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ROUSILLON. A ROOM IN THE COUNTESS'S PALACE.
Enter Countess and Steward.
Count. Alas! and would you take the letter of her?
Might you not know, she would do as she has done,
Stew. I am Saint Jaques' pilgrim, thither gone;
With sainted vow my faults to have amended.
I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
Count. Ah, what sharp stings are in her mildest words!
Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much,
Which thus she hath prevented.
Pardon me, madam:
If I had given you this at over-night,
She might have been o'erta'en; and yet she writes, Pursuit would be but vain.
Count. What angel shall Bless this unworthy husband? he cannot thrive, Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear, And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath Of greatest justice.-Write, write, Rinaldo, To this unworthy husband of his wife; Let every word weigh heavy of her worth, That he does weigh too light: my greatest grief, Though little he do feel it, set down sharply. Despatch the most convenient messenger:— When, haply, he shall hear that she is gone, He will return; and hope I may, that she, Hearing so much, will speed her foot again, Led hither by pure love: which of them both Is dearest to me, I have no skill in sense To make distinction:-Provide this messenger:My heart is heavy, and mine age is weak; Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.
WITHOUT THE WALLS OF FLORENCE.
A tucket afar off. Enter an old Widow of Florence, Diana, Violenta, Mariana, and other Citizens.
Wid. Nay, come; for if they do approach the city, we shall lose all the sight.
Dia. They say, the French count has done most
Wid. It is reported that he has taken their greatest commander; and that with his own hand he slew the duke's brother. We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way: hark! you may know by their trumpets.
Mar. Come, let's return again, and suffice ourselves with the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl: the honour of a maid is her name; and no legacy is so rich as honesty.
Wid. I have told my neighbour, how you have been solicited by a gentleman his companion.
Mar. I know that knave; hang him! one Parolles: a 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, 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, though there were no further danger known, but the modesty which is so lost. Dia. You shall not need to fear me.
Enter Helena, in the dress of a Pilgrim. Wid. I hope so. --Look, here comes a pilgrim: I know she will lie at my house: thither they send one another: I'll question her.-—
God save you pilgrim! Whither are you bound? Hel. To Saint Jaques le grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you? Wid. At the Saint Francis here, beside the port. Hel. Is this the way?
Ay, marry, is it.—Hark you! [A march afar off. They come this way:-If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodg'd;
Hel. I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.
His face I know not.
Whatsoe'er he is,
He's bravely taken here. He stole from France, As 'tis reported, for the king had married him
I did so.
Against his liking: Think you it is so?
Hel. Ay, surely, mere the truth; I know his lady.
Dia. There is a gentleman, that serves the count, Reports but coarsely of her.
What's his name?
Dia. Monsieur Parolles.
O, I believe with him, In argument of praise, or to the worth
Of the great count himself, she is too mean
I have not heard examin'd.
Wid. A right good creature: wheresoe'er she is, Her heart weighs sadly: this young maid might do
A shrewd turn, if she pleas'd.
Hel. How do you mean? May be, the amorous count solicits her In the unlawful purpose.
He does, indeed;
But she is arm'd for him, and keeps her guard
Enter with drum and colours, a party of the Florentine army, Bertram, and Parolles.
Mar. The gods forbid else! Wid. So, now they come:That is Antonio, the duke's eldest son; That, Escalus.
Which is the Frenchman?