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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

by William Shakespeare

SCENE 3. The Florentine camp.

[Enter the two French Lords, and two or three Soldiers.]

FIRST LORD.
You have not given him his mother's letter?

SECOND LORD.
I have deliv'red it an hour since: there is something in't that
stings his nature; for on the reading, it he changed almost into
another man.

FIRST LORD.
He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking off so good a
wife and so sweet a lady.

SECOND LORD.
Especially he hath incurred the everlasting displeasure of the
king, who had even tuned his bounty to sing happiness to him. I
will tell you a thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with
you.

FIRST LORD.
When you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am the grave of it.

SECOND LORD.
He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in Florence, of a most
chaste renown; and this night he fleshes his will in the spoil of
her honour: he hath given her his monumental ring, and thinks
himself made in the unchaste composition.

FIRST LORD.
Now, God delay our rebellion: as we are ourselves, what things
are we!

SECOND LORD.
Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course of all
treasons, we still see them reveal themselves till they attain
to their abhorred ends; so he that in this action contrives
against his own nobility, in his proper stream, o'erflows
himself.

FIRST LORD.
Is it not meant damnable in us to be trumpeters of our unlawful
intents? We shall not then have his company to-night?

SECOND LORD.
Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.

FIRST LORD.
That approaches apace: I would gladly have him see his
company anatomized, that he might take a measure of his own
judgments, wherein so curiously he had set this counterfeit.

SECOND LORD.
We will not meddle with him till he come; for his presence must
be the whip of the other.

FIRST LORD.
In the meantime, what hear you of these wars?

SECOND LORD.
I hear there is an overture of peace.

FIRST LORD.
Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.

SECOND LORD.
What will Count Rousillon do then? will he travel higher, or
return again into France?

FIRST LORD.
I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether of his
counsel.

SECOND LORD.
Let it be forbid, sir: so should I be a great deal of his act.

FIRST LORD.
Sir, his wife, some two months since, fled from his house: her
pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques-le-Grand: which holy
undertaking with most austere sanctimony she accomplished; and,
there residing, the tenderness of her nature became as a prey to
her grief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath; and now she
sings in heaven.

SECOND LORD.
How is this justified?

FIRST LORD.
The stronger part of it by her own letters, which makes her story
true, even to the point of her death: her death itself which
could not be her office to say is come, was faithfully confirmed
by the rector of the place.

SECOND LORD.
Hath the count all this intelligence?

FIRST LORD.
Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from point, to the
full arming of the verity.

SECOND LORD.
I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.

FIRST LORD.
How mightily, sometimes, we make us comforts of our losses!

SECOND LORD.
And how mightily, some other times, we drown our gain in tears!
The great dignity that his valour hath here acquired for him
shall at home be encountered with a shame as ample.

FIRST LORD.
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together:
our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and
our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our
virtues.--

[Enter a Servant.]

How now? where's your master?

SERVANT.
He met the duke in the street, sir; of whom he hath taken
a solemn leave: his lordship will next morning for France. The
duke hath offered him letters of commendations to the king.

SECOND LORD.
They shall be no more than needful there, if they were more than
they can commend.

FIRST LORD.
They cannot be too sweet for the king's tartness. Here's his
lordship now.

[Enter BERTRAM.]

How now, my lord, is't not after midnight?

BERTRAM.
I have to-night despatch'd sixteen businesses, a month's length
apiece; by an abstract of success: I have conge'd with the duke,
done my adieu with his nearest; buried a wife, mourned for her;
writ to my lady mother I am returning; entertained my convoy; and
between these main parcels of despatch effected many nicer needs:
the last was the greatest, but that I have not ended yet.

SECOND LORD.
If the business be of any difficulty and this morning your
departure hence, it requires haste of your lordship.

BERTRAM.
I mean the business is not ended, as fearing to hear of it
hereafter. But shall we have this dialogue between the fool and
the soldier?--Come, bring forth this counterfeit module has
deceived me like a double-meaning prophesier.

SECOND LORD.
Bring him forth.

[Exeunt Soldiers.]

Has sat i' the stocks all night, poor gallant knave.

BERTRAM.
No matter; his heels have deserved it, in usurping his
spurs so long. How does he carry himself?

FIRST LORD.
I have told your lordship already; the stocks carry him. But to
answer you as you would be understood: he weeps like a wench that
had shed her milk; he hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he
supposes to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance to this
very instant disaster of his setting i' the stocks: and what
think you he hath confessed?

