As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
Presented by Paul W. Collins
© Copyright 2005 by Paul W. Collins
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare
Presented by Paul W. Collins
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Note: Spoken lines from Shakespeare’s drama are in the public domain, as is the Globe (1864) edition of his plays, which provided the basic text of the speeches in this new version
of As You Like It. But As You Like It, by William Shakespeare: Presented by Paul W. Collins,
is a copyrighted work, and is made available for your personal use only, in reading and study.
Student, beware: This is a presentation, not a scholarly work, so you should be sure your teacher, instructor or professor considers it acceptable as a reference before quoting characters’ comments or thoughts from it in your report or term paper.
A sunny glow suffuses the fragrant apple orchard this fine summer morning in Ardennes, a northeastern region of 16th-century France. The well-ordered trees laden with plump fruit are part of the sprawling country estate governed by Sir Oliver de Bois, the eldest son of the manor’s late lord. But sharp words break the tranquility: Orlando, the youngest of three sons, feels mounting resentment over long-borne wrongs; he complains to old Adam, who had been his father’s most devoted servant.
“And there begins my sadness,” says Orlando. The handsome, well built man of twenty-two paces as he talks, hands clasped behind his back. “As I remember, it was upon this fashion bequeathèd me by will: poor, but for a thousand crowns, and—as thou sayest—the charge that my brother, for his blessing, raise me well.
“My brother Jacques he keeps at school, and report speaks goldenly of his profit.” The middle son, a university student, resides happily in Paris.
“As for my part, he keeps me rustically at home—or, to speak more properly, stays me here at home unkept! For call you that ‘keeping’ for a gentleman of my birth which differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are bred better!—for, besides that they are fair with their tending, they are taught their manage, and to that end riders are dearly hired.
“But I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth—for the which his animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him as I! Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives me, the something that Nature gave me his countenance seems to take from me! He lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and—as much as in him lies—undermines my gentility by my ‘education!’”
He stops. “This it is, Adam, that grieves me.”
During the old man’s long service to Orlando’s father, he had watched all three sons grow to manhood, and he well understands what is troubling this one. He nods, patiently.
Orlando runs a hand through his thick, glossy hair. “And the spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude! I will no longer endure it, though yet I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.”
Adam glances toward the massive country house. “Yonder comes my master, your brother.”
“Go apart, Adam, and thou shalt hear how he will shake me up!” The man moves behind some nearby shrubs.
Sir Oliver stalks up to confront his brother. “Now, sir, what make you here?”
“Nothing,” Orlando replies bitterly. “I am not taught to make anything!”
“What mar you then, sir?”
“Marry, sir, I am helping you to mar that which God made—a poor, unworthy brother of yours—with idleness!”
Oliver sneers. “Marry, sir, be better employed by being nought a while.”
Demands Orlando angrily, “Shall I keep your hogs and eat husks with them? What prodigal portion have I spent, that I should come to such penury?”
“Know you where you are, sir?”
“Oh, sir, very well!—here in your orchard!”
Oliver, once an indulged child, now an arrogant gentleman, is affronted. “Know you before whom, sir?”
“Aye—better than him I am before knows me! I know you are my eldest brother—and in the gentle condition of blood you should so know me! The courtesy of nations allows you are my better, in that you are the first-born; but the same tradition takes not away my blood, were there twenty brothers betwixt us!
“I have as much of my father in me as you, albeit, I confess, your coming before me is nearer to his reverence.”
Oliver’s anger overflows; accustomed to bullying servants, he grabs the younger man’ collar. “What, boy?”
With both powerful hands, Orlando seizes the front of Oliver’s coat, hoisting him briefly off his feet. “Come, come, elder brother, you are too young in this!”
“Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?” sputters the landed gentleman.
“I am no villain!” replies Orlando, giving him a shake, then gripping his neck with his right hand. “I am the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois!—he was my father!—and he is thrice a villain that says such a father begot villains!” He draws Oliver’s flushed face nearer. “Wert thou not my brother,” he growls, “I would not take this hand from thy throat till this other had pulled out thy tongue for saying so! Thou hast railed on thyself!”
Adam emerges, pleading for peace: “Sweet masters, be patient!—for your father’s remembrance, be at accord!”
“Let me go, I say!” demands Oliver.
“I will not, till I please! You shall hear me!
“My father charged you in his will to give me good education; you have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentleman-like qualities! The spirit of my father grows strong in me, and I will no longer endure it! Therefore allow me such exercises as may become a gentleman, or give me the poor allotting my father left me by testament—with that I will go buy my fortunes!”
“And what wilt thou do when that is spent?—beg?” demands Oliver. “Well, sir, get you in! I will not long be troubled with you; you shall have some part of your will!
“I pray you, leave me!”
Orlando releases him. “I will no further offend you for my good than becomes me.”
Oliver, livid, waves Adam away: “Get you with him, you old dog!”
Poor Adam is stunned. “Is ‘old dog’ my reward?” His head shakes sadly. “Most true: I have lost my teeth in your service.
“God be with my old master! He would not have spoken such a word!”
Orlando, resisting a strong urge to lay hands on Oliver again, takes the stricken Adam gently by the arm, and the two of them head toward the back of the manor house.
Oliver’s indignation increases as he sits, ruminating, in the house. Is it even so? Begin you to grow upon me? I will physic your rankness—and yet give no thousand crowns neither!
The servant hurries into the room. “Calls Your Worship?”
“Was not Charles, the duke’s wrestler, here to speak with me?”
The De Bois property lies within the dominion of Duke Frederick—a usurper who installed himself in the palace; the rightful duke of Ardennes, his banished brother, has found shelter in the huge old forest near the nation’s northern border.
Dennis nods. “So please you, he is here at the door, and importunes access to you.”
“Call him in.” The man bows and goes to fetch the duke’s privileged champion. ’Twill be a good way, thinks Oliver. And the wrestling is tomorrow!
The burly man arrives, hat in his big hands. “Good morrow to Your Worship.”
Oliver rises. “Good Monsieur Charles, what’s the new news at the new court?”
“There’s no news at the court, sir, but the old news: that is, the old duke is banished by his younger brother, the new duke. And three or four loving lords have put themselves into voluntary exile with him—whose lands and revenues enrich the new duke; therefore he gives them good leave to wander.”
The ambitious Oliver had once learned of an opportunity at the duchy’s court. “Can you tell me if Rosalind, the duke’s daughter, be banished with her father?”
“Oh, no,” says Charles, “for the new duke’s daughter, her cousin, so loves her, being even from their cradles bred together, that she would have followed her in exile, or have died to stay behind her! She is at the court, and no less belovèd of her uncle than his own daughter! And never two ladies loved as they do!”
“Where will the old duke live?”
“They say he is already in the Forest of Arden, and a-many merry men with him; and there they live like the Robin Hood of old England,” the wrestler reports. “They say many young gentlemen flock to him every day, and fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world”—halcyon times.
But Oliver has an immediate concern. “What, do you wrestle tomorrow before the new duke?”
“Marry, do I, sir!—and I came to acquaint you with a matter. I am given, sir, secretly to understand that your younger brother Orlando hath a disposition to come in, disguised, against me to try a fall.
“Tomorrow, sir, I wrestle for my credit—and he that escapes me without some broken limb shall acquit himself well! Your brother is but young and tender; and, for your love, I would be loath to foil him—as I must, for my own honour, if he come in.
“Therefore, out of my love to you, I came hither to acquaint you withal, that either you might stay him from his intendment, or well brook such disgrace as he shall run into, in that it is a thing of his own search, and altogether against my will.”
“Charles, I thank thee for thy love to me, which thou shalt find I will most kindly requite.” But then Oliver lies: “I had myself notice of my brother’s purpose herein, and have by underhand means laboured to dissuade him from it; but he is resolute.
“I’ll tell thee, Charles: he is the stubbornest young fellow of France!—full of ambition, an envious emulator of every man’s good parts—a secret and villainous contriver against me, his natural brother!
“Therefore use thy discretion; I had as lief thou didst break his neck as his finger!
“And thou wert best look to’t,” adds Oliver ominously, “for if thou dost him any slight disgrace, or if he do not mightily grace himself on thee, he will practise against thee!—by poison, or entrapping thee by some treacherous device—and never leave thee till he hath ta’en thy life by some indirect means or other!
“For, I assure thee—and almost with tears I speak it—there is not one so young and so villainous this day living! I speak but brotherly of him—but should I anatomize him to thee as he is, I must blush and weep, and thou must look pale, and wonder!”
Charles does not pale. “I am heartily glad I came hither to you! If he come tomorrow, I’ll give him his payment! If ever he go alone again,”—walks without help, “I’ll never more wrestle for prize,” says the big bruiser grimly. “He bows. “And so God keep Your Worship.”
“Farewell, good Charles,” says Oliver, as the grappler clomps away.
Oliver thinks about his young brother. Now will I stir this gamester!
I hope I shall see an end of him! For my soul hates nothing more than he! Yet I know not why—he’s gentle; never schooled, and yet learnèd; full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly belovèd, and indeed so much in the heart of the world—and especially of my own people who best know him—that I am altogether misprisèd!
But it shall not be so for long: this wrestler shall clear all! Nothing remains but that I kindle the boy thither—which now I’ll go about!
Strolling on the terrace at the edge of a well tended stretch of lawn beside the new duke’s palace, two beautiful gentlewomen, both twenty, enjoy the pleasant morning air.
But one lady finds her companion quieter than usual. “I pray thee, Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry!”
“Dear Celia, I show more mirth than I am mistress of—and would you I were merrier yet? Unless you could teach me to forget a banished father, you must not yearn for me now to remember any extraordinary pleasure!”
Celia pouts: “Herein I see thou lovest me not with the full weight that I love thee. If my uncle, thy banished father, had banished thine uncle, the duke my father—and thou hadst been still with me—I could have taught my love to take thy father for mine! So wouldst thou, if the truth of thy love to me were so righteously tempered as mine is to thee!”
Rosalind manages to smile. “Well, I will forget the condition of my estate, to rejoice in yours.”
Celia touches her hand gently. “You know my father hath no child but I, nor none is likely to have—and, truly, when he dies, thou shalt be his heir!—for what he hath taken away from thy father perforce, I will render thee again in affection! By mine honour, I will! And when I break that oath, let me turn monster! Therefore, my sweet Rose, my dear Rose, be merry!”
Patting her friend’s sleeve, Rosalind rises to the challenge. “From henceforth I will, coz—and devise sports!” She considers various ways that young ladies might amuse themselves. “Let me see,” she says, thinking. She grins. “What think you of falling in love?”
“Marry, I prithee, do, to make sport withal!” laughs Celia. “But love no man in good earnest—nor no further in sport neither, than with safety of a pure blush thou mayst in honour come off again.”
Asks Rosalind, romance thus debarred, “What shall be our sport, then?”
“Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel,”—off the turning globe on which she’s pictured as walking, “so that her gifts may henceforth be bestowèd equally!”
“I would we could do so, for her benefits are mightily misplaced—and the bountiful blind woman doth most mistake in her gifts to women!”
“’Tis true! For those that she makes fair she scarce makes honest, and those that she makes honest she makes very ill-favourèd!” argues Celia—facetiously.
Rosalind cavils: “Nay, now thou goest from Fortune’s office to Nature’s: Fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of Nature.”
As they talk, the duke’s court jester, Touchstone, a man of forty wearing the motley woolen costume of his office, approaches from the palace.
Celia defends her position. “No? When Nature hath made a fair creature, may she not by fortune fall into the fire?” Her eyes twinkle. “Though Nature hath given us wit to flout at Fortune, hath not Fortune sent in this fool to cut off the argument?”
“Indeed,” Rosalind admits, “there is Fortune too hard for Nature, when Fortune makes Nature’s natural”—dunce—“the cutter-off of Nature’s wit!”
“Peradventure this is not Fortune’s work, neither,” says Celia, “but Nature’s—who perceiveth our natural wits too dull to reason about such goddesses, and hath sent this natural for our whetstone—for always the dullness of the fool is the whetstone of the wits!
“How now, wit?” she asks Touchstone, laughing. “Whither wander you?”
“Mistress, you must come away to your father,” he tells Celia.
“Were you made a messenger?” she teases.
“No, by mine honour,” he says haughtily, “but I was bid to come for you.”
Rosalind is amused by his courtly phrase. “Where learned you that oath, Fool?”
Touchstone is ready with a riddle: “From a certain knight that swore by his honour they were good fritters, and swore by his honour the mustard was nought. Now, I’ll stand to it that the fritters were nought, and the mustard was good—and yet the knight was not forsworn.”
“How prove you that, in the great heap of your knowledge?” asks Celia.
“Aye, marry, unmuzzle your wisdom!” says Rosalind.
“Stand you both forth, now,” orders Touchstone. “Stroke your chins, and swear by your beards that I am a knave.”
The young ladies strike poses, and frown as if weighing the question sternly. “By our beards—if we had them—thou art!” pronounces Celia.
“By my knavery, if I had it, then I were,” says the fool. “But if you swear by that that is not, you are not forsworn! No more was this knight swearing by his honour, for he never had any!—or if he had, he had sworn it away before ever he saw those fritters or that mustard!”
“Prithee, who is’t that thou meanest?” Celia knows the gentlemen of her father’s new court.
Touchstone makes a face. “One that old Frederick, your father, loves.”
Celia speaks dutifully: “My father’s love is enough to honour him. Enough!—speak no more of him. You’ll be whipped for taxation”—chafing—“one of these days!” she warns; but her tone reveals concern for him, not for those vexed by his clever digs.
Touchstone has quickly learned about the new duke’s distaste for laughter at his own expense. “The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely of what wise men do foolishly!”
“By my troth, thou sayest true,” Celia admits sadly, thinking of her father, “for since the little wit that fools have was silenced, the little foolery that wise men have makes a great show!”
Celia sees a courtier striding out from the palace. “Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.”
“With his mouth full of news,” says Rosalind.
“Which he will put on us as pigeons feed their young,” adds Celia.
“Then shall we be news-crammed!”—overfed, as is poultry.
Celia chuckles. “All the better—we shall be the more marketable!
“Bon jour, Monsieur Le Beau. What’s the news?”
“Fair princess, you have lost much good sport!”
“Sport? Of what colour?” asks Celia.
“What colour, madam? How shall I answer you…?”
“As wit and Fortune will!” says Rosalind gaily.
Offers Touchstone grandly, “Or as the Destinies decree.”
Celia applauds: “Well said! That was laid on with a trowel!”
The jester shrugs to acknowledge the compliment to his acumen: “Nay, if I keep not my rank….”—fail to perform to standard.
“—thou losest thine old smell!” interjects Rosalind, playing on rank,
“You confuse me, ladies,” says M. Le Beau, nonplussed. “I would have told you of good wrestling which you have lost the sight of.”
“Yet tell us the manner of the wrestling,” Rosalind asks politely.
“I will tell you the beginning,” says Le Beau, “and, if it please Your Ladyships, you may see the end—for the rest is yet to do, and here, where you are, they are coming to perform it!”
“Well, then, to the beginning that is dead and burièd….” says Celia.
Le Beau begins: “There comes an old man and his three sons—”
“I could match this beginning with an old tale,” murmurs Celia—thinking of three wishes, three little pigs.
“—three proper young men, of excellent growth and presence—”
Now Rosalind make a jest on a word: “With notes hung at their necks, ‘Be it known unto all men by these presents….’”
Le Beau persists. “The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles, the duke’s wrestler—and Charles in a moment threw him and broke three of his ribs, such that there is little hope of life in him! So he served the second—and so the third! Yonder they lie, the poor old man, their father, making such pitiful dole over them that all the beholders take his part with weeping!”
“Alas!” Rosalind is appalled by the violence.
Touchstone frowns: “But what is the sport, monsieur, that the ladies have lost?”
“Why, this that I speak of.”
“Thus men may grow wiser every day,” says the jester sourly. “It is the first time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies!”
“Or I, I promise thee!” says Celia.
Rosalind thinks three victims is enough—and should provide a clear warning. “But is there any else who longs to see this broken music in his sides?”—playing on terms for songs with separate parts for several voices. “Is there yet another dotes upon rib-breaking?”
Le Beau shrugs and nods.
“Shall we see this wrestling, cousin?” asks Rosalind.
“You must, if you stay here,” Le Beau warns them, “for here is the place appointed for the wrestling, and they are ready to perform it!”
Celia spots movement at the doors. “Yonder, sure, they are coming! Let us stay now, and see it.”
A trumpet flourish signals the arrival on the green of Duke Frederick and his train of lords, all with attending servants. Accompanying the noblemen are Charles, the wrestling champion, and Sir Oliver De Bois. Orlando trails behind.
The duke is impatient. “Come on! Since the youth will not be entreated, his own peril on his forwardness!”
The wrestlers remove their shirts and prepare for the bout.
“Is yonder the man?” asks Rosalind, watching tall Orlando, and noting the challenger’s broad shoulders and strong arms.
“Even he, madam,” says Le Beau.
Celia is worried. “Alas, he is too young! Yet he looks to be successful….”—seems hopeful.
“How now, daughter and cousin,” says the duke, glancing their way, “are you crept hither to see the wrestling?”
