As You Like It: Act 4, Scene 3



           Enter ROSALIND and CELIA.

      ROSALIND
  1   How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock? And
  2   here much Orlando!

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

           Enter SILVIUS.

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

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

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

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

      SILVIUS
 30   Sure, it is hers.

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

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

      ROSALIND
 39   She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes.
           (Read.)
 40        "Art thou god to shepherd turn'd,
 41        That a maiden's heart hath burn'd?"
 42   Can a woman rail thus?

      SILVIUS
 43   Call you this railing?

      ROSALIND   (Read.)
 44        "Why, thy godhead laid apart,
 45        Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?"
 46   Did you ever hear such railing?
 47        "Whiles the eye of man did woo me,
 48        That could do no vengeance to me."
 49   Meaning me a beast.
 50        "If the scorn of your bright eyne
 51        Have power to raise such love in mine,
 52        Alack, in me what strange effect
 53        Would they work in mild aspect!
 54        Whiles you chid me, I did love;
 55        How then might your prayers move!
 56        He that brings this love to thee
 57        Little knows this love in me:
 58        And by him seal up thy mind;
 59        Whether that thy youth and kind
 60        Will the faithful offer take
 61        Of me and all that I can make;
 62        Or else by him my love deny,
 63        And then I'll study how to die."

      SILVIUS
 64   Call you this chiding?

      CELIA
 65   Alas, poor shepherd!

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

           Exit SILVIUS.

           Enter OLIVER.

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

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

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

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

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

      ROSALIND
 94   I am: what must we understand by this?

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

      CELIA
 97                                                         I pray you, tell it.

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

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

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

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

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

      CELIA
133   Are you his brother?

      ROSALIND
133                                       Was't you he rescu'd?

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

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

      ROSALIND
138   But, for the bloody napkin?

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

           [ROSALIND faints.]

      CELIA
157   Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!

      OLIVER
158   Many will swoon when they do look on blood.

      CELIA
159   There is more in it. Cousin Ganymede!

      OLIVER
160   Look, he recovers.

      ROSALIND
161   I would I were at home.

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

      OLIVER
163   Be of good cheer, youth. You a man?
164   You lack a man's heart.

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

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

      ROSALIND
172   Counterfeit, I assure you.

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

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

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

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

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

           Exeunt.