ACT III
Scene 6
 

Camp before Florence

Enter BERTRAM, and the two FRENCH LORDS

SECOND LORD
Nay, good my lord, put him to't; let him have his way.

FIRST LORD
If your lordship find him not a hiding, hold me no more
in your respect.

SECOND LORD
On my life, my lord, a bubble.

BERTRAM
Do you think I am so far deceived in him?

SECOND LORD
Believe it, my lord, in mine own direct knowledge,
without any malice, but to speak of him as my kinsman, he's a
most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly
promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality worthy your
lordship's entertainment.

FIRST LORD
It were fit you knew him; lest, reposing too far in his
virtue, which he hath not, he might at some great and trusty
business in a main danger fail you.

BERTRAM
I would I knew in what particular action to try him.

FIRST LORD
None better than to let him fetch off his drum, which
you hear him so confidently undertake to do.

SECOND LORD
I with a troop of Florentines will suddenly surprise
him; such I will have whom I am sure he knows not from the enemy.
We will bind and hoodwink him so that he shall suppose no other
but that he is carried into the leaguer of the adversaries when
we bring him to our own tents. Be but your lordship present at
his examination; if he do not, for the promise of his life and in
the highest compulsion of base fear, offer to betray you and
deliver all the intelligence in his power against you, and that
with the divine forfeit of his soul upon oath, never trust my
judgment in anything.

FIRST LORD
O, for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum; he
says he has a stratagem for't. When your lordship sees the bottom
of his success in't, and to what metal this counterfeit lump of
ore will be melted, if you give him not John Drum's
entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed. Here he comes.

Enter PAROLLES

SECOND LORD
O, for the love of laughter, hinder not the honour of
his design; let him fetch off his drum in any hand.

BERTRAM
How now, monsieur! This drum sticks sorely in your
disposition.

FIRST LORD
A pox on 't; let it go; 'tis but a drum.

PAROLLES
But a drum! Is't but a drum? A drum so lost! There was
excellent command: to charge in with our horse upon our own
wings, and to rend our own soldiers!

FIRST LORD
That was not to be blam'd in the command of the
service; it was a disaster of war that Caesar himself could not
have prevented, if he had been there to command.

BERTRAM
Well, we cannot greatly condemn our success.
Some dishonour we had in the loss of that drum; but it is not to
be recovered.

PAROLLES
It might have been recovered.

BERTRAM
It might, but it is not now.

PAROLLES
It is to be recovered. But that the merit of service is
seldom attributed to the true and exact performer, I would have
that drum or another, or 'hic jacet.'

BERTRAM
Why, if you have a stomach, to't, monsieur. If you think
your mystery in stratagem can bring this instrument of honour
again into his native quarter, be magnanimous in the enterprise,
and go on; I will grace the attempt for a worthy exploit. If you
speed well in it, the Duke shall both speak of it and extend to
you what further becomes his greatness, even to the utmost
syllable of our worthiness.

PAROLLES
By the hand of a soldier, I will undertake it.

BERTRAM
But you must not now slumber in it.

PAROLLES
I'll about it this evening; and I will presently pen
down my dilemmas, encourage myself in my certainty, put myself
into my mortal preparation; and by midnight look to hear further
from me.

BERTRAM
May I be bold to acquaint his Grace you are gone about it?

PAROLLES
I know not what the success will be, my lord, but the
attempt I vow.

BERTRAM
I know th' art valiant; and, to the possibility of thy soldiership,
will subscribe for thee. Farewell.

PAROLLES
I love not many words.

Exit

SECOND LORD
No more than a fish loves water. Is not this a strange
fellow, my lord, that so confidently seems to undertake this
business, which he knows is not to be done; damns himself to do,
and dares better be damn'd than to do 't.

FIRST LORD
You do not know him, my lord, as we do. Certain it is
that he will steal himself into a man's favour, and for a week
escape a great deal of discoveries; but when you find him out,
you have him ever after.

BERTRAM
Why, do you think he will make no deed at all of this that
so seriously he does address himself unto?

SECOND LORD
None in the world; but return with an invention, and
clap upon you two or three probable lies. But we have almost
emboss'd him. You shall see his fall to-night; for indeed he is
not for your lordship's respect.

FIRST LORD
We'll make you some sport with the fox ere we case him.
He was first smok'd by the old Lord Lafeu. When his disguise and
he is parted, tell me what a sprat you shall find him; which you
shall see this very night.

SECOND LORD
I must go look my twigs; he shall be caught.

BERTRAM
Your brother, he shall go along with me.

SECOND LORD
As't please your lordship. I'll leave you.

Exit

BERTRAM
Now will I lead you to the house, and show you
The lass I spoke of.

FIRST LORD
But you say she's honest.

BERTRAM
That's all the fault. I spoke with her but once,
And found her wondrous cold; but I sent to her,
By this same coxcomb that we have i' th' wind,
Tokens and letters which she did re-send;
And this is all I have done. She's a fair creature;
Will you go see her?

FIRST LORD
With all my heart, my lord.

Exeunt