[Enter VIOLA, a Captain, and Sailors]
- Viola. What country, friends, is this?
- Captain. This is Illyria, lady.
- Viola. And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.
Perchance he is not drown'd: what think you, sailors?
- Captain. It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
- Viola. O my poor brother! and so perchance may he be.
- Captain. True, madam: and, to comfort you with chance,
Assure yourself, after our ship did split,
When you and those poor number saved with you
Hung on our driving 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, like Arion on the dolphin's back,
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.
- Viola. For saying so, there's gold:
Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
- Captain. Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
- Captain. A noble duke, in nature as in name.
- Viola. Orsino! I have heard my father name him:
He was a bachelor then.
- Captain. 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.
- Captain. A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth 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. O that I served that lady
And might not be delivered to the world,
Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,
What my estate is!
- Captain. That were hard to compass;
Because she will admit no kind of suit,
No, not the duke's.
- Viola. There is a fair behavior in thee, captain;
And though that 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 me 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 worth thy pains; for I can sing
And speak to him in many sorts of music
That will allow me very worth his service.
What else may hap to time I will commit;
Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.
- Captain. Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
- Viola. I thank thee: lead me on.