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Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference ?
French. Safely, I think : 'twas a contention in public, which may, without contradiction, suffer the report. It was much like an argument that fell out last night, where each of us fell in praise of our country mistresses: This gentleman at that time vouching (and upon warrant of bloody affirmation), his to be more fair, virtuous, wise, chaste, constant-qualified, and less attemptible, than any, the rarest of our ladies in France.
Iach. That lady is not now living; or this gentleman's opinion, by this, worn out.
Post. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.
Post. Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would abate her nothing; though I profess myself her adorer, not her friend.*
Iach. As fair, and as good (a kind of hand-in-hand comparison), had been something too fair, and too good for any lady in Britany. If she went before others l'have seen, as that diamond of yours outlustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.
Post. I praised her, as I rated her; so do I my stone.
Iach. Either your unparagon'd mistress is dead, or she's outprized by a trifle.
Post. You are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given; if there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit for the gift; the other is not a thing for sale, and only the gift of the gods.
lach. Which the gods have given you ? Post. Which by their graces, I will keep.
Iach. You may wear her in title yours: but, you know, strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stolen, too: so, of your brace of unprizeable estimations, the one is but frail, and the other casual; a cunning thief, or a that-way accomplished courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
Post. Your Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier, to convince † the honour of my mistress; if, in the holding or loss of that, you term her frail. I do nothing doubt, you have store of thieves; notwithstanding I fear not my ring.
Phi. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
Post. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.
Iach. With five times so much conversation I should get ground of your fair mistress : make her go back, even to the yielding; had I admittance, and opportunity to friend.
Post. No, no.
Iach. I dare thereon pawn the moiety of my estate to your ring; which, in my opinion, o'er-values it something: But I make my wager rather against your confidence, than her reputation: and, to har your offence herein too, I'durst attempt it against any lady in the world.
Post. You are a great deal abused * in too bold a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you're worthy of, by your attempt.
Iach. What's that?
Post. A repulse: Though your attempt, as you call it, deserve more; a punishment too.
Phi. Gentlemen, enough of this: it came in too suddenly; let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, be better acquainted.
Iach, 'Would I had put my estate, and my neighbour's, on the approbation t of what I have spoke.
Post. What lady would you choose to assail ? Iach. Yours, whom in constancy, you think, stands so safe. I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring, that, commend me to the court where your lady is, with no more advantage than the opportunity of a second conference, and I will bring from thence that honour of hers, which you imagine so reserved.
Post. I will wage against your gold, gold to it: my ring I hold dear as my finger; 'tis part of it.
Iach. You are afraid, and therein the wiser. If you buy ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you cannot preserve it from tainting : But, I see, you have some religion in you, that you fear.
Post. This is but a custom in your tongue; you bear a graver purpose, I hope.
Iach. I am the master of my speeches; and would undergo what's spoken, I swear.
Post. Will you ?-I shall but lend my diamond till your return :-Let there be covenants drawn between us: my mistress exceeds in goodness the hugeness of your unworthy thinking: I dare you to this match : here's my ring. Phi. I will have it no lay.
Iach. By the gods it is one: If I bring you no sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats are yours; so is your diamond too. If I come off, and leave her in such honour as you have trust in, she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are yours: -provided, I have your commendation, I for my more free entertainment.
Post. I embrace these conditions; let us have articles betwixt us :-only, thus far you shall answer. If you make your voyage upon her, and give me directly to understand you have prevaild, I am no further your enemy, she is not worth our debate: if she remain unseduced (you not making it appear otherwise), for your ill opinion, and the assault you have made to her chastity, you shall answer me with your sword.
Iach. Your hand; a covenant: We will have these things set down by lawful counsel, and straight away for Britain ; lest the bargain should catch cold, and starve: I will fetch my gold, and have our two wagers recorded. Post. Agreed.
[Exeunt POSTHUMUS and IACHIMO. * Deceived.
French. Will this hold, think you ?
[Exeunt. SCENE VI.-Britain. A Room in CYMBELINE's Palace.
Enter QUEEN, LADIES, and CORNELIUS. Queen. Whiles yet the dew 's on ground, gather those flowers; Make haste, who has the note of them ? 1 Lady. I, madam. Queen. Despatch.
[Exeunt LADIES. Now, master doctor; have you brought those drugs? Cor. Pleaseth your highness, ay: here they are, madam :
[Presenting a small box.
Queen. I do wonder, doctor,
Cor. Your highness
[Aside. And enemy to my son.-How now, Pisanio ? Doctor, your service for this time is ended; Take your own way.
Cor. I do suspect you, madam; But you shall do no harm.
[Aside. Queen. Hark thee, a word.
[To PISANIO. Cor. [aside). I do not like her. She doth think, she has Strange lingering poisons : I do know her spirit, And will not trust one of her malice with A drug of such damn'd nature: Those she has, Will stupify and dull the sense awhile:
* Experiments. VOL. IV
Which first, perchance, she'll prove on cats and dogs;
Queen. No further service, doctor,
fortunes all lie speechless, and his name
[The QUEEN drops a box : PÍSANIO takes it up.
Re-enter PISANIO, and LADIES.
+ Change his abode.
Bear to my closet ;-Fare thee well, Pisanio;
(Exeunt QUEEN and LANES.
[Exit. SCENE VII.-Another Room in the same.
Enter PISANIO and IACHIMO.
Iach. Change you, Madam ? The worthy Leonatus is in safety, And greets your highness dearly.
[Presents a letter. Imo. Thanks, good Sir: You are kindly welcome.
Iach. All of her, that is out of door, most rich! [Aside. If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare, She is alone the Arabian bird; and I Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend! Arm me, audacity, from head to foot? Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight; Rather, directly fly.
Imo. [reads].--He is one of the noblest note, to whose kindness I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your truest
Iach. Thanks, fairest lady.-
Imo. What makes your admiration ?