As you Like it

Page 29

Oli. If that an eye may profit by a tongue, Then should I know you by description, Such garments, and such yeeres: the boy is faire, Of femall fauour, and bestowes himselfe Like a ripe sister: the woman low And browner then her brother: are not you The owner of the house I did enquire for? Cel. It is no boast, being ask'd, to say we are

Oli. Orlando doth commend him to you both, And to that youth hee calls his Rosalind, He sends this bloudy napkin; are you he? Ros. I am: what must we vnderstand by this? Oli. Some of my shame, if you will know of me What man I am, and how, and why, and where This handkercher was stain'd

Cel. I pray you tell it

Oli. When last the yong Orlando parted from you, He left a promise to returne againe Within an houre, and pacing through the Forrest, Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancie, Loe what befell: he threw his eye aside, And marke what obiect did present it selfe Vnder an old Oake, whose bows were moss'd with age And high top, bald with drie antiquitie: A wretched ragged man, ore-growne with haire Lay sleeping on his back; about his necke A greene and guilded snake had wreath'd it selfe, Who with her head, nimble in threats approach'd The opening of his mouth: but sodainly Seeing Orlando, it vnlink'd it selfe, And with indented glides, did slip away Into a bush, vnder which bushes shade A Lyonnesse, with vdders all drawne drie, Lay cowching head on ground, with catlike watch When that the sleeping man should stirre; for 'tis The royall disposition of that beast To prey on nothing, that doth seeme as dead: This seene, Orlando did approach the man, And found it was his brother, his elder brother

Cel. O I haue heard him speake of that same brother, And he did render him the most vnnaturall That liu'd amongst men

Oli. And well he might so doe, For well I know he was vnnaturall

Ros. But to Orlando: did he leaue him there Food to the suck'd and hungry Lyonnesse? Oli. Twice did he turne his backe, and purpos'd so: But kindnesse, nobler euer then reuenge, And Nature stronger then his iust occasion, Made him giue battell to the Lyonnesse: Who quickly fell before him, in which hurtling From miserable slumber I awaked

Cel. Are you his brother? Ros. Was't you he rescu'd? Cel. Was't you that did so oft contriue to kill him? Oli. 'Twas I: but 'tis not I: I doe not shame To tell you what I was, since my conuersion So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am

Ros. But for the bloody napkin? Oli. By and by: When from the first to last betwixt vs two, Teares our recountments had most kindely bath'd, As how I came into that Desert place. In briefe, he led me to the gentle Duke, Who gaue me fresh aray, and entertainment, Committing me vnto my brothers loue, Who led me instantly vnto his Caue, There stript himselfe, and heere vpon his arme The Lyonnesse had torne some flesh away, Which all this while had bled; and now he fainted, And cride in fainting vpon Rosalinde. Briefe, I recouer'd him, bound vp his wound, And after some small space, being strong at heart, He sent me hither, stranger as I am To tell this story, that you might excuse His broken promise, and to giue this napkin Died in this bloud, vnto the Shepheard youth, That he in sport doth call his Rosalind

Cel. Why how now Ganimed, sweet Ganimed

Oli. Many will swoon when they do look on bloud

Cel. There is more in it; Cosen Ganimed

Oli. Looke, he recouers

Ros. I would I were at home

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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