ACT III
Scene VI.
 

Wales. Before the cave of BELARIUS

Enter IMOGEN alone, in boy's clothes

IMOGEN
I see a man's life is a tedious one.
I have tir'd myself, and for two nights together
Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick
But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
When from the mountain-top Pisanio show'd thee,
Thou wast within a ken. O Jove! I think
Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean,
Where they should be reliev'd. Two beggars told me
I could not miss my way. Will poor folks lie,
That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis
A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness
Is sorer than to lie for need; and falsehood
Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
Thou art one o' th' false ones. Now I think on thee
My hunger's gone; but even before, I was
At point to sink for food. But what is this?
Here is a path to't; 'tis some savage hold.
I were best not call; I dare not call. Yet famine,
Ere clean it o'erthrow nature, makes it valiant.
Plenty and peace breeds cowards; hardness ever
Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who's here?
If anything that's civil, speak; if savage,
Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I'll enter.
Best draw my sword; and if mine enemy
But fear the sword, like me, he'll scarcely look on't.
Such a foe, good heavens!

Exit into the cave

Enter BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS

BELARIUS
You, Polydore, have prov'd best woodman and
Are master of the feast. Cadwal and I
Will play the cook and servant; 'tis our match.
The sweat of industry would dry and die
But for the end it works to. Come, our stomachs
Will make what's homely savoury; weariness
Can snore upon the flint, when resty sloth
Finds the down pillow hard. Now, peace be here,
Poor house, that keep'st thyself!

GUIDERIUS
I am thoroughly weary.

ARVIRAGUS
I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.

GUIDERIUS
There is cold meat i' th' cave; we'll browse on that
Whilst what we have kill'd be cook'd.

BELARIUS
[Looking into the cave] Stay, come not in.
But that it eats our victuals, I should think
Here were a fairy.

GUIDERIUS
What's the matter, sir?

BELARIUS
By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,
An earthly paragon! Behold divineness
No elder than a boy!

Re-enter IMOGEN

IMOGEN
Good masters, harm me not.
Before I enter'd here I call'd, and thought
To have begg'd or bought what I have took. Good troth,
I have stol'n nought; nor would not though I had found
Gold strew'd i' th' floor. Here's money for my meat.
I would have left it on the board, so soon
As I had made my meal, and parted
With pray'rs for the provider.

GUIDERIUS
Money, youth?

ARVIRAGUS
All gold and silver rather turn to dirt,
As 'tis no better reckon'd but of those
Who worship dirty gods.

IMOGEN
I see you're angry.
Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should
Have died had I not made it.

BELARIUS
Whither bound?

IMOGEN
To Milford Haven.

BELARIUS
What's your name?

IMOGEN
Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who
Is bound for Italy; he embark'd at Milford;
To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,
I am fall'n in this offence.

BELARIUS
Prithee, fair youth,
Think us no churls, nor measure our good minds
By this rude place we live in. Well encounter'd!
'Tis almost night; you shall have better cheer
Ere you depart, and thanks to stay and eat it.
Boys, bid him welcome.

GUIDERIUS
Were you a woman, youth,
I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty
I bid for you as I'd buy.

ARVIRAGUS
I'll make't my comfort
He is a man. I'll love him as my brother;
And such a welcome as I'd give to him
After long absence, such is yours. Most welcome!
Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends.

IMOGEN
'Mongst friends,
If brothers. [Aside] Would it had been so that they
Had been my father's sons! Then had my prize
Been less, and so more equal ballasting
To thee, Posthumus.

BELARIUS
He wrings at some distress.

GUIDERIUS
Would I could free't!

ARVIRAGUS
Or I, whate'er it be,
What pain it cost, what danger! Gods!

BELARIUS
[Whispering] Hark, boys.

IMOGEN
[Aside] Great men,
That had a court no bigger than this cave,
That did attend themselves, and had the virtue
Which their own conscience seal'd them, laying by
That nothing-gift of differing multitudes,
Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!
I'd change my sex to be companion with them,
Since Leonatus' false.

BELARIUS
It shall be so.
Boys, we'll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in.
Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp'd,
We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story,
So far as thou wilt speak it.

GUIDERIUS
Pray draw near.

ARVIRAGUS
The night to th' owl and morn to th' lark less welcome.

IMOGEN
Thanks, sir.

ARVIRAGUS
I pray draw near.

Exeunt