The frontiers of Mantua. A forest between Milan and Verona.
(Valentine; Speed; Outlaws)
A group of outlaws set upon Valentine and Speed, but listen to Valentine’s explanation that he is poor and has been banished for killing a man. The outlaws turn out to all be gentlemen banished from here and there for offenses such as killing a man in a quarrel or trying to abduct a lady, and since they’re so honorable they decide to make Valentine their absolute leader. He agrees on condition that they won’t do anything against women or poor people. (76 lines)
Enter Valentine, Speed, and certain Outlaws.
Fellows, stand fast; I see a passenger.
If there be ten, shrink not, but down with ’em.
Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about ye.
If not, we’ll make you sit, and rifle you.
Sir, we are undone; these are the villains
That all the travellers do fear so much.
That’s not so, sir; we are your enemies.
Peace! We’ll hear him.
Ay, by my beard, will we, for he is a proper man.
Then know that I have little wealth to lose.
A man I am cross’d with adversity;
My riches are these poor habiliments,
Of which if you should here disfurnish me,
You take the sum and substance that I have.
Whither travel you?
Whence came you?
Have you long sojourn’d there?
Some sixteen months, and longer might have stay’d,
If crooked fortune had not thwarted me.
What, were you banish’d thence?
For what offense?
For that which now torments me to rehearse:
I kill’d a man, whose death I much repent,
But yet I slew him manfully in fight,
Without false vantage, or base treachery.
Why, ne’er repent it, if it were done so.
But were you banish’d for so small a fault?
I was, and held me glad of such a doom.
Have you the tongues?
My youthful travel therein made me happy,
Or else I often had been miserable.
By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar,
This fellow were a king for our wild faction!
We’ll have him. Sirs, a word.
Master, be one of them;
It’s an honorable kind of thievery.
Tell us this: have you any thing to take to?
Nothing but my fortune.
Know then, that some of us are gentlemen,
Such as the fury of ungovern’d youth
Thrust from the company of aweful men.
Myself was from Verona banished
For practicing to steal away a lady,
An heir, and near allied unto the Duke.
And I from Mantua, for a gentleman,
Who, in my mood, I stabb’d unto the heart.
And I for such like petty crimes as these.
But to the purpose—for we cite our faults
That they may hold excus’d our lawless lives;
And partly, seeing you are beautified
With goodly shape, and by your own report
A linguist, and a man of such perfection
As we do in our quality much want—
Indeed because you are a banish’d man,
Therefore, above the rest, we parley to you:
Are you content to be our general?
To make a virtue of necessity
And live as we do in this wilderness?
What say’st thou? Wilt thou be of our consort?
Say “ay” and be the captain of us all:
We’ll do thee homage and be rul’d by thee,
Love thee as our commander and our king.
But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest.
Thou shalt not live to brag what we have offer’d.
I take your offer, and will live with you,
Provided that you do no outrages
On silly women or poor passengers.
No, we detest such vile base practices.
Come, go with us, we’ll bring thee to our crews,
And show thee all the treasure we have got;
Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.