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Hel. What is your pleasure, madaia ?
You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.
Hel. Mine honourable mistress.
Nay, a mother ;
That I am not.
Pardon, niadam ;
Count. Yes, Ilelen, you might be my daughter-in-law ;
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
Good madam, pardon me !
Count. Go not about ; my love hath in't a bond,
Then, I confess,
All's Well that Ends Well, act i. scene 3.
The confession of her love is drawn from her by force, she struggles against it, her whole being is shaken; but when at last the irresistible pressure put upon her by the Countess has brought it to her lips, she regains her selfpossession, her calm, her peace of mind. She admits her love without subtleties of expression, without vain pretension, with a simple but carnest passion, which, having broken for the first time from her closed hcart, finds vent in words full of cloqucncc. The Countess Roussillon is onc of those old women who, under wrinkles and white hair, remember thic brightness and beauty of their youth. How infinitely more worthy of affection she appears than the old Lady Capulet, Juliet's mother, who for the lovely being who is her own child has never one of the tender expressions by which Countess Roussillon shows that she bears her adopted daughter a true and warm mother's love. And what is the conduct of this worthy lady after Helena has confessed her passion for the young Count, and begs forgiveness of his mother for presuming to love him ? Her demeanour is original and peculiar, but quite comprehensible, if we consider her character and her sentiments towards Helena. She answers not a word to the confession she has forced, in so energetic a manner, and for which she has now not a word either of reproof or encouragement. But what she says, the questions she puts to Helena, although they seem to have no connection either with her love or with her fate, are more than an encouragement to the young girl, are almost a complete assurance that she, the mother, has no objection to her love, or even to her marriage with Bertram. Without replying to Helena's ardent words and prayers, she asks the maiden, in quiet tones, if she had not lately an intention of visiting Paris, and with what purpose she was going there? Helena answers that she had the idea of going thither because she had heard that the King of France had fallen into a malignant illness, against which all advice and all remedies proved useless, though the best and most celebrated physicians had been called in. As she has inherited from her father a prescription to cure this very disease, she deems it may prove effectual
against the king's sickness. When the Countess, as sole reply to the girl's confession of love, has put this question, when she has rejoined to Helena's answer another question, docs Helena think that the king, whose own best physicians cannot help him, will “crcdit a poor unlcarncd virgin, when the schools have lost the danger to itself," and as Hclcna rcitcratcs her intention to proceed to Paris (whither Bertram has alrcady gone), shc gives her lcave to go in these words:
Why, IIclen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
All's Well that Ends Well, act i. scene 3.
Hence it is clear that Helena's love has nothing to fear from the pride of the old Countess. Helena's soliloquy, before her confession, shows that she regards her journey to Paris and attempt to cure the king only as a means to an end, the only way of reaching her earthly bliss, the possession of Bertram and his love. She cherishes, on the other hand, an unshaken faith in the mighty and magical power of a love so warni and deep as hers. She trusts that this love will at last prove victorious, and obtain the answering passion of the man she adores.
Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
The king's discnscmy project may deceive me,
All's Well that Ends Well, act I. scene 1,
Helena carries out her resolution, and goes to the king's court at Paris. At first the king will not confide himself to her treatment, because he considers his illncss incurable, but the unshaken faith with which she offers her own life as a pledge for its success moves him to make a trial :
King. Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak
All's Well that Ends Well, act ii. scene i.
Helena answers :
Not helping, death's my fee ;
“Make thy demand," the king answers, and swears to fulfil it. She rejoins :
Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
The king promises to fulfil her desire. The cure is miraculously effected. Helena asks for Count Bertram of Roussillon as a husband. True to his word, the king says, “Why then, young Bertram, take her; she's thy wife." Bertram with angry and contemptuous expressions refuses :