ACT III
Scene 2
 

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace

Enter COUNTESS and CLOWN

COUNTESS
It hath happen'd 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' th' country are nothing like your old ling and
your Isbels o' th' court. The brains of my Cupid's knock'd 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 misprizing 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 kill'd so soon as I thought he would.

COUNTESS
Why should he be kill'd?

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 the two FRENCH GENTLEMEN

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Save you, good madam.

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

FIRST 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?

FIRST 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 this 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 pains.

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?

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Ay, madam.

COUNTESS
And to be a soldier?

FIRST 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?

SECOND 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.

SECOND 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?

SECOND GENTLEMAN
A servant only, and a gentleman
Which I have sometime known.

COUNTESS
Parolles, was it not?

SECOND 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.

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

COUNTESS
Y'are 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.

FIRST 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 non-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-piecing 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 offic'd 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