“Aye, my liege, so please you give us leave,” Rosalind replies, with a curtsey.
“You will take little delight in it, I can tell you, there is such advantage in the man,” says the duke, glancing at Charles. “In pity of the challenger’s youth I would fain dissuade him, but he will not be entreated! Speak to him, ladies; see if you can move him.”
Celia nods. “Call him hither, good Monsieur Le Beau.”
“Do so,” Frederick tells him. “I’ll not be by.” He steps away to threaten two noblemen of his court who are delinquent in paying him their taxes.
“Monsieur the challenger,” cries Le Beau, “the princesses call for you!”
Orlando comes toward the gentlewomen, and bows courteously. “I attend them with all respect and duty.”
Rosalind begins. “Young man, have you challenged Charles the wrestler?”
“No, fair princess,” says Orlando. “He is the general challenger; I come but in, as others do, to try with him the strength of my youth.”
“Young gentleman, your spirits are too bold for your years,” says Celia. “You have seen cruel proof of this man’s strength! If you saw yourself with our eyes—or knew yourself with your own judgment—the fear of your adventure would counsel you to a more equal enterprise!
“We pray you, for your sake, to embrace your own safety, and give over this attempt.”
Rosalind implores: “Do, young sir! Your reputation shall not therefore be misprisèd—we will make it our suit to the duke that the wrestling might not go forward.”
Orlando is polite, but resolute. “I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts—wherein I confess me much guilty, to deny so fair and excellent ladies anything.
“But let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial—wherein if I be foiled, there is but one shamed who was never gracious; if killed, but one dead who was willing to be so. I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me, do the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; I merely fill up a place which may be better supplied when I have made it empty.”
Rosalind is touched by his melancholy modesty, and pleased by the eloquence—and lack of a spouse. “The little strength that I have, I would it were with you!” she tells him.
“And mine, to eke out hers!” says Celia.
“Fare you well!” says Rosalind. “Pray heaven I be deceivèd in you”—mistakenly assess his chances.
“Your heart’s desires be with you!” calls Celia, as Orlando goes to face the general challenger.
“Come,” growls Charles, rubbing together his big, hairy-backed hands, “where is this young gallant that is so desirous to lie with his mother?—earth!”
“Ready, sir; but his will hath in it a more decent wording,” Orlando answers sharply.
Frederick motions them closer: “You shall try but one fall.”
Charles’s condescending laugh is aimed at Orlando. “Aye, I warrant Your Grace!—you shall not entreat him to a second that I have so mightily persuaded with a first!”
Orlando glares. “If you meant to mock me after, you should not have mocked me before. But come your ways….”
As the men warily approach each other, hands flexing, ready to seize, the women watch.
“Now Hercules be thy speed, young man!” breathes Rosalind.
Celia whispers to her, “I would I were invisible, to catch the strong fellow by the leg!”
The wrestlers grip, pull, and heave, then scuffle, grunt and lift.
Rosalind is surprised by Orlando’s efforts so far. “Oh, excellent young man!”
“If I had a thunderbolt in mine eye,” says Celia, “I can tell who should down!”
Soon sweating, as he struggles against an opponent much stronger and more able than he had expected, Charles abandons his intention to torment the boy awhile, and moves instead to finish him off quickly—and brutally.
Loud shouts from the crowd greet a sudden, decisive move in the contest: Charles has been thrown to the ground—and he cannot rise.
“No more, no more!” calls Frederick.
Now it’s Orlando’s turn: “Yes, I beseech Your Grace!—I am not yet well breathèd!”
“How dost thou, Charles?” asks the duke.
“He cannot speak, my lord,” Le Beau reports—instantly wishing he had not: the duke does not receive bad news well.
Frederick frowns at his prostrate champion. “Bear him away,” he tells the servants, as the onlookers continue to applaud the victor. He turns to Orlando—the likely successor to Charles’s receipt of patronage. “What is thy name, young man?”
“Orlando, my liege; the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois.”
Frederick glares. “I would thou hadst been son to some man else. The world esteemèd thy father honourable, but I did find him still mine enemy. Thou shouldst have better pleased me with this deed hadst thou descended from another house.
“But fare thee well. Thou art a gallant youth,” he adds, grudgingly, and he brusquely turns away—providing no other reward. As the duke returns to the palace, his frustration deepens. “I would thou hadst told me of another father,” he mutters darkly.
Celia is discomfited by seeing Orlando so rudely dismissed. She asks Rosalind, “Were I my father, coz, would I do this?”
Orlando is defiant. “I am proud to be Sir Rowland’s son!—more to be his youngest son!—and would not change that calling to be adopted as heir to Frederick!”
Rosalind tells Celia, “My father loved Sir Rowland as his soul, and all the world was of my father’s mind! Had I before known this young man his son, I should have given him tears onto entreaties, ere he should thus have ventured!”
“Gentle cousin, let us go thank him and encourage him!” says Celia. “My father’s rough and envious disposition sticks me at heart!”
They approach Orlando. “Sir, you have well deservèd!” Celia tells him, “If you do keep your promises in love but as justly as you have exceeded all promise here, your mistress shall be happy!”
“Gentleman,” says Rosalind, removing a thin gold chain from her neck, “wear this for me—one out of suits with Fortune, who would give more, but that her hand lacks means.”
He accepts the gift, but he sees only her face—especially the bright, clear eyes.
“Shall we go, coz?”
“Aye,” says Celia. “Fare you well, fair gentleman!”
Watching Rosalind leave, Orlando is first flustered, then annoyed with himself. Can I not say, ‘I thank you’? My better parts are all thrown down!—and that which here stands up is but a quintain, a mere lifeless block!
“He’d call us back,” whispers Rosalind, after glancing over her shoulder and seeing his attentive expression. “My pride fell with my fortunes; I’ll ask him what he would.” She turns. “Did you call, sir?”
Her eyes search his face—which reveals to her more than he could imagine. “Sir, you have wrestled well—and overthrown more than your enemies,” she says—and their longing looks lock together.
“Will you go, coz?” asks Celia, after a moment.
“Have with you,” she replies, nodding. “Fare you well!” she tells Orlando—who is still speechless, his face hot. The two ladies walk up to the palace.
The young man is amazed. What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue?
I cannot speak to her!—yet she urgèd conference!
Suddenly he feels feeble. Oh, poor Orlando, thou art overthrown! Not Charles, but something weaker masters thee!
As Orlando ponders both his hard-won victory and his sudden fall, Le Beau emerges from the palace, looking back apprehensively. He hurries to the youth.
“Good sir, I do in friendship counsel you to leave this place!” says the courtier quickly. “Albeit you have deserved high commendation, true applause and love, yet such is now the duke’s condition that he misconstrues all that you have done! What he is, indeed, more suits you to conceive than I to speak of,” he says, again glancing at the palace doors; the moody duke is often irascible.
“I thank you, sir,” says Orlando, “and, pray you, tell me this: which of the two that were here at the wrestling was daughter of the duke?”
“Neither his daughter, if we judge by manners! But yet indeed the shorter is his daughter; the other is daughter to the banished duke, and here detainèd by her usurping uncle to keep his daughter company—whose loves are dearer than the natural bond of sisters.
“But I can tell you that of late this duke hath ta’en displeasure ’gainst his gentle niece, grounded upon no other argument but that the people praise her for her virtues, and pity her for her good father’s sake.
“And, on my life, his malice ’gainst the lady will suddenly break forth!
“Sir, fare you well. Hereafter, in a better world than this, I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.”
Orlando bows. “I rest much bounden to you. Fare you well!”
Le Beau returns the courtesy, and hurries back inside, leaving Orlando alone again.
Thus must I from the smoke into the smother—from tyrant duke unto a tyrant brother!
But heavenly Rosalind!
Within Celia’s chambers in the palace, the lady laughs at her best friend, who is now thoughtful—and unusually quiet. “Why, cousin!—why, Rosalind!” Cupid, have mercy! she thinks. “Not a word?”
Rosalind sighs. “Not one to throw at a dog.”
“No, thy words are too precious to be cast away upon curs,” says Celia. “Throw some of them at me!—come, lame me with reasons!”
“Then there were two cousins laid up, when the one should be lamed with reasons, and the other mad without any!”
“But is all this for your father?”
Rosalind again pictures Orlando. She grins. “No, some of it is for my child’s father!” She moans. “Oh, how full of briers is this working-day world!”
“They are but burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery; if we walk not in the trodden paths our very petticoats will catch them.”
“I could shake them off my ’coats; these burs are in my heart,” says Rosalind.
“Hem them away!”—trim off troubles. “Come, come—wrestle with thine affections!” advises Celia.
“Ah, they side with a better wrestler than myself!”
Celia smiles. “Oh, a good wish upon you; in time you will try, in despite of a fall!
“But, turning these jests out of service, let us talk in good earnest! Is it possible that on such a sudden you should fall into so strong a liking with old Sir Rowland’s youngest son?”
“The duke my father loved his father dearly,” Rosalind offers, lamely; she is as surprised as is her cousin.
“Doth it therefore ensue that you should love his son dearly?” demands Celia. “By this kind of chase, I should hate him, for my father hated his father dearly. Yet I hate not Orlando.”
Rosalind is alarmed at the very thought: “No, i’ faith, hate him not—for my sake!”
“Why should I not like him? Doth he not deserve well?”
“Let me love him for that—and do you love him because I do!”
There is a sound in the corridor; footsteps approach. Rosalind turns to the door. “Look; here comes the duke.”
“With his eyes full of anger,” Celia notes.
Frederick arrives, with three of his lords.
He scowls at Rosalind. “Mistress, dispatch you with your safest haste, and get you from our court!”
She is surprised. “Me, Uncle?”
“You, Niece! Within these ten days, if that thou be’st found so near our public court as twenty miles, thou diest for it!”
“I do beseech Your Grace,” says Rosalind, “let me bear with me the knowledge of my fault! If with myself I hold intelligence, or have acquaintance with mine own desires—if I do not dream or be not frantic, as I do trust I am not!—then, dear uncle, never so much as in a thought unborn did I offend Your Highness!”
“Thus do all traitors say,” the testy duke tells the other noblemen. “If purgation did consist in words, they are as innocent as grace itself!” He frowns at Rosalind. “Let it suffice thee that I trust thee not.”
She bridles. “Yet your mistrust cannot make me a traitor! Tell me whereon the likelihood depends!”
Frederick will not be questioned. “Thou art thy father’s daughter; there’s enough.”
“So was I when Your Highness took his dukedom!” retorts Rosalind fearlessly. “So was I when Your Highness banished him!
“Treason is not inherited, my lord! And if we did derive it from our friends, what’s that to me?—my father was no traitor!” she says vehemently, rising anger coloring her cheeks; she is, after all, addressing a traitor. “Then, good my liege, mistake me not so much as to think my poverty is treacherous!”
Celia steps forward. “Dear sovereign, hear me speak!”
“Ah, Celia, we stayed her for your sake; else had she with her father rangèd along,” says the duke.
But Celia resents being used so—to influence the listening courtiers. “I did not then entreat to have her stay; it was your pleasure—in your own remorse!
“I was too young at that time to value her; but now I know her! If she be a traitor, why so am I! We have always slept together, risen at an instant—learned, played, eaten together—and wheresoever we went, like Juno’s swans, we ever went coupled and inseparable!”
Frederick shakes his head. “She is too subtle”—devious—“for thee; and her smoothness, her very silence, and her patience speak to the people—and they pity her!” he says, resentment revealing fear. “Thou art a fool! She robs thee of thy fame, and thou wilt show more bright, and seem more virtuous, when she is gone!”
He holds up a warning hand. “Then open not thy lips! Firm and irrevocable is my doom which I have passed upon her! She is banished!”
Celia glares at him. “Pronounce that sentence then on me, my liege; I cannot live out of her company!”
“You are a fool,” the scornful duke tells his daughter again. “You, Niece, provide yourself; if you outstay the time, upon mine honour, and in the greatness of my word, you die!”
With that, Duke Frederick leaves; his red-faced lords, eyes cast down, follow him toward the silent throne room.
Rosalind stands at an open palace window, looking out sadly over the groves in which she played as a child.
Celia is beside herself, humiliated by her father’s callous cruelty. “Oh, my poor Rosalind, whither wilt thou go?
“Wilt thou exchange fathers? I will give thee mine! I charge thee,” she pleads, “be not thou more grievèd than I am!”
“I have more cause.”
“Thou hast not, cousin! Prithee be cheerful!—know’st thou not?—the duke hath banished me, his daughter!”
“That he hath not.”
“No?—hath not? Rosalind lacks then the love which teacheth me that thou and I are one!” She takes her cousin’s hands. “Shall we be sundered? Shall we part, sweet girl? No! Let my father seek another heir!
“Therefore devise with me how we may fly!—whither to go, and what to bear with us!
“And do not seek to take your change upon you, to bear your griefs yourself and leave me out, for by this,” she says, a hand at her heart, “say what thou canst, I’ll go along with thee! Heaven now at our sorrows pales!”
“Why, whither shall we go?”
Celia has a plan in mind: “To seek my uncle in the Forest of Arden!” she says, a smile already blooming on her lovely face.
“Alas, what danger will it be to us, maids as we are, to travel forth so far?” Rosalind is eager to see her father again, but the ancient wood is perilous, and it lies many leagues away. “Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold!”
Celia, however, is ripe for adventure. “I’ll put myself in poor and mean attire, and with a kind of umber smirch my face; the like do you. So shall we pass along, and never stir assailants!”
Rosalind is already warming to the proposition. “Were it not better, because I am more than common tall, that I did suit me at all points like a man?—a gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh, a boar-spear in my hand!—and in my heart, lie there, hidden, what woman’s fear there will.
“We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside—as many other mannish cowards have, that do outface it with their semblances.”
Celia approves. “What shall I call thee when thou art a man?”
“I’ll have no worse a name than Jove’s own page, and therefore look you call me ‘Ganymede.’ But what will you be called?”
“Something that hath a reference to my state: no longer Celia, but ‘Aliena.’”
Rosalind thinks of a third who is alienated. “But, cousin—what if we assayed to steal the clownish fool out of your father’s court? Would he not be a comfort to our travel?”
Celia is delighted at the prospect. “He’ll go along o’er the wide world with me; leave me alone to persuade him!
“Let’s away, and get our jewels and our wealth together, devise the fittest time and safest way to hide us from pursuit that will be made after my flight.
“Now go we in content to liberty, and not to banishment!”
And so, very soon, Frederick’s court will lose its best wit, charm and beauty.
In the old woods of Arden, beneath a verdant canopy of vaulting boughs and leafy branches, the rightful Duke of Ardennes celebrates simple contentment with the noblemen who have abandoned palace life, and are clothed and equipped for their roles as foresters and hunters.
“Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, hath not our custom made this life more sweet than that of painted pomp?” asks the duke. “Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?
“Here feel we but the penalty of Adam: the seasons’ difference, such as the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter’s wind—to which, when it bites and blows upon my body, even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say, ‘This is no flattery!—these are counselors that feelingly persuade me what I am!’
“Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head! And this our life, exempt from public view, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones—and good in everything!”
“I would not change it!” says Lord Amiens. “Happy is Your Grace, who can translate the stubbornness of Fortune into so quiet and so sweet a style!”
“Come, shall we go and kill us venison?” asks the duke, taking up his longbow. “And yet it irks me that the poor, dappled fools,”—the deer, “being native burghers of this austere city, should in their own confines have their round haunches gored with forkèd heads”—arrows’ barbs.
“Indeed, my lord, the melancholy Jacques grieves at that!” reports one of the noblemen. “And, in that mind, swears you do more usurp than doth your brother that hath banished you!
“Today my Lord of Amiens and myself did steal up behind him as he lay along under an oak whose antique roots peep out upon the brook that brawls along this wood.
“To which place a poor, sequestered stag, that from the hunter’s aim had ta’en a hurt, did come to languish—and indeed, my lord, the wretched animal heavèd forth such groans that their discharge did stretch his leathern coat almost to bursting; and the big, round tears coursèd one after another down his innocent nose in piteous chase! And thus the hairy fool, much markèd by the melancholy Jacques, stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook, augmenting it with tears!”
“But what said Jacques?” asks the duke. “Did he not moralize this spectacle?”
“Oh, yes!—into a thousand similes!” laughs the nobleman. “First for its weeping into the heedless stream: ‘Poor deer,’ quoth he, ‘thou makest a testament as worldlings do, giving thy sum of more to that which had too much!’ Then for being there alone, left and abandoned by his velvet friends: ‘’Tis right,’ quoth he. ‘Thus misery doth part from the flux of company!’
“Anon, the careless herd, full of pasture, jumps along past him, and never stays to greet him. ‘Aye,’ quoth Jacques, ‘sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens—’tis just the fashion! Wherefore do you look upon that poor and broken bankrupt, there?’
“Then most invectively he pierceth through the body of the country: city, court—and yea, of this, our life!—swearing that we are mere usurpers—tyrants and what’s worse, to fright the animals, and to kill them in their assignèd and native dwelling-place!”
“And did you leave him in this contemplation?”
“We did, my lord—weeping, and commenting upon the sobbing deer.”
“Show me the place,” says the eager philosopher. “I love to cope him in these sullen fits, for then he’s full of matter!”
