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    Act 3, Scene II

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    Chapter 10
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    SCENE II. Rousillon. The COUNT's palace.

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

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

    COUNTESS
    By what observance, I pray you?

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

    COUNTESS
    Let me see what he writes, and when he means to come.

    Opening a letter

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

    COUNTESS
    What have we here?

    Clown
    E'en that you have there.

    Exit

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

    Re-enter Clown

    Clown
    O madam, yonder is heavy news within between two
    soldiers and my young lady!

    COUNTESS
    What is the matter?

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

    COUNTESS
    Why should he be killed?

    Clown
    So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does:
    the danger is in standing to't; that's the loss of
    men, though it be the getting of children. Here
    they come will tell you more: for my part, I only
    hear your son was run away.

    Exit

    Enter HELENA, and two Gentlemen

    First Gentleman
    Save you, good madam.

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

    Second Gentleman
    Do not say so.

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

    Second Gentleman
    Madam, he's gone to serve the duke of Florence:
    We met him thitherward; for thence we came,
    And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
    Thither we bend again.

    HELENA
    Look on his letter, madam; here's my passport.

    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.'
    This is a dreadful sentence.

    COUNTESS
    Brought you this letter, gentlemen?

    First Gentleman
    Ay, madam;
    And for the contents' sake are sorry for our pain.

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

    Second Gentleman
    Ay, madam.

    COUNTESS
    And to be a soldier?

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

    COUNTESS
    Return you thither?

    First Gentleman
    Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.

    HELENA
    [Reads] Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
    'Tis bitter.

    COUNTESS
    Find you that there?

    HELENA
    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; and she deserves a lord
    That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
    And call her hourly mistress. 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.
    My son corrupts a well-derived nature
    With his inducement.

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

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

    Second Gentleman
    We serve you, madam,
    In that and all your worthiest affairs.

    COUNTESS
    Not so, but as we change our courtesies.
    Will you draw near!

    Exeunt COUNTESS and Gentlemen

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

    Exit
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