Twelfth Night


by William Shakespeare

Presented by Paul W. Collins




© Copyright 2005 by Paul W. Collins





Twelfth Night

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 Twelfth Night. But Twelfth Night, 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 of Twelfth Night, 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.



Chapter One

Hearts Adrift


If music be the food of love, play on!” the nobleman tells his court musicians. “Give me excess of it, so that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and die!

Duke Orsino closes his eyes, letting the piquant tones of the lute pluck at his heart-strings, the wind instruments’ lilting melodies lift his spirits—briefly—and the deep, bowed stirrings of the bass viol, the viola di gamba, bring resonance to his soul.

“That strain again!—it had a dying fall—oh, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound that breathes upon a bank of violets, stealing and giving scent!”

Attended by several of his realm’s lords, the heartsick duke, handsome and healthy at thirty, languishes in a sunny room of his palace, high at the rocky point of a peninsula on Illyria’s western shore, across the sea from mid-16th century Italy.

He motions languidly. “Enough—no more; ’tis not so sweet now as it was before,” he moans, never satisfied these days, ever listless. “O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou, that, thy capacity notwithstanding, receiveth as the sea, so full of shape’s fancy that it alone is high fantastical!—nought enters there, of what validity and pitch soe’er, but falls into abatement and low price, even in a minute!”

“Will you go hunt, my lord?” asks a bored gentleman.

“What, Curio…?”

“The hart.”

The heart is central to Duke Orsino’s thought: “Why, so I do!—the noblest!

“That I have! Oh, when mine eyes did see Olivia first, methought she purged the air of pestilence! That instant was I turned into a hart—and my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, e’er since pursue me!”

He sees another of his courtiers, Valentine, enter the hall. “How now? What news from her?”

“So please my lord, I might not be admitted,” Valentine reports, bowing, “but from her handmaid do return this answer: the element itself”—the sky—“till seven years’ hence shall not behold her face at ample view; but, like a cloistress, she will veilèd walk, and water once a day her chamber round with eye-offending brine—all this to season a dead brother’s love, which she would keep fresh and lasting in her sad remembrance.”

As evening approaches, Duke Orsino gazes out the tall windows overlooking the ocean. Sunset’s warm beams slant through pink arrays of bright-edged clouds, and across the silver-crested waves shimmering on water of deepest blue.

“Oh, she that hath a heart of such fine frame to pay this debt of love to but a brother, how will she love when the rich, golden shaft”—he means Cupid’s arrow—“hath killed the flock of all affections else that live in her?—when desire, mind, and heart, those sovereign thrones, are all supplied, and fill her sweet perfections with one sole king!

“Away before me to sweet beds of flowers!” he tells the courtiers, waving toward the formal garden. “Love-thoughts lie rich, when canopied with bowers!”

Far below, dark, jagged rocks jut from the windy coast through a narrow stretch of drab, kelp-strewn sand. A noble lady out peers out over the sea, her once-elegant gown still dripping salt water. A hand held flat to shield her aching eyes salutes, sadly, the dimming red sun as it sinks toward the horizon. Again she searches the uninterrupted, steel-gray surface of the Adriatic.

Beside her stands a venerable sea captain, wet and shivering on the shore; around them are bedrabbled members of the crew from the wooden ship he commanded—which, within the hour, has sunk.

Viola turns to the downcast captain. “What country, friend, is this?”

“This is Illyria, lady.”

“And what should I do in Illyria?” she wonders aloud. “My brother, he is in Elysium,” she murmurs, imagining her twin in the fields of heaven. “Perchance he is not drowned. What think you, sailors?” she pleads. But the seamen look away, certain that the passenger is lost to the deep, along with their missing shipmates.

“It is per chance that you yourself were saved!” says the old captain, savoring, himself, the luck of survival.

“Oh, my poor brother! And so perchance may he be,” she says, again in tears.

True, madam. And, to comfort you with the chance, assure yourself that, after our ship did split, when you and those poor number saved with you hung upon our driven boat, I saw your brother, most provident in peril, bind himself—courage and hope both teaching him the practise—to a strong mast that lived upon the sea—where I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves, like Arion on the dolphin’s back,”—stay afloat, “so long as I could see!”

“For saying so, there’s gold,” says Viola gratefully, giving him ducats. “Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope—whereto thy speech serves for authority—of the like for him.” She looks around at the bleak coast, and up between the steep ravines of the cape.

“Know’st thou this country?”

“Aye, madam, well, for I was bred and born not three hours’ travel from this very place.”

“Who governs here?”

“A duke, noble in nature as in name.”

“What is the name?”

“Orsino.”

“Orsino… I have heard my father name him,” Viola remembers. “He was a bachelor then.”

“And so is now—or was so very late; for but a month ago I went from hence, and then ’twas fresh in murmur—as, you know, what great ones do, the less will prattle of—that he did seek the love of fair Olivia.”

“What’s she?”

“A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count that died some twelve months since, then leaving her in the protection of his son, her brother, who shortly also died—for whose dear love, they say, she hath abjured the company and sight of men.”

Viola, now a lonely castaway, needs refuge—and peaceful solace. “Oh, that I served that lady, and might not be delivered to the world till I had made mine own occasion mellow as to what my estate is….”

“That were hard to compass,” the grizzled mariner tells her, “because she will admit no kind of suit.” He shakes his head. “No,” he adds, definitively, “not even the duke’s.”

Standing in a crag’s darkening shadow, she ponders, watching as the glum sailors tread along the shore in a forlorn, desultory search for anything washed from their ship. But Viola is not one to be lost for long.

“There is a fair behavior in thee, captain,” she says, “and though Nature with a beauteous wall doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee I will believe thou hast a mind that suits with this thy fair and outward character.

“I prithee—and I’ll pay thee, bounteously—conceal what I am, and be my aid for such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent.

“I’ll serve this duke! Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him; it may be very worthy thy pains, for I can sing, and speak to him of music in many sorts that will avow me for his service.

“What else may hap to time I will commit; only shape thou thy silence to my wit.”

The kindly captain smiles, surprised at her ingenuity—and relieved to be able to help. “Be you his eunuch, and your mute I’ll be!—when my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see!”

“I thank thee,” says Viola. She turns from the sea. “Lead me forward.”

The captain signals his boatswain to take charge of their men, and begins picking his way up among the rocks toward the road leading into town. The young noblewoman follows.

As the shadows deepen, Viola glances back from the dusky path toward the palace atop the headland, home of the Duke of Illyria. She climbs the hill, deep in thought.


Inland, on an estate just east of the promontory, lamps and candles are being lighted in the ancestral home of Duke Orsino’s neighbor, Countess Olivia—a wealthy lady of twenty-nine, and the one he longs to court.

In her mansion this evening, the corpulent brother of Olivia’s late father complains to Mary, the lady’s waiting-gentlewoman. “What the plague means my niece, to take the death of her brother thus?” grumbles Sir Toby, much annoyed; her mourning continues to interfere with his carousing—although he is already inebriated this evening. “I am sure care is an enemy to life!

“By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o’ nights!” says Mary. “My lady, takes great exceptions to your ill hours.”

Sir Toby, long inured to harsh judgment, waves a hand imperiously. “Why, let her except—all before is excepted!”—a lawyerly term for not punished.

“Aye, but you must confine yourself within the modest limits of order.”

“Confine? I’ll confine myself no finer than I am! These clothes are good enough to drink in—and so be these boots, too! An they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps!”

“This quaffing and drinking will undo you!” Mary warns. “I heard my lady talk of it yesterday—and of the foolish knight that you brought in one night, here to be her wooer.”

“Who, Sir Andrew Ague-cheek?”

“Aye, he.”

“He’s as tall a man as any’s in Illyria!”

“What’s that to the purpose?”

Sir Toby clarifies: “Why, he has three thousand gold ducats a year!”

Mary scoffs. “Aye, but despite all those ducats he’ll have only the year; he’s a very fool, and a prodiga1 one.”

Fie that you’ll say so! He plays o’ the viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or four languages, word by word beyond their books”—ones unsuitable for printing, “and hath all the good gifts of nature.”

“He hath the need: he’s almost a natural!”—a dunce. “For besides that he’s a fool, he’s a great quarreller; and but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gusto he hath in quarrelling, ’tis thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave!

“By this hand, they are scoundrels and subtractors that say so of him,” growls Sir Toby. “Who are they?”

Mary’s eyes narrow; she’s chief detractor. “They that add, moreover, he’s drunk nightly in your company!”

“From drinking healths to my niece,” counters the knight indignantly. “I’ll drink to her as long as there is a passage in my throat and drink in Illyria!” he vows. “He’s a coward and a coystrill that will not drink to my niece till his brains turn o’ the toe like a parish top!”

But now the aging gallant hears the unsteady footsteps of his wealthy companion. “What, wench? Castiliano, vulgo”—speak elegantly, coarse one, “for here comes Sir Andrew Ague-face!”

Slender Andrew greets his portly, dissolute friend heartily: “Sir Toby!—belch!” The gentleman accommodates him roundly, to his delight. “How now, Sir Toby!”

“Sweet Sir Andrew!”

The knight, who is past sixty, turns a game smile to Mary—who is not. “Bless you, fair shrew!”

“And you, too, sir.”

Toby whispers, “Accost, Sir Andrew, accost!”

Among Andrew’s many failings is hearing. “What’s that?”

Another whisper: “My niece’s chambermaid….”

“Good Mistress Accost,” says Sir Andrew, now in pursuit, “I desire better acquaintance!”

“My name is Mary, sir.” The gentlewoman’s tone makes clear—it would to anyone but Andrew—that she is not a chambermaid.

Sir Andrew bows. “Good Mistress Mary Accost—”

“You mistake, knight,” hisses Sir Toby; “‘accost’ is front her, board her, woo her!—assail her!”

Andrew is nonplussed. “By my troth, I would not thus undertake her in company! Is that the meaning of ‘accost’?”

Mary flashes a glare at Toby, “Fare you well, gentlemen,” she tells the provocative rascal and his companion, and turns to leave.

Toby goads, from behind him, “An thou let her part so, Sir Andrew, would thou mightst never draw ‘sword’ again!”

Andrew heeds the prompt. “An you part so, mistress,” he tells her, “I would I might never draw sword again! Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand?”

“Sir, I have not you by the hand.”

“Marry, but you shall have,” says Andrew, “and here’s my hand!”

Mary makes a face. “Now, sir, ‘thought is free’”—think as you like. But he moves closer and grasps her hand. “I pray you, move your hand to the buttery bar, and let it drink!”—a ribald gratify yourself.

Andrew blinks, puzzled. “Wherefore, sweet heart? What’s your metaphor?”

“It’s dry, sir,” she tells the wizened old man.

“Why, I think so,” nods dim Andrew, examining his other palm. “I am not such an ass but I can keep my hand dry. But what’s your jest?

Mary laughs. “A dry jest, sir!”

“Are you full of them?” he asks, a bit piqued.

Aye, sir,” says she, “I have them at my fingers’ ends! Marry, now that I let go your hand, I am barren!” With that, she takes her leave.

Toby quickly commiserates with the crestfallen Andrew. “Ah, knight, thou lackest a cup of canary!”—wine. “When did I ever see thee so put down?

“Never in your life, I think—unless when you’ve seen canary put me down,” says dejected Sir Andrew, of his favorite sweetened drink. He shakes his head. “Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has. But I am a great eater of beef,” he confesses, “and I believe that does harm to my wit”—a common belief among Englishmen.

“No question.”

“An I thought that, I’d forswear it,” claims Andrew; but he’d hardly consider renouncing the roast. The disconsolate visitor looks down at his shoes; the wear they show is not from dancing. “I’ll ride home tomorrow, Sir Toby.”

Toby is genuinely concerned. “Pourquoi, my dear knight?”—Why?

“What is pourquoido or not do? I would I had bestowed that time on the tongues that I have on fencing, dancing and bear-baiting! Oh, had I but followed the arts!

Toby nods; but he has heard tongs—curling irons. “Then hadst thou had an excellent head of hair.”

“Why? Would they have mended my hair?

“Past question; for thou seest it will not curl by nature.”

“But it becomes me well enough, does’t not?”

Excellently: it hangs like flax on a distaff!”—like thin threads, ready to wind into yarn. Toby leans forward for a lewd jest. “And I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs and spin it off!

Sir Andrew, however, is now nearing sobriety. “’Faith, I’ll home tomorrow, Sir Toby. Your niece will not be seen—or if she be, it’s four-to-one she’ll none of me. The duke himself, here hard by, woos her.”

“She’ll none o’ the duke,” Toby assures him. “She’ll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit—I have heard her swear’t!” Toby’s saturnalia has been paid for by Andrew’s hopes; the visitor’s intention to woo must not be abandoned. “There’s life in’t, man!”

Sir Andrew, otherwise purposeless, yields. “I’ll stay a month longer.

“I am a fellow o’ the strangest mind i’ the world,” he admits, happily anticipating further joint merriment. “I delight in masques and revels, sometimes, altogether.”

“Art thou good at these kickshawses, knight?”

Andrew considers himself a fine dancer. “As any man in Illyria, whatsoever he be—under the degree of my betters; and I will not compare with a bold man.”

“What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?”—in steps fast but brief.

“’Faith, I can cut a caper!

“And I can cut the mutton to’t!”—the meat before the garnish, for rotund Sir Toby.

“And I think I have the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria!” boasts Andrew—although the dance term also suggests a prostitute’s skill.

“Wherefore are these things hid?” demands Toby, affecting dismay. “Wherefore have these gifts a curtain before ’em? Are they likely to take dust, like Mistress Nell’s picture?—why dost thou not go to church in a galliard?—and come home in a coranto!

My very walk should be a jig!—I would not so much as make water”—piss—“but in a sink apace!”—a jest on the cinque-pace step.

Toby persists warmly: “What dost thou mean? Is it a world to hide virtues in? I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was formèd under the star of a galliard!”

“Aye, ’tis strong,” Andrew allows, angling up and regarding a knobby, stick-like limb. “And it does indifferent well in a flame-coloured stocking.” His expression brightens. “Shall we set about some revels?”

“What shall we do else? Were we not born under Taurus?”

Sir Andrew pauses. “Taurus—that’s sides and heart….”

No, sir!” says Sir Toby the linguist and classical scholar, “it is legs and thighs!

“Let me see thee caper! Ha! Higher!” He laughs heartily, clapping as spindleshanks hops and flails. “Excellent!


Chapter Two

Courtship Assigned


Valentine smiles. “If the duke continue these favours towards you, Cesario, you are likely to be much advancèd—he hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger!”

He and Cesario—a sensitive young gentleman brought to the palace by a local sea-captain after they were cast ashore in a shipwreck—stand among the other courtiers waiting in the grand hall for Duke Orsino.

“You fear either his mood or my negligence, that you call in question the continuance of his love,” says Cesario/Viola. “Is he inconstant, sir, in his favours?”

No, believe me!”

“I thank you. Here comes the duke….”

Orsino returns from visiting his orchards with Curio and several servants. “Who saw Cesario, ho?” he calls from the double doors.

“On your attendance, my lord, here!

The duke hands his walking cane—merely an accessory—to a serving-man. “Stand you a while aloof, Cesario,” he says, taking the charming newcomer by the arm and moving aside for privacy. The nobleman has an assignment in mind.

“Thou know’st no less than all,” says Orsino. “I have unclasped to thee the book even of my secret soul! Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her! Be not denied access!—stand at her doors, and tell them there thy fixèd foot shall grow till thou have audience!”

“Surely, my noble lord, if she be so abandoned to her sorrow as it is spoken, she never will admit me.”

“Be clamorous, and leap all civil bounds rather than make unprofited return!” the duke tells him.

“Say I do speak with her, my lord; what then?”

“Oh, then unfold the passion of my love!—surprise her with discourse of my dear faith!” He admires the young gentleman’s wholesome, rosy-cheeked healthiness. “It shall become thee well to act my woes; she will attend it better from thy youth than a nuncio’s more-grave aspect.”

“I think not so, my lord—”

“Dear lad, believe it! For they still yet belie thy happy years who say thou art a man. Diana’s lip is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe”—he means voice—“is as the maiden’s organ, shrill in sound; and all is semblative of a woman’s parts. I know thy constellation is right apt for this affair!”

Orsino motions to the court. “Some four or five attend him—all, if you will; for I myself am best when least in company.” Nobody laughs; at least not aloud. “Prosper well in this,” he tells Cesario, “and thou shalt live as freely as thy lord, to call his fortunes thine!

“I’ll do my best to woo your lady,” promises Cesario.

But Viola thinks, dismayed, Yet a fearful strife!—whome’er I woo, myself would be his wife!


At Olivia’s tall mansion, Mary confronts the countess’s court fool, Feste, as they wait for the lady.

“Nay, either tell me where thou hast been, or I will not open my lips so wide as a bristle may enter, by way of thy excuse!” she warns. “My lady will hang thee for thy absence!”

“Let her hang me.” The young man’s smile is mischievous. “He that is well hung in this world need fear no colours!”

Mary frowns at the crudeness. “Make that good,” she demands.

So the clown evokes the noose: “He shall see none to fear!”

“A good Lenten answer!” she laughs. “And I can tell thee where the saying ‘I fear no colours’ was born of….”

“Where, good Mistress Mary?”

“In the wars.” Soldiers don’t fear banners—they fear those attacking under them. “And that you may be told to say in your foolery!”

