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    Act 4, Scene III

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    Chapter 18
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    SCENE III. The forest.

    Enter ROSALIND and CELIA
    ROSALIND
    How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock? and
    here much Orlando!

    CELIA
    I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain, he
    hath ta'en his bow and arrows and is gone forth to
    sleep. Look, who comes here.

    Enter SILVIUS

    SILVIUS
    My errand is to you, fair youth;
    My gentle Phebe bid me give you this:
    I know not the contents; but, as I guess
    By the stern brow and waspish action
    Which she did use as she was writing of it,
    It bears an angry tenor: pardon me:
    I am but as a guiltless messenger.

    ROSALIND
    Patience herself would startle at this letter
    And play the swaggerer; bear this, bear all:
    She says I am not fair, that I lack manners;
    She calls me proud, and that she could not love me,
    Were man as rare as phoenix. 'Od's my will!
    Her love is not the hare that I do hunt:
    Why writes she so to me? Well, shepherd, well,
    This is a letter of your own device.

    SILVIUS
    No, I protest, I know not the contents:
    Phebe did write it.

    ROSALIND
    Come, come, you are a fool
    And turn'd into the extremity of love.
    I saw her hand: she has a leathern hand.
    A freestone-colour'd hand; I verily did think
    That her old gloves were on, but 'twas her hands:
    She has a huswife's hand; but that's no matter:
    I say she never did invent this letter;
    This is a man's invention and his hand.

    SILVIUS
    Sure, it is hers.

    ROSALIND
    Why, 'tis a boisterous and a cruel style.
    A style for-challengers; why, she defies me,
    Like Turk to Christian: women's gentle brain
    Could not drop forth such giant-rude invention
    Such Ethiope words, blacker in their effect
    Than in their countenance. Will you hear the letter?

    SILVIUS
    So please you, for I never heard it yet;
    Yet heard too much of Phebe's cruelty.

    ROSALIND
    She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes.

    Reads

    Art thou god to shepherd turn'd,
    That a maiden's heart hath burn'd?
    Can a woman rail thus?

    SILVIUS
    Call you this railing?

    ROSALIND
    [Reads]
    Why, thy godhead laid apart,
    Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?
    Did you ever hear such railing?
    Whiles the eye of man did woo me,
    That could do no vengeance to me.
    Meaning me a beast.
    If the scorn of your bright eyne
    Have power to raise such love in mine,
    Alack, in me what strange effect
    Would they work in mild aspect!
    Whiles you chid me, I did love;
    How then might your prayers move!
    He that brings this love to thee
    Little knows this love in me:
    And by him seal up thy mind;
    Whether that thy youth and kind
    Will the faithful offer take
    Of me and all that I can make;
    Or else by him my love deny,
    And then I'll study how to die.

    SILVIUS
    Call you this chiding?

    CELIA
    Alas, poor shepherd!

    ROSALIND
    Do you pity him? no, he deserves no pity. Wilt
    thou love such a woman? What, to make thee an
    instrument and play false strains upon thee! not to
    be endured! Well, go your way to her, for I see
    love hath made thee a tame snake, and say this to
    her: that if she love me, I charge her to love
    thee; if she will not, I will never have her unless
    thou entreat for her. If you be a true lover,
    hence, and not a word; for here comes more company.

    Exit SILVIUS

    Enter OLIVER

    OLIVER
    Good morrow, fair ones: pray you, if you know,
    Where in the purlieus of this forest stands
    A sheep-cote fenced about with olive trees?

    CELIA
    West of this place, down in the neighbour bottom:
    The rank of osiers by the murmuring stream
    Left on your right hand brings you to the place.
    But at this hour the house doth keep itself;
    There's none within.

    OLIVER
    If that an eye may profit by a tongue,
    Then should I know you by description;
    Such garments and such years: 'The boy is fair,
    Of female favour, and bestows himself
    Like a ripe sister: the woman low
    And browner than her brother.' Are not you
    The owner of the house I did inquire for?

