William Shakespeare – As You Like It Act 4 Scene 3

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SCENE III. The forest
Enter ROSALIND and CELIA
ROSALIND
How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock? and
Here much Orlando!


CELIA
I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain, he
Hath ta'en his bow and arrows and is gone forth to
Sleep. Look, who comes here

Enter SILVIUS

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


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


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

ROSALIND
Come, come, you are a fool
And turn'd into the extremity of love
I saw her hand: she has a leathern hand
A freestone-colour'd hand;
I verily did think
That her old gloves were on, but 'twas her hands:
She has a huswife's hand; but that's no matter:

I say she never did invent this letter;
This is a man's invention and his hand

SILVIUS
Sure, it is hers

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

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

ROSALIND
She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes

Reads

Art thou god to shepherd turn'd
That a maiden's heart hath burn'd?

Can a woman rail thus?

SILVIUS
Call you this railing?

ROSALIND
[Reads]
Why, thy godhead laid apart
Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?
Did you ever hear such railing?
Whiles the eye of man did woo me
That could do no vengeance to me
Meaning me a beast
If the scorn of your bright eyne
Have power to raise such love in mine
Alack, in me what strange effect
Would they work in mild aspect!
Whiles you chid me, I did love;
How then might your prayers move!
He that brings this love to thee
Little knows this love in me:

And by him seal up thy mind;
Whether that thy youth and kind
Will the faithful offer take
Of me and all that I can make;
Or else by him my love deny
And then I'll study how to die

SILVIUS
Call you this chiding?

CELIA
Alas, poor shepherd!

ROSALIND
Do you pity him? no, he deserves no pity. Wilt
Thou love such a woman? What, to make thee an
Instrument and play false strains upon thee!
not to
Be endured! Well, go your way to her, for I see
Love hath made thee a tame snake, and say this to
Her: that if she love me, I charge her to love
Thee; if she will not, I will never have her unless
Thou entreat for her. If you be a true lover
Hence, and not a word; for here comes more company

Exit SILVIUS

Enter OLIVER

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

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

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

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

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

ROSALIND
I am: what must we understand by this?

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

CELIA
I pray you, tell it

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

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

OLIVER
And well he might so do
For well I know he was unnatural

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

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

CELIA
Are you his brother?

ROSALIND
Wast you he rescued?

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

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


ROSALIND
But, for the bloody napkin?

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

ROSALIND swoons

CELIA
Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!

OLIVER
Many will swoon when they do look on blood

CELIA
There is more in it. Cousin Ganymede!

OLIVER
Look, he recovers

ROSALIND
I would I were at home

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

OLIVER
Be of good cheer, youth: you a man! you lack a
Man's heart


ROSALIND
I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would
Think this was well counterfeited! I pray you, tell
Your brother how well I counterfeited. Heigh-ho!


OLIVER
This was not counterfeit: there is too great
Testimony in your complexion that it was a passion
Of earnest


ROSALIND
Counterfeit, I assure you

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

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

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

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

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

Exeunt

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