Feste is unrepentant. “Well, God gives them wisdom that have it—but those that are fools, let them use their talents!

“You will yet be hanged for being so long absent—or be turned away!”—dismissed. “Is not that as good as a hanging to you?”

He looks thoughtful for a moment. “A good hanging prevents many a bad marriage. And as for turned away, let them who are bear it out.”

“You are resolute, then?” She still wants to know where he’s been.

“Not so, neither!” he laughs; marriage will entail many concerns. “But I am resolved on two points….”

Mary doesn’t want to discuss balls; and she, too, has a store of drollery. “That if one break, the other will hold; or if both break, your gaskins fall!” Two buttons’ loss would drop his trousers.

Apt, in good faith,” laughs the clown, “very apt!” He has been away, again, up at Duke Orsino’s—working in a second position, as it were; the hopeful bachelor needs more income. “Well, go thy way!” He adds, regarding her own prospects, “If Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert as witty a piece of Eve’s flesh as any in Illyria!”

Mary protests the flattery: “Peace, you rogue, no more o’ that!

She hears the approaching rustle of silk. “Here comes my lady! Make your excuse wisely, you were best!” she advises her younger friend, and hurries away.

Feste readies himself: Wit, an’t be thy will, put me into good fooling! Those wits that think they have thee do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man! For what says Quinapalus? ‘Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit!’

“God bless thee, lady!” says the jester, bowing, as Olivia arrives with her stern steward, Malvolio, and several attendants.

“Take the fool away,” she commands.

“Do you not hear, fellows?” says Feste imperiously. “Take away the lady!”

Olivia is peeved. “Go to!—you’re a dry fool! I’ll no more of you! Besides, you grow dishonest.”

The clown dismisses both allegations with a wave. “Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend. For, give the dry fool a drink and the fool is not dry!”—no longer thirsty. “Bid the dishonest man mend himself. If he mend, he is no longer dishonest!

“If he cannot, let the botcher”—tinkerer, one who repairs—“mend him! Anything that’s mended is but patched: virtue that transgresses is but patchèd sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. If this simple syllogism will serve, so,” he says, with complete assurance. “If it do not, what can remedy?

“As there is no cuckold but in true calumny, so beauty’s in a flower”—they exist only when recognized. He motions to the servants. “The lady bade take away the fool; therefore, I say again, take her away!”

Olivia, amused, still feigns anger; she tells Feste, “Sir, I bade them take away you!” Her attendants only watch, smiling.

Misprision in the highest degree!” he cries—bells jingling on his fool’s cap. “Lady, cucullus non facit monachum!”—a cowl doesn’t make a monk. “That’s as much as to say ‘I wear not motley in my brain!’ Good madam, give me leave to prove you a fool.”

“Can you do it?”

Dexterously, good madonna!”

“Make your proof.”

“I must catechise you for it, madonna; my good mouse of virtue, answer me.”

“Well, sir, for lack of other idleness, I’ll abide your proof.”

“Good madonna, why mournest thou?”

“Good fool, for my brother’s death.”

“I think his soul is in Hell, madonna,” he says solemnly.

“I know his soul is in Heaven, Fool,” she replies softly—and sadly.

“The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in Heaven! Take away the fool, gentlemen!”

Olivia’s eyes glisten. “What think you of this fool, Malvolio?” she asks. “Doth he not mend?”

“Yes—and shall need to, till the pangs of death shake him!” replies Malvolio sourly. He considers Feste an incorrigible miscreant. “Infirmity that decays the wise doth ever make the better fool!

Feste raises an eyebrow. “God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity for the increasing of your folly! Sir Toby will be sworn that I am no fox—but he will not pass his word for two-pence that you are no fool!

Olivia smiles in spite of herself. “How say you to that, Malvolio?”

He frowns. “I marvel Your Ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal. I saw him put down the other day as an ordinary fool that has no more brain than a stone! Look you now—he’s out of his ward already: unless you laugh, and minister occasion to him,”—offer openings for prepared retorts, “he is gagged.

“I protest that I take wise men who crow so at these ‘set’ kind of fools as no better than the fools’ zanies!”—their poor imitators.

Olivia only laughs. “Oh, you are sick with self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite! To be generous, guiltless, and of free disposition is to take those things for bird-bolts”—darts—“that you deem cannon-bullets!

“There is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do nothing but rail,” she says—adding, kindly, touching the steward’s sleeve, “nor no railing in a man known discreet, though he do nothing but reprove!”

Laughs the clown; “Now Mercury”—god of quick changeability—“endues thee with pleasing, for thou speakest well of fools!”

Mary returns, and curtseys to Olivia. “Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman who much desires to speak with you.”

“From the Duke Orsino, is he?”

“I know not, madam. ’Tis a fair young man!—and well attended.”

“Who of my people hold him in delay?”

“Your kinsman, madam—Sir Toby.”

The countess is alarmed. “Fetch him off, I pray you!—he speaks nothing but madman! Fie on him!” Mary hurries away, and Olivia frowns, annoyed. “Go you, Malvolio; if it be a suit from the duke, I am sick, or not at home—whatever you will to dismiss it.” The steward bows and heads toward the entrance.

Olivia shakes her head. “Now you see, sir, how some fooling grows old, and people dislike it!”

He protests being offered serious advice: “Thou hast spoken to me, madonna, as if to thine eldest son whose skull Jove crammed with brains!” He sees Sir Toby, extracted by Mary from his conversation at the door, ambling unsteadily toward them. “But here comes one of thy kin who has a most weak pia mater!”—mind.

“By mine honour, half drunk,” mutters Olivia. She asks Toby, “What is he at the gate, cousin?”

“A gentleman.”

“A gentleman. What gentleman?”

Toby thinks she disputes the description. He shrugs, “’Tis a gentle man here.” He releases a loud vocal emission. “A plague o’ these pickled herring!” He notices Feste. “How now, sot!”

“Good Sir Toby!”

“Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this… lethargy?” asks Olivia.

Sir Toby blinks. “Lechery? I define lechery!” He means defy. He attempts, futilely, to brush crumbs from the front of his doublet. “There’s one at the gate.”

Aye, marry!—what is he?” demands Olivia.

“Let him be the Devil if he will, I care not!—give me faith, say I!” he mumbles, staggering off to find replenishment. “Well, it’s all one….”

The countess frowns. “What’s a drunken man like, Fool?”

“Like a fool, a madman, and a drownèd man,” says Feste. “One draught above’s head makes him a fool; the second mads him; and a third drowns him.”

Olivia takes up the analogy: “Go then and seek the coroner, and let him sit o’ my coz,”—hold an inquest, “for he’s in the third degree of drink—he’s drowned!” She shakes her head. “Go, look after him.”

Feste bows. “He is but mad yet, madonna; and a fool shall look to a madman….” He follows after Sir Toby.

Malvolio returns, much vexed, from the portico. “Madam, yond young fellow swears he will speak with you! I told him you were sick; he takes on him to understand as much!—and therefore comes to speak with you! I told him you were asleep; he seems to have a foreknowledge of that, too, and therefore comes to speak with you!

“What is to be said to him, lady?—he’s fortified against any denial!”

Olivia has rarely seen her major-domo at a loss. “Tell him he shall not speak with me.”

“He has been told so!—and he says he’ll stand at your door like a sheriff’s post, or be the supporter of a bench, but he’ll speak with you!”

“What kind o’ man is he?”

Malvolio, distant and supercilious, is a poor judge of persons. “Why, of mankind,” he says—contemptuously.

“What manner of man?”

“Of very ill manner,” says Malvolio testily. “He’ll speak with you, will you or no!”

Olivia tries again: “Of what personage and years is he?”

“Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy—as a squash is before ’tis a peascod, or a codling when ’tis almost an apple—’tis with him in standing water between boy and man. He is very well-favoured, but he speaks very shrewishly; one would think his mother’s milk were scarce out of him.”

Olivia takes pity on the determined youth; she will let him say, upon returning to Orsino, that he succeeded in seeing her—but heard only another rejection. She smiles. “Let him approach. Call in my gentlewoman.”

Malvolio grits his teeth, further irked, and heads back to the entrance; passing the next room he speaks curtly: “Gentle woman, my lady calls.”

Mary returns to Olivia and curtseys.

“Give me my veil,” the countess tells her. Mary fetches it. “Come, throw it o’er my face.” Olivia’s lovely features are soon hidden behind the sheer, dark mesh; the visitor is to take no hint of encouragement back to the duke.

“We’ll once more hear Orsino’s embassy,” she says wearily, as they step outside to wait.


Chapter Three

Wooed—and Won


Viola, disguised as Cesario, strides into the bright courtyard. “The honourable lady of the house, which is she?” asks the boyish gentleman.

“Speak to me,” a veiled woman replies coldly. “I shall answer for her. Your will?”

Cesario begins with formal elegance: “Most radiant, exquisite and unmatchable beauty….” But the young man breaks from his recital and turns to Mary: “I pray you, tell me if this be the lady of the house, for I never saw her; I would be loath to cast away my speech, for, besides that it is excellently well penned, I have taken great pains to learn it!

“Good beauties, let me sustain no scorn; I am very sensitive, even to the least sinister usage….”

“Whence came you, sir?” asks Olivia.

“I can say little more than what I have studied, and that question’s outside my part. Good gentle one, give me modest assurance that you be the lady of the house, so I may proceed in my speech….”

The countess challenges: “Are you an actor?

No, by my profound heart!” laughs Cesario. Thinks Viola, And yet, in the very fangs of Malice I swear, I am not what I play! She asks again: “Are you the lady of the house?”

“If I do not usurp myself, I am.”

“Most certainly if you are she, you do usurp your self—for what is yours to bestow is not yours for reserving!” argues Cesario, annoyed by the veil; Viola wants to see the face Duke Orsino finds so attractive. “But this is apart from my commission.

“I will go on with my speech in your praise, and then show you the heart of my message.”

“Come to what is important in’t;” says Olivia briskly. “I forgive you the praise”—relinquish flattery.

Alas, I took great pains to study it!—and ’tis poetical!

“It is the more likely to be feigned; I pray you, keep it in.” The veil is implacable. “I heard you were saucy at my gates, and I allowed your approach rather to wonder at you than to hear you! If you be mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief! ’Tis not that time of moon with me to take part in so skipping a dialogue.”

Mary steps before Cesario. “Will you hoist sail, sir?” She points toward the door. “Here lies your way….”

He is not so easily dissuaded by a female first mate. “No, good swabber; I am to hull here a little longer!” Seeing little Mary’s spirited glare, he addresses the countess: “Some mollification for your giant, sweet lady!

“Tell me your mind,” insists Cesario. “I am a messenger.

Olivia frowns. “Surely you have some hideous matter to deliver, when the courtesy of it is so fearful! Speak your office.”

He moves past Mary. “It concerns your ear alone. I bring no overture of war, nor taxation of homage—I hold the olive in my hand; my words are as full of peace’s matter!”

“Yet you began rudely! What are you? What would you?”

“The rudeness that hath appeared in me I have learned from my reception,” retorts Cesario. “What I am and what I would are as secret as maidenhead—to your ears, divinity, to any other’s, profanation.”

Olivia nods to her gentlewoman. “Give us the place alone: we will hear this divinity.” Mary curtseys and leaves—still frowning. “Now, sir, what is your text?”

“Most sweet lady—”

Olivia interrupts the formality: “A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it; where lies your text?

“In Orsino’s bosom.”

“In his bosom! In what chapter of his bosom?”

“To answer by that method: in the first of his heart!

“Oh, I have read it; it is heresy. Have you no more to say?”

“Good madam, let me see your face.”

“Have you any commission from your lord to negotiate with my face? You are now out of your text. But we will draw the curtain and show you the picture.

“Look you, sir; such a one I was,” she says, removing the veil—and adding, with a frown, “this, presently.” She asks, of the portrait, “Is’t not well done?”

“Excellently done,” says Cesario, “if God did it all.”

Olivia’ uses no cosmetics. “’Tis ingrainèd, sir; ’twill endure wind and weather.”

Viola cannot help but be impressed with the object of Orsino’s affection. ’Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand laid on! “Lady, you are the cruell’st she alive, if you will lead these graces to the grave and leave the world no copy”—no offspring.

Pleading for such legacy is a common poetic conceit—too common, and the countess resents it. “Oh, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted,” Olivia replies with mock gravity. “I will give out divers schedules of my beauty; it shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labelled for my will—as: item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin—and so forth.

“Were you sent hither to praise me?”

“I see you what you are: you are too proud,” Cesario says bluntly. “But even if you were the devil, you are fair, and my lord and master loves you. Oh, such love would be but recompensed though you were crowned the nonpareil of beauty!”

Suddenly realizing she has been staring at young Cesario’s animated features, Olivia blushes; but she manages to veil her fascination. “How does he love me?” she asks, wanting to keep looking.

“With adorations, fertile tears—with groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire!

But the countess has already heard too much of such rhetoric. “Your lord does know my mind; I cannot love him.

“I suppose him virtuous, know him noble, of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth; in voices well divulgèd, free, learned and valiant; and in dimension and the shape of nature a gracious person.

“But yet I cannot love him. He might have taken his answer long ago.”

Cesario persists. “If I did love you in my master’s flame—with such a suffering, such a deadly life—in your denial I would find no sense!—I would not understand it!”

“Why, what would you do?”

“Make me a shelter of willows at your gate, and call out to my soul within the house!—write loyal canons of contemnèd love, and sing them loud, even in the dead of night!—halloo your name to the reverberate hills, and make the babbling gossip of the air cry out, ‘Olivia!

“Oh, you would not rest between the elements of air and earth unless you should pity me!”

Olivia watches the young man intently, entranced by his vivacity. “You might do much. What is your parentage?”

“Above my fortunes; yet my state is well: I am a gentleman.”

“Get you to your lord. I cannot love him; let him send no more.” Her eyes flash at the attractive visitor. “Unless, perchance, you come to me again—to tell me how he takes it. Fare you well. I thank you for your pains.” She offers him a gold coin: “Spend this for me.”

Cesario declines, frowning. “I am no fee’d post, lady; keep your purse! My master, not myself, lacks recompense!

“May Cupid make his heart of flint whom you shall love; and let your fervor, like my master’s, be placed in contempt!

“Farewell, fair cruelty!” He stalks from the room.

Olivia is already pondering: ‘What is your parentage?’ ‘Above my fortunes; yet my state is well: I am a gentleman.’

I’ll be sworn thou art!—thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit, do give thee five-fold blazon!

A thought occurs: Not too fast… soft, soft…. What if the ‘master’ were this man! She wonders: could Cesario be as entranced as she?—might be begin courting for himself?

How now! Even so quickly may one catch the plague! Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections with an invisible and subtle stealth creeping in through mine eyes!

Well, let it be! What ho, Malvolio!” The countess takes a silver ring from a drawer.

The steward returns. “Here, madam, at your service.”

“Run after that same peevish messenger,” Olivia tells him. “The duke’s man—he left this ring behind him, would I or not! Tell him I’ll none of it! Desire him not to flatter his lord, nor hold him up with hopes; I am not for him.” She turns away. “If the youth will come this way tomorrow, I’ll give him reasons for’t,” she adds, casually.

She frowns; he is examining the ring. “Hie thee, Malvolio!”

“Madam, I will.” He bows and hurries away.

She muses. I do I know not what I will!—and fear to find mine eye too great a flatterer of my mind!

Fate, show thy force! Ourselves we do not own; what is decreed must be.

She smiles, picturing Cesario. And be this so!


Chapter Four

Cast Away, Entangled


Two handsome, well-dressed young men—one a sea-captain—walk along a bluff overlooking the coast of Illyria, about a mile south of Duke Orsino’s palace.

“Will you stay no longer?” asks the mariner, Antonio, plaintively. “Nor will you that I go with you?”

“By your patience, no. My stars shine darkly over me; the malignancy of my fate might perhaps distemper yours. Therefore I shall crave of you your leave that I may bear my evils alone. It were a bad recompense for your love to lay any of them on you!”

“Yet let me know of you whither you are bound,” pleads Antonio.

“No… in sooth, sir, my indeterminate voyage is mere extravagancy”—wandering. He regards his silent but crestfallen companion. “But I perceive in you so excellent a touch of modesty that you will not exhort from me what I wish to keep in; therefore it charges me, in manners, the rather to express myself.

“You must know of me then, Antonio, my name is Sebastian—whom I callèd Roderigo.” He had briefly assumed an alias.

“My father was that Sebastian of Messaline whom I know you have heard of. He left behind him myself and a sister, both born in the same hour. And, if the heavens had pleased, I would we had so ended! But you, sir, altered that!—for an hour before you took me from the breach of the sea was my sister drowned!

Alas the day!

“A lady, sir, who, though it was said she much resembled me, was yet by many accounted beautiful! But, though I could not overfar believe such questionable wonder, yet thus far I will boldly publish her: she bore a mind that Envy could not but call fair!”

He looks down, tears in his eyes. “Though she is already drownèd with salt water, sir, I seem to drown her remembrance again with more.” He wipes his eyes.

Antonio’s buoyant friendship had been given without awareness of the castaway’s sorrow. “Pardon me, sir, your poor accommodation!”

Sebastian shakes his friend’s hand warmly. “O good Antonio, forgive me your trouble!”

“If you will not have my love kill me, let me be your servant!”