“I’ll bring you to him straight!”
Duke Frederick, his sullen lords attending fearfully in the throne room of the palace, is furious. “Can it be possible that no man saw them? It cannot be!—some villains of my court are of consent and sufferance in this!”
“I cannot hear of any that did see her,” reports one apologetic nobleman. “The ladies, her attendants of her chamber, saw her abed, but in the morning early they found the bed untreasured of their mistress!”
“My lord, the coarse clown at whom so oft Your Grace was wont to laugh is also missing,” another courtier tells him. “Hisperia, the princess’s gentlewoman, confesses that she o’erheard, secretly, your daughter and her cousin much commend the parts and graces of the wrestler that did but lately foil the sinewy Charles—and she believes, wherever they are gone, that youth is surely in their company.”
“Send to his brother!” the duke commands angrily. “Fetch that gallant hither;” he says, picturing the defiant Orlando. “If he be absent, bring his brother to me; I’ll make him find him!
“Do this immediately—and let search and inquisition not quail to bring back these foolish runaways!”
Orlando, traveling on foot, tonight finally completes his journey from the palace. Passing Sir Oliver’s stately mansion, he goes to the back, headed for his small cabin—and spots someone just outside, in the dark. “Who’s there?”
“What, my young master?” asks the reedy voice of old Adam, who has been waiting. “Oh, my gentle master! O my sweet master! O you memory of old Sir Rowland!” moans the frail graybeard. “Why, what make you here?” he chides, worried. “Why are you virtuous?—wherefore people do love you! You are gentle, strong and valiant—why would you be so reckless as to overcome the bonny prizer of the ill-humourèd duke?
“Your praise is come all too swiftly home before you! Know you not, master, that to some kind of men their graces serve them but as enemies? No less do yours: your virtues, gentle master, are sanctified and holy traitors to you!
“Oh, what a world is this, when what is comely poisons him that bears it!” he groans.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Oh, unhappy youth, come not within these doors!” warns Adam. “Beneath yon roof the enemy of all your graces lives! Your brother… no, no brother; yet the son… yet not the son; I will not call him son of him I was about to call his father!—hath heard your praises!
“And this night he means to burn the lodging where you use to lie—and you within it! If he fail in that, he will have other means to cut you off!—I overheard him in his practises!
“This is no fit place,” he says, sadly shaking his white-haired head, “this house is but a butchery! Abhor it, fear it!—do not enter it!”
“Why, whither, Adam, wouldst thou have me go?”
“No matter whither, so you come not here!”
“What?—wouldst thou have me go and beg my food? Or with a base and boisterous sword enforce a thievish living on the common road? That I must do, or know not what to do; yet that I will not do, do how I can! I will rather subject me to the malice of distempered blood in a bloody brother!”
“But do not so!” says Adam, urgently grasping Orlando’s sleeve. “I have five hundred crowns—the thrifty hire I saved under your father, which I did store to be my foster-nurse when service should in my old limbs lie lame, and unregarded age in corners be thrown.
“Take that, and may He that doth the sparrow feed—yea, providently caters for the raven!—be comfort to my age. Here is the gold; and all this I give you!” He hands Orlando a worn-leather pouch of coins. “Let me be your servant! Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty; for in my youth I never did supply hot and rebellious liquors to my blood, ne’er did with unbashful forehead woo the means of weakness and debility. Therefore my age is as a winter frosty but kindly.
“Let me go with you! I’ll do the service of a younger man in all your business and necessities!”
Orlando is deeply moved. “Oh, good old man, how well in thee appears the loyal service of the antique world, when service sweated for duty, not for meed! Thou art not for the fashion of these times, where none will sweat but for promotion—and having that, do choke their service off, even with the having! It is not so with thee.
“But, poor old man, thou prunest a rotten tree that cannot so much as a blossom yield in lieu of all thy pains and husbandry!
“But come thy ways; we’ll go along together, and ere we have thy youthful wages spent, we’ll light upon some settled, low contentment.” He considers heading north to the timeless woodlands that abound with berries, edible plants and roots, and game birds and animals.
Adam urges him to depart—and now. “Master, go on; and I will follow thee to the last gasp with truth and loyalty!” He looks toward the rear of the mansion, and the servants’ quarters—his home for more than six decades.
“From seventeen years till now almost fourscore, here livèd I; but now I live here no more.“ Still, he smiles. “‘At seventeen years, many their fortunes seek; but at fourscore, it is too late—by a week!’
“Yet Fortune cannot recompense me better than to die well, and not my master’s debtor.”
“Oh, Jupiter, how weary are my spirits!” gasps Rosalind, stopping to rest. In disguise as the boyish gentleman Ganymede, she seats herself on the dry trunk of a huge fallen tree.
“I’d care not for my spirits,” moans Touchstone, “if my legs were not weary!”
Rosalind’s swollen feet ache. “I could find it in my heart to disgrace my man’s apparel, and to cry like a woman! But, as doublet-and-hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat, I must comfort the weaker vessel. Therefore courage, good Aliena!”
Celia, her silken gown exchanged, during travel, for Aliena’s fine linen, is also exhausted. “I pray you, bear with me; I cannot go further!”
Says Touchstone, “For my part, I had rather bear with you than bear you! Yet I should bear no cross if I did bear you, for I think you have no money in your purse!” Many of the realm’s coins are embossed with crosses; the jest is lame, though, as the ladies have brought a considerable amount of gold with them from the palace.
Rosalind looks around at the lush woods, the rough rocks and dry, fallen leaves of many seasons past. “Well, this is the Forest of Arden….”
“Aye, now am I in Arden,” says the jester sourly, “the more fool I! When I was at home I was in a better place! But travelers must be content.”
“Aye, be so, good Touchstone,” says Rosalind. She sees someone walking along a path in the grassy field nearby, beside the wood. “Look you who comes here—a young man and an old, in solemn talk….”
From behind green brush and low tree-limbs’ fluttering leaves, they observe, silently.
A shepherd, now within their hearing, pauses to sit on a rock; his younger companion, a gentleman, crouches beside him. As they watch the grazing flock, the graybeard shakes his head. “That is the way to make her scorn you still!” he warns.
“Oh, Corin, I would that thou knew’st how I do love her!” says suffering Silvius.
“I partly guess, for I have loved ere now.”
“No, Corin—being old, thou canst not guess, though in thy youth thou wast as true a lover as ever sighed upon a midnight pillow! But if thy love were even like to mine—and surely, I think, man did never love so!—how many actions most ridiculous hast thou been drawn into by thy fantasy?”
The old man gazes at the sheep for a moment, chuckling. “Into a thousand that I have forgotten!” He remembers even more.
“Ah, then didst thou ne’er love so heartily! If thou remember’st not even the slightest folly that love did make thee run into, thou hast not loved!
“Or if thou hast not sat as I do now, wearying thy hearer in thy mistress’ praise, thou hast not loved!
“Or if thou hast not broken from company abruptly—as my passion now makes me!—thou hast not loved! O Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe!” He jumps to his feet and dashes away to be nearer his beloved.
- “Alas, poor shepherd, searching in thy wound! I have by hard adventure found my own!” murmurs Rosalind, thinking of the young man she had just met, only to leave behind.
- “And I mine. I remember when I was in love,” says Touchstone—dryly. “For to become a knight for Jane Smile, I broke my sword upon a stone, and bid it ‘Take that!’
- “And I remember the kissing of her batlet,”—a wooden laundry implement, “and the cow’s dugs that her pretty, chappèd hands had milked!
- “And I remember the wooing of a peascod, in stead of her—from whom I took two cods and, giving them to her again, and said, with weeping tears, ‘Wear these for my sake!’
- The two ladies exchange amused glances at the wry reminiscence.
- “We that are true lovers run into strange capers,” he says. “But as all is mortal in nature, so all nature in love is mortal in folly!”
- “Thou speakest wiser than thou art ’ware of,” says Rosalind, feeling quite forlorn.
- “Aye, I shall ne’er beware of mine own wit till I break my shins against it.”
- “Jove, Jove,” moans Rosalind, “that shepherd’s passion is much upon my fashion!”
- “And mine,” says Touchstone, “but it grows something stale with me.” Stale is a term for prostitute.
- Celia feels a different desire. “I pray you—one of you question yond man if he for gold will give us any food! I faint almost to death!”
“Holla! You—clown!” calls Touchstone to the rustic.
“Peace, Fool!” says Rosalind, wincing at the slight; “he’s not thy kinsman!”
By the meadow, Corin looks up. “Who calls?”
“Your betters, sir,” says the erudite jester, as they approach the old man.
Corin only nods. “Else are they very wretched.”
Rosalind frowns at the fool. “Peace, I say!” Monsieur Ganymede smiles at Corin. “Good even to you, friend!”
“And to you, gentle sir; and to you all.”
“I prithee, shepherd, if that love or gold can in this remote place buy accommodations, bring us where we may rest ourselves, and feed,” says Rosalind. She points to Celia. “Here’s a young maid with travel much oppressèd, and faint for succor!”
“Fair sir, I pity her, and wish, for her sake more than for mine own, my fortunes were more able to relieve her!” says kindly Corin. “But I am shepherd to another man, and do not shear the fleeces that I graze. My master is of churlish disposition, and little reckons to find the way to heaven by doing deeds of hospitality!
“Besides, his cottage, his flocks and bounds of feed are now for sale; and at our sheepcote now, by reason of his absence, is nothing that you would feed on. But what there is, come and see. In my voice, most welcome shall you be!”
“Who is he that shall buy this flock and pasture?” asks M. Ganymede.
“The young swain that you saw here but erewhile, who little cares about buying anything.” Silvius is a gentleman of means.
“I pray thee, if it stand with honesty,”—would not be improper, says Ganymede, an apple-cheeked lad, “buy thou the cottage, pasture and the flock, and thou shalt have money to pay for it from us!”
“And we will mend thy wages,” adds Celia. “I like this place, and willingly could waste my time in it!”
Corin considers. “Assuredly the thing is to be sold…. Go with me; if you like, upon report, the soil, the profit, and this kind of life, I will your very faithful feeder be—and buy it with your gold right suddenly!”
Thus, thanks to the magical powers of money, two gentle ladies of Frederick’s court become shepherd and shepherdess, and will dwell in a cottage beside the wild wood.
Lord Amiens is an accomplished singer, and his mellow baritone provides entertainment and encouragement for the willing woodsmen in the Forest of Arden. This afternoon, the noble renegades hearken as he plucks the strings of his lute, and sings:
“Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to hie with me,
And return his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat:
Come hither, come hither, come hither!
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather!”
“More, more, I prithee, more!” cries a listener.
“It will make you melancholy, Monsieur Jacques,” cautions Amiens, starting to put the instrument into its case.
“I thank it!” says Jacques. “More, I prithee, more! I can suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs! More, I prithee, more!”
“My voice is ragged,” protests Amiens. “I know I cannot please you.”
“I do not desire you to please me!—I do desire you to sing! Come, more; another stanza—call ’em you stanzas?”
“What you will, Monsieur Jacques.”
“Nay, I care not about their names; they owe me nothing.” Again he pleads: “Will you sing?”
Amiens acquiesces modestly. “More at your request than to please myself.”
“Well, then, if ever I thank any man I’ll thank you; but that which they call a ‘compliment’ is what the encounter of two dogs apes!”—mutual sniffing. “And when a man thanks me heartily, methinks I have given him a penny, and he renders me the beggarly thanks.
“Come, sing!—and you that will not,” he calls to the assembly, “hold your tongues!”
Lord Amiens lifts his lute. “Well, I’ll tender the song. Sirs; cover the while,” he says, asking the nearby gentlemen to set out their repast of fruit, cheese, bread and wine. “The duke will drink under this tree. The musician tells Jacques, “He hath been all this day looking for you!”
“And I have been all this day avoiding him!” says the eccentric. “He is too contentious for my company!” An impulsive intellect, he finds any structuring philosophy futile. “I think of as many matters as he, but, I give heaven thanks, I make no boast of them! Come, warble! Come!”
“Whoever doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleasèd with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither!
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather!”
“I’ll give you a verse to those notes that I made yesterday,” says Jacques, “in a respite from thine invention.”
“Then I’ll sing it,” Amiens offers.
“Thus it goes,” says Jacques. He speaks the lyric:
“If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease,
A stubborn will to please—
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame!—
Here shall he see
Fools gross as he!
An if ye will, come to me!”
“What’s that ‘ducdame’?” asks Amiens; Duke damn me! is not in his tablature.
Replies Jacques dryly, “’Tis a Greek invocation to call fools into a circle.” Imperiously aloof, he yawns, “I’ll go sleep, if I can. If I cannot, I’ll rail against all the first-born of Egypt.”
Says the hungry, green-clad nobleman, “And I’ll go seek the duke. His banquet is prepared!”
“Dear master, I can go no further,” moans old Adam, sinking wearily to the dry and matted leaves of dull brown and gray beneath a massive oak, deep within the forest. “Oh, I die for food! Here lie I down and measure out my grave. Farewell, kind master!”
Orlando kneels beside him. “Why, how now, Adam! No greater heart in thee? Live yet a little, comfort a little, cheer thyself a little!
“If this uncouth forest yield anything untamèd, I will either be food for it or bring it as food to thee!” He smiles. “Thine imagination is nearer death than thy powers. For my sake, be comforted!—hold Death a while at the arm’s end!
“I will be here with thee presently! If I bring thee not something to eat, I will give thee leave to die—but if thou diest before I come, thou art a mocker of my labour!”
As he leans back against the rough, dark bole, a groan escapes Adam; but he smiles bravely.
Orlando pats his thin shoulder. “Well said! Lookest thou cheerily, and I’ll be with thee quickly!” He glances around the dim, dense woods, and studies the rocky hillside near by. “Yet thou liest in the bleak air. Come, I will bear thee to some shelter—and thou shalt not die for lack of a dinner if there live anything in this waste!
“Cheerily, good Adam!”
But as he helps the man duck into a cave, through its narrow opening beneath an overhang of dark, jagged rock, his eyes are glistening with tears.
Exhausted and hungry after days and nights of walking, always wary of pursuit, he thinks mainly of the devoted servant; for his sake, Orlando is very concerned.
Sunshine dapples the long, rough tables, well laden with fresh food and amply provided with excellent wine. The rightful Duke of Ardennes, with Lord Amiens and others, all accoutered as oddly elegant outlaws, prepares for refreshment.
The duke still wants to hear Jacques’s own account of his encounter with the stricken deer. “I think he be transformèd into a beast, for I can nowhere find him like a man!”
“My lord, he is but even now gone hence,” says a nobleman. “Here was he, hearing a song merrily!”
The duke laughs. “If he, compacted of quarrels, grow musical, we shall shortly have discord in the spheres!”—the layered universe itself. “Go, seek him! Tell him I would speak with him.”
“He saves my labour by his own approach,” says the lord, pointing, as the iconoclast arrives in the glade.
“Why, how now, monsieur!” calls the duke. “What a time is this, that your poor friends must woo your company!” He stares, surprised. “What?—you look merry!”
“A fool, a fool! I met a fool i’ the forest—a motley fool!
“As I do live by food—oh, miserable word!—I met a fool who laid him down and basked him in the sun, then railed on Lady Fortune—in good terms!—in good, set terms! And but a motley fool! ” cries Jacques in amazement. “‘Good morrow, Fool,’ quoth I. ‘No, sir,’ quoth he, ‘call me not fool till heaven hath sent my fortune.’” Proverbially, the foolish get what they deserve.
“And then he drew a dial from his poke, and, looking on it with a lack-lustre eye, says very wisely, ‘It is ten o’clock.
“‘Thus we may see,’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags: ’tis but an hour ago it was nine, yet after one hour more ’twill be eleven! And so from hour to hour we ripen and ripen!’” Jacques’s grin implies one of the term’s meanings: grow lustful. “‘And then, from hour to hour, we rut”—mate like male deer—‘and rot! And thereby hangs a tale!’” He laughs at Touchstone’s play on tail.
“When I did hear the motley fool thus moralize the times, my lungs began to crow like chanticleer’s, that fools should be so deeply contemplative! And I did laugh sans intermission!—an hour by his dial!
“Oh, noble fool!—a worthy fool!” Cries the new acolyte, “Motley’s the only wear!”
The duke has found much in the forest, but never a jester with a jingling cap. “What fool is this?”
“Oh, a worthy fool!—one that hath been a courtier, and says, ‘If ladies be but young and fair—they have the gift of knowing it!’ And in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath crammed strange places with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms!
“Oh, that I were a fool! I am ambitious for a motley coat!”
“Thou shalt have one!” says the magnanimous duke.
“It is my only suit,” jests Jacques—playing on request and clothing, “—provided that you weed”—another word for apparel—“your better judgments of all opinion that grows rank in them that I am wise!
“I must have liberty withal!—as large a charter as the wind, to blow on whom I please—for so fools have!
“And they that are most gallèd by my folly, they most must laugh! And why, sir, must they do so? The way is plain as to the parish church: he that a fool doth very wisely hit, although he smarts, doth very foolishly if he seem senseless to the bob. For if he laugh not, the ‘wise’ man’s folly is anatomized, even by the squandering glances of a fool!