BERTRAM.
Nothing of me, has he?

SECOND LORD.
His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his face; if
your lordship be in't, as I believe you are, you must have the
patience to hear it.

[Re-enter Soldiers, with PAROLLES.]

BERTRAM.
A plague upon him! muffled! he can say nothing of me; hush, hush!


FIRST LORD.
Hoodman comes! Porto tartarossa.

FIRST SOLDIER.
He calls for the tortures: what will you say without 'em?

PAROLLES.
I will confess what I know without constraint; if ye pinch me
like a pasty I can say no more.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Bosko chimurcho.

FIRST LORD.
Boblibindo chicurmurco.

FIRST SOLDIER.
You are a merciful general:--Our general bids you answer to what
I shall ask you out of a note.

PAROLLES.
And truly, as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER.
'First demand of him how many horse the duke is strong.' What say
you to that?

PAROLLES.
Five or six thousand; but very weak and unserviceable: the troops
are all scattered, and the commanders very poor rogues, upon my
reputation and credit, and as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Shall I set down your answer so?

PAROLLES.
Do; I'll take the sacrament on 't, how and which way you will.

BERTRAM.
All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!

FIRST LORD.
You are deceived, my lord; this is Monsieur Parolles, the gallant
militarist (that was his own phrase),that had the whole theoric
of war in the knot of his scarf, and the practice in the chape of
his dagger.

SECOND LORD.
I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword clean; nor
believe he can have everything in him by wearing his apparel
neatly.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES.
'Five or six thousand horse' I said--I will say true--or
thereabouts, set down,--for I'll speak truth.

FIRST LORD.
He's very near the truth in this.

BERTRAM.
But I con him no thanks for't in the nature he delivers it.

PAROLLES.
Poor rogues, I pray you say.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES.
I humbly thank you, sir: a truth's a truth, the rogues are
marvellous poor.

FIRST SOLDIER.
'Demand of him of what strength they are a-foot.' What say you to
that?

PAROLLES.
By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present hour, I will
tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a hundred and fifty, Sebastian, so
many; Corambus, so many; Jaques, so many; Guiltian, Cosmo,
Lodowick, and Gratii, two hundred fifty each; mine own company,
Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred fifty each: so that the
muster-file, rotten and sound, upon my life, amounts not to
fifteen thousand poll; half of the which dare not shake the snow
from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves to pieces.

BERTRAM.
What shall be done to him?

FIRST LORD.
Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my condition, and
what credit I have with the duke.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Well, that's set down. 'You shall demand of him whether one
Captain Dumain be i' the camp, a Frenchman; what his reputation
is with the duke, what his valour, honesty, expertness in wars;
or whether he thinks it were not possible, with well-weighing
sums of gold, to corrupt him to a revolt.'
What say you to this? what do you know of it?

PAROLLES.
I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of the
inter'gatories: demand them singly.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Do you know this Captain Dumain?

PAROLLES.
I know him: he was a botcher's 'prentice in Paris, from whence he
was whipped for getting the shrieve's fool with child: a dumb
innocent that could not say him nay.

[FIRST LORD lifts up his hand in anger.]

BERTRAM.
Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know his brains are
forfeit to the next tile that falls.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Well, is this captain in the Duke of Florence's camp?

PAROLLES.
Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.

FIRST LORD.
Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of your lordship anon.

FIRST SOLDIER.
What is his reputation with the duke?

PAROLLES.
The duke knows him for no other but a poor officer of mine; and
writ to me this other day to turn him out o' the band: I think I
have his letter in my pocket.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Marry, we'll search.

PAROLLES.
In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there or it is upon
a file, with the duke's other letters, in my tent.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Here 'tis; here's a paper. Shall I read it to you?

PAROLLES.
I do not know if it be it or no.

BERTRAM.
Our interpreter does it well.

FIRST LORD.
Excellently.

FIRST SOLDIER.
[Reads.] 'Dian, the Count's a fool, and full of gold,--'

PAROLLES.
That is not the duke's letter, sir; that is an advertisement to a
proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take heed of the
allurement of one Count Rousillon, a foolish idle boy, but for
all that very ruttish: I pray you, sir, put it up again.

FIRST SOLDIER.
Nay, I'll read it first by your favour.