“If you will not undo what you have done—that is, murder him whom you have recovered—desire it not!

“Fare ye well at once! My bosom is full of thy kindness, and I am so near the manner of my mother that, upon the least occasion more, mine eyes will again tell tales of me!”

Sebastian looks northward, up the coast. “I am bound to the Duke Orsino’s court. Farewell!”

Antonio watches his admirable companion stride away along the dusty road. “The gentleness of all the gods go with thee!” I have many enemies in Orsino’s court, else would I very shortly see thee there, he thinks.

Forlorn, he heads toward home.

Then he pauses, and turns back. But, come what may, I do adore thee so that danger shall seem sport—and I will go!


Viola vacillates, troubled that her courtship of the countess on behalf of Duke Orsino is failing, but pleased that—despite her best efforts—he remains free to find happiness with another.

As she—or, rather, Cesario—walks up the hill from Olivia’s mansion, he is hailed by Malvolio.

The steward, dabbing his forehead with a kerchief after the brief trot in pursuit, knows very well whom he has stopped; still, he asks—with rude abruptness, “Were not you with the Countess Olivia?”

“Even now, sir; on a moderate pace I have since arrived but hither.”

“She returns this ring to you, sir! You might have saved me my pains by taking it away yourself,” complains Malvolio haughtily. “She adds, moreover, that you should put your lord into a desperate assurance she will none of him!

“And one thing more—that you be never so hardy as to come again on his affairs, unless it be to report your lord’s taking of this.” He holds out the ring, disdainfully. “Receive it so.”

Viola is puzzled. “She took no ring of me; I’ll none of it.”

Malvolio will waste no more time on a trivial errand. “Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her, and her will is it should be so returned!” But he is servant; he drops the ring to the ground. “If it be worth stooping for, there it lies in your eye; if not, be it his that finds it!” And with that he returns forthwith to the mansion.

Cesario picks up the shiny token. I left no ring with her! What means this lady?

An unwelcome idea rises: Fortune forbid that my outside has charmed her! She made good view of me—indeed, so much methought that surely her eyes had lost her tongue, for she did speak in starts, distractedly!

She loves me, for sure! The cunning of her passion invites me by this churlish messenger! None of my lord’s ring—why, he sent her none! I am the man!

If it be so—as ’tis!—poor lady, she were better to love a dream!

Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness wherein the fecund Enemy does much! How easy is it for thee, properly false, in women’s hearts to set thy waxen form! Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we—for such as we are made of, such we be!

How will this match? My master loves her dearly; and I, poor mixture, am fond as much of him; and she, mistaken, seems to dote on me! What will come of this?

As I am man, my state must despair of my master’s love; as I am woman—now alas the day!—what shiftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe!

O Time, thou must untangle this, not I; ‘tis too hard a knot for me to untie!


Through mullioned windows, shafts of pale moonlight pattern the long corridor floor, as Sir Toby clomps clumsily, trailed by Sir Andrew, through Olivia’s stately home after a long evening spent with much wine at Orsino’s.

Approach, Sir Andrew,” says the knight of the house, lighting a lamp. “After midnight, not to be a-bed is to be up betimes!—and diluculo surgere, thou know’st!”

The Latin grammar’s maxim that lauds early rising eludes old Andrew; and he’s tired. “Nay, by my troth, I know not; but I know to be up late is to be up late.”

“A false conclusion!—I hate it as an unfilled can!” cries Toby, who has drained several tankards. He is exuberant, ready to bolster the argument. “Does not our life consist of the four elements?”

“’Faith, so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.”

“Thou’rt a scholar!” cries Sir Toby, heartily commending the more-germane assessment. “Let us therefore eat and drink!

Marian, I say!” he calls, “a stoup of wine!

Feste, too, keeps late hours. “Here comes the fool, i’ faith,” says Sir Andrew.

Just back from the duke’s palace himself, Feste joins the sodden pair. “How now, my hearts! Did you ever see the picture of ‘We Three’?” The innkeeper’s sign shows two long-eared brown asses—the viewer becoming a third.

Sir Toby nods and laughs. “Welcome, ass! Now let’s have a catch!

Sir Andrew seconds: “By my troth, the fool has an excellent voice! I had rather than forty shillings I had such a leg, and so sweet a breath to sing, as the fool has!

“In sooth, thou wast in very precious fooling tonight,” he tells Feste, “when thou spokest of Pigrogromitus of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus! ’Twas very good, i’ faith!” he says, of the clown’s specious, satirical citations. “I sent thee sixpence for thy leman; hadst it?”

Andrew’s paltry reward was for the woman in the Orsino household whom Feste hopes to marry.

“I did impetico thy gratillity,” says the clown grandly. “For Malvolio’s nose is no whipstock, my lady has a white hand, and the Myrmidons’ are no bottle-ale houses!”—a fluently flippant reply: I gave your gratuity to the petticoat; the prying major-domo is powerless; Olivia is gracious; and you valiant knights consume by the flagon!

“Excellent!” cries Andrew. “Why, this is the best fooling, when all is done! Now, a song!

“Come on, there is sixpence for you,” Sir Toby tells the clown, handing him money. “Let’s have a song!”

“There’s a testril of me, too,” says Andrew; “if one might give away so much!” The little coin’s name reminds him of testicle.

Feste regards Olivia’s graying would-be suitor. “Would you have a love song—or a song of good life?

“A love song, a love song!” cries Sir Toby.

“Aye, aye,” nods Sir Andrew. “I care not about good life.”

Feste entertains them with a ballad:

“‘O mistress mine, where are you roaming?

Oh, stay and hear: your true love’s coming,

  That can ‘sing’ both high and low!

Trip no further, pretty sweeting;

Journeys end in lovers’ meeting,

  Every wise man’s son doth know!’”

Excellent good, i’ faith!” says Andrew.

Toby nods. “Good, good.”

“‘What is love? ’Tis not hereafter—

Present mirth hath present laughter!

  What’s to come is still unsure—

In delay there lies no plenty!

Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty!

  Youth’s a stuff will not endure!’”

“A mellifluous voice, as I am true knight,” sighs Andrew.

“A contagious breath!” says Toby, moved to sing.

Andrew nods. “Very sweet and contagious, i’ faith.”

But Toby craves the boisterous. “Hearing but his voice, it is dulcet in contagion. But shall we make the welkin dance indeed?”—stir up the firmament. “Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver? Shall we do that?”

Sir Andrew is enthusiastic: “An you love me, let’s do it! I am a dog at a catch!”

The clown laughs at the boast. “By’r lady, sir!—some dogs will catch well!”

Sir Andrew nods. “Most certain! Let our catch be ‘Thou Knave’!”

Feste sings, “‘Hold thy peace—‘” He stops. “‘Thou Knave,’ knight? I shall be constrained in’t to call thee knave, knight,” he cautions, given the song’s lyric.

Sir Andrew is unconcerned. “’Tis not the first time I have constrained one to call me knave. Begin, Fool! It begins, ‘Hold thy peace—’”

“I shall never begin if I hold my peace!”

Sir Andrew chuckles. “Good, i’ faith! Come, begin!

The fool sings, and the knights howl along—occasionally in time, seldom in tune.

But then Mary bursts into the room from the corridor, a thick brown robe covering her night clothes. “What a caterwauling do you keep here!” she cries. “If my lady have not called up her steward, Malvolio, and bid him turn you out of doors, never trust me!”

Sir Toby does not falter. “Malvolio’s a ‘Peg-a-Ramsey’”—a dildo, the song’s title suggests. “My lady’s a captain; we her politicians! And ‘Three merry men be we!’” he sings. “Am not I consanguineous?—am I not of her blood?” he demands. “Tillyvally!” he cries, snapping his fingers to settle the matter.

The word lady has inspired him; he sings—loudly: “‘There dwelt a man in Babylon, lady, lady….’”

The clown shakes his head, grinning. “Beshrew me, the knight’s in admirable fooling!”

“Aye, he does well enough if he be so disposed; and so do I too!” says Andrew. “He does it with a better grace, but I do it more natural.”

Sir Toby sings, “‘On the twelfth day of December—’”

“For the love o’ God, peace!” cries Mary—just as Malvolio arrives.

“My masters, are you mad?” he yells, halting Toby’s tune. “Or what are you? Have ye no wit, manners nor honesty, but to jabber like tinkers at this time of night?” The steward glares fiercely at the knights. “Do ye make an alehouse of my lady’s house, that ye squeak out your cobblers’ catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?”

“We did keep time, sir, in our catches,” counters Toby. “Sneck up!”

Despite his anger over the nocturnal commotion, Malvolio is relishing the moment. “Sir Toby, I must be round with you! My lady bade me tell you that, though she harbours you as her kinsman, she’s nothing allied to your disorders! If you can separate yourself and your misdemeanors, you are welcome to the house; if not, an it would please you to take leave of her, she is very willing to bid you farewell!

Sir Toby sings out, “‘Farewell, dear heart, since I must needs be gone!’”

Mary tries to intervene: “Nay, good Sir Toby!—”

Sings the clown, “‘His eyes do show his days are almost done!’”

Malvolio is disgusted. “Is’t even so?”

Sir Toby wails, “‘But I will never die!’”

Sir Toby, there you lie,” sings the clown.

Malvolio’s sarcasm is bitter. “This is much credit to you!” he tells Toby.

“‘Shall I bid him go?’” sings Toby.

What an if you do?” the jester replies.

“‘Shall I bid him go!’—and spare not?

Oh, no, no, no; no, you dare not!

Sir Toby challenges Malvolio. “Out o’ tune, sir, ye lie!

“Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Adds Feste, “Yes, by Saint Anne! And, too, that ginger”—fare for children—“shall be i’ the mouth?”

Toby enjoys the support. “Thou’rt i’ the right!” He tells the strict steward, “Go, sir!—rub your beard with crumbs! A stoup of wine, Maria!”

Malvolio glares, and turns to her, staring sternly down his nose. “Mistress Mary, if you prized my lady’s favour at anything more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule! She shall know of it, by this hand!” He stalks away angrily.

Go shake your ears!” she calls after him, annoyed that he assumes she has encouraged the clamor.

“’Twere as good a deed as drink when the man’s a-hungry!”—too weak; Andrew demands greater retaliation—in his own fashion. “Challenge him to the field,”—to a duel, “and then do break promise with him, and make a fool of him!”

Toby is delighted. “Do it, knight! I’ll write thee a challenge!” But—having difficulty just now even staying upright—he revises the offer: “Or I’ll deliver thy indignation to him by word of mouth.”

“Sweet Sir Toby, be patient for tonight!” says Mary. “Since that youth of the duke’s was today with thy lady, she is much out of quiet!

“As for Monsieur Malvolio, let me alone with him! If I do not gull him into being wayward, and make him a common recreation, do not think I have wit enough to lie straight in my bed! I know I can do it!”

Toby wants details. “Possess us, possess us; tell us something of this!”

“Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of puritan—

“Oh, if I thought that I’d beat him like a dog!” claims Andrew, growing bolder the longer Malvolio is gone.

“What, for being a puritan?” asks Toby. “Thy exquisite reason, dear knight?”

Andrew blinks, stumped—as he would be, this drunk, even if he’d heard explicit. “I have no exquisite reason for’t, but I have reason good enough,” he says doggedly.

Mary has a scheme. “The devil! A puritan, that he is, if anything!—constantly but a time-pleaser; an affectioned ass that studies speaking without book,”—practices to sound unrehearsed, “then utters it by great swarths! Though best persuaded by himself—so crammed, as he thinks, with excellencies—it is his ground of faith that all who look on him love him!

“And on that vice in him will my revenge find notable cause to work!”

Sir Toby rubs his hands together, smiling in anticipation. “What wilt thou do?”

“I will drop in his way some obscure”—anonymous—“epistles of love, wherein—by the colour of his beard, the shape of his leg, the manner of his gait, the expressure of his eye, forehead, and complexion—he shall find himself most feelingly personated!

“I can write very like my lady your niece; on a forgotten matter we can hardly make distinction of our hands—”

Excellent!” Sir Toby is gleeful. “I smell the device!”

“I have’t in my nose too!” says Sir Andrew.

Toby lifts a forefinger and reveals his deduction: “He shall think, by the letters that thou wilt drop, that they come from my niece—and that she’s in love with him!”

Says Mary dryly, “My purpose is indeed a horse of that colour”—that obvious.

“And your horse, now, would make him an ass!” laughs Andrew.

Mary nods. “Ass, I doubt it not!”

Andrew, oblivious to the dig, is delighted with the plot. “Oh, ’twill be admirable!

“Sport royal, I warrant you!” she assures the knights. “I know my physic”—medicine—“will work with him! I will plant you two—and let the fool make a third—where he shall find the letter! Observe his construing of it.

“As for this night, to bed, and dream on the event,” says Mary, heading toward her room. “Farewell!”

“Good night, Penthesilea!” says Sir Toby—styling the plump, gray-wisped gentlewoman as the Amazons’ queen.

Sir Andrew, too, admires her panache. “Before me, she’s a good wench!”

“She’s a beagle, true-bred,”—Toby’s highest compliment, “and one that adores me!” Still, he adds, casually, “But what o’ that?”

Sir Andrew again turns melancholy. “I was adored once, too.”

“Let’s to bed, knight.” He clasps the slender man around the shoulders encouragingly. “Thou hadst need send for more money.”

Sir Andrew has been worried about that. “If I cannot recover your niece, I am a foul way out.”

“Send for money, knight! If thou hast her not i’ the end, call me cut!”—a lewd term for female.

Valorous Sir Andrew nods. “If I do not, never trust me!—take it how you will!”

“Come, come, I’ll burn some sack!—’tis too late to go to bed now,” Toby decides.

“Come, knight!” he says, as they stumble off for the kitchen, and white wine, heated and spiced—the cure for every concern. “Come, knight!”

After his long day of performing in two households, Feste pads off, cap-bells jingling, to get some sleep.


Chapter Five

Labors of Love


Orsino is in a thoughtful mood. “Give me some music,” he tells the lutenist, as courtiers begin to assemble this morning.

“Good morrow, friends,” says the duke, passing among the gathering lords and guests.

He approaches the attractive young newcomer. “Know, good Cesario, the peace of but a song—that old, antique song we heard last night. Methought it did relieve my passion—much more than light airs and recollected terms of these most brisk and giddy-pacèd times.

“Come,” he urges the musician, “but one verse.”

“He is not here, so please Your Lordship, that could sing it,” Curio reports.

“Who was it?”

“Feste, the jester, my lord—the fool Lady Olivia’s father took much delight in. He is about the house….”

“Seek him out; and play the tune the while.” Curio bows, and goes to find the singer.

The soft music flows, and the courtiers converse quietly. “Come hither, boy,” Duke Orsino tells Cesario, taking him aside. “If ever thou shalt love, in the sweet pangs of it remember me; for such as I am, all true lovers are—unstaid and skittish in all motions else, save in the constant image of the creature that is belovèd!

“How dost thou like this tune?”

Cesario, newly susceptible to the effects of romance, smiles. “It gives a very echo from the seat where love is thronèd!”—the heart, he replies; and Viola’s cheeks glow.

“Thou dost speak masterly,” says the duke. He notes the response. “My life upon’t—young though thou art, thine eye hath stayed upon some favour that it loves! Hath it not, boy?”

“A little, by your favour….”

“What kind of woman is’t?”

“Of your complexion.”

The duke laughs. “She is not worth thee, then! What years, i’ faith?”

“About your years, my lord.”

Too old, by heaven! Let ever the woman take one older than herself: so wears she to him; so stays she level with her husband’s heart. For, boy, however we do praise ourselves, our fancies are more giddy and unfirm, more longing, wavering—sooner worn and lost than women’s are.”

In this instance, Viola hopes so. “I think it well, my lord.”

“Then let thy love be younger than thyself, or thy affection cannot hold thy bent”—resist urges to seek elsewhere. “For women are as roses whose fair flower, being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.”

“If so they are,” says the youth, “alas that they are so!—to die even when they to perfection grow”—attain full maturity.

Curio returns, bringing Feste.

Duke Orsino welcomes the fool. “Oh, fellow, come!—the song we had last night!

Mark it, Cesario! It is old and plain; the spinsters and the knitters in the sun, and the free maids that weave their thread with bone do use to chant it.” But Viola thinks of three maids: the Fates, spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life.

“It is simple sooth,” says the duke, “and dallies with the innocence of love—like the old in their age.”

“Are you ready, sir?” asks the clown.

“Aye; prithee sing!”

The lutenist accompanies Feste’s song:

Come away, come hither, Death,

And in a sad casket let me be laid;

Fly away, fly away breath—

I am slain by a fair, cruel maid!

My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, go prepare it;

My part of death, no one so true as did share it.

Not a flower, not one flower sweet,

On my black coffin let there be strewn;

Not a friend, not a friend greet

My poor stone where my bones shall be thrown!

A thousand thousand sighs to save, oh lay me where

Sad, true lovers never find my grave to weep there!

Duke Orsino gives Feste a gold coin. “There’s for thy pains.”

“No pains, sir,” says the jester, not wanting to be dismissed with only one tip. “I take pleasure in singing, sir.”

“I pay thy pleasure, then.”

“Truly, sir—and pleasure will be paid for, one time or another.”

Orsino waves him away. “Give me now leave to leave thee.”

