Illyria. A street.
Malvolio catches up to Viola and hands her the ring Olivia gave him. Viola protests that she left no ring with Olivia, but Malvolio insists, and drops the ring in the dirt for her to pick up. Left alone, Viola considers the situation and suddenly realizes that the only explanation for Olivia’s actions is that she’s fallen in love with Cesario. Which is a bit of a problem, since Cesario is in fact Viola, who is in love with Orsino, on whose behalf she/he is wooing Olivia. Viola can think of no solution but to let time take care of things. (30 lines)
Enter Viola and Malvolio at several doors.
Were you not ev’n now with the Countess Olivia?
Even now, sir; on a moderate pace I have since arriv’d but hither.
She returns this ring to you, sir. You might have sav’d me my pains, to have taken it away yourself. She adds moreover, that you should put your lord into a desperate assurance she will none of him. And one thing more, that you be never so hardy to come again in his affairs, unless it be to report your lord’s taking of this. Receive it so.
She took the ring of me, I’ll none of it.
Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her will is, it should be so return’d. If it be worth stooping for, there it lies, in your eye; if not, be it his that finds it.
I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charm’d her!
She made good view of me; indeed so much
That methought her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me sure, the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.
None of my lord’s ring? Why, he sent her none.
I am the man! If it be so, as ’tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper-false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be.
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly,
And I (poor monster) fond as much on him;
And she (mistaken) seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master’s love;
As I am woman (now alas the day!),
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe!
O time, thou must untangle this, not I,
It is too hard a knot for me t’ untie.