Document:  All > Shakespeare > Comedies > All's Well That Ends Well > Act III, scene II

	[Enter COUNTESS and Clown]

COUNTESS: It hath happened 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' the country are nothing
	like your old ling and your Isbels o' the court:
	the brains of my Cupid's knocked 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.


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,
	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 misprising 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 killed so soon as I
	thought he would.

COUNTESS: Why should he be killed?

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.


	[Enter HELENA, and two Gentlemen]

First Gentleman: Save you, good madam.

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

Second 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?

Second 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 his letter, madam; here's my passport.


	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 pain.

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?

Second Gentleman: Ay, madam.

COUNTESS:          And to be a soldier?

Second 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?

First 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.

First 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?

First Gentleman: A servant only, and a gentleman
	Which I have sometime known.

COUNTESS: Parolles, was it not?

First 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.

First Gentleman: Indeed, good lady,
	The fellow has a deal of that too much,
	Which holds him much to have.

COUNTESS: You're 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.

Second 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 none-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-peering 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 officed 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.



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