“Now the mercurial god protect thee, and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta!—for thy mind is a very opal! I would have men of such constancy put to sea, so that their business might be everything and their intent everywhere—for that always makes a good voyage of nothing.” Feste bows as he leaves. “Farewell.”

Orsino has private matters to discuss. “Let all the rest give place,” he tells the courtiers, who go out and stroll down into the garden.

Alone with Cesario, the duke speaks urgently. “Once more, Cesario, get thee to yond same sovereign cruelty! Tell her my love, more noble than this world’s, prizes not the quantity of dirty lands!—parts that Fortune hath bestowed upon her, tell her, I hold as giddily as Fortune does!

“But ’tis that miracle and queen of gems that Nature ranks in her which attracts my soul!”

Orsino, Viola can see, takes it for granted Olivia’s heart will be his, and that she need only be persuaded he’s sincere. “But if she cannot love you, sir?” asks Cesario.

“I cannot be so answered.”

“Sooth, but you must! Say that some lady, as perhaps there is, hath for your love as great a pang of heart as you have for Olivia’s. You cannot love her; you tell her so—must she not then be answered?”

Orsino scoffs. “There is no woman whose sides can abide the beating of so strong a passion as love doth give my heart!—no woman’s heart so big as to hold so much! They lack retention: alas, their love may be called appetite—no motion of the pith, only the palate, that suffers surfeit, cloyment and revolt.

“But mine is all as hungry as the sea!—and can digest as much!” he claims. “Make no compare between that love a woman can bear me and that which I owe Olivia!”

“Aye, but I know

What dost thou know?” demands the duke of young Cesario.

“—too well what love women to men may owe! In faith, they are as true of heart as we!”

She looks down sadly. “My father had a daughter who loved a man—as it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, that I should Your Lordship….”

“And what’s her history?”

“A blank, my lord. She never told her love, but let concealment, like a worm in the bud, feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought, and with a green and yellow melancholy she sat like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief. Was not that love indeed?

“We men may say more, swear more—but in deed our shows are more than our will: for we ever prove to be much in our vows, but little in our love.”

“But died thy sister of her love, my boy?”

The shipwrecked twin’s smile is bittersweet. “Of the daughter of my father’s house—and of her brother, too—as yet I know not.”

Pulling on gloves in resignation, she asks, “Sir, shall I go to this lady?”

Duke Orsino is eager for progress. “Aye, that’s the theme! To her in haste!—give her this jewel! Say my love can give no place, abide no denay!”

Cesario bows.

And so, with a burdened heart, Viola sets off to woo a woman for the man she loves.


Chapter Six

Jovial Revelations


Countess Olivia’s quiet garden, facing into the orchard, is formal and orderly; its elegant arbors and the rows of carefully tended shrubs, vines and blooms have been skillfully arranged to encourage visitors’ reflection, to nurture meditation.

But today, mischief flourishes here.

“Come thy ways, Signior Fabian,” Sir Toby tells one of the lady’s household servants—one who works for Malvolio.

Aye, I’ll come!” says Fabian merrily. “If I lose a bit of this sport, let me be boiled to death with melancholy!”

“Wouldst thou not be glad to have the niggardly, rascally sheep-biter come by some notable shame?”

“I would exult, man!” cries Fabian. “You know he brought me out o’ favour with my lady about a bear-baiting here.”

“To anger him we’ll have a ‘bear’ again!” promises Toby, “and we will fool him black and blue! Shall we not, Sir Andrew?”

“An we do not, it is pity of our lives!” says the tall old knight.

Toby nods toward an arbor, as Mary hurries toward them from the house. “Here comes the little villain!

“How now, my metal of India!”—brazen one.

“Get ye all three into the box-tree! Malvolio’s coming down this walk,” she tells them, and they conceal themselves behind a high, thick hedge of square-trimmed evergreen. “He has been yonder i’ the sun, practising behavior to his own shadow this half hour.

Observe him, for the love of mockery!—for I know this letter will make a contemplative idiot of him!” She motions for them to duck down. “Close, in the name of jesting!”

Mary drops a sealed letter onto the stone walk. “Lie thou there!—for here comes a trout that must be caught with tricking!” She steals away through a trellised bower, and returns to the house.

Malvolio sometimes resorts to pacing in the garden as a respite from the impertinent household servants who pester him with questions and requests. Here, the priggish popinjay can prepare for confrontations, by posturing while practicing his ready speeches, sharpened with cutting phrases. He savors the sound of his disdainful delivery—intended, partly, to impress Olivia.

He stops, thinking of her. “’Tis but Fortune; all is Fortune!

“Mary once told me she did affect me!—and I have heard herself come thus near: that, should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion!” The lady had meant, dryly, male.

“Further, she uses me with a more exalted respect than any one else that follows her. What should I think of’t?”

- Behind the shrubs, the listeners are attentive. “Here’s an overweening rogue!” says Toby, keeping his voice low.

- “Oh, peace!” whispers Fabian. “Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him! How he jets under his advancèd plumes!”

- “’Slight, I could so beat the rogue!” says Andrew.

- Sir Toby hushes the others: “Peace, I say….”

Malvolio, gazing out at the fruit trees, revisits a fond notion: “To be Count Malvolio!”

- “Ah, rogue!” mutters Toby.

- “Pistol him, pistol him!” says Andrew.

- “Peace, peace!” Toby tells him.

“There is example for it: the Lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe,” Malvolio recalls. He had eagerly accepted as news an overheard tale from Feste’s stock of ribald lyrics: how a lady whose key had strayed coupled in her closet with an unfaltering gent.

- “Fie on him, Jezebel!” chuckles Toby.

- “Oh, peace!” says Fabian. “Now he’s deeply in—look how imagination blows him!”

Malvolio struts as his pleasant fantasy flows. “Having been three months married to her, sitting in my state—”

- “Oh, for a stone-bow, to hit him in the eye!” says Toby.

“—calling my officers about me, in my branchèd-velvet gown, having come from a day-bed, where I have left Olivia sleeping—”

- “Fire and brimstone!” gasps Toby.

- “Oh, peace, peace!” insists Fabian.

Malvolio continues: “—then, in the demeanor of state, after a demure travel of regard”—a contemptuous glance over the servants, “and telling them I know my place—as I would they should do theirs—to ask for my kinsman Toby.”

- “Bolts and shackles!” sputters that knight.

- Fabian restrains Sir Toby, who seems about to rise. “Oh peace, peace, peace! Now, now.…”

“With an obedient start, seven of my people, make off for him,” says Malvolio, savoring his conception. “I frown the while; and perchance wind up my watch, or play with my— some rich jewel.

“Toby approaches; curtseys there to me. ”

- The knight is fulminating. “Shall this fellow live?

- Fabian seizes his sleeve. “Though our silence be driven from us by wildcats, yet peace!

Malvolio, in his triumph, is gracious but dignified as he patronizes: “I extend my hand to him thus, quenching my familiar smile with an austere regard of control,—”

- “And does not Toby give you a blow upon the lips then?” wheezes the knight.

“—saying, ‘Cousin Toby, my fortunes, having cast me on your niece, give me this prerogative of speech….’”

- “What, what?” Toby strains forward.

“‘You must amend your drunkenness!’” says Malvolio.

- “Out, scab!” chokes the incensed knight.

- “Nay, patience,” pleads Fabian, “or we break the sinews of our plot!

Malvolio adds: “‘Besides, you waste the treasure of your time with a foolish knight—’”

- “That’s me, I warrant you,” says Andrew.

“‘—one Sir Andrew.’”

- Andrew nods. “I knew ’twas I, for many do call me fool.”

Malvolio spots the letter. “What business have we here?” He picks it up.

- “Now is the woodcock near the trap,” says Fabian.

- “Oh, peace,” whispers Sir Toby. “And may the spirit of Humour suggest reading aloud to him!”

Malvolio examines the back of the folded missive: “‘To the unknowing belovèd, this and my good wishes’—her very phrases! Soft!—and the impressure is her Lucrece,”—the image, atop a signet ring, of a fabled suicide, “which she uses to seal! ’Tis my lady’s! By your leave, wax!” He breaks the seal.

“To whom should this be?”

- “This wins him, liver and all!” crows Fabian—quietly.

“By my life, this is my lady’s hand!—these be her very C’s, her U’s and her T’s—and thus makes she her great P’s,” says Malvolio. “It is, in contempt of question, in her hand!

- Tears stream down earthy Toby’s red cheeks as he quakes, struggling to contain a fit of laughter.

- “Her C’s, her U’s and her T’s—why that?” asks Sir Andrew. Fabian waves away the questioning without mention of what cut can mean—or pees.

Malvolio reads: “‘Jove knows I love! But whom? Lips, do not move!—no man must know!’

“‘No man must know!’ What follows from that? ‘No man must know….’” A hope grips him: “If this should be thee, Malvolio!”

- Toby nods furiously. “Marry, hang thee, brach!”—bitch.

Malvolio reads the rhyme: “‘I may command where I adore; but silence, like a Lucrece knife with bloodless stroke, my heart doth gore! M.O.A.I. doth sway my life!’

- “A fustian riddle!” whispers Fabian.

- Toby, too, is impressed with Mary’s work. “Excellent wench, say I!”

Malvolio ponders. “‘M.O.A.I. doth sway my life!’ Nay, but first, let me see, let me see, let me see….”

- Fabian laughs. “What a dish o’ poison has she garnished for him!”

- “And with what wings the falcon flies at it!” observes Toby.

Malvolio reads again: “‘I may command where I adore.’ Why, she may command me!—I serve her; she is my lady! Why, this is evident to any form of capacity; there is no obstruction in this! But the end—what should that alphabetical positioning portend? If I could make that resemble something in me! Soft… M, O, A, I—”

- “Oh, aye!—make up that,” mumbles Toby. “He is now at a cold scent.”

- “For all that, Sowter”—a hound’s name—“will cry upon’t as though it be as rank as a fox!” says Fabian.

MMalvolio! M—why, that begins my name!”

- “Did not I say he would work it out?” laughs Fabian. “The cur is excellent at vaulting!

M. But then there is no consonance in the sequel; that suffers under probation. A should follow, but O does.”

- “And Oh! shall end, I hope!” says Fabian.

- Toby shakes his head. “‘I!’” he argues, “for I will cudgel him and make him cry ‘Oh!’”

Malvolio thinks. “And then I comes behind….”

- “Aye?—if you had any eye behind you, you might see more detraction at your heels than fortunes before you!” murmurs Fabian.

Malvolio continues trying to explicate. “M, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the form—and yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to me, for every one of these letters is in my name!” The gentlewoman’s capital whimsy—Mary only am I—is serving its purpose in her prank.

“Soft…. Here follows prose.” He reads: “‘If this fall into thy hand, resolve!

“‘By my stars, I am above thee,”—of a higher station by birth, “but be not afraid of greatness! Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em!

“‘Thy Fates open their hands!—let thy blood and spirit clasp them!

“‘And, to ensure thyself of what thou art likely to be, cast off thy humble slough and appear brash!—be opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants!—let thy tongue tang in arguments of state! Put thyself into the trick of singularity!

“‘She thus advises thee that sighs for thee! Remember who commended thy yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered? I say, remember!

“‘Go to it; thou art made, if thou desirest to be so! If not, let me see thee as steward still—the fellow of servants, and not worthy to touch Fortune’s fingers!

“‘Fare well!

“‘She that would switch services with thee,’”—become his servant, “‘The Fortunate Unhappy.’”

Malvolio has deciphered the letter. “Daylight in a field reveals not more!—this is open!” he concludes.

And now, ready to receive the rewards of his destiny, the steward stands resolute. “I will be proud!” he vows: “I will read politic authors! I will baffle Sir Toby!”—suspend him by the heels. “I will wash off gross acquaintance!—I will be point-devise the very man!

Malvolio confirms his own conclusion: “I do not now fool myself, nor let imagination jade me; for every reason excites to this: that my lady loves me! She did commend my yellow stockings of late—she did praise my legs’ being cross-gartered.” He taps the letter. “And in this she manifests herself to my love!—and with a kind injunction, drives me to these habits of her liking!

“I thank my stars I am so lucky!

“I will be different—starting with yellow stockings—and cross-gartered, even with the swiftness of putting-on! Jove and my stars be praised!

He looks happily down the list. “Here is yet a postscript.” He reads: “‘Thou canst not choose but know who I am! If thou entertainest my love, let it appear in thy smiling! Thy smiles become thee well; therefore in my presence ever smile, dear my sweet, I prithee!’

O Jove, I thank thee!” cries Malvolio, clasping the letter over his heart. “I will smile!—I will do everything that thou wilt have me!” He bolts into the house—where he soon finds those yellow stockings.

The rascals emerge from the bush, their sides sore from suppressing laughter.

“I will not give my part of this sport,” says Fabian, “for a pension of thousands to be paid from the Sophy!”—the emperor of Persia.

Sir Toby has new respect for the ingenious Mary. “I could marry this wench for this device!”

“So could I too!” says Sir Andrew.

“And ask no other dowry of her but such another jest!”

“Nor I neither!”

Fabian points toward the house. “Here comes my noble gull-catcher!” Mary has seen Malvolio rushing toward his room.

“Wilt thou set thy foot o’ my neck?” asks Sir Toby, kneeling and bowing his head deeply, in acknowledgment of her victory, as she joins them.

“Or o’ mine either?” asks Andrew.

“Shall I toss my freedom with the dice, and become thy bond-slave?” asks Toby.

“I’ faith, or I either?” asks Andrew

Toby shakes, laughing again. “Why, thou hast put him in such a dream that, when the image of it leaves him, he must run mad!

Mary enjoys the admiration, but craves a report: “Nay, but say true—does it work upon him?”

“Like aqua-vitae“—spirituous liquor—“with a midwife!

Mary now delivers: “If you will then see the fruits of the sport, mark his first approach before my lady! He will come to her in yellow stockings—and ’tis a colour she abhors!—and cross-gartered—a fashion she detests!” Kind-hearted Olivia, amused by the infelicity of the awkward steward’s dress, had indeed smiled at him—commenting, with a wryly raised eyebrow, in the hope that he would reform it.

Mary laughs. “And he will smile upon her—which will now be so unsuitable to her disposition, being addicted to a melancholy as she is, that it cannot but turn him unto a notable contempt!

“If you will see it, follow me!”

“To the gates of Hell, thou most excellent devil of wit!” pledges Sir Toby.

I’ll come along, too!” says his follower.


Chapter Seven

Garden Encounters


Cesario has returned to Olivia’s home, and has been shown into the garden. As the young nobleman waits to speak with her, Feste passes, his tabour hanging at his side, pipe in hand.

“’Save thee, friend, and thy music,” says disguised Viola amiably. “Dost thou live by thy tabour?”

The jester pauses. “No, sir, I live by the church.”

She is surprised; he’s wearing motley. “Art thou a churchman?”

“No such matter, sir! But I do live by the church—for I do live at my house, and my house doth stand by the church.”

Cesario laughs. “So thou mayst say the king lies beside a beggar, if a beggar dwell near him!—or the Church stands by thy taper, if thy taper stand near a church!”

The clown smiles. “You have said, sir!” But he shakes his head in mock dismay. “To see this age!—a sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good wit! How quickly the wrong side may be turned outward!”

“Aye, that’s certain,” says Cesario. “They that dally cleverly with words may quickly make them wanton.”

“I would, therefore, my sister had had no name, sir.”

“Why, man?”

“Why, sir, her name’s a word—and to dally with that word might make my sister wanton! But indeed, words are very rascals since bonds”—promises—“disgraced them.”

“Thy reasoning, man?”

But Feste spreads his arms in seeming frustration. “Troth, sir, I can yield you none without words—and words are grown so false I am loath to bring Reason to trial with them!”

Cesario smiles. “I warrant thou art a merry fellow, and carest about nothing!”

“Not so, sir,” says Feste, prickly by profession. “I do care for something; but in my conscience, sir, I do not care for you! If I did care about nothing, sir, I would make you invisible.”

Cesario laughs again. “Art not thou the Lady Olivia’s fool?”

“No indeed, sir! The Lady Olivia has no folly; she will keep no fool, sir—till she be married. And fools are like husbands as sardines are to herrings: the husband’s the bigger!

“I am in deed not her fool, but her corrupter of words.”

“I saw thee of late at the Duke Orsino’s,” notes Cesario.

“Foolery, sir, does not walk about this orb like the sun—it shines everywhere! It would be a sorry state if the fool were not as oft with your master as with my mistress!” He looks at the youth. “I think I saw Your Wisdom there—”

Cesario raises a palm, anticipating a gibe. “Nay, an thou pass upon me I’ll no more with thee!” he chuckles. “Hold,” he says, untying a purse and giving the jester a coin, “there’s ‘expenses’ for thee.”

“Now may Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!” the fool tells the somewhat effeminate young nobleman, bowing gratefully.

“By my troth, I’ll tell thee I am almost sick for one!” confesses Viola—picturing Orsino’s. Though I would not have it grow on my chin! she thinks. “Is thy lady within?”

Feste lifts his hand, sliding the coin between thumb and forefinger. “Would not a pair of these have bred, sir?”

“Yes, being kept together,”—one not given away, she says dryly, “and put to use”—loaned at interest.

“I would play Lord Pandarus of Phrygia, sir, to bring a Cressida to this Troilus!”

She knows of the legendary panderer and the Trojan lovers. “I understand you, sir; ’tis well begged,” says she, fishing in the pouch for another coin.