“Invest me in my motley; give me leave to speak my mind, and I will cleanse the foul body of the infected world, through and through!
“If they will patiently receive my medicine.”
The duke laughs. “Fie on thee!—I can tell what thou wouldst do!”
Jacques frowns. “What, for example, would I do but good?”
“Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin! For thou thyself hast been a libertine, as sensual as the brutish sting itself!”—penis. “And all the embossèd sores, un-needed evils that thou with license of free foot hast caught thou wouldst disgorge onto the general world!”
Counters Jacques, “Well, who cries out against pride that does not therein tax any private party? Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea, till the very means do ebb?”—rivers dry up. “What woman in the city do I name when I say, ‘The city woman bears the cost of princes on unworthy shoulders’?”—dresses with pretension. “Who can come in and say that I mean her, when such a one as she is her every neighbour?
“Or who is he of basest function that, thinking I mean him, says his frippery is derided by me, yet therein suits his folly to the mettle of my speech!”—and by saying the criticism fits, confirms it. “There then, how then, what then?—let me see wherein my tongue hath wronged him! If it do him right, then he hath wronged himself; if he be innocent, why then my taxing flies like a wild-goose—unclaimèd by any man!”
Having concluded his defense of slandering generally, Jacques looks toward the path. “But who comes here?”
Orlando, haggard from his long travel and a morning of futile foraging, stands before the foresters with his sword drawn. He gestures toward the tables covered with food. “Forbear, and eat no more!”
“Why, I have eaten none yet!” protests Jacques—adopting a fool’s saucy style.
Orlando is weak with hunger, and worried about Adam. “Nor shalt not, till necessity be served!”
Jacques regards the audacious youth. “Of what kind should this cock come of?”
The duke frowns at Orlando. “Art thou thus boldened, man, by thy distress?—or else a rude despiser of good manners, that in civility thou seem’st so empty!”
“You touched my vein at first: the bare, thorny point of distress hath ta’en from me the show of smooth civility. Yet am I inland bred, and know some nurture,” Orlando tells him. “But forbear, I say! He dies that touches any of this fruit till I and my affairs are answerèd!”
Jacques shrugs. “If you will not be answered with reasons”—a tired jest, playing on the similar pronunciation of raisins, “I must die.”
But the duke calmly opens his hands in a peaceful manner. “What would you have? Your gentleness shall force more than your force move us to gentleness….”
Orlando nods. “I almost die for food,” he says quietly. “Then let me have it.”
“Sit down and feed,” says the duke kindly, “and welcome to our table.”
Orlando lowers his blade. “Speak you so gently?” Exhausted,, he closes his eyes for a moment. “Pardon me, I pray you. I thought that all things had been savage here; and therefore put I on the countenance of stern commandment.”
He addresses the noblemen forthrightly: “But whate’er you are, that in this wilderness inaccessible, under the shade of melancholy boughs, lose in neglect the creeping hours of time, if ever you have looked on better days; if ever been where bells have knelled to church; if ever sat at any goodman’s feast”—commoner’s humble meal, “if ever from your eyelids wiped a tear, and known what ’tis to pity and be pitied, let gentleness my strong enforcement be.
“In the which hope, I blush, and hide my sword.” He sheathes the weapon.
“True it is that we have seen better days,” says the duke solemnly, “and have with holy bell been knellèd to church, and sat at good men’s feasts, and wiped our eyes of drops that sacred pity hath engendered.
“And therefore sit you down in gentleness, and take upon command what help we have, that to your wanting may be ministered.”
“Then but forbear your food a little while,” pleads Orlando, “whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn, and give it food. There is an old, poor man who after me hath many a weary step limpèd in pure love. Till he, weak, oppressèd with two evils, age and hunger, be first sufficèd, I will not touch a bit.”
The duke smiles. “Go find him out, and we will nothing waste till you return.”
“I thank ye—and be blest for your good comfort!” He goes to bring Adam from the dank shelter.
The duke turns to his men. “Thou seest we are not all alone unfortunate: this wide and universal theatre presents more woeful pageants than the scene wherein we play.”
Jacques, eager to perform, perceives a cue. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts—his acts being seven ages.
“At first the infant, mewling and puking in a nurse’s arms.
“And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining, morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school.
“And then the lover, sighing like a furnace with woeful ballad, made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
“Then a soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the ’pard—jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth!
“And then the justice, and a fair, round belly with good capon linèd, eyes severe and beard of formal cut—full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part.
“The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunken shanks—and his big, manly voice turning again toward childish treble—pipes and whistles in his sound!
“Last scene of all, that ends this strange, eventful history, is second childishness; then mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste—sans everything.”
Returning to the clearing, Orlando carries the resurrected Adam.
“Welcome!” cries the duke. “Set down your venerable burthen, and let him feed!”
“I thank you most for him,” says Orlando, helping the man to sit at a table.
“So had you need,” says Adam, weakly. “I scarce can speak to thank you for myself,” he tells his host.
“Welcome!” the duke tells him. “Fall to! I will not trouble you as yet, to question you about your fortunes.”
He turns to Lord Amiens. “Give us some music; and, good cousin, sing.” As the two visitors eat—politely but eagerly—the duke confers quietly with Orlando.
The woodsmen take their seats to enjoy the noon meal. Lord Amiens’ lute provides a melody cheerful, yet poignant, as he sings a bittersweet song:
“Blow, blow, thou winter wind;
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude!
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! Sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly—
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly!
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly!
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot!
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not!
Heigh-ho! Sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly!
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly!
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly!
Sitting beside Orlando as he finishes eating, the duke rests a hand on his shoulder. “If that you were the good Sir Rowland’s son, as you have whispered faithfully you are—and as mine eye doth his effigies witness most truly limned and living in your face—be truly welcome hither! I am the duke that loved your father! The residue of your fortune, go to my cave and tell me.
He invites Adam into his comfortable, torch-lit dwelling. “Good old man, thou art right welcome, as thy master is.”
As they rise, he nods to Orlando. “Support him by the arm.
“Give me your hand,” the duke tells Adam, “and let me all your fortunes understand!”
Duke Frederick, in the palace at Ardennes, is exasperated with Oliver.
“Not seen him since? But sir, sir, that cannot be! Were I not the better part made mercy,” he says, perceiving no irony, “I should not seek an absent argument for my revenge, with thou present!
“But look to it!—find out thy brother, wheresoe’er he is!—seek him with candle!”—even at night. “Bring him, dead or living, within this twelvemonth, or return thou no more to seek a living in our territory!
“Thy lands and all things that thou dost call thine worth seizure do we seize into our hands, till thou canst acquit thee by thy brother’s mouth of what we think against thee!”
Oliver De Bois, appalled, protests: “Oh, that Your Highness knew my heart in this! I never loved my brother in my life!”
“More villain thou,” mutters the duke. “Well, push him out of doors!” he orders his court attendants, angrily, “and let my officers make assessment of such a nature upon his house and lands!
“Do this expediently, and turn him going!”
Orlando’s feverish fantasy overwhelms him, and his youthful passion demands some expression—so he fastens poems to trees. He has anointed leaves of paper with ink, each proclaiming the merits of his fair lady. They flutter in the shade, stirred by the gentle breezes beneath the spreading green boughs of Arden.
Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love! he thinks, as he posts the last one—last only because he has run out of paper. He gazes at the waxing moon. And thou, thrice-crownèd queen of night, survey with thy chaste eye, from thy pale sphere above, thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway!
O Rosalind! These trees shall be my books, and in their barks my thoughts I’ll character, so that every eye which in this forest looks shall see thy virtue witnessed every where! He draws his knife, now a novitiate’s nib.
Run, run, Orlando!—carve on every tree the fair, the chaste and ineffable she!
The sheep, now Mistress Aliena’s, graze quietly. Wiry Corin, hands folded around his long oaken crook as he leans against it, queries the fool.
“And how like you this shepherd’s life, Master Touchstone?”
The veteran of palace comforts is divided. “Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd’s life, it is nought! In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private,”—lacking the perquisites of office, “it is a very vile life!
“Now, in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious! As is it a spare life, look you, it fits my mood well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach!
“Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd?”
Corin eyes the placid flock. “No more than I know that the more one sickens, the worse at ease he is; and that he who wants money, means, and contentment is without three good friends.”
He considers further, nibbling at a long blade of grass. “That the property of rain is to wet, and of fire to burn; that good pasture makes fat sheep; and that a great cause of the night is lack of the sun.” He strokes his beard, watching the jester. “That he who hath no wit earnèd by nature nor by art may argue good breeding. Or, he comes of a very dull kindred.”
“Such a one is a natural philosopher,” says Touchstone. “Wast ever in court, shepherd?”
“Then thou art damnèd.”
“Nay, I hope!”
“Truly, thou art damned like an egg ill-roasted, all on one side!”
“For not being at court? Your reasoning?”
Touchstone syllogizes: “Why, if thou never wast at court, thou never sawest good manners; if thou never sawest good manners, then thy manners must be wicked; and wickedness is sin—and sin is damnation!” His head wags gravely, jangling the bells on his fool’s cap. “Thou art in a perilous state, shepherd!”
“Not a whit, Touchstone,” laughs Corin. “Those that are good manners at the court are as ridiculous in the country as the behavior of the country is most mockable at the court! You told me you salute not at the court, but you kiss your hands; that courtesy would be uncleanly, if courtiers were shepherds.”
“Instance”—explanation, “briefly; come, instance!”
“Why, we are ever handling our ewes, and their pelts, you know, are greasy.”
“Well, do not your courtier’s hands sweat? And is not the grease of a mutton as wholesome as the sweat of a man?” Touchstone’s cap jingles again. “Shallow, shallow! A better instance, I say! Come!”
“Besides, our hands are hard—”
“Your lips will feel them the sooner. Shallow again! A more sounder instance; come.”
“—and they are often tarrèd over, from the surgery on our sheep! Would you have us kiss tar?”—used to close wounds. “The courtier’s hands are perfumed, with civet.”
Touchstone laughs. “Most shallow man indeed! Thou worm’s-meat, in respect of a good piece of flesh, perpend, and learn from the wise: civet is of a baser birth than tar!—the very uncleanly flux of a cat! Mend the instance, shepherd!”
Corin smiles, knowing that the jester will never be gainsaid. “You have too courtly a wit for me! I’ll rest.”
But Touchstone craves exercise for his cleverness. “Wilt thou rest damnèd? God help thee, shallow man! God make incision in thee!—thou art raw!”—like meat to be scored for broiling.
Corin regards him calmly. “Sir, I am a true laborer: I earn what I eat, hunt for what I wear; owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness—glad of other men’s good, content with my harm. And the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze, and my lambs suckle.”
The fool is silent—moved, briefly, in spite of himself, by the old man’s peaceful sagacity. Touchstone recovers by resorting to a favorite satiric vein: concupiscence. “That is another simple sin in you!—to bring the ewes and the rams together, and to offer to get your living by the copulation of cattle!—to be bawd to a bell-wether, and to betray a she-lamb of a twelvemonth to a crooked-pated, cuckoldly old ram, out of all reasonable match!
“If thou beest not damned for that, the Devil will have himself no shepherds!” He spreads his hand, eyebrows rising in mock sympathy. “I cannot see else how thou shouldst ’scape!”
But Corin, ever comforted by the rod and the staff, only laughs, unscathed. He looks toward the woods. “Here comes young Master Ganymede, my new mistress’s brother.”
Rosalind—now looking ruddy and robust as that gentleman, thanks to the field’ sunshine—walks slowly toward the two men, staring down intently at several scraps of paper.
Deepening her voice, she reads aloud:
“‘From the East to western Inde,
No jewel is like Rosalind!
Her worth, being mounted on the wind,
Through all the world bears Rosalind!
All the pictures fairest lined
Are but dark to Rosalind!
Let no fair be kept in mind
But the fair of Rosalind!’”
Touchstone is wincing, genuinely pained by the doggerel. “I’ll rhyme you so eight years together!—dinners and suppers, and sleeping-hours excepted. It is a right butter-woman’s prank at market!”—call to customers.
“Out, fool!” says Rosalind, puzzled but flattered by the verse.
The jester cannot resist meeting—lewdly—his own challenge: “For a taste—
“If a hart do lack a hind,
Let him seek out Rosalind!
If the cat will after kind,
So, be sure, will Rosalind!
Winter garments must be lined;
So must slender Rosalind!
They that reap must sheaf and bind—
Then to cart with Rosalind!
Sweetest nut hath sourest rind;
Such a nut is Rosalind!
He that sweetest rose will find
Must find Love’s prick in Rosalind!”
Piqued, she flushes—and hopes that Corin won’t notice it.
Touchstone examines a few of the poems. “This is the very false gallop of verses! Why do you infest yourself with them?”
“Peace, you dull fool! I found them on a tree—”
“Truly, the tree yields bad fruit!”
Ganymede grins. “I’ll graft it with you, and then I shall graft it with a medlar”—a fruit soft enough to be eaten only when nearly spoiled. “Then it will be the earliest fruit i’ the country! For you’ll be rotten”—a play on rutting—“ere you be half ripe!—and that’s the true virtue of the meddler!”
He nods, amused by the apt retort. “You have said,” he laughs. “But whether wisely or no, let the forest judge!”
Rosalind spots Celia. “Peace! Here comes my sister—reading.” She wants the lady’s opinion. “Stand aside,” Ganymede tells the men.
Celia joins them, bringing another of Orlando’s rhymes; Aliena reads aloud:
“‘Why should this a desert be?
Because it is unpeopled?
No!—tongues I’ll hang on every tree,
That shall civil sayings show:
Some, how briefly the life of man
Runs his erring pilgrimage—
That the stretching of a span
Buckles in his sum of age;
Some, on violated vows
’Twixt the souls of friend and friend.
But upon the fairest boughs,
Ere every sentence end,
Will I Rosalinda write,
Teaching all that read to know
The quintessence of every sprite
Heaven would in little show!
Therefore Heaven Nature chargèd,
That one body should be filled
With all graces wide-enlargèd!
Nature presently distilled
Helen’s cheek, but not her heart,
Atalanta’s better part,
Sad Lucretia’s modesty—
Thus Rosalind of many parts
By heavenly synod was devised,
Of many faces, eyes, and hearts,
To have the touches dearest prized!
Heaven would that she these gifts should have—
And I to live and die her slave!’”
“O most gentle Jupiter!” cries Rosalind looking skyward, “what tedious homily of love have you wearied your parishioners withal!—and never cried, ‘Have patience, good people!’”
“How now?” Celia is concerned that Ganymede’s strong response could compromise Rosalind’s disguise. “Back, friends, Shepherd, go off a little; go with him, sirrah,” the lady tells Touchstone.
He affects indignation over sirrah. “Come, shepherd,” he says haughtily, “let us make an honourable retreat; though not with bag and baggage,”—a taunt tossed at the brother and sister, “yet with scrip and scribbling!” He strides into the open field, sorting through the poems with disgust. Corin follows, and soon urges the bleating sheep on to new pasturage.
“Didst thou hear those verses?” asks Celia.
“Oh, yes, I heard them all—and more, too: for some of them had in them more feet than the verses would bear!”—too busy a poetic meter.
“That’s no matter;: the feet might bear the verses away.”
“But the feet were lame,” Rosalind stresses, “and could not bear themselves, let alone the verse, and therefore stood lamely in the verse.”
“But didst thou hear without wondering how thy name should be hanged and carvèd upon these trees?”
“I was seven of the nine days of wonder!”—amazed, “before you came. For look, here, what I found on a pine tree!” She pulls the poem from a pocket.
After a moment, Celia looks up from the paper—with a knowing smile. “Trow you who hath done this?”
“Is it a man?”
“With a chain about his neck that you once wore! Change you colour?”
“I prithee, who?”
“Oh, Lord, Lord, it is a hard matter for friends to meet!”—share understanding. Celia laughs. “Even mountains may be removèd with earthquakes, and so encounter!”
“Nay, but who is it?”
Celia shakes her head, smiling. “Is it possible?”
“Nay, I prithee now with most petitionary vehemence, tell me who it is!”
Celia doubles over with laughter. “Oh, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderfully wonderful! And yet again wonderful—and after that, out of all whooping!”
Rosalind tries, red-faced, to argue over Celia’s laughter: “Look at my complexion! Dost thou think, because I am caparisoned like a man, I have the doublet-and-hose in my disposition? One inch more of delay is a South Sea of discovery! I prithee, tell me who it is—quickly, and speak apace!”
But Celia can’t stop laughing.
“I would thou couldst stammer,” says Rosalind, “so that thou mightst pour this concealèd man out of thy mouth as wine comes out of a narrow-mouthèd bottle—either none at all or too much at once! I prithee, take the cork out of thy mouth, that I may drink thy tidings!”
“So you may put a man in your belly!” laughs her cousin.
“Is he of God’s making? What manner of man? Is his head worth a hat, or his chin worth a beard?”
“Nay, he hath but a little beard!”
“Well, God will send more, if the man will be thankful—but let me wait for the growth of his beard, if thou deny me now the knowledge of his chin!”
“It is young Orlando!—who trippèd up the wrestler’s heels and your heart, both in an instant!”
“Nay, but the devil take mocking!” cries Rosalind. “Speak!—serious brow, and true, maid!”
