Without the walls of Florence.
(Old Widow of Florence; Diana; Violenta; Mariana; Citizens; Helen; Bertram Count Roussillion; Parolles)
The Widow and Diana and their neighbors talk about Bertram’s valorous exploits. Helena enters in pilgrim’s garb and arranges to lodge with the Widow. (89 lines)
A tucket afar off. Enter old Widow of Florence, her daughter, Diana, Violenta, and Mariana, with other Citizens.
Nay, come, for if they do approach the city, we shall lose all the sight.
They say the French count has done most honorable service.
It is reported that he has taken their great’st commander, and that with his own hand he slew the Duke’s brother. Tucket. We have lost our labor, they are gone a contrary way. Hark! You may know by their trumpets.
Come, let’s return again and suffice ourselves with the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl. The honor of a maid is her name, and no legacy is so rich as honesty.
I have told my neighbor how you have been solicited by a gentleman his companion.
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 seduc’d by them, and the misery is, example, that so terrible shows in the wrack of maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade succession, but that they are lim’d with the twigs that threatens 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.
You shall not need to fear me.
Enter Helen habited like a pilgrim.
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. God save you, pilgrim, whither are bound?
To Saint Jaques le Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?
At the Saint Francis here beside the port.
Is this the way?
A march afar.
Ay, marry, is’t. Hark you, they come this way.
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.
Is it yourself?
If you shall please so, pilgrim.
I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.
You came I think from France?
I did so.
Here you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service.
His name, I pray you?
The Count Roussillion. Know you such a one?
But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him.
His face I know not.
Whatsome’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?
Ay, surely, mere the truth, I know his lady.
There is a gentleman that serves the Count
Reports but coarsely of her.
What’s his name?
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.
Alas, poor lady,
’Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.
I warr’nt, good creature, wheresoe’er she is,
Her heart weighs sadly. This young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleas’d.
How do you mean?
May be the amorous Count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose.
He does indeed,
And brokes with all that can in such a suit
Corrupt the tender honor of a maid.
But she is arm’d for him, and keeps her guard
In honestest defense.
Drum and Colors. Enter (Bertram) Count Roussillion, Parolles, and the whole army.
The gods forbid else!
So, now they come.
That is Antonio, the Duke’s eldest son,
Which is the Frenchman?
That with the plume; ’tis a most gallant fellow.
I would he lov’d his wife. If he were honester
He were much goodlier. Is’t not a handsome gentleman?
I like him well.
’Tis pity he is not honest. Yond’s that same knave
That leads him to these places. Were I his lady,
I would poison that vile rascal.
Which is he?
That jack-an-apes with scarfs. Why is he melancholy?
Perchance he’s hurt i’ th’ battle.
Lose our drum! Well.
He’s shrewdly vex’d at something. Look, he has spied us.
Marry, hang you!
And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!
Exeunt Bertram, Parolles, and army.
The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
Where you shall host. Of enjoin’d penitents
There’s four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
Already at my house.
I humbly thank you.
Please it this matron and this gentle maid
To eat with us tonight, the charge and thanking
Shall be for me, and to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this virgin
Worthy the note.
We’ll take your offer kindly.