“The matter I hope for is not great, sir, begging but a beggar: Cressida was a beggar.” He pockets both coins. “My lady is within, sir. I will construe to them whence you come; who you are, and what you would are out of my welkin—I might say ‘element,’ but the word is over-worn.” He proceeds into the house.

Thinks Viola, This fellow is wise enough to play the fool! And to do that well craves a kind of wit: he must observe their mood on whom he jests, the quality of persons, and the time—and, like the hawk, check on every feather that comes before his eye!

Feste must, she knows, appraise each courtier and his mood—and the potential for a tip.

This is a practise as full of labour as a wise man’s art, for the folly that he shows is wisely fit!

She thinks of the infatuated duke. But wise men, into folly fall’n, quite taint their wit….



The countess is so eager to see Cesario that she has permitted Sir Toby and Sir Andrew to go to the door for him. “’Save you, gentleman,” says Toby.

“And you, sir.”

Andrew pronounces, haughtily, a French phrase. “Dieu vous garde, monsieur!”—God protect you.

Et vous aussi”—and you as well. Cesario bows. “Votre serviteur”—your servant.

“I hope, sir, you are,” says the jealous knight. But, seeing a flicker of frown, he hastily adds, “And I am yours.”

“Will you encounter the housh?” asks tipsy Toby. “My niece is desirous you should enter, if your trade be to her.”

Cesario nods. “I am bound to your niece, sir.” He amends, to avoid misunderstanding: “I mean, she is the aim of my voyage.”

Mumbles Toby, “Test your legs, sir: put them to motion.”

The emissary is affronted. “My legs do better understand me, sir,”—a play on stand under, “than I understand what you mean by bidding me test my legs.”

Toby blinks and frowns. “I mean, to go, sir—to enter.”

Cesario strides past him. “I will answer you by gait at entrance,” he says, playing on entrance gate. He sees the countess, who has been unable to wait any longer. “But we are prevented….”

Olivia and Mary join the men.

Says Cesario, with a glance at the drunken gentlemen, “Most excellent, accomplished lady, may the heavens rain order upon you.”

Sir Andrew eyes the rival malevolently. That youth’s a rare courter! ‘Rain ordure!’—well!

Cesario tells Olivia, “My matter hath no voice, lady, but to your own most regnant and vouchsafèd ear….”

Andrew intends to retort. ‘Ordure!’ ‘Pregnant’ and ‘much-chafèd!’—I’ll get ’em all three ready!

But Olivia, too, wants privacy. “Let the garden door be shut, and leave me to my hearing.” Mary curtseys and leads the knights back into the house, closing the door behind them.

“Give me your hand, sir.” Olivia draws Cesario into the arbor.

He bows. “My duty, madam, and most humble service.”

“What is your name?

“Cesario is your servant’s name, fair princess.”

My servant, sir? ’Twas never a merry world since lowly feigning was called compliment! You’re servant to the Duke Orsino, youth.”

“And he is yours, and his must needs be yours: your servant’s servant is your servant, madam.”

“As for him,” says Olivia, “I think not about him. As for his thoughts, I would they were blanks, rather than filled with me!

“Madam, I come to whet your gentle thoughts, on his behalf—”

“Oh, by your leave, pray you, I bid you never speak again of him!” Her tone softens: “But, would you undertake another’s suit, I had rather hear you soliciting that than music from the spheres!”—celestial harmony.

“Dear lady—”

“Give me leave, beseech you. I did send, after the last enchantment you did here, a ring in chase of you; thus did I abuse myself, my servant, and, I fear me, you! Under your hard construction I must be, to have forced on you, by a shameful cunning, that which you knew was none of yours.

“What might you think? Have you not set mine honour at the stake, and baited it with all the unmuzzled thoughts that tyrannous heart can think?”

She blushes. “To one of your receiving,”—perception, “enough is shown! A linen, not a bosom, hideth my heart!

“So, let me hear you speak.”

Cesario regards her. “I pity you.”

Says Olivia softly, “That’s a degree toward love…”

No, not a grize’”—step, playing on degrees, “for ’tis a common proof that very oft we pity enemies.”

For a moment, Olivia closes her eyes, aware of the apparent hopelessness of her love. She looks up. “Why, then, methinks ’tis time to smile again!”—make light of it. But her unsteady voice belies the cheerful words.

The wealthy lady regards the disdainful young nobleman whose features have so enthralled her. O world, how apt the poor are to be proud! She is even more attracted to him. If one is to be a prey, how much the better to fall before the lion than the wolf!

They hear bells, sounding from a distant church tower in town. Olivia smiles. “The clock upbraids me for the waste of time. Be not afraid, good youth; I will not have you,” she concedes. “And yet, when wit and youth is come to harvest, your wife is likely to reap a proper man!”

As Viola reflects on the irony of that notion, Olivia motions toward the duke’s palace, up along the promontory. “There lies your way, due west.”

“Then westward-ho,” says Cesario, starting away. “Grace and good disposition attend Your Ladyship.” He pauses. “You’ll say nothing, madam, to my lord by me?”

Olivia touches his sleeve. “Stay!… I prithee, tell me what thou thinkest of me.”

He must continue to insist that her love be for the duke. “That you do think you are not what you are!

“If I think so, I think the same of you!” She regards him hopefully.

Cesario/Viola shrugs. “Then you think right: I am not what I am.”

The lady’s look is longing. “I would you were as I would have you be!”

“Would it be better, madam, than I am?” asks Cesario, annoyed. “I wish it might—for now I am your fool!

Thinks Olivia, watching him: Oh, how a deal of scorn looks beautiful in the contempt and anger of his lip!

And she senses that his distress reveals pangs of love. A murderous guilt shows itself not more soon than love that would seem hid: love’s night is noon!

She is emboldened. “Cesario, by the roses of the spring, by maidenhood, honour, truth and everything, I love thee so that, despite all thy pride, not wit nor reason can my passion hide!”

Olivia sees his dutiful distress. “Do not extort thy reason beyond this clause: for that I woo, thou hast given thereto no cause. But rather season thus, with reason fettered: ‘Love sought is good—but given unsought is better!’”

Cesario is adamant. “By innocence I swear, and by my youth: I have one heart, in one bosom and one truth!—and no woman has been—nor ever shall be—mistress of it save I alone!

“And so adieu, good madam! Never more will I my master’s tears to you deplore.”

“Yet come again,” urges the desperate lady, “for thou perhaps mayst move that heart, which now abhors, to like his love….”


Chapter Eight

Dare and Daring


“No, ’faith, I’ll not stay a jot longer,” insists Sir Andrew, upstairs in Olivia’s house.

“Thy reason, dear venery, give thy reason!” pleads Sir Toby.

Fabian concurs. “You must needs yield your reason, Sir Andrew!”

The tall knight complains, sadly, “Marry, I saw your niece do more favours to the duke’s serving-man than ever she bestowed upon me! I saw’t i’ the orchard.”

Toby’s eyes narrow. “Did she see thee the while, old boy? Tell me that!”

“Plain as I see you now.”

Both are plain, but Toby ignores it. “That was a great argument of love in her toward you!”

Andrew scoffs: “’Slight!—will you make an ass o’ me?”

Fabian promises, “I will prove it legitimate, sir, upon the oaths of Judgment and Reason!”

“And they have been grand-jury men since before Noah was a sailor,” Toby points out.

Andrew assumes they mean to confirm her love, not his being an ass.

Fabian proceeds with both: “She did show favour to the youth, in your sight, only to exasperate you, to awaken your dormouse valour,”—Andrew hears dormant, “to put fire in your heart, and brimstone in your liver! You should then have accosted her!—and with some excellent jests, fired as new from the mint, you should have banged the youth into silence!

“This was looked for at your hand, but this was balked! The double gilt of this opportunity you let time wash off, and you are now sailed into the North of my lady’s opinion!—where you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman’s beard unless you do redeem it by some laudable attempt, either of valour or policy.”

Andrew ponders. “An’t be any way, it must be with valour, for policy I hate; I had as lief be a puritan as a politician!

“Why, then build thy fortunes upon the basis of valour!” says Sir Toby. “Challenge the duke’s youth!—fight with him!—hurt him in eleven places! My niece shall take note of it—and, assure thyself, there is no love-broker in the world can more prevail in man’s commendation with woman than report of valour!

Fabian affirms it: “There is no way but this, Sir Andrew!”

“Will either of you bear me a challenge to him?”

Toby nods. “Go, write it in a martial hand!” he says firmly. “Be curst and brief—it is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and full of invention! Taunt him, with the licence of ink—if thou thou’st him”—use that impertinent form of address—“some thrice it shall not be amiss!—and with as many lies as will lie on thy sheet of paper, although the sheet were big enough for the bed of Ware in England!”—reputed to be more than ten feet square. “Set ’em down!

“Go!—about it! Let there be gall enough in thy ink!” Though thou write with a goose’s pen, no matter! he thinks, contemptuously; while a goose has quills, the pen—a term for penis—is the gander’s. “About it!”

“Where shall I find you?”

“We’ll call thee at thy cubiculo,” Toby assures him. “Go!”

Andrew goes to his small bedchamber, eager to lay venom on paper.

After the old knight is safely out of earshot, Fabian laughs. “This is a high-cost manikin for you, Sir Toby!”

The puppet master laughs. “I have been costly to him, lad!—some two thousand strong, or so!”—in gold ducats.

“We shall have a rare letter from him!” Fabian wonders how far Toby will go. “But you’ll not deliver it….”

“Never trust me, then! And by all means I’ll stir on the youth to an answer!” But he has no intention of inciting bloodshed: “I think oxen and wainropes could not haul them together! As for Andrew: if he were opened, and you find so much blood in his liver as will clog the foot of a flea, I’ll eat the rest of the anatomy!”

“And his opposite, the youth, bears in his visage no great presage of cruelty,” says Fabian dryly.

“Look where the youngest wren of mine comes!” says Toby fondly, as the diminutive gentlewoman hurries in from the corridor.

Mary is excited. “If you crave excitement and will laugh yourself into stitches, follow me! Yond gull Malvolio is turned heathen!—a very renegado!—for there is no Christian that means to be saved by believing rightly who could ever believe such impossible passages of grossness!

“He’s in yellow stockings!

As Fabian bursts out laughing, Sir Toby asks, delighted, “And cross-gartered?”

“Most villainously—like a pedant that keeps a school i’ the church!”—with utmost preciseness.

“I have dogged him like his murderer; he does obey every point of the letter that I dropped to betray him! He does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies!

“You have not seen such a thing as ’tis! I can hardly forbear hurling things at him! I know my lady will strike him! If she do, he’ll smile and take’t for a great favour!

Come,” cries Toby, “bring us, bring us where he is!”


Antonio has caught up with his friend on a road outside town, just east of Duke Orsino’s palace.

“I would not by my will have troubled you, but, since you make your pleasure of your pains, I will no further chide you,” laughs Sebastian.

“I could not stay behind you!” says the seaman. “My desire, more sharp than filèd steel, did spur me forth—and not all for love of seeing you, though so much as might have drawn one to a longer voyage, but for worry about what might befall you in travel, being skilless in these parts, which to a stranger, unguided and unfriended, often prove rough and unhospitable.

“But my willing love, the rather by these arguments of fear, set forth in your pursuit.”

Sebastian smiles. “My kind Antonio, I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks! Oft good turns are shuffled off with such uncurrent pay,”—unspendable reward, “but were my worth as firm as my conscience, you should find better dealing!

“What’s to do? Shall we go see the relics of this town?”

“Tomorrow, sir. Best first to seek your lodging.”

“I am not weary, and ’tis long till night,” says Sebastian. “I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes with the memorials and the things of fame that do renown this city.”

“I would you’d pardon me,” says Antonio. “I do not without danger walk these streets….” His discomfiture is apparent as he explains. “Once, in a sea-fight ’gainst the duke’s galleys, I did some service—of such note, indeed, that were I ta’en here it could scarce be answered!”

Sebastian has heard reports of noble merchants’ competitors—some would say freebooters—harrying the shipping along Illyria’s southern coast. “Belike you slew great number of his people!” he says—wryly, and trying to picture his gentle and generous companion as a fierce pirate.

Antonio laughs. “The offence is not of such a bloody nature, albeit the quality of the time and quarrel might well have given us bloody argument!

“It might have since been answered by repaying what we took from them—which, for traffic’s sake, most of our city did. Only myself held out; for which, if I be attachèd in this place, I shall pay dearly.”

Sebastian nods. “Do not then walk too openly.”

“It doth not befit me. Hold, sir, here’s my purse,” says Antonio, handing Sebastian a leather pouch of gold coins. “In the south suburbs, at the Elephant is best to lodge; I will bespeak our diet, whiles you beguile the time, and feed your knowledge with viewing of the town. There shall you find me.”

“Why I your purse?”

“Haply your eye shall light upon some toy you have desire to purchase; and your store, I think, is not for idle markets, sir.”

Sebastian salutes his friend. “I’ll be your purse-bearer, and leave you for an hour.”

“To the Elephant!” says Antonio, heading there.

“I do remember,” Sebastian assures him, turning to walk into the town.


Countess Olivia is keyed up as she paces in the garden with Mary; Cesario is expected. “I have sent after him; he says he’ll come! How shall I feast him? What bestow on him?—for youth is bought more oft than begged or borrowed….

“I speak too loud,” she frets, hoping to exude dignity. “Where is Malvolio?—he is stern and civil, and suits well, for a servant, with my fortunes. Where is Malvolio?”

“He’s coming, madam, but in very strange manner!—he is surely possessed, madam!”

“Why, what’s the matter? Does he rave?”

“No, madam, he does nothing but smile! Your Ladyship were best to have some guard about you, if he come—for surely the man is tainted in’s wits!”

“Go call him hither.” Mary runs to fetch the steward. Thinks Olivia, I am as mad as he, if sad and merry madness equal be!

Malvolio fairly dances up to her, followed by Mary.

“How now, Malvolio?” asks Olivia.

He laughs happily: “Sweet lady, ho ho!

“Smilest thou? I sent for thee upon a serious occasion.”

Serious, lady? I could be staid.” He looks at his legs. “This does make some obstruction in the blood, this cross-gartering; but what of that? If it please the eye of one,” he says obsequiously, “it is with me as the very true sonnet says: ‘Please one, and please all!’”

“Why, how dost thou, man? What is the matter with thee?”

“Not black in my mind, though yellow in my legs,” smiles Malvolio, with a wink. “It did come to his hands!—and commands shall be executed! I think we do know thy sweet Roman hand!” he purrs.

Olivia thinks he’s delirious. “Wilt thou go to bed, Malvolio?”

To bed! Aye, sweetheart!—and there I’ll come to thee! thinks the major-domo, hugging himself.

“God comfort thee! Why dost thou smile so, and kiss thy hand so oft?”

Mary asks, “How do you, Malvolio?”

He stares down at her. “At your request?” he sniffs. “Yes, nightingales answer daws!” he says scornfully.

“Why appear you with this ridiculous boldness before my lady?” demands Mary.

He eyes Olivia with an arch smile: “‘Be not afraid of greatness’—’twas well writ!”

“What meanest thou by that, Malvolio?” asks the countess.

“‘Some are born great,’—” he begins.

She frowns.

“‘—some achieve greatness,’—”

“What sayest thou?”

“‘—and some have greatness thrust upon them!’”

“Heaven restore thee!” murmurs Olivia.

“‘Remember who commended thy yellow stockings….’”

“Thy yellow stockings?”

“‘And wished to see thee cross-gartered.’”

Cross-gartered?”

“‘Go to: thou art made, if thou desirest to be so…’”

“Am I made?” Olivia is thoroughly puzzled.

“‘If not, let me see thee a servant still!’” concludes Malvolio, raising an eyebrow.

Lady Olivia is dismayed. “Why, this is very midsummer madness!

A domestic has come to the garden. “Madam, the young gentleman of the Duke Orsino’s is returned. I could hardly entreat him back!—he attends Your Ladyship’s pleasure….”

“I’ll come to him,” Olivia quickly tells the man, who returns to the front doors. The countess is concerned about Malvolio—still beaming with enthusiasm. “Good Mary, let this fellow be looked to!” Mary nods—with satisfaction; the word fellow is disparaging.

“Where’s my cousin Toby?” asks Olivia as they return to the house; she warns Mary to keep the inebriate away from Cesario: “Let some of my people have a special care of him; I would not have him miscarry for the half of my dowry!”

Malvolio, hearing that, is in ecstasy. Oh-ho! Do you come near me now? No worse man than Sir Toby to look after me!

This concurs directly with the letter: she sends him on purpose so that I may appear stubborn to him! For she incites me to that in the letter: ‘Cast thy humble slough,’ says she; ‘be opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants; let thy tongue tang with arguments of state; put thyself into the trick of singularity!’—and consequently sets down the manner how: as, a sad face, a reverend carriage, a slow tongue, in the habit of some sir of note, and so forth.

I have captured her!

He pauses in piety. But it is God’s doing, and God makes me thankful.

And when she went away now! ‘Let this fellow be looked to.’ Fellow!—not ‘Malvolio,’ nor after my degree, but fellow!

Why, everything adheres together such that no dram of a cavil, no quibble on a quibble, no obstacle, no incredulous or unsafe circumstance—what can be said?—nothing that can be can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes!

