ACT III
Scene 5
 

Without the walls of Florence.
A tucket afar off.

Enter an old WIDOW OF FLORENCE, her daughter DIANA, VIOLENTA, and MARIANA, with other CITIZENS

WIDOW
Nay, come; for if they do approach the city we shall lose
all the sight.

DIANA
They say the French count has done most honourable service.

WIDOW
It is reported that he has taken their great'st commander;
and that with his own hand he slew the Duke's brother. [Tucket]
We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way. Hark! you
may know by their trumpets.

MARIANA
Come, let's return again, and suffice ourselves with the
report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl; the
honour of a maid is her name, and no legacy is so rich as
honesty.

WIDOW
I have told my neighbour how you have been solicited by a
gentleman his companion.

MARIANA
I know that knave, hang him! one Parolles; a filthy
officer he is in those suggestions for the young earl. Beware of
them, Diana: their promises, enticements, oaths, tokens, and all
these engines of lust, are not the things they go under; many a
maid hath been seduced by them; and the misery is, example, that
so terrible shows in the wreck of maidenhood, cannot for all that
dissuade succession, but that they are limed with the twigs that
threatens them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but I
hope your own grace will keep you where you are, though there
were no further danger known but the modesty which is so lost.

DIANA
You shall not need to fear me.

Enter HELENA in the dress of a pilgrim

WIDOW
I hope so. Look, here comes a pilgrim. I know she will lie
at my house: thither they send one another. I'll question her.
God save you, pilgrim! Whither are bound?

HELENA
To Saint Jaques le Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?

WIDOW
At the Saint Francis here, beside the port.

HELENA
Is this the way?

[A march afar]

WIDOW
Ay, marry, is't. Hark you! They come this way.
If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodg'd;
The rather for I think I know your hostess
As ample as myself.

HELENA
Is it yourself?

WIDOW
If you shall please so, pilgrim.

HELENA
I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.

WIDOW
You came, I think, from France?

HELENA
I did so.

WIDOW
Here you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service.

HELENA
His name, I pray you.

DIANA
The Count Rousillon. Know you such a one?

HELENA
But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him;
His face I know not.

DIANA
What some'er he is,
He's bravely taken here. He stole from France,
As 'tis reported, for the King had married him
Against his liking. Think you it is so?

HELENA
Ay, surely, mere the truth; I know his lady.

DIANA
There is a gentleman that serves the Count
Reports but coarsely of her.

HELENA
What's his name?

DIANA
Monsieur Parolles.

HELENA
O, I believe with him,
In argument of praise, or to the worth
Of the great Count himself, she is too mean
To have her name repeated; all her deserving
Is a reserved honesty, and that
I have not heard examin'd.

DIANA
Alas, poor lady!
'Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.

WIDOW
I sweet, good creature, wheresoe'er she is
Her heart weighs sadly. This young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleas'd.

HELENA
How do you mean?
May be the amorous Count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose.

WIDOW
He does, indeed;
And brokes with all that can in such a suit
Corrupt the tender honour of a maid;
But she is arm'd for him, and keeps her guard
In honestest defence.

Enter, with drum and colours, BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and the whole ARMY

MARIANA
The gods forbid else!

WIDOW
So, now they come.
That is Antonio, the Duke's eldest son;
That, Escalus.

HELENA
Which is the Frenchman?

DIANA
He-
That with the plume; 'tis a most gallant fellow.
I would he lov'd his wife; if he were honester
He were much goodlier. Is't not a handsome gentleman?

HELENA
I like him well.

DIANA
'Tis 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.

HELENA
Which is he?

DIANA
That jack-an-apes with scarfs. Why is he melancholy?

HELENA
Perchance he's hurt i' th' battle.

PAROLLES
Lose our drum! well.

MARIANA
He's shrewdly vex'd at something.
Look, he has spied us.

WIDOW
Marry, hang you!

MARIANA
And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!

Exeunt BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and ARMY

WIDOW
The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
Where you shall host. Of enjoin'd penitents
There's four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
Already at my house.

HELENA
I humbly thank you.
Please it this matron and this gentle maid
To eat with us to-night; the charge and thanking
Shall be for me, and, to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this virgin,
Worthy the note.
BOTH. We'll take your offer kindly.

Exeunt