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The main consents are had; and here we'll stay
To see our widower's second marriage-day:
Count. Which better than the first, o dear heav'n, bless ! Or, ere they meet, in me, o nature, cease !
Laf. Come on, my son, in whom my house's name
Must be digested: give a favour from you
To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
That she may quickly come. By my old beard,
[Ber. gives a ring:
And ev'ry hair that's on’t, Helen that's dead
Was a sweet creature: such a ring as this,
The last time e'er she took her leave at court,
I saw upon her finger.
Ber. Hers it was not.
King. Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fasten’d to’t:
This ring was mine; and when I gave it Helen,
I bad her, if her fortunes ever stood
Necessited to help, that by this token
I would relieve her: had you that craft to 'reave her
Of what should stead her most?
Ber. My gracious sovereign,
Howe'er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.
Count. Son, on my life,
I've seen her wear it; and she reckon'd it
At her life's rate.
Laf. I'm sure, I saw her wear it.
Ber. You are deceiv’d, my lord, she never saw it;
In Florence was it from a casement thrown me,
Wrap'd in a paper, which contain’d the name
Of her that threw it: noble she was, and thought
I stood ungag’d; but when I had subscrib'd
To mine own fortune, and inform’d her fully
I could not answer in that course of honour
As she had made the overture, she ceas’d
In heavy satisfaction, and would never
Receive the ring again.
King. Plutus himself,
That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine,
Hath not in nature's mystery more science
Than I have in this ring: 'twas mine, 'twas Helen's,
Whoever gave it you: then, if you know
That you are well acquainted with yourself,
Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
it from her. She call’d the saints to surety,
That she would never put it from her finger,
Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,
have never come) or sent it us Upon her great disaster.
Ber. She never saw it.
King. Thou speak'st it falsely, as I love mine honour;
And mak'st conject'ral fears to come into me,
Which I would fain shut out: if it should prove
That thou art so inhuman—'twill not prove fo-
And yet I know not — thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead; which nothing, but to close
Her eyes myself, could win me to believe,
More than to see this ring. Take him away.
[guards seize Bertram.
My forepast proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
Having vainly fear’d too little. Away with him,
We'll lift this matter further.
you shall prove
This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she never was.
[Exit Bertram guarded.
Enter a Gentleman.
King. I'm wrap'd in dismal thinking.
Gent. Gracious sovereign,
Whether I've been to blame or no, I know not;
Here's a petition from a Florentine,
Who hath, some four or five removes, come short
To tender it herself. I undertook it,
Vanquish'd thereto by the fair grace and speech
Of the poor suppliant, who by this, I know,
Is here attending: her business looks in her
With an importing visage; and she told me
In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern
Your highness with herself.
The King reads a letter.
Upon his many protestations to marry me when his wife was
dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the count Rousillon
a widower; his vows are forfeited to me, and
s pay'd to
him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to
this country for justice : grant it me, o king, in your breast it lies;
otherwise, a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.
Laf. I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for him :
for this, I'll none of him.
King. The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafeu,
To bring forth this discov'ry. Seek these suitors:
Go speedily, and bring again the count.
I am afraid, the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatch’d.
Count. Now, justice on the doers !
King. I wonder, sir, wives are so monstrous to you,
And that you fly them as you swear to them;
desire to wed. What woman's that?
Enter Widow, and Diana.
Dia. I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
Derived from the ancient Capulet;
My suit, as I do understand, you know,
And therefore know how far I
may be pitied.
Wid. I am her mother, sir, whose age and honour
Both suffer under this complaint we bring,
And both shall cease without your remedy.
King. Come hither, count; do you not know these women?
Ber. My lord, I neither can nor will deny
But that I know them: do they charge me further?
Dia. Why do you look so strange upon your wife?
Ber. She's none of mine, my lord.
You give away this hand, and that is mine;
You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine;
You give away my flesh, which is known mine;
For I by vow am so embodied yours,
That she which marries you must marry me,
Either both, or none.
Laf. Your reputation comes
Short for my daughter, you are no husband for her. [to Bertram.
Ber. My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature,
Whom sometime I have laugh’d with: let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
Than e'er to think that I would sink it here.
King. Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend
Till your deeds gain them : fairer prove your honour
Than in my thought it lies !
Dia. Now, good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath, if he does think
He had not my virginity.
King. What say'st thou to her ?
Ber. She’s impudent, my lord,
And was a common gamester to the can
Dia. He does me wrong, my lord; if I were so,
He might have bought me at a common price.
Do not believe him. O, behold this ring,
Whose high respect and rich validity
Did lack a parallel : yet, for all that,
He gave it to a commoner o’th' camp,
If I be one.
Count. He blushes, and 'tis his :
Of fix preceding ancestors, that gem
Conferr’d by testament to th' sequent issue,
Hath so been ow'd, and worn. This is his wife;
That ring's a thousand proofs.
King. Methought, you said,
You saw one here in court could witness it.
Dia. I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument; his name's Parolles.
Laf. I saw the man to-day, if man he be.
King. Find him, and bring him hither.
Ber. What of him?
He's quoted for a most perfidious save,
With all the spots o'th'world tax’d and debosh’d,
Whose nature fickens but to speak a truth;
Am I or that or this, for what he'll utter,
That will speak any thing?
King. She hath that ring of
Ber. I think, she has; certain it is; I lik'd her,
And boarded her i'th' wanton way of youth:
She knew her distance, and did angle for me,
Madding my eagerness with her restraint;
As all impediments in fancy's course
Are motives of more fancy: and, in fine,
Her in suit coming with her modern grace,