Well, God, not I, is the doer of this, and heaven is to be thanked! Malvolio stands looking at the sky, hands clasped behind him, lost in reverie—an outlandish statue in the conventional garden.

But the steward’s musing is short-lived; Mary and Sir Toby have come looking for him, along with Fabian.

Toby the exorcist demands—loudly, “Which way is he, in the name of sanctity? If all the devils of Hell be drawn in little, and Legion himself possessed him, yet I’ll speak to him!”

“Here he is, here he is!” cries Fabian. He peers at the steward. “How is’t with you, sir? How is’t with you, man?”

Malvolio deigns to wave him away. “Go off; I discard you! Let me enjoy my privacy. Go off!”

But the miscreants circle warily around him. Mary seems to be appalled: “Lo!—how hollow the fiend speaks within him!” she cries. “Did not I tell you? Sir Toby, my lady prays you to have a care of him!”

Ah-ha! Does she so?” says Malvolio, triumphant.

“Go to, go to; peace, peace!” Toby tells Mary. “We must deal gently with him! Let me alone.” He speaks very soothingly: “How do you, Malvolio?… how is’t with you…?

What, man!” he shouts suddenly. “Defy the Devil! Consider: he’s an enemy to mankind!

Malvolio frowns. “Do you know what you say?”

“If you speak ill of the Devil, look you how he takes it to heart!” says Mary, backing away. “Pray God he be not bewitched!

“Carry his water to the wise woman!” advises Fabian; crones can divine much from urine.

“Marry, and it shall be done tomorrow morning, if I live!” vows Mary. “My lady would not lose him for more than I’ll say!”

Malvolio, indignant, will not contribute a sample—now or in the morning. He glares. “How now, mistress!”

Mary starts, apparently terrified. “Oh, Lord!

“Prithee, hold thy peace; this is not the way!” warns Sir Toby. “Do you not see you move him? Let me alone with him….”

Fabian, too, would soothe. “No way but gentleness!—gently, gently!—the fiend is rough, but will not be roughly used.”

Sir Toby approaches Malvolio kindly. “Why, how now, my bawcock! How dost thou, chuck?”

The steward stares, hearing the tender names for familiars. “Sir?

Toby says softly “Aye, biddy, come with me….

What, man!” he yells. “Tis not for your gravity to play at cherry-pit with Satan!”—toy with the demon. “Hang him, foul collier!”—furnace-feeder.

“Get him to say his prayers, good Sir Toby,” pleads Mary, “get him to pray!

“My prayers, minx?” cries Malvolio, incensed.

She sees that his case is beyond hope. “No,” she tells the others, “I warrant you he will not hear of godliness!

Go hang yourselves, all!” cries Malvolio. “You are idle, shallow things! I am not of your element!

“You shall know more hereafter!” he mutters, leaving them.


Chapter Nine

Swords Are Drawn


Sir Toby, his head wagging, shakes with laughter as Malvolio strides angrily into the house. “Is’t possible?”

“If this were played upon a stage now,” laughs Fabian, “I could condemn it as an improbable fiction!

“His very propensity hath taken infection of the device, man!” cries Toby.

Mary spurs them on. “Aye, pursue him now, lest the device take air and taint!”

“Why, we shall make him mad indeed!” says Fabian.

Mary has suffered under many imperious harangues from Malvolio. “The house will be the quieter!”

“Come,” says Toby, “we’ll have him in a dark room and bound!”—the customary treatment for the insane. “My niece is already in the belief that he’s mad; thus we may carry it, for our pleasure and his penance, till our very pastime, tired out of breath, prompt us to have mercy on him!

“At which time,” he tells Mary, “we will bring the device to the bar, and crown thee”—hail her in open court—“as an arraigner of madmen!

“But, see—but see!” says Toby gleefully, as his own work progresses: red-faced Sir Andrew comes toward them, clutching paper in a quavering fist.

More matter for a May morning!” says Fabian gleefully.

“Here’s the challenge! Read it,” demands Andrew. “I warrant there’s vinegar and pepper in’t!”

“Is’t so saucy?” asks Fabian.

Aye, is’t, I warrant!” Andrew tells Toby. “Do but read.”

“Give me,” says the plump knight. He reads aloud: “‘Youth, whatsoever thou art, thou art but a scurvy fellow!’”

“Good, and valiant,” Fabian judges.

“‘Wonder not, nor admire not in thy mind, why I do call thee so, for I will show thee no reason for’t!’”

Fabian nods. “A good note. That keeps you from the blow of the law.”

“‘Thou comest to the Lady Olivia, and in my sight she uses thee kindly. But—thou liest in thy throat!that is not the matter I challenge thee for!’”

“Very brief—and, exceeding good, senseless!” says Fabian dryly; the irrational is unarguable.

“‘I will waylay thee going home; where if it be thy chance to kill me’—”

“Good,” interjects Fabian.

“—‘thou killest me like a rogue and a villain!’”

Fabian approves. “Still you keep o’ the windy side of the law; good.”

“‘Fare thee well; and God have mercy upon one of our souls! He may have mercy upon thine, but my hope is better—and so look to thyself!

“‘Thy friend, as thou usest him, but thy sworn enemy, Andrew Aguecheek.’”

Toby folds the paper. “If this letter move him not, his legs cannot! I’ll give’t him!”

“You may have very fit occasion for’t,” Mary tells him. “He is now in some commerce with my lady, and will by and by depart.”

Go, Sir Andrew!” says Toby. “Scout for him at the corner of the orchard like a bum-baily!”—stealthy butt-catcher; bailiff. “Soon ever as thou seest him, draw!—and as thou drawest swear horrible!—for oft it comes to pass that a terrible oath, with a swaggering accent sharply twanged off, gives manhood more approbation than ever proof itself would have earned him! Away!

Sir Andrew is sure he’s up to the task: “Aye, let me alone for swearing!” He goes to wait, hidden, at his post by the orchard’s gate onto the road.

Sir Toby’s stratagems are flexible. “Now will I not deliver his letter; for the behavior of the young gentleman gives him out to be of good capacity and breeding—his employment between his lord and my niece confirms no less. Therefore this letter, being so excellently ignorant, would breed no terror in the youth: he’d find it comes from a clodpoll!

“But, sir, I will deliver his challenge by word of mouth—and set upon Aguecheek a notable report of valour—drive the gentleman, as I know his youth will aptly receive it, into a most hideous opinion of his rage and skill, fury and impetuosity!

“This will so fright them both that they will kill one another by the very look, like cockatrices!”

“Here he comes with your niece,” says Fabian, as Olivia enters the garden, engaged in polite greetings with Cesario. “Give them way, till he take leave; then immediately after him!”

Sir Toby nods. “I will meditate the while upon some horrid message for a challenge!” The blithe plotters quickly steal away, the men, unseen, into a bower, Mary to her duties in the house.

Countess Olivia is distraught. “I have said too much unto a heart of stone, and too unchary laid mine honour out! There’s something in me that reproves my fault—but such a headstrong, potent fault it is that it but mocks reproof!”

Cesario remains constant: “With the same ’havior that your passion bears goes on my master’s grief.”

Olivia offers him a cameo on a necklace. “Here, wear this jewel for me; ’tis my picture. Refuse it not—it hath no tongue to vex you!

And, I beseech you, come again tomorrow!”

She watches him, longingly, as they amble together toward the apple trees. “What shall you ask of me that I’ll deny, which—honour saved—I may upon asking give?

“Nothing but this: your true love for my master.”

“How, with mine honour, may I give him that which I have given to you?

“I will acquit you.”

“Well, come again tomorrow. Fare thee well!”

He bows and kisses her hand.

As she walks back into the house, she glances back. A fiend like thee might bear my soul to hell!


“Gentleman, God save thee!” cries Sir Toby. Fabian comes with him as they approach Cesario in apparent alarm.

“And you, sir.”

Toby affects grave concern: “What defence thou hast, betake thee to’t! Of what nature the wrongs are that thou hast done him, I know not, but thy intercepter—full of despite, bloody as the hunter—attends thee at the orchard-end!

Dismount thy tuck!” he says, pointing urgently to Cesario’s rapier. “Be yare in thy preparation,” he warns direly, “for thy assailant is quick, skilful and deadly!

“You mistake, sir!” protests Cesario. “I am sure no man hath any quarrel with me; my remembrance is very free and clear from any image of offence done to any man!”

“You’ll find it otherwise, I assure you!” Toby tells him. “Therefore, if you hold your life at any price, betake you to your guard! For your opposite hath in him what youth, strength, skill and wrath can furnish a man withal!”

“I pray you, sir, what is he?”

“He is a knight! Dubbed with unhatched rapier, and on carpet consideration,”—a courtier, says Toby affecting a soldier’s disdain, “but he is a devil in private brawl!—souls from bodies hath he divorcèd three! And his incensement at this moment is so implacable that satisfaction can be none but by pangs of death, and sepulchre!” he utters fiercely. “’Hob, nob!’ is his word: give’t—or take’t!”

Cesario is concerned. “I will return again into the house and desire safe conduct from the lady! I am no fighter! I have heard of some kind of men that put quarrels purposely on others, to test their valour; belike this is a man of that quirk….”

“Sir, no!” says Toby, grasping his arm. “His indignation derives itself out of a very competent injury! Therefore get you on, and give him his desire!” He touches the hilt of his sword. “Back you shall not to the house, unless you undertake that with me which with as much safety you might answer him!

“Therefore, on!—strip your sword stark naked!” he demands, “for meddle you must, that’s certain—or forswear to wear iron about you!”

“This is as uncivil as strange!” cries Cesario, now stricken with fright. “I beseech you do me this courteous office: to know of the knight what my offence to him is! It is something of my negligence, nothing of my purpose!

Sir Toby nods. “I will do so. Signior Fabian, stay you by this gentleman till my return.” He strides through the trees to find Andrew, that formidable firebrand.

Cesario asks Fabian, “Pray you, sir, do you know of this matter?”

“I know the knight is incensed against you, even to a mortal arbitrement; but nothing of the circumstance more.”

“I beseech you, what manner of man is he?”

“To read him by his form, nothing of that wonderful promise as you are like to find in him upon the proof of his valour!” Fabian leans closer. “He is, indeed, sir, the most skilful, bloody and fatal opposite that you could possibly have found in any part of Illyria!”

Fabian shakes his head in seeming sympathy. “Will you walk towards him? I will make your peace with him, if I can,” he offers, clearly doubtful.

“I shall be much bound to you for’t! I am one that had rather go with Sir Priest than Sir Knight!—and I care not who knows as much of my mettle!”


Sir Toby, meanwhile, is busy distressing Sir Andrew. “Why, man, he’s a very devil!—I have not seen such a virago! I had a pass with him, rapier, scabbard and all, and he gives me the stuck!in with such a mortal motion that it is inevitable! And on the answer, he pays you as surely as your feet hit the ground they step on! They say he has been fencer to the Sophy!

Andrew, wide-eyed, is convinced. “Pox on’t! I’ll not meddle with him!

“Aye, but he will not not be pacified! Fabian can scarce hold him yonder!

Plague on’t!” cries Andrew. “An I thought he had been valiant, and so cunning in fence, I’d have seen him damned ere I’d have challenged him!” He paces—fearful, but thinking. “Let him let the matter slip, and I’ll give him my horse, grey Capilet!”

“I’ll make the motion,” Toby offers helpfully. “Stand here; make a good show of’t, and this should end without the perdition of souls….” As he waves Fabian and Cesario forward, he thinks, eagerly, about a new dividend in the scheme. Marry, I’ll ride your horse as well as I ride you!

As frail old Sir Andrew and beardless young Cesario regard each other—tremulously, keeping as far apart as they can—Toby confers quietly with his cohort. “I’ll have his horse for taking away the quarrel! I have persuaded him the youth’s a devil!”

Fabian reports on Cesario: “He is as horribly conceited of him, and pants and looks pale—as if a bear were at his heels!”

Sir Toby approaches Cesario. “There’s no remedy, sir,” he says. “He will fight with you, for’s oath sake.”

Then he turns so only Cesario can hear. “Marry, he hath better bethought him of his quarrel, and he finds that now scarce to be worth talking of. Therefore draw, but only for the supportance of his vow; he protests he will not hurt you.”

Thinks Viola: Pray God defend me! A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack of a man!

As Toby goes to Andrew, Fabian warns Cesario: “Give ground, if you see him furious!

“Come, Sir Andrew,” Toby declaims, “there’s no remedy—the gentleman will, for his honour’s sake, have one bout with you. He cannot, under the duello, avoid it.” He lowers his voice to confide: “But he has promised me, as he is a gentleman and a soldier, he will not hurt you.”

Sir Toby steps from between the wary combatants. “Come on; to’t!” he orders.

Pray God, he keep his oath! thinks Sir Andrew, trembling.

Says Cesario, as they slowly draw their rapiers, “I do assure you, ’tis against my will!”

But just at that moment a stranger arrives—and leaps between Cesario and the knight.

Put up your sword!” he cries to Andrew. “If this young gentleman have done offence, I take the fault on me! If you offend him, I for him defy you!”

You, sir? Why, what are you?” demands Toby.

“One, sir,” says Antonio, “that for his love dares yet do more than you have heard him brag to you he will!”

Bluster aside, Sir Toby resents interference—and defiance. “Nay, if you be an undertaker, I am for you!”

They draw their swords, as Andrew and Cesario edge away.


Chapter Ten

Two Are Captured


“Oh, good Sir Toby, hold!” cries Fabian. “Here come three officers!

The steel blades are lowered, and Andrew totters back.

Unknown to Antonio, he was spotted in town while looking for Sebastian, and he has been followed here; three officers from the quarters at the duke’s constabulary now approach.

“I’ll be with you anon!” growls Sir Toby to the bold mariner.

Cesario urges Andrew, “Pray, sir, put your sword up, if you please!”

“Marry, will I, sir!” gasps the much-relieved knight, “and, for that which I promised you, I’ll be as good as my word! He will bear you easily, and reins well.”

The constable points to Antonio. “This is the man; do thy office!” he tells his men.

“Antonio, I arrest thee at the suit of Duke Orsino!” says a deputy.

“You do mistake me, sir!” claims Antonio.

No, sir, no jot! I know your face well, though now you have no sea-cap on your head! Take him away; he knows I know him well.”

Antonio yields his sword to an officer. “I must obey.” He turns to Cesario—believing him to be Sebastian. “This comes from seeking you; but there’s no remedy; I shall answer to it.

“What will you do,” he frets, “now that my necessity makes me to ask you for my purse? It grieves me much more for what I cannot do for you, than what befalls myself!

He reads the bafflement on Cesario’s face as consternation. “You stand amazed, but be of comfort.”

The constable takes hold of Antonio’s arm. “Come, sir, away.”

“I must entreat from you some of that money,” Antonio tells the young man.

What money, sir?” asks Cesario/Viola. “For the fair kindness you have shown me here, and in part being prompted by your present trouble, out of my lean and low ability I’ll lend you something. My having is not much; I’ll make division of my present with you. Hold—there’s half my coffer!” She holds out the money—which is not taken.

Antonio is stunned. “Will you deny me now? Is’t possible that my deserving can lack persuasion with you? Do not taunt my misery, lest that it make me so unsound a man as to upbraid you with those kindnesses that I have done for you!”

Cesario is perplexed. “I know of none!—nor know I you, by voice or any feature! I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of vice whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.”

“Oh, heavens themselves!” cries Antonio.

“Come, sir, I pray you go,” says the impatient deputy.

“Let me speak a little! This youth that you see here I snatched one-half out of the jaws of death!—relieved him with much-sanctified love, and to his image, which methought did promise most venerable worth, did I devotion!

“What’s that to us?” asks the constable. “The time goes by. Away!” He pulls the captive along.

“But, oh how vile an idol proves this god!” cries Antonio angrily. “Thou hast, Sebastian, done good feature shame! In Nature there’s no blemish but the mind!—none can be called deformèd but the unkind! Virtue is beauty—but the beauteous evil are empty trunks, o’erflourished by the Devil!

“The man grows mad,” the officer tells the constable. “Away with him! Come, come, sir!”

Antonio, glaring at Cesario, shakes his head in disgust at the betrayal. “Lead me on!” He is taken away, a very perturbed prisoner.

Methinks his words do from such passion fly that he himself believes! thinks Viola, watching. So do not I….

But suddenly a wonderful possibility strikes her. Prove true, imagination!—oh, prove true, that I, dear brother, be now ta’en for you!

The knights talk with Fabian as she pursues her thoughts. He named Sebastian! I my brother know, yet living, in my glass!—in her mirror. Even such and so in favour was my brother—and he went often in this fashion, colour, ornament, for him I imitate! Hope rises in her heart. Oh, if it so prove, tempests are kind and salt waves fresh—in love!

Her concern about arrested Antonio leaves Viola oblivious to the others. She heads toward the palace of Duke Orsino.

Sir Toby sees Cesario hurrying away. “A very dishonest, paltry boy!—and more a coward than a hare!” he tells Andrew. “His dishonesty appears in leaving his friend here in necessity, and denying him! And as for his cowardship, ask Fabian.”

“A coward, a most devout coward—religious in it!” the man confirms.

“’Slid, I’ll after him again and beat him!” vows emboldened Andrew.

Do! Cuff him soundly—but never draw thy sword,” advises Toby.

Andrew strides away. “If I do not….”

