All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Act III: Scenes 1-2

ACT III. SCENE 2. Rousillon. A room in the COUNTESS'S palace.

[Enter COUNTESS and CLOWN.]

COUNTESS.
It hath happened all as I would have had it, save that he
comes not along with her.

CLOWN.
By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very melancholy man.

COUNTESS.
By what observance, I pray you?

CLOWN.
Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing;
ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man
that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.

COUNTESS.
Let me see what he writes, and when he means to come.

[Opening a letter.]

CLOWN.
I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court. Our old ling
and our Isbels o' the country are nothing like your old ling and
your Isbels o' the court. The brains of my Cupid's knocked out;
and I begin to love, as an old man loves money, with no stomach.

COUNTESS.
What have we here?

CLOWN.
E'en that you have there.

[Exit.]

COUNTESS.
[Reads.] 'I have sent you a daughter-in-law; she hath
recovered the king and undone me. I have wedded her, not bedded
her; and sworn to make the "not" eternal. You shall hear I am run
away: know it before the report come. If there be breadth enough
in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to you.
Your unfortunate son,
BERTRAM.'

This is not well, rash and unbridled boy,
To fly the favours of so good a king;
To pluck his indignation on thy head
By the misprizing of a maid too virtuous
For the contempt of empire.

[Re-enter CLOWN.]

CLOWN.
O madam, yonder is heavy news within between two soldiers and my
young lady.

COUNTESS.
What is the matter?

CLOWN.
Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some comfort; your son
will not be killed so soon as I thought he would.

COUNTESS.
Why should he be killed?

CLOWN.
So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does: the danger is
in standing to 't; that's the loss of men, though it be the
getting of children. Here they come will tell you more: for my
part, I only hear your son was run away.

[Exit.]

[Enter HELENA and the two Gentlemen.]

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Save you, good madam.

HELENA.
Madam, my lord is gone, for ever gone.

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Do not say so.

COUNTESS.
Think upon patience. — Pray you, gentlemen, —
I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief
That the first face of neither, on the start,
Can woman me unto 't. — Where is my son, I pray you?

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Madam, he's gone to serve the Duke of Florence:
We met him thitherward; for thence we came,
And, after some despatch in hand at court,
Thither we bend again.

HELENA.
Look on this letter, madam; here's my passport.

[Reads.] 'When thou canst get the ring upon my finger, which
never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body
that I am father to, then call me husband; but in such a "then" I
write a "never."
This is a dreadful sentence.

COUNTESS.
Brought you this letter, gentlemen?

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Ay, madam;
And for the contents' sake, are sorry for our pains.

COUNTESS.
I pr'ythee, lady, have a better cheer;
If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
Thou robb'st me of a moiety. He was my son:
But I do wash his name out of my blood,
And thou art all my child. — Towards Florence is he?

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Ay, madam.

COUNTESS.
And to be a soldier?

FIRST GENTLEMAN.
Such is his noble purpose: and, believe 't,
The duke will lay upon him all the honour
That good convenience claims.

COUNTESS.
Return you thither?

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.

HELENA.
[Reads.] 'Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.'
'Tis bitter.

COUNTESS.
Find you that there?

HELENA.
Ay, madam.

SECOND GENTLEMAN.
'Tis but the boldness of his hand haply,
Which his heart was not consenting to.

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Bertram refuses to marry Helena because he




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