As You Like It By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 3

It is no boast, being ask'd, to say we are.

Orlando doth commend him to you both;
And to that youth he calls his Rosalind
He sends this bloody napkin: — are you he?

I am: what must we understand by this?

Some of my shame; if you will know of me
What man I am, and how, and why, and where,
This handkerchief was stain'd.

I pray you, tell it.

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,
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
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
Into a bush: under which bush's shade
A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
Lay couching, head on ground, with cat-like watch,
When that the sleeping man should stir; for 'tis
The royal disposition of that beast
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.

O, I have heard him speak of that same brother;
And he did render him the most unnatural
That liv'd amongst men.

And well he might so do,
For well I know he was unnatural.

But, to Orlando: — did he leave him there,
Food to the suck'd and hungry lioness?

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
From miserable slumber I awak'd.

Are you his brother?

Was it you he rescued?

Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?

'Twas I; but 'tis not I: I do not shame
To tell you what I was, since my conversion
So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.

But, for the bloody napkin? —

By and by.
When from the first to last, betwixt us two,
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,
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.
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,
Dy'd in his blood, unto the shepherd-youth
That he in sport doth call his Rosalind.

[ROSALIND faints.]

Why, how now, Ganymede! sweet Ganymede!

Many will swoon when they do look on blood.

There is more in it: — Cousin — Ganymede!

Look, he recovers.

I would I were at home.

We'll lead you thither: —
I pray you, will you take him by the arm?

Be of good cheer, youth: — you a man? — You lack a man's heart.

I do so, I confess it. Ah, sir, a body would think
this was well counterfeited. I pray you tell your brother how
well I counterfeited. — Heigh-ho! —

This was not counterfeit; there is too great testimony
in your complexion that it was a passion of earnest.

Counterfeit, I assure you.

Well then, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a man.

So I do: but, i' faith, I should have been a woman by right.

Come, you look paler and paler: pray you draw homewards. —
Good sir, go with us.

That will I, for I must bear answer back
How you excuse my brother, Rosalind.

I shall devise something: but, I pray you, commend my
counterfeiting to him. — Will you go?


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