PAROLLES.
My meaning in't, I protest, was very honest in the behalf of the
maid; for I knew the young count to be a dangerous and lascivious
boy, who is a whale to virginity, and devours up all the fry it
finds.

BERTRAM.
Damnable! both sides rogue!

FIRST SOLDIER.
[Reads.]
'When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it:
After he scores, he never pays the score;
Half won is match well made; match, and well make it;
He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before;
And say a soldier, 'Dian,' told thee this:
Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss;
For count of this, the count's a fool, I know it,
Who pays before, but not when he does owe it.
Thine, as he vow'd to thee in thine ear,
PAROLLES.

BERTRAM.
He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme in his
forehead.

SECOND LORD.
This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold linguist, and the
armipotent soldier.

BERTRAM.
I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he's a cat to
me.

FIRST SOLDIER.
I perceive, sir, by our general's looks we shall be fain to hang
you.

PAROLLES.
My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to die, but that,
my offences being many, I would repent out the remainder of
nature: let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or
anywhere, so I may live.

FIRST SOLDIER.
We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely; therefore,
once more to this Captain Dumain: you have answered to his
reputation with the duke, and to his valour: what is his honesty?

PAROLLES.
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for rapes and
ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of
oaths; in breaking them he is stronger than Hercules. He will
lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a
fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine-drunk;
and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bedclothes
about him; but they know his conditions and lay him in straw. I
have but little more to say, sir, of his honesty; he has
everything that an honest man should not have; what an honest man
should have he has nothing.

FIRST LORD.
I begin to love him for this.

BERTRAM.
For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon him for me;
he's more and more a cat.

FIRST SOLDIER.
What say you to his expertness in war?

PAROLLES.
Faith, sir, has led the drum before the English tragedians,--to
belie him I will not,--and more of his soldiership I know not,
except in that country he had the honour to be the officer at a
place there called Mile-end to instruct for the doubling of
files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of this I am not
certain.

FIRST LORD.
He hath out-villanied villainy so far that the rarity redeems
him.

BERTRAM.
A pox on him! he's a cat still.

FIRST SOLDIER.
His qualities being at this poor price, I need not to ask you if
gold will corrupt him to revolt.

PAROLLES.
Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple of his
salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all
remainders and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.

FIRST SOLDIER.
What's his brother, the other Captain Dumain?

SECOND LORD.
Why does he ask him of me?

FIRST SOLDIER.
What's he?

PAROLLES.
E'en a crow o' the same nest; not altogether so great as the
first in goodness, but greater a great deal in evil. He excels
his brother for a coward, yet his brother is reputed one of the
best that is; in a retreat he outruns any lackey: marry, in
coming on he has the cramp.

FIRST SOLDIER.
If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the
Florentine?

PAROLLES.
Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rousillon.

FIRST SOLDIER.
I'll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.

PAROLLES.
[Aside.] I'll no more drumming; a plague of all drums! Only to
seem to deserve well, and to beguile the supposition of that
lascivious young boy the count, have I run into this danger: yet
who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?

FIRST SOLDIER.
There is no remedy, sir, but you must die: the general says you
that have so traitorously discovered the secrets of your army,
and made such pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can
serve the world for no honest use; therefore you must die. Come,
headsman, off with his head.

PAROLLES.
O Lord! sir, let me live, or let me see my death.

FIRST SOLDIER.
That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.

[Unmuffling him.]

So look about you; know you any here?

BERTRAM.
Good morrow, noble captain.

SECOND LORD.
God bless you, Captain Parolles.

FIRST LORD.
God save you, noble captain.

SECOND LORD.
Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu? I am for
France.

FIRST LORD.
Good Captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet you writ to
Diana in behalf of the Count Rousillon? an I were not a very
coward I'd compel it of you; but fare you well.

[Exeunt BERTRAM, Lords, &c.]

FIRST SOLDIER.
You are undone, captain: all but your scarf; that has a knot on't
yet.

PAROLLES.
Who cannot be crushed with a plot?

FIRST SOLDIER.
If you could find out a country where but women were that had
received so much shame, you might begin an impudent nation. Fare
ye well, sir; I am for France too: we shall speak of you there.

[Exit.]

PAROLLES.
Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great,
'Twould burst at this. Captain I'll be no more;
But I will eat, and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall: simply the thing I am
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust, sword! cool, blushes! and, Parolles, live
Safest in shame! being fool'd, by foolery thrive.
There's place and means for every man alive.
I'll after them.

[Exit.]


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