All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 5

ACT III. SCENE 5. Without the walls of Florence.

[Enter an old Widow of Florence, DIANA, VIOLENTA, MARIANA, and
other Citizens.]

WIDOW.
Nay, come; for if they do approach the city we shall lose
all the sight.

DIANA.
They say the French count has done most honourable service.

WIDOW.
It is reported that he has taken their greatest commander;
and that with his own hand he slew the duke's brother.

[A tucket afar off.]

We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way: hark! you
may know by their trumpets.

MARIANA.
Come, let's return again, and suffice ourselves with the report
of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl: the honour of
a maid is her name; and no legacy is so rich as honesty.

WIDOW.
I have told my neighbour how you have been solicited by a
gentleman his companion.

MARIANA.
I know that knave; hang him! one Parolles: a filthy officer he is
in those suggestions for the young earl. — Beware of them, Diana;
their promises, enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines
of lust, are not the things they go under; many a maid hath been
seduced by them; and the misery is, example, that so terrible
shows in the wreck of maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade
succession, but that they are limed with the twigs that threaten
them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but I hope your
own grace will keep you where you are, though there were no
further danger known but the modesty which is so lost.

DIANA.
You shall not need to fear me.

WIDOW.
I hope so. — Look, here comes a pilgrim. I know she will lie
at my house: thither they send one another; I'll question her. —

[Enter HELENA in the dress of a pilgrim.]

God save you, pilgrim! Whither are bound?

HELENA.
To Saint Jaques-le-Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?

WIDOW.
At the Saint Francis here, beside the port.

HELENA.
Is this the way?

WIDOW.
Ay, marry, is't. Hark you! They come this way.

[A march afar off.]

If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodg'd;
The rather for I think I know your hostess
As ample as myself.

HELENA.
Is it yourself?

WIDOW.
If you shall please so, pilgrim.

HELENA.
I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.

WIDOW.
You came, I think, from France?

HELENA.
I did so.

WIDOW.
Here you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service.

HELENA.
His name, I pray you.

DIANA.
The Count Rousillon: know you such a one?

HELENA.
But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him:
His face I know not.

DIANA.
Whatsoe'er he is,
He's bravely taken here. He stole from France,
As 'tis reported, for the king had married him
Against his liking: think you it is so?

HELENA.
Ay, surely, mere the truth; I know his lady.

DIANA.
There is a gentleman that serves the count
Reports but coarsely of her.

HELENA.
What's his name?

DIANA.
Monsieur Parolles.

HELENA.
O, I believe with him,
In argument of praise, or to the worth
Of the great count himself, she is too mean
To have her name repeated; all her deserving
Is a reserved honesty, and that
I have not heard examin'd.

DIANA.
Alas, poor lady!
'Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.

WIDOW.
Ay, right; good creature, wheresoe'er she is
Her heart weighs sadly: this young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleas'd.

HELENA.
How do you mean?
May be, the amorous count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose.

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