you desire to marry.
  • The Widow and Diana enter.
  • KING
  • What woman’s that?
  • DIANA
  • I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine, derived from the ancient Capilet.
  • WIDOW
  • I am her mother, sir.
  • KING
  • Come hither, count. Do you know these women?
  • BERTRAM
  • My lord, I neither can nor will deny but that I know them.
  • DIANA
  • Why do you look so strange upon your wife?
  • BERTRAM
  • She’s none of mine, my lord.
  • DIANA
  • If you shall marry, you give away this hand, and that is mine; you give away heaven’s vows, and those are mine.
  • LAFEW TO BERTRAM
  • Your reputation comes too short for my daughter. You are no husband for her.
  • BERTRAM TO THE KING
  • My lord, this is a fond and desp’rate creature whom sometime I have laughed with.
  • DIANA
  • Good my lord, ask him upon his oath if he does think he had not my virginity.
  • KING
  • What sayst thou to her?
  • BERTRAM
  • She’s impudent, my lord, and was a common gamester to the camp.
  • DIANA
  • He does me wrong, my lord. O, behold this ring, whose high respect and rich validity did lack a parallel. Yet for all that he gave it to a commoner o’ th’ camp, if I be one.
  • COUNTESS
  • He blushes, and ‘tis hit. Of six preceding ancestors that gem, conferred by testament to th’ subsequent issue, hath it been owed and worn. This is his wife. That ring’s a thousand proofs.
  • KING TO DIANA
  • Methought you said you saw one here in court could witness it.
  • DIANA
  • I did, my lord. His name’s Parolles.
  • LAFEW
  • I saw the man today, if man he be.
  • KING
  • Find him and bring him hither.
  • Attendant exits.
  • BERTRAM
  • He’s quoted for a most perfidious slave, with all the spots o’ th’ world taxed and debauched, whose nature sickens but to speak a truth.
  • KING
  • She hath that ring of yours.
  • BERTRAM
  • I think she has. Certain it is I liked her i’ th’ wanton way of youth. She did angle for me and with her modern grace subdued me to her terms.
  • DIANA
  • I must be patient. Ask for your ring. I will return it to its owner.
  • BERTRAM
  • I have it not.
  • KING TO DIANA
  • What ring was yours, I pray you?
  • DIANA
  • Sir, much like the same upon your finger.
  • KING
  • Know you this ring? This ring was his of late.
  • DIANA
  • And this was it I gave him, being abed.
  • KING
  • The story, then, is untrue that you threw it him out of a casement?
  • DIANA
  • I have spoke the truth.
  • Parolles enters.
  • BERTRAM
  • My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.
  • KING
  • You boggle shrewdly. Every feather starts you. Is this the man you speak of?
  • DIANA
  • Ay, my lord.
  • KING
  • Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true, I charge you: did he love this woman?
  • PAROLLES
  • Faith, sir, he did love her, but how?
  • KING
  • How, I pray you.
  • PAROLLES
  • He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman. He loved her, sir, and he loved her not.
  • KING
  • As thou art a knave and no knave.
  • LAFEW
  • He’s a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.
  • DIANA
  • Do you know he promised me marriage?
  • PAROLLES
  • Faith, I know more than I’ll speak.
  • KING
  • But wilt thou not speak all thou know’st?
  • PAROLLES
  • Yes, so please your Majesty. I knew of their going to bed and of other motions, as promising her marriage, and things which would derive me ill will to speak of. Therefore I will not speak what I know.
  • KING
  • Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say they are married.
  • KING TO DIANA
  • This ring you say was yours?
  • DIANA
  • Ay, my good lord.
  • KING
  • Where did you buy it? Or who gave it you?
  • DIANA
  • It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.
  • KING
  • Who lent it you?
  • DIANA
  • It was not lent me neither.
  • KING
  • Where did you find it then?
  • DIANA
  • I found it not.
  • KING
  • If it were yours by none of all these ways, how could you give it him?
  • DIANA
  • I never gave it him.
  • KING
  • This ring was mine. I gave it his first wife. Unless thou tell’st me where thou hadst this ring, thou diest within this hour.
  • DIANA
  • I’ll never tell you.
  • KING
  • Take her away. I think thee now some common customer.
  • DIANA TO BERTRAM
  • By Jove, if ever I knew man, ‘twas you.
  • KING
  • Wherefore hast thou accused him all this while?
  • DIANA
  • Because he’s guilty and he is not guilty. He knows I am no maid, and he’ll swear to ‘t. By my life, I am either maid or else this old man’s wife.
  • KING
  • She does abuse our ears. To prison with her.
  • DIANA
  • Good mother, fetch my bail.
  • The Widow exits.
  • DIANA
  • Stay, royal sir. The jeweler that owes the ring is sent for, and he shall surety me. But for this lord who hath abused me as he knows himself, though yet he never harmed me, here I acquit him. He knows himself my bed he hath defiled, and at that time he got his wife with child. Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick. So here’s my riddle: one that’s dead is quick. And now behold the meaning.
  • Helen enters with the Widow.
  • KING
  • Is ‘t real that I see?
  • HELEN
  • No, my good lord, ‘tis but the shadow of a wife you see, the name and not the thing.
  • BERTRAM
  • O, pardon!
  • HELEN
  • O, my good lord, when I was like this maid, I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring, and, see, here’s your letter.
  • She takes out a paper.
  • HELEN READS
  • When from my finger you can get this ring and are by me with child, etc.
  • HELEN
  • This is done. Will you be mine now you are doubly won?
  • BERTRAM
  • If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly, I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.
  • HELEN
  • If it appear not plain and prove untrue, deadly divorce step between me and you.
  • LAFEW
  • Mine eyes smell onions. I shall weep soon. Lend me a handkerchief.
  • KING
  • Let us from point to point this story know, to make the even truth in pleasure flow.
  • KING TO DIANA
  • Choose thou thy husband, and I’ll pay thy dower. For I can guess that by thy honest aid thou kept’st a wife herself, thyself a maid. All yet seems well, and if it end so meet, the bitter being past, more welcome is the sweet.
  • They exit.

Copyright © 2010 Simplified Shakespeare

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