“I’ faith, coz, ’tis he!”
Rosalind had forsaken hope of finding a suitor in the country—and now she learns Orlando is here! But suddenly her eyes widen: “Alas the day! What shall I do, in my doublet and hose?
“What did he when thou sawest him? What said he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes he here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word!”
Celia laughs heartily. “You must borrow me Gargantua’s mouth first!—’tis a word too great for any mouth of this age’s size! To say aye and no to these particulars is more than to answer in a catechism.”
“But doth he know that I am in this forest? And in man’s apparel!” she groans. “Looks he as fresh as he did the day he wrestled?”
“It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the proportions of a lover!” says Celia. “But take a taste of my finding him, and relish it with good observance: I found him under a tree, like a droppèd acorn—”
“It may well be called Jove’s tree, when it drops forth such fruit!” sighs Rosalind.
“Give me audience, good madam.”
“There lay he, stretched along, like a wounded knight—”
“Though it be pity to see such a sight,” Rosalind interrupts, “it well becomes that ground!”
“Cry ‘hold’ to thy tongue, I prithee; it curvets unseasonably!” Celia pauses to remember. “He was furnished like a hunter—”
“Oh, ominous! He comes to kill my hart!” cries the taller lady, touching at her heart.
Celia, hands on hips, frowns comically. “I would sing my song without a burden!”—refrain. “Thou bringest me out of tune!”
Rosalind protests: “Do you not know I am a woman?—when I think, I must speak! Sweet, say on!”
“You bring me out—” But now Celia is startled: “Soft! Comes he not here?”
“’Tis he!” gasps Rosalind. “Slink by, and note him!”
They are quickly hidden behind some luxuriant bushes.
The gentlemen are finding each other noisome: Orlando, who savors the precious kind of pain in a chivalrous kind of love; and the novice fool, who prizes being prickly.
“I thank you for your company,” sniffs Jacques, “but i’ good faith I had as lief have been by myself, alone.”
“And so had I. But yet for fashion’s sake I thank you, too, for your society,” Orlando retorts.
“God be wi’ you. Let’s meet as little as we can.”
“I do desire we may be better strangers.”
“I pray you, mar no more trees with writing love-songs in their barks.”
“I pray you, mar no more of my verses with reading them ill-favouredly!”
“Rosalind is your love’s name?”
“I do not like her name.”
“There was no thought of pleasing you when she was christened.”
“What stature is she of?” asks Jacques.
“Just as high as my heart!”
“You are full of pretty answers! Have you not been acquainted with goldsmiths’ wives, and conned them out of rings?”—learned trite, engraved epigrams.
Orlando replies in kind: “Not so; I but answer your right-painted cloth,”—wall-hangings with homely maxims, “from whence you have studied your questions!”
“You have a nimble wit; I think ’twas made of Atalanta’s heels!”—for it is soon gone. But the iconoclast is not eager to depart; alone, a fool has only himself to taunt. “Will you sit down with me?—and we two will rail against our mistress the world, and all our misery!”
“I will chide no breather in the world but myself, against whom I know most faults,” says Orlando.
“The worst fault you have is to be in love,” argues Jacques.
“’Tis a fault I will not exchange for your best virtue,” says Orlando, starting to go. “I am weary of you.”
“By my troth, I was seeking for a fool when I found you,” says Jacques sourly; he had in fact been looking for Touchstone.
“He is drownèd in the brook; but look in and you shall see him.”
Jacques scoffs. “There I shall see mine own figure.”
“Which I take to be either a fool or a cipher!”—a nothing.
“I’ll tarry no longer with you,” snaps Jacques. “Farewell, good Signior Love!” He walks away, into the woods.
“I am glad of your departure,” says Orlando, reversing a customary greeting. “Adieu, good Monsieur Melancholy!”
Still hidden, Rosalind whispers mischievously to Celia: “I will speak to him like a saucy lackey, and under that habit play the knave with him!” She steps forward, coming up behind Signior Love. “Do you hear, forester?”
“Very well,” replies Orlando, turning to see a young gentleman, followed by a young gentlewoman. “What would you?”
“I pray you, what is’t o’clock?” asks the man.
“You should ask me what time o’ day; there’s no clock in the forest.”
“Then there is no true lover in the forest; else sighing every minute and groaning every hour would detect the lazy foot of Time as well as a clock!”
Orlando finds talking about love disturbing but delightful; he would provoke more of it. “And why not the ‘swift’ foot of Time! Had not that been as proper?”
“By no means, sir! Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.” Ganymede raises an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal—and who he stands still withal.”
“I prithee, whom doth he trot withal?”
“Marry, he trots hard with a young maid between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnized: if the interim be but a se’nnight, Time’s pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven years!”
“Who ambles Time withal?”
“With a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not the gout: for the one sleeps easily because he cannot study, and the other lives merrily because he feels no pain!—the one lacking the burden of lean and wasteful learning, the other knowing no burden of heavy, tedious penury. These Time ambles withal.”
Orlando enjoys this respite from heartache. “Whom doth he gallop withal?”
“With a thief to the gallows—for though he go as slowly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there!”
“Who stays it still withal?”
“With lawyers in the vacation, for they sleep between term and term, and then they perceive not how Time moves.”
Orlando smiles at the pleasant notion of idle, harmless barristers. “Where dwell you, pretty youth?”
“With this shepherdess, my sister; here in the skirts of the forest, like fringe upon a petticoat.”
“Are you native of this place?”
Rosalind nods. “As the cony”—rabbit—“that you see dwell where he is kindled.”
“Your accent is something finer than you could purchase in so removèd a dwelling….”
Ganymede seems flattered. “I have been told so by many! But, indeed, an old, religious uncle of mine taught me to speak, one who was in his youth an inland man—one that knew courtship too well; for there he fell in love. I have heard him read many lectures against it, and I thank God I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as he hath generally taxed their whole sex withal!”
“Can you remember any of the principal evils that he laid to the charge of women?”
“There was none principal; they were all like one another as half-pence are, every one’s fault seeming monstrous—till its fellow fault came to match it!”
Orlando would welcome anything that might dull his longing. “I prithee, recount some of them!”
“No,” says Ganymede, “I will not cast away my physic but on those that are sick!
“There is a man who haunts the forest that abuses our young plants with carving ‘Rosalind’ on their barks—hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles—defiling all, forsooth, with the name of Rosalind! If I could meet that fancy-monger I would give him some good counsel, for he seems to have the quotidian of love upon him!”
Orlando spreads his arms. “I am he that is so love-shaken! I pray you, tell me your remedy!”
Ganymede, peers at him, skeptical. “There is none of my uncle’s marks upon you. He taught me how to know a man in love—in which cage of rushes I am sure you are not prisoner.”
“What were his marks?”
“A lean cheek, which you have not; an eye blue and sunken, which you have not; an unconversable spirit, which you have not; a beard neglected, which you have not—but I pardon you for that, for your stock of beard is simply a younger brother’s revenue.
“And your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied—everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation. But you are no such man; you are, rather, point-de-vice”—scrupulous—“in your accoutrements—more as loving yourself than seeming the lover of any other.”
Orlando is taken aback. “Fair youth, I would I could make thee believe I love!”
“Me believe it?—you may as soon make her that you love believe it!—which, I warrant, she is apter to do than to confess she does! That is one of the points in the which women ever give the lie to their thoughts!
“But, in good sooth, are you he that hangs the verses on the trees, wherein Rosalind is so admirèd?”
“I swear to thee, youth, by the white hand of Rosalind, I am that he—that unfortunate he!”
“But are you so much in love as your rhymes bespeak?”
“Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much!”
Ganymede frowns. “Love is merely a madness, I tell you; lovers deserve a dark house and a whip as well as madmen do! And the reason why they are not so punished and curèd is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love, too!” He casually adds a tempting note: “And yet I profess curing it, by counsel.”
Heartsick Orlando perks up. “Did you ever cure any so?”
“Yes, one; and in this manner: he was to imagine me as his love, his mistress; and I set him every day to woo me.
“At which time I would, seeming but moonish, aggrieve the youth: be effeminate, changeable—longing, then lacking—proud, fantastical, apish, shallow, inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles—for every passion something, and for no passion truly anything! As boys and women are for the most part cattle of that colour, I would now like him, now loathe him; then entertain him, then forswear him; now weep for him, then spit at him!
“Thus I drove my suitor from his mad mood of loving to a living mood of madness—which was to forswear the full stream of the world, and to live in a nook, merely monastic.
“And thus I cured him!” Ganymede faces Orlando. “And this way will I take upon me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep’s heart, so that there shall not be one spot of love in’t!”
“I would be curèd, youth!”
“I could cure you if you would but call me Rosalind, and come every day to my cottage and woo me.”
“Now, by the faith of my love, I will! Tell me where it is.” Orlando, despairing of any real relation with the lady, can accept this palliative simulacrum.
“Go with me to it, and I’ll show it you; and along the way you shall tell me where in the forest you live. Will you go?”
“With all my heart, good youth!”
“Nay, you must call me ‘Rosalind.’ Come, Sister, will you go?”
Orlando, following Ganymede and Aliena to their cottage, thinks about “Rosalind”—the ethereal being that lives in his imagination.
Unseen in the flickering shadows of the greenwood, where it faces onto a broad meadow, Jacques lurks among the elms, watching carefully to learn the ways of his courtly and contentious counterpart.
Touchstone, itching in his woolen motley under the summer sun, is trying to accommodate a recurrent wish—desire, more precisely—for a woman.
“Come apace, good Audrey! I will fetch up your goats, Audrey,” he says, jostling the uruly animals along, and wrinkling his nose at their pungent stench.
“And now, Audrey?—am I the man yet? Doth my simple feature content you?”
“Your features! Lord warrant us!—what features?”
“I am here, with thee and thy goats, just as the most capricious poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths,” says Master Touchstone, who misses the palace mightily.
- Thinks Jacques, listening, O knowledge ill-inhabited! Worse than Jove in a thatchèd house!—a god in a hovel.
Touchstone grumbles, “When a man’s verses cannot be understood, nor a man’s good wit seconded by the forward child understanding, it strikes the man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room!”—quiescence after sex is termed a death. “Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical!”
“I do not know what ‘poetical’ is,” dull Audrey tells him. “Is it honest in deed and word?—is it a true thing?”
“No, truly, for the truest poetry is the most feigning! Lovers are given to poetry, and of what they swear it may be said: by poetry do they feign.”
Audrey frowns. “Do you wish, then, that the gods had made me poetical?”
“I do, truly—for thou swearest to me thou art honest; now, if thou wert a poet, I might have some hope thou didst feign!” Touchstone has long viewed virginal purity as pernicious; and, often in alliance with wine, he has striven to correct it.
“Would you not have me honest?”
“No, truly!—unless thou wert hard-favoured”—plain, or worse. “For honesty coupled to beauty is to have honey as sauce to sugar!”
- A material fool! thinks Jacques with admiration.
“Well, I am not fair,” says Audrey, “and therefore I pray the gods make me honest.”
“Truly,” says Touchstone, admiring her buxom shape. “And to cast away honesty upon a foul slut were to put good meat into an unclean dish!”
“I am not a slut,” she notes mildly, “though I thank the gods I am foul.” Allure, she knows, breeds temptation.
“Well, praisèd be the gods for thy foulness! Sluttishness may come hereafter,” he says, in that hope. “But be it as it may be, I will marry thee,” he announces, “and to that end I have been with Sir Oliver Martext, the vicar of the next village, who hath promised to meet me in this piece of the forest, and to couple us!”
- Jacques stifles a laugh. I would fain see this meeting!
“Well, may the gods give us joy,” says newly betrothed Audrey happily.
“Amen!” says Touchstone. He glances around at the scrub, the grass and the goats. A man might, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what, though? Courage!
Even his dread of cuckolding has been quelled. While horns are odious, they are necessary. It is said, ‘Many a man knows no end of his goods.’ Right!—many a man has good horns, and knows no end of them! Well, that is the dowry of his wife; ’tis none of his own getting!
Horns! he thinks glumly. Even so. Poor men alone? No, no!—the noblest deer hath them as huge as the young buck.
Is the single man therefore blessed? No!—as a wallèd town is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a married man more honourable than the bare brow of a bachelor! And by as much as a fence is better than no stall, by so much is a horn more precious than wanting! Touchstone, sick of doing without, is resigned, and now consigned, to marriage as the cynic views it. “Here comes Sir Oliver.”
The stout country clergyman, shaded by a broad-brimmed hat, clamps a heavy black Bible to his side.
“Sir Oliver Martext, you are well met!” cries the fool. “Will you dispatch us”—the term echoes execute—“here under this tree,” he asks dryly, “or shall we go with you to your chapel?”
“Is there none here to give the woman?” asks the cleric.
“I will not take her as gift of any man!”
“Truly, she must be given,” says the good vicar, “or the marriage is not lawful.”
So Jacques comes forward, as if just arriving. “Proceed, proceed! I’ll give her!”
“Good even, good Master What-ye-call’t!” cries Touchstone.. “How do you, sir? You are very well met! God ’ield you for your fast company!—I am very glad to see you!”
“Even a toy in hand here, sir?” asks Jacques, smiling at Audrey and removing his plumed hat.
“Nay, pray be covered,” says Touchstone, as if the courtesy were for him.
Jacques, who avoids closeness of any sort, feels compelled to challenge the jester’s decision. “Will you be married, Motley?”
Touchstone shrugs. “As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires; and as pigeons peck, so wedlock would be nibbling.”
Jacques detests ceremony—and so he takes it very seriously. “But will you, being a man of your breeding, be married under a bush, like a beggar?
“Get you to church, and have a good priest who can tell you what marriage is! This fellow will but join you together as they join wainscot!—then one of you will prove a shrunken panel, and, like green timber, warp, warp!”
The clown is considering. I am of the mind but that I were better to be married by him than by another; for he is not likely to marry me well, and not being well married will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife….
“Go thou with me,” Jacques tells him, “and let me counsel thee!”
Touchstone acquiesces. “Come, sweet Audrey,” he says. “We must be married, or we must live in bawdry.” She thinks he’s reaffirming commitment; he thinks either way would be fine.
“Farewell, good Master Oliver,” the fool tells the minister. “Not ‘O sweet Oliver, O brave Oliver, leave me not behind thee!’”—as in a ballad popular with young women, “but ‘Wind away, begone, I say, I will not to wedding with thee!’”
Jacques leads the couple, as they drive the goats, in a rank, dusty and disorderly procession.
Sir Oliver Martext is left unperturbed. Tis no matter, he thinks. Ne’er a fantastical knave of them all shall flout me out of my calling!
The pastor proceeds with dignity back to his own, somewhat less lecherous, flock.
Plaints, Pleas, Pluck
Aliena finds bold Ganymede sitting, sullen, under a drooping willow beside their cottage close to the forest’s edge.
“Never talk to me,” moans Rosalind. “I will weep!”
“Do, I prithee.” Celia looks around, to see if they’re being observed. “But yet have the grace to consider that tears do not become a man….”
“But have I not cause to weep?” demands disguised Rosalind. She is soon to meet with the man she loves—for the purpose of persuading him not to love her.
“As good cause as one would desire!—therefore weep!”
“This very hair is of a dissembling colour!”
“Somewhat browner than Judas’s.”—which was red. She tries to ease her friend’s suffering: “It may be that his kisses are Judas’s own children.”—betrayers.
Rosalind protests, “I’ faith, his hair is of a good colour!”
“An excellent colour! Your chestnut was ever the only colour,” says Celia wryly.
“And his kissing is as full of sanctity as the touch of holy bread!”—Communion.
“He hath bought a pair of cast lips of Diana”—a plaster relic of the virginal moon goddess. “A nun of Winter’s sisterhood kisses not more religiously—the very ice of chastity is in them!”
“And why did he swear he would come this morning, but comes not?” wails Rosalind.
“Aye!—certainly, there is no truth in him!”
“Do you think so?”
“I think he is not a pick-purse nor a horse-stealer—but as for his verity in love, I do think him as concave as a covered goblet or a worm-eaten nut!”
“Not true in love?”
“Yes—when he is in,” says Celia, “but I think he is not in.”
“You have heard him swear downright he was!”
Celia shrugs. “‘Was’ is not ‘is.’ Besides, the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster: they are both the confirmers of false reckonings.
“He attends here in the forest on the duke—your father,” she points out.
Rosalind smiles. “I met the duke yesterday, and had much question with him. He asked me of what parentage I was. I told him, of as good as he!—so he laughed and let me go!”
Still, she will not be denied a lover’s rightful portion of woe: “But what talk we of fathers, when there is such a man as Orlando!”
Celia is annoyed by the swain’s tardiness. “Oh, that’s a brave man! He writes brave verses, speaks brave words, swears brave oaths—and breaks them bravely!—quite traversely, athwart the heart of his lover, like a puisny tilter”—cowardly jouster—“that spurs his horse but breaks its stride—yet like a noble goes!
“But all’s brave that youth mounts and folly guides.” She hears steady footsteps from behind the cottage. “Who comes here?”
Corin rounds the corner. “Mistress and master, you have oft inquired after the shepherd that complained of love, whom you saw sitting by me on the turf, praising the proud, disdainful shepherdess that was his mistress….”
