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As You Like It

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Act IV, Scene 3

The forest



  • Rosalind. How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock?
    And here much Orlando!
  • Celia. I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain, he hath
    ta'en his bow and arrows, and is gone forth- to sleep. Look, who
    comes here. 2005


  • Silvius. My errand is to you, fair youth;
    My gentle Phebe did bid me give you this.
    I know not the contents; but, as I guess
    By the stern brow and waspish action 2010
    Which she did use as she was writing of it,
    It bears an angry tenour. Pardon me,
    I am but as a guiltless messenger.
  • Rosalind. Patience herself would startle at this letter,
    And play the swaggerer. Bear this, bear all. 2015
    She says I am not fair, that I lack manners;
    She calls me proud, and that she could not love me,
    Were man as rare as Phoenix. 'Od's my will!
    Her love is not the hare that I do hunt;
    Why writes she so to me? Well, shepherd, well, 2020
    This is a letter of your own device.
  • Silvius. No, I protest, I know not the contents;
    Phebe did write it.
  • Rosalind. Come, come, you are a fool,
    And turn'd into the extremity of love. 2025
    I saw her hand; she has a leathern hand,
    A freestone-colour'd hand; I verily did think
    That her old gloves were on, but 'twas her hands;
    She has a huswife's hand- but that's no matter.
    I say she never did invent this letter: 2030
    This is a man's invention, and his hand.
  • Rosalind. Why, 'tis a boisterous and a cruel style;
    A style for challengers. Why, she defies me,
    Like Turk to Christian. Women's gentle brain 2035
    Could not drop forth such giant-rude invention,
    Such Ethiope words, blacker in their effect
    Than in their countenance. Will you hear the letter?
  • Silvius. So please you, for I never heard it yet;
    Yet heard too much of Phebe's cruelty. 2040
  • Rosalind. She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes. [Reads]
    'Art thou god to shepherd turn'd,
    That a maiden's heart hath burn'd?'
    Can a woman rail thus?
  • Silvius. Call you this railing? 2045
  • Rosalind. 'Why, thy godhead laid apart,
    Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?'
    Did you ever hear such railing?
    'Whiles the eye of man did woo me,
    That could do no vengeance to me.' 2050
    Meaning me a beast.
    'If the scorn of your bright eyne
    Have power to raise such love in mine,
    Alack, in me what strange effect
    Would they work in mild aspect! 2055
    Whiles you chid me, I did love;
    How then might your prayers move!
    He that brings this love to the
    Little knows this love in me;
    And by him seal up thy mind, 2060
    Whether that thy youth and kind
    Will the faithful offer take
    Of me and all that I can make;
    Or else by him my love deny,
    And then I'll study how to die.' 2065
  • Celia. Alas, poor shepherd!
  • Rosalind. Do you pity him? No, he deserves no pity. Wilt thou love
    such a woman? What, to make thee an instrument, and play false
    strains upon thee! Not to be endur'd! Well, go your way to her, 2070
    for I see love hath made thee tame snake, and say this to her-
    that if she love me, I charge her to love thee; if she will not,
    I will never have her unless thou entreat for her. If you be a
    true lover, hence, and not a word; for here comes more company.


[Enter OLIVER]

  • Oliver. Good morrow, fair ones; pray you, if you know,
    Where in the purlieus of this forest stands
    A sheep-cote fenc'd about with olive trees?
  • Celia. West of this place, down in the neighbour bottom. 2080
    The rank of osiers by the murmuring stream
    Left on your right hand brings you to the place.
    But at this hour the house doth keep itself;
    There's none within.
  • Oliver. If that an eye may profit by a tongue, 2085
    Then should I know you by description-
    Such garments, and such years: 'The boy is fair,
    Of female favour, and bestows himself
    Like a ripe sister; the woman low,
    And browner than her brother.' Are not you 2090
    The owner of the house I did inquire for?
  • Celia. It is no boast, being ask'd, to say we are.
  • Oliver. Orlando doth commend him to you both;
    And to that youth he calls his Rosalind
    He sends this bloody napkin. Are you he? 2095
  • Rosalind. I am. What must we understand by this?
  • Oliver. Some of my shame; if you will know of me
    What man I am, and how, and why, and where,
    This handkercher was stain'd.
  • Celia. I pray you, tell it. 2100
  • Oliver. When last the young Orlando parted from you,
    He left a promise to return again
    Within an hour; and, pacing through the forest,
    Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
    Lo, what befell! He threw his eye aside, 2105
    And mark what object did present itself.
    Under an oak, whose boughs were moss'd with age,
    And high top bald with dry antiquity,
    A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,
    Lay sleeping on his back. About his neck 2110
    A green and gilded snake had wreath'd itself,
    Who with her head nimble in threats approach'd
    The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,
    Seeing Orlando, it unlink'd itself,
    And with indented glides did slip away 2115
    Into a bush; under which bush's shade
    A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
    Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch,
    When that the sleeping man should stir; for 'tis
    The royal disposition of that beast 2120
    To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead.
    This seen, Orlando did approach the man,
    And found it was his brother, his elder brother.
  • Celia. O, I have heard him speak of that same brother;
    And he did render him the most unnatural 2125
    That liv'd amongst men.
  • Oliver. And well he might so do,
    For well I know he was unnatural.
  • Rosalind. But, to Orlando: did he leave him there,
    Food to the suck'd and hungry lioness? 2130
  • Oliver. Twice did he turn his back, and purpos'd so;
    But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
    And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
    Made him give battle to the lioness,
    Who quickly fell before him; in which hurtling 2135
    From miserable slumber I awak'd.
  • Celia. Are you his brother?
  • Celia. Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?
  • Oliver. 'Twas I; but 'tis not I. I do not shame 2140
    To tell you what I was, since my conversion
    So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.
  • Oliver. By and by.
    When from the first to last, betwixt us two, 2145
    Tears our recountments had most kindly bath'd,
    As how I came into that desert place-
    In brief, he led me to the gentle Duke,
    Who gave me fresh array and entertainment,
    Committing me unto my brother's love; 2150
    Who led me instantly unto his cave,
    There stripp'd himself, and here upon his arm
    The lioness had torn some flesh away,
    Which all this while had bled; and now he fainted,
    And cried, in fainting, upon Rosalind. 2155
    Brief, I recover'd him, bound up his wound,
    And, after some small space, being strong at heart,
    He sent me hither, stranger as I am,
    To tell this story, that you might excuse
    His broken promise, and to give this napkin, 2160
    Dy'd in his blood, unto the shepherd youth
    That he in sport doth call his Rosalind.

[ROSALIND swoons]

  • Celia. Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!
  • Oliver. Many will swoon when they do look on blood. 2165
  • Celia. There is more in it. Cousin Ganymede!
  • Celia. We'll lead you thither.
    I pray you, will you take him by the arm? 2170
  • Oliver. Be of good cheer, youth. You a man!
    You lack a man's heart.
  • Rosalind. I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would think
    this was well counterfeited. I pray you tell your brother how
    well I counterfeited. Heigh-ho! 2175
  • Oliver. This was not counterfeit; there is too great testimony in
    your complexion that it was a passion of earnest.
  • Oliver. Well then, take a good heart and counterfeit to be a man.
  • Rosalind. So I do; but, i' faith, I should have been a woman by 2180
  • Celia. Come, you look paler and paler; pray you draw homewards.
    Good sir, go with us.
  • Oliver. That will I, for I must bear answer back
    How you excuse my brother, Rosalind. 2185
  • Rosalind. I shall devise something; but, I pray you, commend my
    counterfeiting to him. Will you go? Exeunt