    CELIA
    It is no boast, being ask'd, to say we are.

    OLIVER
    Orlando doth commend him to you both,
    And to that youth he calls his Rosalind
    He sends this bloody napkin. Are you he?

    ROSALIND
    I am: what must we understand by this?

    OLIVER
    Some of my shame; if you will know of me
    What man I am, and how, and why, and where
    This handkercher was stain'd.

    CELIA
    I pray you, tell it.

    OLIVER
    When last the young Orlando parted from you
    He left a promise to return again
    Within an hour, and pacing through the forest,
    Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
    Lo, what befell! he threw his eye aside,
    And mark what object did present itself:
    Under an oak, whose boughs were moss'd with age
    And high top bald with dry antiquity,
    A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,
    Lay sleeping on his back: about his neck
    A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself,
    Who with her head nimble in threats approach'd
    The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,
    Seeing Orlando, it unlink'd itself,
    And with indented glides did slip away
    Into a bush: under which bush's shade
    A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
    Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch,
    When that the sleeping man should stir; for 'tis
    The royal disposition of that beast
    To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead:
    This seen, Orlando did approach the man
    And found it was his brother, his elder brother.

    CELIA
    O, I have heard him speak of that same brother;
    And he did render him the most unnatural
    That lived amongst men.

    OLIVER
    And well he might so do,
    For well I know he was unnatural.

    ROSALIND
    But, to Orlando: did he leave him there,
    Food to the suck'd and hungry lioness?

    OLIVER
    Twice did he turn his back and purposed so;
    But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
    And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
    Made him give battle to the lioness,
    Who quickly fell before him: in which hurtling
    From miserable slumber I awaked.

    CELIA
    Are you his brother?

    ROSALIND
    Wast you he rescued?

    CELIA
    Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?

    OLIVER
    'Twas I; but 'tis not I I do not shame
    To tell you what I was, since my conversion
    So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.

    ROSALIND
    But, for the bloody napkin?

    OLIVER
    By and by.
    When from the first to last betwixt us two
    Tears our recountments had most kindly bathed,
    As how I came into that desert place:--
    In brief, he led me to the gentle duke,
    Who gave me fresh array and entertainment,
    Committing me unto my brother's love;
    Who led me instantly unto his cave,
    There stripp'd himself, and here upon his arm
    The lioness had torn some flesh away,
    Which all this while had bled; and now he fainted
    And cried, in fainting, upon Rosalind.
    Brief, I recover'd him, bound up his wound;
    And, after some small space, being strong at heart,
    He sent me hither, stranger as I am,
    To tell this story, that you might excuse
    His broken promise, and to give this napkin
    Dyed in his blood unto the shepherd youth
    That he in sport doth call his Rosalind.

    ROSALIND swoons

    CELIA
    Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!

    OLIVER
    Many will swoon when they do look on blood.

    CELIA
    There is more in it. Cousin Ganymede!

    OLIVER
    Look, he recovers.

    ROSALIND
    I would I were at home.

    CELIA
    We'll lead you thither.
    I pray you, will you take him by the arm?

    OLIVER
    Be of good cheer, youth: you a man! you lack a
    man's heart.

    ROSALIND
    I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would
    think this was well counterfeited! I pray you, tell
    your brother how well I counterfeited. Heigh-ho!

    OLIVER
    This was not counterfeit: there is too great
    testimony in your complexion that it was a passion
    of earnest.

    ROSALIND
    Counterfeit, I assure you.

    OLIVER
    Well then, take a good heart and counterfeit to be a man.

    ROSALIND
    So I do: but, i' faith, I should have been a woman by right.

    CELIA
    Come, you look paler and paler: pray you, draw
    homewards. Good sir, go with us.

    OLIVER
    That will I, for I must bear answer back
    How you excuse my brother, Rosalind.

    ROSALIND
    I shall devise something: but, I pray you, commend
    my counterfeiting to him. Will you go?

    Exeunt
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    Chapter 18
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