Aliena nods. “Well, and what of him?”
Corin grins. “If you will see a pageant truly played between the pale complexion of true love and the red glow of scorn and proud disdain, go hence a little! And I shall conduct you, if you will mark it.”
Rosalind is eager. “Oh, come, let us remove! The sight of lovers feedeth those in love!
“Bring us to this sight,” Ganymede urges the shepherd, “and you shall say I’ll prove a busy actor in their play!”
Silvius hurries into the sunshine from a dim and quiet dell to plead with a shepherd girl who is gazing out over the bright, buzzing meadow stretching wide before her.
“Sweet Phoebe, do not scorn me!—do not, Phoebe! Say that you love me not, but say not so in bitterness! The common executioner, whose heart the accustomed sight of death makes hard, falls not the axe upon the humbled neck but first begs pardon! Will you sterner be than he that dies and lives by bloody drops?”
As he moves toward Phoebe, Rosalind, Celia and Corin, concealed by the shaded forest’s green brush, listen.
“I would not be thine executioner,” Phoebe insists. “I fly thee because I would not injure thee.”
But, as he knows, she must tend the flock and cannot flee; her angry look now betrays a change of heart—and not the one he wants.
“Thou tell’st me there is murder in mine eye,” she complains. “’Tis pretty, surely, and very probable, that eyes—which are the frail’st and softest things, who shut their coward gates on atomies!—should be called tyrants, butchers, murderers!”
She glares. “Now I do frown on thee with, all my heart!—and if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee! Now counterfeit to swoon!—why, now fall down! Or if thou canst not—oh, for shame, for shame!—lie not, saying mine eyes are murderers!”
She steps closer. “Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee! Scratch thee with but a pin and there remains some scar of it; lean upon but a rush, the cicatrice and capable impressure thy palm some moment keeps. But know: mine eyes, which I have darted at thee, hurt thee not! No! I am sure there is no force in eyes that can do hurt!”
Silvius regards her sorrowfully. “Oh, dear Phoebe, if ever—and that ever may be near!—you meet in some fresh cheek the power of fancy, then shall you know the wounds invisible that love’s keen arrows make!”
“But till that time, come not thou near me! And when that time comes, afflict me with thy mocks, pity me not. Until that time, I shall not pity thee!”
Striding out of the woods, Rosalind—or, rather, the masculine spirit of Ganymede—rejects her rejection. “And why, I pray you? Who might be your mother, that you insult and exult, all at once, over the wretched?
“What?—though you have no beauty—as, by my faith, I see no more in you than without candle may go dark to bed—must you therefore be proud and pitiless?”
Phoebe flushes—but she is staring, responding with fascination to the manly affronts.
Ganymede sees it. “Why, what means this?” he asks. “Why do you look on me? I see no more in you than in the ordinary run of nature’s sale-work….
“’Od’s my little life!—I think she means to tangle my eyes, too!” he tells Aliena. He wags a finger before Phoebe. “No, ’faith, proud mistress, hope not after it! ’Tis not your inky brows, your black-silk hair, your bead-like eyeballs, nor your cheek of cream, that can entame my spirits to your worship!”
Ganymede turns to Silvius. “You, foolish shepherd!—wherefore do you follow her like a foggy souther, puffing with wind and rain? You are a thousand times a properer man than she a woman; ’tis such fools as you that makes the world full of ill-favourèd children! ’Tis not her mirror but you that flatters her—and out of you she sees herself more proper than any of her lineaments can show her!”
Ganymede addresses the captivated Phoebe strongly and confidently. “But, mistress, know yourself! Down on your knees and fasting, thank heaven for a good man’s love! For I must tell you, friendly in your ear: sell when you can!—you are not for all markets. Cry ‘Mercy!’ to the man!—love him—take his offer! Foul is most foul in being a scoffer!
“So take her to thee, shepherd.” Rosalind turns to go. “Fare you well.”
Now Phoebe speaks. “Sweet youth, I pray you, chide a year altogether!—I had rather hear you chide than this man woo!”
Ganymede is annoyed. “He’s fallen in love with your foulness,” he tells her, “and she’s all in love with my anger!” he tells Silvius. “If it be so, as fast as she answers thee with frowning looks, I’ll sauce her with bitter words!
“Why look you so upon me?” he asks Phoebe, further peeved.
“For no ill will I bear you!” says the shepherdess coyly.
“I pray you, do not fall in love with me,” warns Rosalind, “for I am falser than vows made in wine! Besides, I like you not,” she says haughtily. Ganymede tells the other man, who may need further advice, “If you will know my house, ’tis at the tuft of olive trees here hard by.
“Will you go, Sister? Shepherd, ply her hard! Come, Sister.
“Shepherdess, look on him better, and be not proud! Though all the world could thee see, none could be so abusèd in sight as he!
“Come, to our flock,” Ganymede commands, leading the way back. Within the woods, his sister giggles and Corin chuckles; the “pageant” has proven more lively than they expected.
Phoebe’s sheep wander away slowly as she stands, contemplative, remembering a line—“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”—from a play by the late Christopher Marlowe. Dead shepherd, now I find thy saying of might!
“Hm? What say’st thou, Silvius?”
“Sweet Phoebe, pity me!”
“Well, I am sorry for thee, gentle Silvius,” she now tells him.
“Wherever sorrow is, relief would be!” he says, hopefully. “If you do sorrow at my grief in love, by giving love, your sorrow and my grief were both extermined!”
“Thou hast my love,” she says casually. “Is not that neighbourly?”
“I would have you!”
“Why, that were covetousness,”—greed, “Silvius.” She thinks for a moment. “The time was that I hated thee, and it is not yet that I bear thee love; but since that thou canst talk of love so well, thy company, which erst was irksome to me, I will endure.
“And I’ll employ thee, too; but do not look for further recompense than thine own gladness that thou art employed.”
The pathetic beggar grovels: “So holy and so perfect is my love, and I in such a poverty of grace, that I shall think it a most plenteous crop to glean the broken stalks after the man who the main harvest reaps! Loose now and then a scattered smile, and that I’ll live upon!”
Phoebe contains her contempt—with difficulty. She studies her dirty fingernails. “Know’st thou the youth that spoke to me erewhile?”
“Not very well, but I have met him oft; and he hath bought the cottage and the bounds that the old Carlot once was master of.”
“Think not I love him, though I ask about him,” she says. “’Tis but a peevish boy—yet he talks well. But what care I for words? Yet words do well when he that speaks them pleases those that hear.”
She paces, considering. “He is a pretty youth; not very pretty. Certainly he’s proud; and yet his pride becomes him—he’ll make a proper man! The best thing in him is his complexion—and faster than his tongue did make offence, his eye did heal it up!
“He is not very tall; yet for his years he’s tall. His leg is but so-so—and yet ’tis well. There was a pretty redness in his lip—a little riper and more lusty red than that mixèd in his cheek; ’twas just the difference between the constant red and mingled damask….”
Phoebe starts on her scheme. “There be some women, Silvius, had they markèd him in parcels as I did, would have gone near to fallng in love with him; but, for my part, I love him not, nor hate him not,” she claims.
“And yet I have more cause to hate him than to love him,” she tells Silvius shrewdly. “For what had he to do to chide at me? He said mine eyes were black and my hair black—and, now I am rememberèd, scorned at me! I marvel why I answered not again!
“But that’s all one; omittance is no quittance! I’ll write to him a very taunting letter—and thou shalt bear it! Wilt thou, Silvius?”
“Phoebe, with all my heart!”
“I’ll write it straight; the matter’s in my head and in my heart. I will be bitter with him, and surpassingly short!
“Go with me, Silvius!”
Instruction on Matrimony
Ganymede and Aliena, meandering not far from the duke’s cordial cavern in the Forest of Arden, encounter Jacques this morning. “I prithee, pretty youth,” says he, “let me be better acquainted with thee.”
Rosalind has already heard about him. “They say you are a melancholy fellow.” Jacques prefers that to sanguine, phlegmatic or choleric, the others of four humours postulated in antiquity.
“I am so; I do love it better than laughing.”
Ganymede is forward with his opinion: “Those that are in extremity of either are abominable fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure—worse than drunkards!”
“Why, ’tis good to be grave and say nothing!” argues Jacques—who has never been known to say nothing.
“Why then ’tis good to be a post!”
Jacques is voluble about his presumed diffidence: “I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation, nor the musician’s, which is fantastical, nor the courtier’s, which is proud, nor the soldier’s, which is ambitious, nor the lawyer’s, which is politic, nor the lady’s, which is careful, nor the lover’s, which is all these!
“But it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects and, indeed, from the contemplation of my sundry travels—my rumination upon which often wraps me in a most miserable sadness.”
“A traveler? By my faith, you have great reason to be sad!” Ganymede tells him. “I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men’s! To have seen much, and thus to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands!”
Jacques frowns. “Yet I have gained by experience—”
“And your experience makes you sad! I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad—and have to travel for it, too!”
The usually sanguine Orlando greets Ganymede, addressing the youth, as he agreed, by a woman’s name: “Good day and happiness, dear Rosalind!” He sweeps off his plumed hat with an elegant flourish and bows.
The two gentlemen’s earlier exchanges, quite mannered, have irked blunt Jacques. “Nay, then, God be wi’ you, if you’ll talk in blank verse!” He goes his own way, leaving the lovers to persist in their respective impostures.
Rosalind is still annoyed with Orlando, so Ganymede’s attention follows the vanishing Jacques. “Farewell, Monsieur Traveler! Look that you lisp, and wear strange suits; disable all the benefits of your own country, be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are, or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola!
“Why, how now, Orlando?—where have you been all this while? You, a lover? An you serve me such another trick, never come in my sight more!”
“My fair Rosalind, I come within an hour of my promise,” Orlando points out, to the man who is serving as her surrogate.
“Break an hour’s promise in love? He that will divide a minute into a thousand parts, and break not a part of a thousandth part of a minute in the affairs of love—it may be said of him that Cupid hath clapped him o’ the shoulder, and I’ll warrant him heart-whole!”
“Pardon me, dear Rosalind!”
“Nay, an you again be so tardy, come no more in my sight! I had as lief be wooed by a snail!”
“By a snail?”
“Aye, by a snail!—for though he comes slowly, he carries his house on his head!—a better jointure, I think, than you make a woman! Besides, he brings his destiny with him.”
“Why, horns!—which such as you are fain to be beholding to your wives for. But he comes armèd in his fortune,”—already wearing it, “and so forestalls the slandering of his wife!”
But Orlando takes fidelity very seriously. “Virtue is no horn-maker—and my Rosalind is virtuous!”
“And I am your Rosalind,” says Ganymede.
“It pleases him to call you so, but he hath a Rosalind of a better leer than you,” Aliena interjects dryly.
Ganymede wants to proceed with the regimen of remedy. “Come, woo me, woo me; for now I am in a holiday humour, and likely enough to consent! What would you say to me now, an I were your very, very Rosalind?”
Orlando smiles happily. “I would kiss before I spoke!”
“Nay, you were to better speak first; then, when you were graveled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to kiss,” Ganymede advises. “Very good orators, when they are out,”—of things to say, “will spit; but for lovers lacking matter, God warrant us, the cleanliest shift is to kiss.”
“How if the kiss be denied?”
“Then she puts you to entreaty—and there begins new matter!”
Orlando is hardly afraid of having nothing to say. “Who could be out, being before his belovèd mistress?”
Ganymede’s earthy Rosalind plays on the word out as not in in the most satisfying way. “Marry, that should you be, if I were your mistress!” she cries in mock indignation, “or I should think my honesty”—morality—“ranker than my wit!”
But this suitor, whose thinking is innocent, is puzzled. Should be out. “What, of my suit?”
“Not out of your apparel—and yet out of your suit!”—denied sex.
Orlando, who would be suing for love, is crestfallen.
Ganymede pouts. “Am not I your Rosalind?”
“I take some joy to say you are, because I would be talking to her….”
Ganymede’s Rosalind turns fickle: “Well, in her person I say I will not have you!”
Orlando replies sadly. “Then in mine own person I die.”
“No, ’faith, die by attorney!” demands Ganymede. “The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man who died in his own person, videlicit, for a love-cause!
“Troilus had his brains dashed out with a Grecian club; yet he did what he could to die before—and he is one of the patterns of love!
“Leander, he would have lived many a fair year, though Hero”—his lady—“had turned nun, if it had not been for a hot midsummer night; for, good youth, he went forth but to wash him in the Hellespont, and, being taken with a cramp, was drownèd. But the foolish coroners of that age found it was over Hero of Sestos!
“But those are all lies! Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them—but not for love!”
“I would not have my right Rosalind be of this mind,” says Orlando, “for, I protest, her frown might kill me!”
Ganymede denies lethality in female faces: “By this hand, it will not kill a fly!” The lady realizes that her reply echoes one of Phoebe’s. “But come; now I will be your Rosalind in a more coming-on disposition—and ask me what you will, I will grant it.”
His eyes meet hers. “Then love me, Rosalind.”
She blinks—and blushes. But Ganymede adopts a roguish stance. “Yes, ’faith, will I—Fridays and Saturdays and all!”
“And wilt thou have me?”
“Aye—and twenty such!”
Orlando is startled. “What sayest thou?”
Rosalind raises her eyebrows. “Are you not good?”
“I hope so.”
“Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?” She motions Aliena toward them. “Come, Sister, you shall be the priest and marry us! Give me your hand, Orlando! What do you say, Sister?”
“Pray thee, marry us!” urges Orlando; marriage is an essential part of his fantasy.
Aliena is seemingly facing two men. “I cannot say the words!”
Ganymede, pretending not to understand, teases: “You must begin, ‘Will you, Orlando—’”
Aliena laughs. “Go to! Will you, Orlando, have to wife this Rosalind?”
“Aye, but when?” asks Ganymede’s Rosalind.
“Why, now!—as fast as she can marry us!”
“Then you must say, ‘I take thee, Rosalind, for wife.’”
Orlando says, “I take thee, Rosalind, for wife!”
“I might ask you for your commission,” the bride quibbles. “But I do take thee, Orlando, for my husband!” She says with a knowing look, “There’s a girl goes before the priest; but certainly a woman’s thought runs before her actions!”
“So do all thoughts,” says the childlike Orlando. “They are wingèd.”
Ganymede challenges: “Now tell me how long you would have her after you have possessed her.”
“For ever and a day.”
“Say ‘a day’ without the ‘ever,’” insists Ganymede. “No, no, Orlando!—men are April when they woo, December when they wed!
“Maids are May when they are maids—but the sky changes when they are wives! I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen, more clamorous than a parrot against rain, more new-fangled than an ape, more giddy in my desires than a monkey! I will weep over nothing, like Diana in the fountain—and I will do that when you are disposed to be merry; I will laugh like a hyena—but that when thou art inclined to sleep!”
Orlando frowns. “But will my Rosalind do so?”
“By my life, she will do as I do!”
“Oh, but she is wise—”
“Or else she could not have the wit to do this! The wiser, the waywarder,” insists Ganymede. “Make the doors fast against a woman’s wit, and it will out at the casement; shut that, and ’twill out at the key-hole; stop that, ’twill fly with the smoke out at the chimney!”
Orlando laughs. “A man that had a wife with such a wit, he might say, ‘Wit, whither wilt?’”—Whither wilt thou go next, an expression of exasperation.
Another meaning of wilt occurs to Ganymede. “Nay, you might keep that check for it till you’ve met your wife’s wit going to your neighbour’s bed!”
“And what wit could Wit have to excuse that?” he demands.
“Marry, to say she came to seek you there!” Ganymede shakes his head. “You shall never take her without her answer unless you take her without her tongue! Oh, that woman who cannot make her fault her husband’s occasion, let her never nurse her child herself, for she will raise it like a fool!”
But now Orlando must interrupt their pastime. “For these two hours, Rosalind, I will leave thee,” he says apologetically.
“Alas! Dear love, I cannot lack thee two hours!”
“I must attend the duke at dinner,” Orlando explains. “By two o’clock I will be with thee again.”
“Aye, go your ways, go your ways!” moans Rosalind theatrically. “I knew what you would prove!—my friends told me as much, and I thought no less! That flattering tongue of yours won me!” Posturing, she brings the back of a wrist to her forehead. “’Tis but one cast away!—and so, come, Death!”
She fixes him with a stern look. “Two o’clock is your hour?”
“Aye, sweet Rosalind.”
Ganymede is a harsh healer: “By my troth—and in good earnest, and so God mend me, and by all pretty oaths that are not dangerous!—if you break one jot of your promise, or come one minute behind your hour, I will think you the most pathetical break-promise, and the most hollow lover—and the most unworthy of her you call Rosalind that may be chosen out of the gross band of the unfaithful!
“Therefore beware my censure, and keep your promise!”
“With no less religion than if thou wert indeed my Rosalind! So, adieu!”
“Well, Time is the old justice that examines all such offenders; then let Time judge. Adieu,” she says. He strides toward the cave, where he will dine with his woodland host—her father.
As soon as he’s out of earshot, Celia begins a vigorous scolding: “You have simply misused our sex in your love-prate! We must have your doublet and hose plucked up over your head, and show the world what the bird hath done to her own nest!”
