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All’s Well That Ends Well

ACT III SCENE V Florence. Without the walls. A tucket afar off.
[ Enter an old Widow of Florence, DIANA, VIOLENTA, and MARIANA, with other Citizens ]
Widow Nay, come; for if they do approach the city, we
shall lose all the sight.
DIANA They say the French count has done most honourable service.
Widow It is reported that he has taken their greatest
commander; and that with his own hand he slew the 5
duke’s brother.
We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary
way: hark! you may know by their trumpets.
MARIANA Come, let’s return again, and suffice ourselves with
the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this 10
French earl: the honour of a maid is her name; and
no legacy is so rich as honesty.
Widow I have told my neighbour how you have been solicited
by a gentleman his companion.
MARIANA I know that knave; hang him! one Parolles: a 15
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 seduced by them; and the misery is, 20
example, that so terrible shows in the wreck of
maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade succession,
but that they are limed with the twigs that threaten
them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but
I hope your own grace will keep you where you are, 25
though there were no further danger known but the
modesty which is so lost.
DIANA You shall not need to fear me.
Widow I hope so.
[Enter HELENA, disguised like a Pilgrim]
Look, here comes a pilgrim: I know she will lie at 30
my house; thither they send one another: I’ll
question her. God save you, pilgrim! whither are you bound?
HELENA To Saint Jaques le Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?
Widow At the Saint Francis here beside the port. 35
HELENA Is this the way?
Widow Ay, marry, is’t.
[A march afar]
Hark you! they come this way.
If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by, 40
I will conduct you where you shall be lodged;
The rather, for I think I know your hostess
As ample as myself.
HELENA Is it yourself?
Widow If you shall please so, pilgrim. 45
HELENA I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.
Widow You came, I think, from France?
HELENA I did so.
Widow Here you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service. 50
HELENA His name, I pray you.
DIANA The Count Rousillon: know you such a one?
HELENA But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him:
His face I know not.
DIANA Whatsome’er he is, 55
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?
HELENA Ay, surely, mere the truth: I know his lady.
DIANA There is a gentleman that serves the count 60
Reports but coarsely of her.
HELENA What’s his name?
DIANA Monsieur Parolles.
HELENA O, I believe with him,
In argument of praise, or to the worth 65
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 examined.
DIANA Alas, poor lady! 70
‘Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.
Widow I warrant, good creature, wheresoe’er she is,
Her heart weighs sadly: this young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleased. 75
HELENA How do you mean?
May be the amorous count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose.
Widow He does indeed;
And brokes with all that can in such a suit 80
Corrupt the tender honour of a maid:
But she is arm’d for him and keeps her guard
In honestest defence.
MARIANA The gods forbid else!
Widow So, now they come: 85
[Drum and Colours]
[Enter BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and the whole army]
That is Antonio, the duke’s eldest son;
That, Escalus.
HELENA Which is the Frenchman?
That with the plume: ’tis a most gallant fellow. 90
I would he loved his wife: if he were honester
He were much goodlier: is’t not a handsome gentleman?
HELENA I like him well.
DIANA ‘Tis pity he is not honest: yond’s that same knave
That leads him to these places: were I his lady, 95
I would Poison that vile rascal.
HELENA Which is he?
DIANA That jack-an-apes with scarfs: why is he melancholy?
HELENA Perchance he’s hurt i’ the battle.
PAROLLES Lose our drum! well. 100
MARIANA He’s shrewdly vexed at something: look, he has spied us.
Widow Marry, hang you!
MARIANA And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!
[Exeunt BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and army]
Widow The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
Where you shall host: of enjoin’d penitents 105
There’s four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
Already at my house.
HELENA I humbly thank you:
Please it this matron and this gentle maid
To eat with us to-night, the charge and thanking 110
Shall be for me; and, to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this virgin
Worthy the note.
BOTH We’ll take your offer kindly.

Next: All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 3, Scene 6