“Come, let’s see the event!” says Fabian eagerly.

Toby tells him, as they follow, “I dare lay any money ’twill be nothing less!”


Sebastian’s meandering tour of the old seaside town has brought him back west, and he now stands in the street beside the well trimmed lawn at the front of Countess Olivia’s mansion, arguing with a fool.

“Would you have me believe that I am not sent for you?” demands Feste, unaccustomed to being the one unable to get a reasonable response.

Sebastian is annoyed at having been stopped by a stranger—especially a very insistent man in motley. “Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow! Let me be clear of thee!”

“Well held out, i’ faith,” says the clown, but he renews his argument—with sarcasm: “No, I do not know you; no, I am not sent to you by my lady to bid you come speak with her; no, your name is not Master Cesario!—nor this is not my nose, neither! Nothing that is so is so!

Sebastian wants only to proceed. “I prithee, vent thy folly somewhere else! Thou know’st not me.”

Vent my folly!” snorts Feste. “He has heard that word from some great man, and now applies it to a fool! Vent my folly!” He shakes his head. “I am afraid this great lubber, the world, is proving feeble-minded!” But he knows that Olivia is waiting impatiently to hear from him. “I prithee now, ungird thy strangeness, and tell me what I shall vent to my lady! Shall I vent to her that thou art coming?”

“I prithee, foolish Greek,”—speaker of the incomprehensible, “depart from me!” Sebastian hands the clown coins. “There’s money for thee!—but if you tarry longer I shall give worse payment!” he warns.

“By my troth, thou hast an open hand!” admits Feste. “These wise men that give fools money do get themselves a good report—after fourteen years.” He looks up to see the reprobate knights approaching.

Andrew has finally found, in Cesario, someone even more pusillanimous than he. “Now, sir, have I met you again?” He strikes Sebastian. “There’s for you!

The nobleman has had enough of Illyrian fools. “Why, there’s for thee!” he says, smacking the startled knight with the butt end of his knife, “and there, and there!” He glances warily around him. “Are all the people mad?

Sir Toby grabs for his hand. “Hold, sir, or I’ll throw your dagger o’er the house!”

Feste heads inside. “This will I tell my lady straight! I would not be in some of your coats for two-pence!” he calls, glancing back at the turmoil.

“Come on, sir; hold!” insists Sir Toby, seizing the arm of—he thinks—mild young Cesario.

Andrew is unhurt, but for pride. “Nay, let him alone! I’ll go another way to work with him: I’ll have an action of battery against him, if there be any law in Illyria! Though I struck him first, yet it’s no matter for that….”

“Let go thy hand!” demands Sebastian.

“Come, sir, I will not let you go,” says Sir Toby. “Come, my young soldier, put up your iron; you are well fleshed”—avenged. “Come on!”

But Sebastian is not to be manhandled. “I will be free from thee!” he cries, wrenching out of Toby’s grasp. “What wouldst thou now? If thou darest tempt me further, draw thy sword!

Sir Toby is affronted, “What, what? Nay, then I must have an ounce or two of this malapert blood from you!” He is stepping back, starting to draw, when Countess Olivia storms from the doorway and rushes across the portico.

Hold, Toby!—on thy life I charge thee, hold!

“Madam,” says he, with a bow.

Olivia is furious. “Will it be ever thus? Ungracious wretch, fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves, where manners ne’er were preached! Out of my sight!

“Be not offended, dear Cesario!” she tells Sebastian.

She shouts at Toby: “Rudesby, be gone!” The rebuked knight stamps sullenly into the building, followed uneasily by Andrew and Fabian.

“I prithee, gentle friend, let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion, sway,” she begs of Sebastian—who watches the lovely lady intently, fascinated, “in this uncivil and unjust extent against thy peace!

“Go with me into my house, and hear thou there how many fruitless pranks this ruffian hath botchèd up, so that thou thereby mayst smile at this!

“Thou shalt not choose but go,” she says, firmly taking his hand. “Do not deny,” she pleads. “Beshrew his soul!—he startled one poor heart of mine in thee!

Sebastian is delighted with the surprising change in local hospitality: a beautiful lady is inviting him to come into her stately home.

What relish is in this! he thinks happily. How runs the stream? Either I am mad, or else this is a dream! He feels Olivia’s warm hand squeeze his. Let fancy still my sense in Lethe’s deep; if it be thus to dream, ever let me sleep!

The countess implores softly. “Nay, come, I prithee! I would thou’ldst be ruled by me….”

Sebastian’s eyes are already ruled: they cannot leave her. “Madam,” he smiles, “I will!”

Oh, thinks Olivia, so say, and so be!


Chapter Eleven

In Darkness and Light


Mary and Feste meet at the back of Olivia’s mansion, beyond the pantry and down the stairs, standing just outside the door to the cellar.

“Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and this beard,” she whispers. “Make him believe thou art Sir Topas, the curate! Do it quickly! I’ll call Sir Toby the whilst,” she adds, going to the stairs.

The jester picks up the priestly garb. Well, I’ll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in’t—and I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown!

Feste looks down at the cassock as he struggles to button it closed. I am not tall enough to become the function well—tall also means “upstanding”—nor lean enough to be thought a good student! he thinks wryly. He shrugs. But to be said an honest man and keeper of a good house goes as fairly as saying ‘a praying man’ and’ a great scholar.’

Adjusting the false beard, he hears footsteps. The conspirators enter! He goes silently to meet Mary and Sir Toby as they come down the steps.

The knight eyes the disguise. “Jove bless thee, Master Parson!

Bones dice, Sir Toby! For, as the old hermit of Prague, who never saw pen and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, ‘That that is, is!’ So I, being Master Parson, am Master Parson! For, what is ‘that’ but ‘that,’ and ‘is’ but ‘is’?”

Toby waves aside glib tautology. “To him, Sir Topas!”

The clown opens the creaking door and slowly moves into the dark chamber, feeling his way along a damp wall. “What ho, I say! Peace in this prison!”

- Toby admires Feste’s assumed voice—that of a dogmatic local cleric. “The knave counterfeits well,” he says, his voice hushed. “A good knave!

“Who calls there?” cries Malvolio.

“Sir Topas the curate, who comes to visit Malvolio the lunatic.”

The steward is locked in a small cell, unused during the life of Olivia’s forgiving father, and long forgotten by her. In a frenzy, he grasps the iron bars of the heavy door’s narrow window, pressing his face against them. “Sir Topas, Sir Topas, good Sir Topas—go to my lady!

But the exorcist exhorts the demon within: “Out, hyperbolical fiend! How vexest thou this man?—talkest thou nothing but of ladies?

- Toby, listening with Mary, chuckles softly. “Well said, Master Parson!”

“Sir Topas, never was man thus wronged,” Malvolio moans. “Good Sir Topas, do not think I am mad! They have laid me here in hideous darkness!”

Fie, thou dishonest Satan!” cries Sir Topas. He adds, quietly, “I call thee by the most modest terms, for I am one of those gentle ones that will use the Devil himself with courtesy.

“Sayest thou that house is dark?

“As Hell, Sir Topas!”

“Why, it hath bay windows transparent as barricadoes, and the clear stones toward the southern north are as light as ebony!—and yet complainest thou of obscuration?” demands the curate.

“I am not mad, Sir Topas! I say to you this house is dark!

“Madman, thou errest! I say there is no darkness but ignorance!—in which thou art more puzzled than the Englishmen in their fog!”

Malvolio grows frantic. “I say this house is as dark as ignorance, though ignorance were as dark as Hell! And I say, there was never man thus abused! I am no more mad than you are! Make the trial of it in any constant question….”

Sir Topas thinks. “What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning souls upon the world?”

“That the soul of our grandam might perhaps inhabit a bird,” says the steward, of a transmigration doctrine.

“What thinkest thou of his opinion?”

“I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve his opinion!”

“Fare thee well,” says the impostor, leaving. “Remain thou still in darkness. Thou shalt hold the opinion of Pythagoras ere I will allow of thy wits!—and fear to kill a woodcock, lest thou dispossess the soul of thy grandam! Fare thee well.”

Malvolio cries out in desperation, “Sir Topas, Sir Topas!

As Feste comes out, past the door into the light, he removes the itchy whiskers. Toby greets him: “My most exquisite Sir Topas!”

The pretend priest smiles. “Aye, I am for all waters!”—even the font’s.

Mary laughs, with a sparkle in her eyes; she has tricked one of the tricksiest. “Thou mightst have done this without thy beard and gown!—he sees thee not!”

But Sir Toby now urges, quietly, “To him in thine own voice, and bring me word how thou findest him.” He frowns, worried. “I would we were well rid of this knavery! If he may be conveniently delivered, I would he were, for I am now so far in offence with my niece that I cannot pursue, with any safety, this sport t’ the upshot.

“Come by and by to my chamber.” He and Mary go back up the stairs.

Feste returns to the cellar, singing: “‘Hey, Robin, jolly Robin, tell me how thy lady does’—”

“Fool!” calls Malvolio.

“—‘My lady is unkind, perdy!’—”

“Fool!”

“—‘Alas, why is she so?’—”

Malvolio shouts, “Fool, I say!”

“—‘She loves another…’ Who calls?”

“Good Fool, as ever thou wilt deserve well at my hand, help me to a candle, and pen, ink and paper!” pleads Malvolio loudly. “As I am a gentleman, I will live to be thankful to thee for’t!”

“Master Malvolio?”

Aye, good Fool!”

“Alas, sir, how fell you from your five wits?”

“Fool, there was never a man so notoriously abused!” cries the steward in the dark, his voice straining. “I am as well in my wits, Fool, as thou art!”

“Only that well?—then you are mad indeed, if you be no better in your wits than a fool!

Malvolio cries out in fury: “They have here propertied me!—keep me in darkness, send ministers to me—asses!—and do all they can to force me out of my wits!”

“Advise you what you say: the minister is here!” warns Feste.

Now comes the voice of Sir Topas: “Malvolio, Malvolio, may the heavens restore thy wits! Endeavour thyself to sleep, and leave thy vain bibble-babble!”

“Sir Topas!” croaks Malvolio.

Sir Topas warns the clown, “Maintain no words with him, good fellow.”

“Who, I, sir? Not I, sir! God be wi’ you, good Sir Topas.”

Marry, amen!” says the curate’s voice.

Says the clown, thinking happily of his affianced, “I will, sir, I will!

Malvolio calls: “Fool, Fool—Fool, I say!”

Feste replies: “Alas, sir, be patient! What say you, sir? I am chided for speaking to you!”

“Good Fool, help me to some light and some paper! I tell thee, I am as well in my wits as any man in Illyria!”

“Well-a-day that you were, sir!”

“By this hand, I am!” screams Malvolio, his voice cracking. But now he appeals more calmly: “Good Fool, some ink, paper and light; and convey what I will set down to my lady. It shall advantage thee more than ever the bearing of a letter did!”

“I will help you to’t,” says Feste. “But tell me true: are you not mad, indeed—or do you but counterfeit?”—as his daily demeanor suggests.

Malvolio is exhausted. “Believe me, I am not; I tell thee true.”

“Nay, I’ll ne’er believe a madman till I see his brains. But I will fetch you light and paper and ink.”

Malvolio is relieved and grateful—but very eager. “Fool, I’ll requite it in the highest degree! I prithee, be gone!”

Feste leaves him, singing as he goes:

I am gone, sir!

And anon, sir,

I’ll be with you again,

Your needs to sustain.

In a trice,

Like old Vice,

Who, with dagger of lath

In his rage and his wrath,


Cries ‘Oh, hell!’

To the Devil!

Says like a mad lad,

‘Pare thy nails, Dad!’

Adieu, Goodman devil, adieu!


Sebastian ambles through Countess Olivia’s garden—and, in a pleasant daze, finds his good fortune difficult to comprehend.

This is the air; that is the glorious sun! This pearl she gave me, I do feel’t and see’t! And though ’tis wonder that enwraps me thus, yet ’tis not madness!

Where’s Antonio, then? I could not find him at the Elephant. Yet there he had been—there I found it credited that he did range the town to seek me out.

His counsel now might do me golden service! For though my soul disputes well with my sense that this may be some error, but no madness, yet doth this accident and flood of fortune so far exceed all instance, all discourse, that I am ready to distrust mine eyes, and wrangle with my reason that persuades me to any other trust but that I am mad!

Or else the lady’s mad! Yet, if ’twere so, she could not sway her house, command her followers, take and give back affairs in their dispatch with such a smooth, discreet and stable bearing as I perceive she does.

He frowns. There’s something in’t that is imperceivable….

But here the lady comes.

Olivia brings with her the parish priest. For the first time, Sebastian sees her ill at ease. “Blame not this haste of mine,” she pleads, her eyes searching his face. “If you mean well, now go with me and with this holy man into the chantry nearby.

“There, before him, and underneath that consecrated roof,” she says, “plight me the full assurance of your faith,”—promise marriage, “so that my most jealous and too-doubtful soul may live at peace!

“He shall conceal it until you are willing it shall come to note—at which time we will our celebration keep, according with my birth.

“What do you say?”

Sebastian’s glowing smile has already answered. He takes her hand. “I’ll follow this good man,” he says, “and go with you!—and, having sworn truth, ever will be true!”

“Then lead the way, good father,” Olivia tells the priest, eyes glistening. She looks to the wide span of azure above. “And heavens so shine that they may fairly note this act of mine!”


Chapter Twelve

Pirate, Husband and Husband


On the portico before Olivia’s mansion, Feste and Fabian stand by the open white doors, gazing out over the sunny lawn.

“Now, as thou lovest me, let me see his letter!” pleads the servant.

“Good Master Fabian, grant me another request….”

“Anything!”

“Do not desire to see this letter.”

Fabian protests, “This is to give a dog—and as recompense desire the dog again!”

They are surprised to see, coming up the walk, a large party led by Duke Orsino himself. With him at the front is Cesario.

“Belong you to the Lady Olivia, friends?” asks the duke, at the porch’s wide stone steps.

“Aye, sir; we are some of her trappings,” says the clown; his expression suggests ensnared game.

“I know thee well,” laughs Orsino. “How dost thou, my good fellow?”

“Truly, sir, the better for my foes, and the worse for my friends.”

The duke takes the bait. “Just the contrary: the better for thy friends!

“No, sir, the worse.”

“How can that be?”

“Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me! Now, my foes tell me plainly I am an ass; by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself, but by my friends I am abused!

“So, conclusions being as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives”—reversal as in logic, “why then the worse for my friends and the better for my foes!”

Duke Orsino always enjoys Feste’s cleverness. “Why, this is excellent!”

“By my troth, sir, no,” the contrarian counters, “though it please you to be one of my friends….” He holds out a hand for a gratuity.

“Thou shalt not be the worse for me!” says Orsino, giving him a ducat. “There’s gold.”

The clown holds up the shiny coin. “But that it would be double-dealing, sir, I would you could make it another….”

The duke pretends to challenge proposed dishonesty: “Oh, you give me ill counsel!”

“Put your grace into your pocket, sir, for this once, and let your flesh and blood obey it!”

Orsino smiles. “Well, I will be so much a sinner as to be a double-dealer—there’s another.”

Primo, secundo… tertio is a good play!”—at dice. “And the old saying is, ‘the third pays for all!’ The triplex,”—a musical timing, “sir, is a good, tripping measure; or the bells of Saint Bennet, sir, may put you in mind—one, two, three!” He slides the two coins between finger and thumb, and with an elegant twist of the wrist he displays them side by side before a huge smile.

Duke Orsino laughs again. “You can fool no more money out of me at this throw,” he says. But, he adds, “If you will let your lady know I am here to speak with her, and bring her along with you, it may awake my bounty further….”

“Marry, sir, lullaby to your bounty till I come again! I go, sir!” He pauses. “I would not have you think that my desire of having is the sin of covetousness,” says the clown, facetiously unctuous, “but, as you stay, sir, let your bounty take a nap; I will awake it anon!” He goes inside to inform the countess of her neighbor’s visit.

While the duke waits, Cesario touches his sleeve. “Here comes the man, sir, that did rescue me!” As the youth has requested, Antonio is being brought before Orsino by deputies.

The duke frowns. “That face of his I do remember well!—yet when I saw it last, it was besmeared as black as Vulcan in the smoke of war! A bawbling vessel was he captain of, for shallow draught and bulk unprizable—with which he did make such scathful grapple against the most noble hull of our fleet,”—its heaviest merchant ship, “such that, in the tongue of loss, disdain itself cried fame and honour upon him!

“What’s the substance?” he asks the constable.

“Orsino, this is that Antonio that took the Phoenix, and her fraught from Candia!”—its load of merchandise from Crete. “And this is he that did the Tiger board, when your young nephew Titus lost his leg! Here in the streets, desperate of state, in shame of private brabble did we apprehend him.”

“He did me kindness, sir!—drew on my side,” says Cesario, “but in conclusion put strange speech upon me—I know not what ’twas but distraction….”

Duke Orsino glowers at Antonio. “Notable pirate! Thou salt-water thief! What foolish boldness brought thee to their mercies whom thou, in terms so bloody and so costly, hast made thine enemies?

“Orsino, noble sir,” says Antonio, “be pleased that I shake off these names you give me! Antonio never yet was thief or pirate!—though, I confess, Orsino’s enemy, on base and ground enough.