But Rosalind is in ecstasy—too giddy to hear. “Oh, coz, coz, coz!—my pretty little coz, that thou didst know how many fathom deep I am in love! But it cannot be sounded!—my affection hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal!”
“Or, rather, bottomless,” laughs Celia, “so that as fast as you pour affection in, it runs out!”
“No!” Rosalind’s love has only grown; she invokes Cupid: “That same wicked bastard of Venus that was begot of thought, conceived of spleen, and born of madness!—that blind, rascally boy that abuses everyone’s eyes because his own are out!—let him be judge how deep I am in love!
“I’ll tell thee, Aliena, I cannot be out of the sight of Orlando! I’ll go find a shadow, and sigh till he come!”
Celia bespeaks her own interlude: “And I’ll sleep.”
Once again the old forest has yielded up sustenance for those whom fortune and misfortune have brought together here. Noble lords and gentlemen, now hunters all, gather at the glade in appreciation of fresh venison.
“Which is he that killed the deer?” asks Jacques.
“Sir, it was I!” says a bowman in green and brown; the archer nods to acknowledge the others’ applause, their shouted cheers.
“Let’s present it to the duke like a Roman conqueror,” says Jacques. “And it would do well to set the deer’s horns upon his head, as a branch of victory….”
But the hunters only laugh.
“Have you no song, forester, for this purpose?” demands Jacques of the lutenist, with ceremonial pomposity, as if he were marshaling the sylvan ceremony.
“Yes, sir!” Lord Amiens soon has his instrument ready for midday revels.
“Sing it!” commands Jacques, with a regal wave. “’Tis no matter how it be in tune, so it make noise enough,” he mutters, stalking away and abandoning the familiar ritual.
The gentlemen of the wildwood, led by Amiens, join in a hearty, unruly chorus of fraternal enthusiasm:
“What shall he have, that killed the deer?
Its leather skin, and horns to wear!
Then sing him home!—
The rest shall bear his burden!” laugh the men, at the wry implication.
“Take thou no scorn to wear the horn;
It was a crest ere thou wast born!
Thy father’s father wore it,
And thy father bore it—
The horn, the horn, the lusty horn
Is not a thing to laugh to scorn!”
“How say you now? Is it not past two o’clock?” a peevish Rosalind asks Celia, as they wait in the woods. “And here’s much Orlando!” she says with scornful irony.
They have seen the duke’s followers depart from the green at the cavern’s mouth after the noonday meal. “I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain, he hath ta’en his bow and arrows” says Celia, “—and is gone forth to sleep!” The gentlewomen keep watching the clearing. “Look who comes here.”
Silvius approaches Ganymede with a tightly folded paper in hand. “My errand is to you, fair youth. My gentle Phoebe bid me give you this.” Rosalind opens the letter and glances over it.
“I know not the contents,” says Silvius, “but, as I guess by the stern brow and waspish action which she did use as she was writing it, it bears an angry tenor! Pardon me,” he says to the young gentleman, “I am but guiltless, as a messenger.”
Ganymede is amazed: “Patience herself would be startled by this letter, and play the swaggerer! Bear this, bear all!
“She says I am not fair,”—attractive, “that I lack manners! She calls me proud—and says 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?” Ganymede’s eyes narrow as his gaze transfixes Silvius. “Well, shepherd, well?—this is a letter of your own device!”
“No, I protest! I know not the contents!” cries the poor swain. “Phoebe did write it!”
“Come, come, you are a fool, and turnèd into the extremity of love! I saw her hand!—she has a leathern hand, a freestone-coloured 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!”
“It is surely hers!” insists Silvius.
Ganymede glares at the paper. “Well, ’tis a boisterous and a cruel style!—a style for challenges! Why, she defies me like barbarian to believer! Woman’s gentle brain could not drop forth such giant-rude invention, such charcoal words, blacker in their effect than in their countenance!”
Ganymede reads further; Silvius and Celia wait for further fulmination.
“Will you hear the letter?”
“So please you, for I never heard it yet,” says Silvius—adding sadly, “Yet heard too much of Phoebe’s cruelty….”
Ganymede is wrathful. “She Phoebes me! Mark how the tyrant writes: ‘Art thou a god to shepherd turned, that a maiden’s heart hath burned?’ Can a woman rail thus?”
Silvius, in jealous pain, asks, “Call you that railing?”
Ganymede 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; but by him seal up thy mind”—send a decision—“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 is crushed. “Call you this chiding?” he groans.
Celia touches his arm. “Alas, poor shepherd!”
“Do you pity him?” cries Ganymede. “No, he deserves no pity!
“Wilt thou love such a woman?” he demands of Silvius. “What?—making thee an instrument, and playing false strains upon thee! Not to be endurèd!
“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 better company.”
Silvius, miserable, of course, as is his wont, slips away—but he chews his lip, thinking.
Looking intently at Ganymede and his sister, a gentleman wearing the finely trimmed apparel of a landed squire approaches. “Good morrow, fair ones! Pray you, do you know: where in the purlieus of this forest stands a sheep-cote fenced about with olive trees?”
Celia quickly steps forward and answers, as bright-eyed Aliena: “West of this place, the murmuring stream left on your right hand,”—kept north of you, “brings you to a place down in the neighbour bottom, and to the rank of osiers. But at this hour the house doth keep itself; there’s none within.”
The handsome visitor regards them carefully. “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 shorter and browner than her brother.’ Are not you the owner of the house I did inquire for?”
Celia nods, smiling warmly. “It is no boast, being asked, to say we are.”
“Orlando doth commend him to you both; and to that youth he calls his Rosalind he sends this bloody bandana. Are you he?”
“I am,” says Ganymede, turning pale. “What must we understand by this?”
“Some of my shame,” he says, “ if you will know of me what man I am, and how, and why, and where this handkerchief was stainèd.”
“I pray you, tell it!” cries Celia, staring at the cloth.
The gentleman begins. “When last the young Orlando parted from you, he left a promise to return again within an hour; but pacing through the forest, chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy, lo what befell him!
“He threw his eye aside, and mark what object did present itself: under an oak whose boughs were mossèd 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!—which with its head nimble in threats approached the opening of his mouth!
“But suddenly, seeing Orlando, it unlinked itself, and with indented glide did slip away into a bush!
“—Under which bush’s shade a lioness, with udders all drawn dry”—and thus ravenous, after nursing cubs—“lay crouching, head on ground, in catlike watch for when 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!”
“Oh, I have heard him speak of that same brother,” exclaims Celia, “and he did render him the most unnatural that lived amongst men!”
“And well he might so do, for well I know he was unnatural,” says the stranger sadly.
“But as to Orlando,” says Ganymede. “Did he leave him there?—food to the sucked and hungry lioness!”
“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—which quickly fell before him!
“During which, startled from miserable slumber, I awakened.”
Celia’s surprise and dismay are apparent on her face. “Are you his brother?”
“Was’t you he rescued?” asks Ganymede.
“Was’t you that did so oft contrive to kill him?” demands Celia.
“’Twas I—but ’tis not I,” says Oliver, earnestly. “I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.”
Rosalind feels weak, and Ganymede shows it. “But as for this bloody ’kerchief?”
“By and by,” says Oliver, needing to explain fully. “When from the first to last betwixt us two, tears our recountments had most kindly bathèd, as to how I came into that lonely place—”
He sees his companions’ impatient looks. “In brief, he led me to the gentle duke, who gave me fresh array and hearing, committed me unto my brother’s love. Who led me instantly unto his cave, there stripped himself—and there upon his arm the lioness had torn some flesh away, which all this while had bled! And now he fainted—and cried out, in fainting, upon Rosalind!
“Briefly: I recovered him, bound up his wound. And, after some small space, being strong at heart, he sent me hither, stranger as I am, to tell his story, that you might excuse his broken promise—and to give this ’kerchief, dyed in his blood, unto the shepherd youth that he, in sport, doth call his Rosalind.”
Orlando—injured and bleeding—but, thinking of her, suffering over a broken promise! Rosalind faints.
Aliena kneels beside her: “Why, how now, Ganymede? Sweet Ganymede!”
Oliver crouches and rubs the young man’s slender hands vigorously. “Many will swoon when they do look on blood,” he tells the sister kindly.
“There is more to it,” Aliena assures him. She touches the young man’s cheek. “Cousin!” she says—before remembering. “Ganymede!” Rosalind stirs.
“Look,” says Oliver, “he recovers.” They help him to stand.
Ganymede, overwhelmed, is weak. “I would I were at home,” he moans.
“We’ll lead you thither,” says Aliena. “I pray you, will you take him by the arm?”
Oliver does so. “Be of good cheer, youth!” he says, steadying the lad who has been accommodating his own brother’s fond fantasy. “You, a man?—you lack a man’s heart,” he chides—gently, to encourage him, with a challenge to masculine pride.
“I do so, I confess it,” says Ganymede. “Oh, sirrah, a body would think this was well counterfeited,” he mumbles, as Rosalind straightens up, and squares her shoulders. She laughs—feebly. “I pray you, tell your brother how well I counterfeited….”
“This was not counterfeit,” says Oliver, moved by the devotion of Orlando’s young friend. “There is too great testimony in your complexion that it was a passion of earnest!”
“Counterfeit, I assure you,” the youth claims, his voice still weak.
Oliver smiles and brushes dust off the back of Ganymede’s coat. “Well, then, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a man!”
“So I do! But, i’ faith, by right I should have been a woman!”
“Come, you look paler and paler!” warns Aliena, as Rosalind’s disguise sags. “Pray you, draw homewards!” She looks at Oliver. “Good sir, go with us,” she urges, smiling.
“That will I,” he says, “for I must bear answer back how you excuse my brother, Rosalind.”
“I shall devise something,” she/he/she tells Oliver. “But, I pray you, commend my counterfeiting to him! Will you go?”
At the deep forest’s border, Touchstone walks along the path beside a bright meadow. “We shall find a time, Audrey,” he tells his affianced. “Patience, gentle Audrey.”
Says she, resenting Jacques’s meddling comments on her nuptials, “’Faith, the priest was good enough, for all the old gentleman’s saying.”
“A most wicked Sir Oliver, Audrey, a most vile Martext!” counters the fool. “But, Audrey, there is a youth here in the forest lays claim to you….”
“Aye, I know who ’tis. He hath no interest in me in the world!” she says, disdainfully. “Here comes the man you mean.”
William, a plain young country fellow, is ambling toward them on the narrow path.
Touchstone is gleeful; the rustic will serve well as a subject and target for his gibes. “It is meat and drink to me to see a clown! By my troth, we that have good wits have much to answer for!—we shall be flouting!—we cannot hold!”
William arrives. “Good even, Audrey,” he says, pulling off his dusty cap.
“God ’ye good even, William.”
“And good even to you, sir.”
“Good even, gentle friend!” says Touchstone, the soul of courtesy. “Cover thy head, cover thy head; nay, prithee, be covered! How old are you, friend?”
“Five and twenty, sir.”
“A ripe age! Is thy name William?”
“A fair name! Wast born i’ the forest here?”
“Aye, sir, I thank God.”
“‘Thank God’—a good answer! Art rich?”
“’Faith, sir, so so.”
“‘So so’ is good, very good, very excellent good! And yet it is not: it is but so-so. Art thou wise?”
“Aye, sir, I have a pretty wit.”
“Why, thou sayest well!” says Touchstone. But he adds, “I do now remember a saying: ‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’”
William, his mouth half open, blinks.
Touchstone looks at him and says, speaking slowly, his enunciation very precise, “The heathen philosopher, when he had a desire to eat a grape, would open his lips when he put it into his mouth—meaning, thereby that grapes were made to eat, and lips to open.”
He regards William carefully, as Audrey laughs. “You do love this maid?”
“I do, sir.”
“Give me your hand,” says Touchstone, seizing it. “Art thou learnèd?”
“Then learn this from me! To have is to have!—for it is a figure in rhetoric that drink, being poured out of a cup into a glass, by filling the one doth empty the other!
“Now, all your writers do consent that ‘ipse’ is he. Now, you are not ‘ipse’—for I am he!”
“Which he, sir?”
The fool explains, his voice growing louder as he tightens the grip on William’s hand. “He, sir, that must marry this woman!
“Therefore, you clown,” says Touchstone forcefully, glaring, “abandon—which is, in the vulgar, leave—the society—which in the boorish is company—of this female—which in the common is woman!
“Which together is: abandon the society of this female, or, clown, thou perishest!—or, to thy better understanding, diest!—or, to wit: I will kill thee!—make thee away!—translate thy liberty into bondage, thy life into death!” he cries. “I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel! I will not bandy with thee in faction—I will o’errun thee with policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways!
“Therefore tremble and depart!” he shouts, thrusting away the sore hand.
Says Audrey, “Do, good William.”
William seems to understand. “God rest you merry, sir.” He tips his cap to Audrey, and wanders away along the trail. He might find a new love, some day, he thinks.
But before Touchstone can savor triumph over the colorless rival for his goat-herd girl, Corin finds him—with an urgent summons from Ganymede and Aliena. “Our master and mistress seek you! Come, away, away!”
“Trip, Audrey, trip, Audrey!” urges Touchstone, tugging her by the hand. “I attend, I attend,” he tells Corin, as they hurry toward the cottage.
A Promise of Magic
Orlando asks his brother, as they walk in the Forest of Arden, “Is’t possible that on so little acquaintance you should like her?—that but seeing, you should love her?—and loving woo? And, wooing, she should grant? And will you persever to enjoy her?”
Oliver stops, and he offers sincere assurance: “Neither call the giddiness of it in question—the poverty of her, the small acquaintance, my sudden wooing—nor her sudden consenting—but say with me: I love Aliena!—say with her that she loves me! Consent with both, that we may enjoy each other!
“It shall be to your good—for my father’s house and all the revenue that was old Sir Rowland’s will I estate upon you, and here live and die a shepherd.” His contented smile makes clear that he harbors no reservation about his new love, nor his new life.
A linen sling across Orlando’s chest supports his left arm, but he shakes Oliver’s right hand heartily. “You have my consent! Let your wedding be tomorrow! Thither will I invite the duke and all his contented followers!
“Go you and prepare Aliena,” he urges, “for, look you, here comes my Rosalind!”
Ganymede greets Oliver as Aliena’s betrothed. “God save you, brother-in-law!”
“And you, fair sister-in-law!” says Monsieur De Bois happily. He bows, and goes to the cottage to confirm the morrow’s wedding ceremony with sprightly little Aliena—giving not a thought to how different she must be from the unseen lady he once thought to woo, Duke Frederick’s daughter.
“Oh, my dear Orlando,” says Ganymede, looking at the taut white cloth, “how it grieves me to see thee wear thy heart in a scarf!”
“It is my arm…..”
“I thought thy heart had been wounded—with the claws of a lion!”
“Wounded it is!—but by the eyes of a lady.”
Ganymede broaches a sensitive subject. “Did your brother tell you how I counterfeited to swoon when he showed me your kerchief?”
“Aye—and greater wonders than that!” He is delighted with Oliver’s surprising epiphany, and his sharing in a love.
Ganymede concurs. “Oh, I know where you are! Aye, ’tis true!—there was never anything so sudden but the fight of two rams—and Caesar’s thrasonical brag of ‘I came, saw, and overcame!’ For your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked, no sooner looked but they loved, no sooner loved but they sighed, no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason!”
He adds, wryly, in his role as exorcist of love, “No sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy! And by those degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage, which they will climb incontinent!”—without restraint. The young man offers a worldly-wise grin. “Or else be incontinent before marriage!
“They are in the very wrath of love, and they will together—clubs cannot part them!”
“They shall be married tomorrow,” proper Orlando assures Ganymede, “and I will bid the duke to the nuptial.” He sighs. “But, oh, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes! Tomorrow I shall be at the height of heart-heaviness, by as much the more as I shall think my brother happy in having what he wishes for.”
“Well then, tomorrow I cannot serve your turn for ‘Rosalind,’” Ganymede tells him.
Orlando nods mournfully. “I can live no longer by thinking.”
“I will no longer weary you, then, with idle talking.” Ganymede’s firm new tone commands attention as he steps forward, speaking gravely. “Know this of me—for now I speak to some purpose!
“I know you are a gentleman of good understanding, and I do not speak this so that you should bear a good opinion of my knowledge; so much, I say, I know you have. Neither do I labour for a greater esteem than may, in some little measure, draw belief from you to do yourself good, and not to grace me.”
Ganymede’s intense stare captures Orlando’s eyes. “Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things! I have, since I was three year old, conversèd with a magician!—one most profound in his art, and yet not damnable”—his magic being the good kind. “If you do love Rosalind so near the heart as your gesture cries it out, when your brother marries Aliena, you shall marry her!”
Orlando, stunned, starts to speak, but Ganymede raises a leather-gloved hand, demanding silence. “I know into what straits of fortune she is driven!—and it is not impossible for me, if it appear not too soon for you, to set her before your eyes tomorrow!—human as she is, and without any danger!”
Orlando stares, much amazed. “Speakest thou in sober meanings?”
“I do, by my life!—which I tender dearly, though I say I am a magician. Therefore, put you in your best array! Bid your friends! For if you wish to be married tomorrow, you shall be—and to Rosalind, if you will!”
