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Cymbeline, King of Britain

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Act III, Scene 6

Wales. Before the cave of Belarius.


[Enter IMOGEN, in boy's clothes]

  • Imogen. I see a man's life is a tedious one:
    I have tired myself, and for two nights together 2145
    Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,
    But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
    When from the mountain-top Pisanio show'd thee,
    Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think
    Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean, 2150
    Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told me
    I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,
    That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis
    A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
    When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness 2155
    Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
    Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
    Thou art one o' the false ones. Now I think on thee,
    My hunger's gone; but even before, I was
    At point to sink for food. But what is this? 2160
    Here is a path to't: 'tis some savage hold:
    I were best not to call; I dare not call:
    yet famine,
    Ere clean it o'erthrow nature, makes it valiant,
    Plenty and peace breeds cowards: hardness ever 2165
    Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who's here?
    If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage,
    Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I'll enter.
    Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy
    But fear the sword like me, he'll scarcely look on't. 2170
    Such a foe, good heavens!

[Exit, to the cave]


  • Belarius. You, Polydote, have proved best woodman and
    Are master of the feast: Cadwal and I 2175
    Will play the cook and servant; 'tis our match:
    The sweat of industry would dry and die,
    But for the end it works to. Come; our stomachs
    Will make what's homely savoury: weariness
    Can snore upon the flint, when resty sloth 2180
    Finds the down pillow hard. Now peace be here,
    Poor house, that keep'st thyself!
  • Arviragus. I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.
  • Guiderius. There is cold meat i' the cave; we'll browse on that, 2185
    Whilst what we have kill'd be cook'd.
  • Belarius. [Looking into the cave]
    Stay; come not in.
    But that it eats our victuals, I should think
    Here were a fairy. 2190
  • Belarius. By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,
    An earthly paragon! Behold divineness
    No elder than a boy!

[Re-enter IMOGEN]

  • Imogen. Good masters, harm me not:
    Before I enter'd here, I call'd; and thought
    To have begg'd or bought what I have took:
    good troth,
    I have stol'n nought, nor would not, though I had found 2200
    Gold strew'd i' the floor. Here's money for my meat:
    I would have left it on the board so soon
    As I had made my meal, and parted
    With prayers for the provider.
  • Arviragus. All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!
    As 'tis no better reckon'd, but of those
    Who worship dirty gods.
  • Imogen. I see you're angry:
    Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should 2210
    Have died had I not made it.
  • Imogen. Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who 2215
    Is bound for Italy; he embark'd at Milford;
    To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,
    I am fall'n in this offence.
  • Belarius. Prithee, fair youth,
    Think us no churls, nor measure our good minds 2220
    By this rude place we live in. Well encounter'd!
    'Tis almost night: you shall have better cheer
    Ere you depart: and thanks to stay and eat it.
    Boys, bid him welcome.
  • Guiderius. Were you a woman, youth, 2225
    I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,
    I bid for you as I'd buy.
  • Arviragus. I'll make't my comfort
    He is a man; I'll love him as my brother:
    And such a welcome as I'd give to him 2230
    After long absence, such is yours: most welcome!
    Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends.
  • Imogen. 'Mongst friends,
    If brothers.
    [Aside] 2235
    Would it had been so, that they
    Had been my father's sons! then had my prize
    Been less, and so more equal ballasting
    To thee, Posthumus.
  • Belarius. He wrings at some distress. 2240
  • Arviragus. Or I, whate'er it be,
    What pain it cost, what danger. God's!


  • Imogen. Great men,
    That had a court no bigger than this cave,
    That did attend themselves and had the virtue
    Which their own conscience seal'd them—laying by
    That nothing-gift of differing multitudes— 2250
    Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!
    I'd change my sex to be companion with them,
    Since Leonatus's false.
  • Belarius. It shall be so.
    Boys, we'll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in: 2255
    Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp'd,
    We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story,
    So far as thou wilt speak it.
  • Arviragus. The night to the owl and morn to the lark 2260
    less welcome.