“A witchcraft drew me hither!—that most ingrateful boy there by your side, from the rude sea’s enraged and foamy mouth did I redeem! A wreck past hope he was; his life I gave him, and did thereto add my love, without retention or restraint—all his in dedication!

“For his sake did I expose myself into the danger of this adverse town; purely for his love drew to defend him when he was beset! Where, I being apprehended, and he not meaning to partake with me in danger, his false cunning taught him to face me out of his acquaintance, and become a twenty-years-removèd thing while one would blink!—denied me mine own purse, which I had commended to his use not half an hour before!”

Cesario is thinking: How could this be?

“When came ye to this town?” asks the duke.

“Today, my lord,” Antonio replies. “And for three weeks before, no interim, not a minute’s vacancy, both day and night did we keep company!”

Orsino has no further questions, and Olivia is now emerging from the mansion with her attendants.

“Here comes the countess!” sighs the duke. “Now heaven walks on earth!”

He turns back to Antonio. “But as for thee, fellow—fellow, thy words are madness! Three weeks this youth hath attended upon me!

“But more of that anon. Take him aside,” he tells the constable and deputy. They move back, each grasping an arm of the captive captain.



The countess is courteous but firm with Orsino. “What would my lord have—except for that which he may not—wherein Olivia may seem serviceable?” Then, spotting the young gentleman, she is startled. “Cesario, you do not keep promise with me!”

Cesario is again puzzled. “Madam?”

“Gracious Olivia—” the duke begins.

What do you say, Cesario?” she demands. “Good my lord—”

My lord would speak!” says the young man, deferring to the duke. “My duty hushes me.”

Olivia speaks bluntly to Orsino, who is watching them both—and frowning. “If it be aught to the old tune, my lord, it is as flat and glutting to mine ear as howling after music!

“Still so cruel?” says the duke sadly.

“Still so constant, lord.”

“What—to perverseness?” he demands. “You uncivil lady, to whose ingrateful and unauspicious altar my soul hath breathed out the faithfull’st offerings that e’er devotion tendered! What shall I do?”

“Even what it please my lord—and what shall become him,” says Olivia pointedly.

Duke Orsino, realizing, finally, his desire’s impossibility, is angry. “Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, like to the Egyptian thief at point of death, kill what I love?—a savage jealousy that sometimes savours nobly!

But her neighbor is, in fact, a noble man, and he inspires no real fear; Olivia is silent, loath to provoke him further.

“But hear me this!” says the duke. “Since you to non-regardance cast my devotion—and because I partly know the instrument that bars me from my true place in your favour” he says, glaring at Cesario, “—live you, the marble-hearted tyrant still!

“But this your minion,” he says, gripping Cesario’s shoulder, “whom I know you love, and whom, by heaven I swear, I tender dearly—him will I tear away from that cruel eye where he sits crownèd in his master’s despite!

“Come, boy, with me!—my thoughts are ripe with mischief!

“I’ll sacrifice the lamb that I do love,” he says, “to spite the raven’s heart within the dove!” He turns away.

Cesario follows him dutifully. “And I—most apt, jocund and willingly—to give you rest, a thousand deaths would die!”

Olivia is alarmed. “Where goes Cesario?”

“After him I love more than I love these eyes, more than my life, more by allmores’ than e’er I shall love a wife!” He looks up. “If I do feign, you witnesses above punish my life, for tainting of my love!

Olivia is stunned. “Ay me!rejected! How I am beguiled!

Viola/Cesario, unwavering in Orsino’s behalf, is indignant. “Who does beguile you? Who does do you wrong?

“Hast thou forgot thyself?” cries Olivia. “Is it so long?” She turns to Mary. “Call forth the holy father!” The gentlewoman runs to find the priest.

“Come, away!” commands the duke.

“Whither, my lord?” asks Olivia, touching the young man’s sleeve. “Cesario—husband!—stay!”

Husband!” cries the duke.

Aye, husband!” insists Olivia. “Can he that deny?

Orsino stares at Cesario. “Her husband, sirrah!”

No, my lord, not I!

Olivia tries to encourage him. “Alas, it is the baseness of thy fear that makes thee strangle thy propriety! Fear not, Cesario! Take thy fortunes up!—be that thou know’st thou art, and then thou art as great as that thou fear’st!”

Mary has hastened the priest to them from the chapel.

“Oh, welcome, father!” says Olivia. “Father, I charge thee, by thy reverence, here to unfold—though lately we intended to keep in darkness what occasion now reveals before ’tis ripe—what thou dost know hath newly passed between this youth and me.”

“A contract of eternal bond of love,” says the white-haired holy man sweetly, “confirmed by mutual joinder of your hands, attested by the holy close of lips, strengthened by interchangement of your rings; and all the ceremony of this compact sealed in my function, by my testimony—since when, my watching hath told me, toward my grave I have travelled but two hours.”

Orsino confronts Cesario. “O thou dissembling cub! What wilt thou be when time hath sewed on thy case a grizzle?”—gray beard, “o’er which, unless thy craft as quickly grow, thine own tripping shall be thine overthrow!

“Farewell, and take her!” he tells the youth angrily, “but direct thy feet where thou and I henceforth may never meet!”

My lord, I do protest!” cries Viola, thoroughly distraught. “I—”

“Oh, do not swear!” the countess advises her new affianced. “Hold a little faith, though thou hast too much fear!

Just then Sir Andrew staggers from the house, his wispy fringe of hair matted with scarlet on one side. “For the love of God, a surgeon! Send one presently to Sir Toby!” Mary again hurries away for help.

“What’s the matter?” cries Olivia.

“He has broke my head across!” moans Andrew, “and has given Sir Toby a bloody coxcomb, too!—for the love of God, your help!” He leans unsteadily against a portico column. “I had rather than forty pound I were at home!

“Who has done this, Sir Andrew?” demands the countess.

“The duke’s gentleman, one Cesario! We took him for a coward—but he’s the very devil incardinate!

Duke Orsino steps toward him, followed by Viola. “My gentleman Cesario?

’Od’s lifelings, here he is!” cries Andrew, backing away in fear. “You broke my head for nothing! As for that that I did, I was set on to do’t by Sir Toby!”

Viola vigorously denies any attack. “Why do you speak to me? I never hurt you! You drew your sword upon me without cause, but I bespoke you fair, and hurt you not!

Sir Andrew touches his head. “If a bloody coxcomb be a hurt, you have hurt me! I think you set nothing by a bloody coxcomb!” he whines. “Here comes Sir Toby, limping. You shall hear more!—had he not been in drink, he would have tickled you otherwise than he did!”

Feste helps Sir Toby walk as he comes outside.

“How now, gentleman?” the duke asks Toby. “How is’t with you?”

“That’s all one,” mumbles the knight. “He has hurt me, and there’s the end on’t.” He turns, muddled, to Feste. “Sot, didst see Dick Surgeon, sot?”

“Oh, he’s drunk, Sir Toby—an hour agone!” the jester tells him. “His eyes were set”—he passed out—“at eight i’ the morning.”

“Then he’s a rogue and a passy-measures pavin!”—very slothful. “I hate a drunken rogue!” claims Toby—the words slurred by his perpetual palliative.

Olivia is disgusted. “Away with him! Who hath made this havoc with them?”

Sir Andrew takes the other knight’s elbow. “I’ll help you, Sir Toby, because we’ll be addressed together”—by the physician.

Sir Toby drunkenly pushes him away. “Will you help?—an ass-head, and a coxcomb, and a knave, a thin-faced knave—a gull!

Olivia shakes her head. “Get him to bed, and let his hurt be looked to.”

As Feste and Fabian guide the knights, chastised if not chastened, inside, Sebastian emerges from the house, looking back at them.

He comes to Olivia and takes her hand. “I am sorry, madam, I have hurt your kinsman,” he tells her earnestly, “but, had it been a brother of thy blood, I must have done no less in wit and safety.”

He sees that Olivia is gaping, perplexed. “You throw a strange regard upon me, and by that I do perceive it hath offended you. Pardon me, sweet one, even for the vows we made each other but so late ago!”

Duke Orsino, too, is staggered by the sight of dual Cesarios: “One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons!—a natural illusion, that is and is not!

Sebastian, turning from Olivia, now spots his friend, standing guarded behind the others, and rushes to him. “Antonio! Oh, my dear Antonio!—how have the hours racked and tortured me, since I have lost thee!”

The mariner blinks. “Sebastian, are you?”

Now Sebastian is puzzled. “Doubt’st thou that, Antonio?”

“How have you made division of yourself?” cries Antonio. “An apple, cleft in two, is not more twin than these two creatures!” He looks to Cesario and back. “Which is Sebastian?”

“Most wondrous!” says Olivia.

Sebastian now sees Cesario. His eyes widen. “Do I stand there? I never had a brother—nor can there be that deity in my nature of here and everywhere!

“I had a sister, whom the blind waves and surges have devourèd.” He asks Cesario politely, “Of charity, what countryman?—what name? What parentage? What kin are you to me?

“Of Messaline,” says Viola. “Sebastian was my father; such a Sebastian was my brother, too.” She motions to his clothes. “So went he suited to his watery tomb! If spirits can assume both form and suit, you come to fright us!”

“A spirit I have, indeed,” says Sebastian, “but am in that dimension grossly clad with that which from the womb I did precipitate.” He eyes Cesario. “Were you a woman, and the rest go even, I should my tears let fall upon your cheek, and say, ‘Thrice-welcome, drownèd Viola!’”

Cesario smiles, tears in her eyes. “My father had a mole upon his brow—”

“And so had mine!”

“And died that day when Viola from her birth had numbered thirteen years—”

“Oh, that record is lively in my soul,” says Sebastian. “He finished indeed his mortal act that day that made my sister’s years thirteen!”

“If nothing prevents our both being happy but this, my usurpèd masculine attire,” says Viola, “forego embracing me only till each circumstance of place, time and fortune do cohere and jump that I am Viola!—which to confirm, I’ll bring you to a captain in this town—where lie my maiden’s clothes—by whose gentle help I was preservèd to serve this noble duke!

“All the occurrence of my fortune since hath been between this lady and this lord.”

Sebastian, taking Olivia’s hand, smiles. “So comes it, lady, that you have been mistook! By Nature drawn in, through her bias you would have been contracted to a maid! Nor are you therein, by my life, deceived: you are betrothèd to both a maid and man!”—promised a sister-in-law as well as a husband.

Duke Orsino is relieved that his assessment of Cesario had been justified. “Be not amazed,” he tells Countess Olivia, “right noble is his blood!” He beams at the youth, whom he sees in quite a new way. “If this be so—as yet, the mirror seems true!—I shall have a share in this most happy wreck!

“Boy,” he teases Viola, “thou hast said to me a thousand times thou never shouldst love woman as much as me!

She looks at him fondly. “And all those sayings will I overswear!—and those swearings keep as true in soul as doth that orbèd containment of fire that renders day out of night!”

“Give me thy hand,” says Orsino, “and let me see thee in thy woman’s clothes!”

“The captain who did bring me first on shore hath my maid’s garments,” Viola tells him. “He upon some action is now in durance”—imprisoned—“at Malvolio’s suit—a gentleman and follower of my lady’s.”

“He shall set him free!” promises Olivia. “Fetch Malvolio hither!” she tells an attendant, who bows and goes. “And yet, alas, now that I remember me, they say that he, poor gentleman, is much distracted! A most exacting frenzy of mine own from my remembrance cleanly banished his!

“How does he, sirrah?” she asks her fool.

Feste steps forward, with Fabian. “Truly, madam,” says the jester, “he holds Belzebub at the stave’s end as well as a man in his case may do. He has here writ a letter to you; I should have given’t you this morning, but as a madman’s epistles are no gospels, so it matters not much when they are delivered.”

“Open’t, and read it,” Olivia tells him.

“Look then to be well edified, when the fool delivers the madman!” says Feste wryly. He opens the letter, holds it up to read—and shrieks as Malvolio did: ‘By the Lord, madam!’”

She is startled. “How now! Art thou mad?

“No, madam, I do but read madness. If Your Ladyship will have it as it ought to be, you must allow vox”—voice.

“Prithee, read i’ thy right wits!” Olivia tells him.

“So I do, madonna—but to read his right wits is to read thus; therefore perpend, my princess, and give ear!” He takes a deep breath….

She quickly tells Fabian, “Read it you, sirrah!”

He grabs the letter and reads: “‘By the Lord, madam, you wrong me, and the world shall know it! Though you have put me into darkness and given your drunken cousin rule over me, yet have I the benefit of my senses as well as Your Ladyship!

“‘I have your own letter that induced me to the semblance I put on!—with the which I doubt not but to do myself much right, ere you such shame!

“‘Think of me as you please; I leave my duty a little unthought of, but speak out of my injury! The madly used Malvolio.’”

“Did he write this?” asks Olivia—sharply.

“Aye, madam,” says Feste sheepishly.

“This savours not much of distraction,” says Orsino of the letter.

Olivia nods. “See him freed, Fabian; bring him hither.” The man goes to fetch Malvolio.

She says to the duke, “My lord, these things further thought on, if it please you that a wife one day shall crown thine alliance, may it please you do’t here at my house, at my proper cost, and think me a sister-in-law as well!”

Orsino beams and bows. “Madam, I am most happy to embrace your offer!

“Your master acquits you,” he tells Viola, “for your service done him—so much against the mettle of your sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding!

“And since you called me master for so long—here is my hand! You shall from this time be your master’s mistress!

Olivia smiles warmly at Viola. “A sister-in-law! You are she!

Fabian brings out Malvolio, frayed after his ordeal—and livid.

“Is this the madman?” asks Orsino angrily; the sea captain who helped his intended is still being held by the constable—and still honoring his promise to Viola.

Olivia nods, “Aye, my lord, this same. How now, Malvolio?”

“Madam,” he says gravely, “you have done me wrong—notorious wrong!

“Have I, Malvolio? No!

“Lady, you have! Pray you, peruse this letter!” He hands her Mary’s work. “You must not now deny it is your hand!—write differently if you can, in hand or phrase!—or say ’tis not your seal, nor your intention!

“You can say none of this!” he cries, as Olivia read the letter. “Well, grant it then, and tell me, in the modesty of honour, why you have given me such clear lights of favour, bade me come smiling and cross-gartered to you, to put on yellow stockings and to frown upon Sir Toby and the lighter people!

“And why have you suffered me, acting this in an obedient hope, to be imprisoned, kept in a dark house!—visited by the priest!—and made the most notorious geck and gull that e’er invention played on!

“Tell me why!

“Alas, Malvolio,” says Olivia gently, “this is not my writing, though, I confess, much like the character—but out of question ’tis Mary’s hand.

“And now that I do bethink me, it was she first told me thou wast mad; then thou camest in smiling, and in such forms which here were imposed upon thee in the letter.

“Prithee, be content. This practise hath been most shrewdly passed upon thee; but when we know the grounds and authors of it, thou shalt be both the plaintiff and the judge of thine own cause.”

Fabian quickly—and wisely—steps forward. “Good madam, hear me speak,” he says humbly, hat in hand, “and let no quarrel nor no brawl to come taint the condition of this present hour, which I have wondered at!

“In hope it shall not, most freely I confess: myself and Toby set this device against Malvolio, here, upon some stubborn and uncourteous parts we had conceived against him.

“Mary writ the letter, at Sir Toby’s great importuning—in recompense whereof he hath married her!

“How it was followed, with a sportful malice, may rather pluck out laughter than revenge, if the injuries be justly weighed that have on both sides passed.”

Olivia regards Malvolio. “Alas, poor fool, how they have baffled thee!”

As if that were a cue for him, Feste steps forward, shrugging in apparent resignation. “Well, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrown upon them.” He confesses to Malvolio, “I was one, sir, in this interlude—one Sir Topas, sir. But that’s all one.

“By the Lord, fool, I am not mad!” he cries, in response to Malvolio’s scowl. “But do you remember: ‘Madam, why laugh you at such a barren rascal? An you smile not, he’s gagged.’

“And thus the whirligig of time brings on its revenges!

The disclosures hardly mollify Malvolio. “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you!” he cries as he storms away.

Olivia is sympathetic. “He hath been most notoriously abused!” His humiliation in now very public.

“Pursue him and entreat him to a peace,” Orsino tells Fabian. “He hath not told us about the captain yet,” he notes—suggesting an incentive for the severe steward to relent. “When that is known, and golden time convenes, a solemn combination shall be made of four dear souls!”

The duke now feels quite jovial, fully enjoying being—at last—happily in love. “Meantime, sweet sister,” Orsino says to Olivia, “we will not part from hence!

Cesario, come,” he tells Viola, “for so you shall be, while you are a man.” He smiles. “But when in other habits you are seen—Orsino’s mistress, and his fancy’s queen!

All but Feste go into the house, eager to share in the newfound happiness of the duke and his newly betrothed, the countess and her handsome husband-to-be.

The jester, who is contemplating another marriage between the two houses, tunes his lute.

He sings happily—mindful of those of us who have always harkened to other fools:

When I was but a little tiny boy,

   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

‘A foolish thing’ was but a toy”—as opposed to thing‘s adult meaning, penis.

   For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,

   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

’Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,

   For the rain it raineth every day.

And when I came unto my bed,

   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

From tossèd pot had drunken head!

   For the rain it raineth every day!

But when I came at last to wive,

   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

By swaggering could I never thrive!

   For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,

   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

But that’s all one—our play is done!—

And we’ll strive to please you every day!”