As Orlando assimilates that dazzling possibility, Phoebe and Silvius approach the two gentlemen.
Says Ganymede sourly, “Look, here comes a lover of mine—and a lover of hers.”
Phoebe leads the way, and her challenge to Ganymede is strident: “Youth, you have done me much ungentleness, to show the letter that I writ to you!”
“I care not if I have!” replies Ganymede harshly. “It is my study to seem despiteful and ungentle to you! You are there followed by a faithful shepherd; look upon him, love him—he worships you!”
Phoebe seizes Silvius’s arm and brusquely pulls him forward. “Good shepherd, tell this youth what ’tis to love!”
“It is to be all made of sighs and tears,” he says. He looks down. “And so am I for Phoebe.”
“And I for Ganymede,” says Phoebe firmly.
“And I for Rosalind!” cries Orlando, immediately catching the spirit.
Says Ganymede, “And I for no woman!”
Silvius elucidates further: “It is to be all made of faith and service; and so am I for Phoebe.”
“And I for Ganymede,” says Phoebe.
“And I for Rosalind!” says Orlando.
“And I for no woman,” says Ganymede.
Silvius expands on the topic: “It is to be all made of fantasy, all made of passion, and all made of wishes—all adoration, duty, and observance; all humbleness; all patience and impatience, all purity, all trial, all observance. And so am I for Phoebe.”
“And so am I for Ganymede,” says she.
“And so am I for Rosalind,” says Orlando.
“And so am I for no woman,” says Ganymede.
Phoebe, content with Silvius’s performance, glares at Ganymede. “If this be so, why blame you me for loving you?”
Silvius pleads with Phoebe: “If this be so, why blame you me for loving you?”
“If this be so” moans Orlando, “why blame you me for loving you?”
Ganymede frowns. “To whom do you speak ‘Why blame you me to love you?’”
“To her that is not here nor doth not hear,” sighs Orlando sadly.
“Pray you, no more of this!” cries Ganymede, exasperated. “’Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon!
“I will help you,” he tells Silvius, “if I can.
“I would love you,” he tells Phoebe, “if I could.
Ganymede lifts a hand to halt the others. “Tomorrow meet me, all together!
“I will marry you if ever I marry woman,” he tells Phoebe, “—and I’ll be married tomorrow!
“I will satisfy you,” he tells Orlando, “if ever I satisfy man—and you shall be married tomorrow!
“I will content you,” he tells Silvius, “if what pleases you contents you—and you shall be married tomorrow!
“As you love Rosalind, meet!” he tells Orlando.
“As you love Phoebe, meet!” he orders Silvius.
“And as I love no woman, I’ll meet!
“I have left you commands,” says Ganymede imperiously. “So fare you well.”
Silvius nods. “I’ll not fail, if I live.”
“Nor I,” pledges Phoebe.
Orlando—despite doubts about the wizard’s wonderful promise—is the most hopeful. “Nor I!”
Songs Sung, Gifts Given
Romance comes, radiantly, into full bloom in the now seemingly charmed forest.
“Tomorrow is the joyful day, Audrey,” says Touchstone, surprised to feel content—even happy. “Tomorrow will we be married.”
“I do desire it with all my heart,” she replies, “and I hope it is no dishonest desire to desire to be a woman of the world!”—by which he infers, correctly, she means a wife instead of a virgin. “Here comes two of the banishèd duke’s pages.”
The older boy, thirteen and blond, bows courteously to the fool. “Well met, honest gentleman!”
“By my troth, well met!” says Touchstone. “Come, sit, sit!—and a song!”
“We are for you! Sit i’ the middle,” says the younger boy.
The elder asks his partner, as the man and woman seat themselves at the center of a long log, “Shall we clap into’t roundly, without hawking or spitting, or saying we are hoarse?—which are the prologues only to a bad voice.”
“I’ faith, i’ faith!” says the other, “and both in tune like two gypsies on a horse!”
“It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey and a ho and a hey-nonny no,
That o’er the green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding ding!
Sweet lovers love the spring!
Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey and a ho and a hey-nonny no,
These pretty country folks would lie,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding ding!
Sweet lovers, love the spring!
This carol they began that hour,
With a hey and a ho and a hey-nonny no,
How that a life was but a flower,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding ding!
Sweet lovers, love the spring!
And therefore take the present time,
With a hey and a ho and a hey-nonny no,
For love is crownèd with the prime,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding-a-ding ding!
Sweet lovers, love the spring!”
The entertainment completed, the fool is free to be he—so sarcasm breaks out. “Truly, young gentlemen, though there was no great matter in the ditty, yet the note was very untuneable!”
“You are deceived, sir!” The older boy is miffed. “We kept time; we lost not our time!”
“By my troth, yes,” says Touchstone. “I counted it—as but time lost to hear such a foolish song!” he gibes, handing the boy silver coins. “God be wi’ you—and God mend your voices!” He ignores the boys’ rude gestures. “Come, Audrey!”
The two stroll, hand in hand, toward the haven of the merry renegades, where their fates are to be joined.
The forest clearing before the Duke of Ardennes’s cavern looks quite festive this warm, sunny morning: all around, the sprightly Lord Amiens and his friends have hung trailing ivy and bright-green sprigs, boughs of elm and maple, and sprays of fragrant fir, along with bluebells from the meadow. Streamers of yellow cloth dangle, fluttered by zephyrs, atop poles, and from ropes strung between the tree limbs arching above.
Near the duke, Oliver and Aliena hold hands, utterly entranced with each other; Lord Amiens again checks the tuning of his lute; Jacques debates whether to bear witness to such vanities as have been promised—and Orlando paces, his heart pounding in eagerness.
“Dost thou believe, Orlando, that the boy can do all this that he hath promisèd?” asks the duke.
“I sometimes do believe, and sometimes do not, as those who fear do hope, yet know they fear!”
The convocation grows: Ganymede arrives, with Phoebe and Silvius in tow.
The young magician now summons together all those afflicted with love. “Patience once more, whiles our compact is urgèd.”
He turns to the duke and bows. “You say that if I bring in your Rosalind, you will bestow her on Orlando here?”
The nobleman has great faith in his capable daughter, wherever she is, and he has come to trust, even admire, Orlando. “That would I, had I kingdoms to give with her!” he says—with a pang, missing the lady’s vivacious charm.
“And you say you will have her, when I bring her?”
“That would I, were I of all kingdoms king!” says Orlando fervently.
Ganymede looks sternly at Phoebe. “You say you’ll marry me, if I be willing?”
“That will I, should I die the hour after!”
Ganymede presses: “But if you do refuse to marry me, you’ll give yourself to this most faithful shepherd?”
Phoebe can’t imagine such a refusal. “So is the bargain,” she nods.
Ganymede turns to Silvius. “You say that you’ll have Phoebe, if she will?”
“Though to have her and death were both one thing!” says Silvius.
Ganymede has everyone’s attention.
“I have promised to make all this matter even!
“Keep you your word, O duke, to give your daughter; you, yours, Orlando, to receive his daughter!
“Keep your word, Phoebe, that you’ll marry me, or else, refusing me, to wed this shepherd; keep your word, Silvius, that you’ll marry her, if she refuse me!
“And from hence I go, to make these doubts all even!” Ganymede bows, his sister curtseys, and together they stride away toward the cottage.
The duke watches, pensively, as they go. “I do remember, in this shepherd boy, some lively touches of my daughter’s favour….”
“My lord, the first time that ever I saw him methought he was a brother to your daughter!” Orlando tells him. “But, my good lord, this boy is forest-born, and hath been tutored in the rudiments of many disparate studies by his uncle, whom he reports to be a great magician, obscurèd by the circle of this forest.”
Jacques surveys the spectacle of linked lovers. “There is, surely, another Flood toward, and these couples are coming to the ark!” He is amused to see Touchstone, despite counseling, bringing Audrey. “Here comes a pair of very the strange beasts which in all tongues are called fools!”
“Salutation and greeting to you all!” cries Touchstone.
Jacques urges the duke, “Good my lord, bid him welcome! This is the motley-minded gentleman that I have so often met in the forest! He hath been a courtier, he swears!”
“If any man doubt that, let him put me to my purgation,” says Touchstone. He executes a deep, courtly bow. “I have trod a measure”—danced, “I have flattered a lady, I have been politic with my friend, smooth with mine enemy—I have undone three tailors! I have had four quarrels!—and like to have fought one.”
“And how was that ta’en up?” ask Jacques, eager for the tale.
“’Faith, we met, but found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause”—a stage just before combat.
“How seventh cause?” Jacques, delighted, looks to the duke. “ Good my lord, like this fellow!”
The nobleman smiles “I like him very well!”
“God ’ield you, sir, I desire the like of you,” Touchstone tells him. “I press in here, sir, amongst the rest of the country copulatives, to swear and to forswear, according as blood bends and marriage breaks.”
He pulls Audrey forward. “A poor virgin, sir—an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own! A poor humour of mine, sir, is to take that that no man else will! Rich honesty”—fidelity—“dwells like a miser, sir, in a poor house—as your pearl in your foul oyster!”
“By my faith,” laughs the duke, “he is very swift and contentious!”
Says Touchstone, “According to the fool’s bolt”—harmless dart, “sir, and such dulcet diseases.”
Jacques wants to hear the story of the defunct duel. “But as for the seventh cause—how did you find the quarrel to be on the seventh cause?”
“Upon a lie seven times removèd—Bear your body more seemly, Audrey!—as thus, sir:
“I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier’s beard. He sent me word: if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was. This is called the Retort Courteous.
“If I sent him word again it was not well cut, he would send me word that he cut it to please himself. This is called the Quip Modest. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he disabled my judgment; this is called the Reply Churlish. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he would answer I spake not true; this is called the Reproof Valiant. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he would say I lied; this is called the Countercheck Quarrelsome. And so to the Lie Circumstantial, and the Lie Direct.”
“And how oft did you say his beard was not well cut?” inquires Jacques.
“I durst go no further than the Lie Circumstantial,” Touchstone confesses, “nor he durst not give me the Lie Direct! And so we measured swords”—crossed them, but in empty display—“and parted.”
Jacques challenges the luminary: “Can you nominate, in order now, the degrees of the lie?”
“Oh, sir, we quarrel in print—by the book, as you have books for good manners!
“I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct. All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct—and you may avoid that, too, with an if.
“I knew of a quarrel that seven justices could not untie—but when the parties themselves were met, one of them thought of an if—as, ‘If you said so, then I said so.’ And so they shook hands, and swore to be brothers! Your if is the only peacemaker!—much virtue in if!”
Jacques laughs and claps. “Is not this a rare fellow, my lord? He’s as good at anything—and yet a fool!”
The duke delights in the bite of satire. “He uses his folly like a stalking horse,”—a stealthy surrogate, “and under the presentation of that, he shoots his wit!”
Then the soft sound of music—sweet voices of two boys, accompanied by tabor and flutes—floats up to still conversations.
Into the clearing strides Lord Amiens—draped in saffron cloth, crowned with roses set into a circlet of aromatic marjoram leaves, and holding aloft a pine torch—a portly, beaming image of Hymen, the Greek god of marriage.
Following him slowly are two beautiful, elegantly dressed ladies: Rosalind and Celia.
“Then is there mirth in heaven,” proclaims Hymen, coming forward, “when earthly things, made even, atone together!
“Good duke, receive thy daughter! Hymen from heaven brought her—yea, brought her hither that thou mightst join her hand with his—she whose heart within his bosom lies.”
Rosalind curtseys before her father. “To you I bring myself, for I am yours.”
She turns to Orlando. “To you I give myself, for I am yours!”
“If there be truth in sight,” says the duke, tears of happiness in his eyes, “you are my daughter!”
“If there be truth in sight, you are my Rosalind!” says Orlando, taking her hand.
All are delighted but Phoebe—who has recognized her Ganymede. “If sight and shape be true, why then, my love adieu!”
“I’ll have no father, if you be not he,” Rosalind says to the duke. “I’ll have no husband, if you be not he,” she tells Orlando, “nor ne’er wed woman, if you be not she,” she tells Phoebe, not unkindly.
“Peace, ho! I bar confusion!
’Tis I must make conclusion
Of these most strange events!
Here’s eight that must take hands
To join in Hymen’s bands,
If truth holds true contents!”
He stands before the four couples, arrayed in a semicircle before him.
“You and you, no cross shall part,” he tells Rosalind and Orlando.
“You and you are heart in heart,” he says to Celia and Oliver.
“You to his love must accord, or have a woman as your lord,” he advises Phoebe. She nods, and takes the hand of her enthralled gentleman.
Hymen laughs; Touchstone is already kissing an ardent Audrey. “You and you are sure together—as the winter to foul weather!”
And so the hearts all are joined, and brought into bliss.
The reigning spirit of marriage then speaks to them all:
“Whiles a wedlock hymn we sing,
Feed yourselves with questioning,
That reason wonder may diminish,
How thus we meet, and these things finish!”
Then, as the couples and friends share their stories, Hymen—who exchanges the torch for his lute—and the two boys provide songs for the foresters and guests.
While a sumptuous feast is laid out on the rough-hewn tables, they play some lively music. Amiens sings:
“Wedding is great Juno’s crown—
A blessèd bond of board and bed!
’Tis Hymen peoples every town;
High wedlock be then honourèd!
Honour, high honour and renown,
To Hymen, god of every town!”
The duke has found Celia. “Oh, my dear niece, well come art thou to me!—even as daughter welcome, in no less degree!”
Phoebe, thoroughly chastised, has spoken frankly with the now-more-serious Silvius. “I will not eat my word; now thou art mine.” Her face softens under his adoring gaze. “Thy faith my fancy to thee doth combine,” she assures him. He—at last—kisses her.
And now a stranger, a handsome young gentleman in the modest attire of a university student—one from Paris, perhaps—comes before the revelers. He raises a hand and calls for attention.
“Let me have audience for a word or two!” he cries. “I am the second son of old Sir Rowland, that bring these tidings to this fair assembly!
“Duke Frederick, hearing how that every day, men of great worth resort to this forest, assembled a mighty power—which were on foot, under his own conducting, purposely to take his brother here and put him to the sword!
“And to the skirts of this wild wood he came—where meeting with an old, religious man, after some question with him, was converted!—both from his enterprise and from the world! His crown he bequeathèd to his banished brother!—and all their lands restored to them again that were with him exilèd!
“This to be true, I do engage my life!” says Jacques de Bois, and he bows to the true lord of Ardennes.
“Welcome, young man!” cries the duke, mightily pleased. “Thou offer’st fairly to thy brothers’ wedding!—to one, his lands withheld; and to the other, the land itself at large, a potent dukedom!
“First, in this forest, let us do those ends that here were well begun, and well begot!
“And after, every one of this happy number that have endured harsh days and nights with us shall share the good of our returnèd fortune, according to the measure of their states!
“Meantime, forget this new-fall’n dignity, and fall into our rustic revelry!
“Play, music! And you, brides and bridegrooms all, with measures heapèd in joy, to the measures fall!”
As the melody drifts over them all, many voices clamor to deliver revelations—often to the ringing of laughter. They look forward to the dancing, the dining, the drinking—and a future filled with restored prosperity.
All, that is, but one.
“Sir, by your patience,” says Jacques of Arden to Jacques de Bois. “If I heard you rightly, the duke hath put on a religious life, and thrown into neglect the pompous court?”
“He hath,” nods the brother of Oliver and Orlando.
“To him will I,” says Jacques. “Out of those convertites there is much matter to be heard and learned!”
He faces the duke. Affecting a patronizing benevolence, he says, “I bequeath you to your former honour. Your patience and your virtue well deserve it.”
He tells Orlando warmly, “You to a love that your true faith doth merit.”
“You to your land, and love, and great allies!” he says to Oliver.
He smiles at Silvius. “You to a long- and well deservèd bed!”
“And you,” he tells Touchstone, grinning, “to wrangling!—for thy loving voyage is victualled for but two months!” Audrey, he has learned, is already expecting.
“So, to your pleasures!” says Jacques. He turns to go. “I am for other than for dancing measures.”
The duke entreats him, “Stay, Jacques, stay!”
Jacques shakes his head. “To see no pastime, I.” He bows. “What you would have I’ll wait to know at your abandoned cave.” And that is where he goes, to read.
“Proceed, proceed!” cries the duke. “We will begin these rites as we do trust they’ll end—in true delights!”
The tabors set a lively pace—and with no further prompting, the forester-courtiers and their friends begin a vigorous and most joyful dance.
This ephemeral glimpse of Arden must now dissolve. Rosalind comes forward.
“It is not the fashion to see the lady as the Epilogue—but it is no more unhandsome than to see a ‘lord’ as the Prologue! If it be true that good wine needs no bush,” as painted on a tavern sign, “’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet for good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues!
“What a case am I in then, that am neither a good Epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play?
“I am not furnished like a beggar; therefore to beg will not become me. My way is to conjure you!—and I’ll begin with the women.
“I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as pleased you!
“And I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women—as I perceive by your simpering, none of you hates them!—that between you and the women the play may please!
“If I were a woman,” asserts the youth playing the part of Rosalind on the stage, “I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me—and breaths that I defièd not!
“And, I am sure, as many as have good beards or good faces or sweet breaths will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell!”