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Scene Study (Female-Female)


Even so it was with me when I was young.

If ever we are nature’s, these are ours. This thorn

Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;

Our blood to us, this to our blood is born.

It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,

Where love’s strong passion is impress’d in youth.

By our remembrances of days foregone,

Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.

Her eye is sick on’t; I observe her now.


What is your pleasure, madam?


You know, Helen,

I am a mother to you.


Mine honorable mistress.


Nay, a mother,

Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”

Methought you saw a serpent. What’s in “mother,”

That you start at it? I say I am your mother,

And put you in the catalogue of those

That were enwombed mine. ’Tis often seen

Adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds

A native slip to us from foreign seeds.

You ne’er oppress’d me with a mother’s groan,

Yet I express to you a mother’s care.

God’s mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood

To say I am thy mother? What’s the matter,

That this distempered messenger of wet,

The many-color’d Iris, rounds thine eye?

—Why, that you are my daughter?


That I am not.


I say I am your mother.


Pardon, madam;

The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother:

I am from humble, he from honored name;

No note upon my parents, his all noble.

My master, my dear lord he is, and I

His servant live, and will his vassal die.

He must not be my brother.


Nor I your mother?


You are my mother, madam; would you were—

So that my lord your son were not my brother—

Indeed my mother! Or were you both our mothers,

I care no more for than I do for heaven,

So I were not his sister. Can’t no other,

But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?


Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law.

God shield you mean it not! “daughter” and “mother”

So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?

My fear hath catch’d your fondness! Now I see

The myst’ry of your loneliness, and find

Your salt tears’ head, now to all sense ’tis gross:

You love my son. Invention is asham’d,

Against the proclamation of thy passion,

To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true,

But tell me then ’tis so; for look, thy cheeks

Confess it, t’ one to th’ other, and thine eyes

See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors

That in their kind they speak it. Only sin

And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,

That truth should be suspected. Speak, is’t so?

If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;

If it be not, forswear’t; howe’er, I charge thee,

As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,

To tell me truly.


Good madam, pardon me!


Do you love my son?


Your pardon, noble mistress!


Love you my son?


Do not you love him, madam?


Go not about; my love hath in’t a bond

Whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose

The state of your affection, for your passions

Have to the full appeach’d.


Then I confess

Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,

That before you, and next unto high heaven,

I love your son.

My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.

Be not offended, for it hurts not him

That he is lov’d of me; I follow him not

By any token of presumptuous suit,

Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,

Yet never know how that desert should be.

I know I love in vain, strive against hope;

Yet in this captious and intenible sieve

I still pour in the waters of my love

And lack not to lose still. Thus Indian-like,

Religious in mine error, I adore

The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,

But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,

Let not your hate encounter with my love

For loving where you do; but if yourself,

Whose aged honor cites a virtuous youth,

Did ever in so true a flame of liking

Wish chastely, and love dearly, that your Dian

Was both herself and Love, O then give pity

To her whose state is such that cannot choose

But lend and give where she is sure to lose;

That seeks not to find that her search implies,

But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.


Had you not lately an intent—speak truly—

To go to Paris?


Madam, I had.


Wherefore? tell true.


I will tell truth, by grace itself I swear.

You know my father left me some prescriptions

Of rare and prov’d effects, such as his reading

And manifest experience had collected

For general sovereignty; and that he will’d me

In heedfull’st reservation to bestow them,

As notes whose faculties inclusive were

More than they were in note. Amongst the rest,

There is a remedy, approv’d, set down,

To cure the desperate languishings whereof

The King is render’d lost.


This was your motive

For Paris, was it? speak.


My lord your son made me to think of this;

Else Paris, and the medicine, and the King,

Had from the conversation of my thoughts

Happily been absent then.


But think you, Helen,

If you should tender your supposed aid,

He would receive it? He and his physicians

Are of a mind; he, that they cannot help him,

They, that they cannot help. How shall they credit

A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools,

Embowell’d of their doctrine, have left off

The danger to itself?


There’s something in’t

More than my father’s skill, which was the great’st

Of his profession, that his good receipt

Shall for my legacy be sanctified

By th’ luckiest stars in heaven, and would your honor

But give me leave to try success, I’d venture

The well-lost life of mine on his Grace’s cure

By such a day, an hour.


Dost thou believe’t?


Ay, madam, knowingly.


Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,

Means and attendants, and my loving greetings

To those of mine in court. I’ll stay at home

And pray God’s blessing into thy attempt.

Be gone tomorrow, and be sure of this,

What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.


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