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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 am wrapp'd in dismal thinkings.


Gracious sovereign,

Whether I have been to blame, or no, I know not;
Here's a petition from a Florentine,

Who hath, for 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.

King. [Reads.]-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 cows are forfeited to me, and my honour's paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice: Grant it me, O king; in you it best 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 him: for this, I'll none of him.

King. The heavens have thought well on thee,


To bring forth this discovery.-Seek these suitors:Go, speedily, and bring again the count.

[Exeunt Gentleman, and some Attendants. I am afeard, the life of Helen, lady,

Was foully snatch'd.


Now, justice on the doers!

Enter Bertram, guarded.

King. I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to


And that you fly them as you swear them lordship, Yet you desire to marry.-What woman's that?

Re-enter Gentleman, with 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 know these


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


Ber. She's none of mine, my lord.

If you



You give away this hand, and that is mine;

You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine;
You give away myself, 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 [To Bertram.] comes too short for my daughter, you are no husband for her. Ber. My lord, this is a fond and desperate crea


Whom sometime I have laugh'd with: let your highness

Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour,
Than for to think that I would sink it here.

King. Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to

Till your deeds gain them: Fairer prove your ho


Than in my thought it lies!


Good my lord,

Ask him upon his oath, if he does think

He had not my virginity.

King. What say'st thou to her?


She's impudent, my lord;

And was a common gamester to the camp.

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,



it to a commoner o'the camp,

If I be one.


He blushes, and 'tis it:

Of six preceding ancestors, that gem
Conferr'd by testament to the sequent issue,

Hath it been ow'd, and worn.

That ring's a thousand proofs.


This is his wife;

Methought, you said,

You saw one here in court could witness it.
Dia. I did, my lord, but loth 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.

What of him?

He's quoted for a most perfidious slave,

With all the spots o'the world tax'd and debosh'd; Whose nature sickens, but to speak a truth:

Am I or that, or this, for what he'll utter,

That will speak any thing?

She hath that ring of


King. Ber. I think, she has: certain it is, I lik'd her, And boarded her i'the 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 insuit coming with her modern grace, Subdued me to her rate: she got the ring; And I had that, which any inferior might At market-price have bought.


I must be patient;

You, that turn'd off a first so noble wife,

May justly diet me. I pray you yet,

(Since you lack virtue, I will lose a husband,) Send for your ring, I will return it home,

And give me mine again.


I have it not.

King. What ring was yours,

The same upon your finger.

[blocks in formation]

King, Know you this ring? this ring was his of


Dia. And this was it I gave him, being a-bed. King. The story then goes false, you threw it him Out of a casement.


I have spoke the truth.

Enter Parolles.

Ber. My lord, I do confess, the ring was hers. King. You boggle shrewdly, every feather starts you.

Is this the man you speak of?


Ay, my lord.

King. Tell me, but, sirrah, tell me true, I charge


Not fearing the displeasure of your master, (Which, on your just proceeding, I'll keep off,) By him, and by this woman here, what know you? Par. So please your majesty, my master hath been an honourable gentleman; tricks he hath had in him, which gentlemen have.

King. Come, come, to the purpose: Did he love this woman?

Par. 'Faith, sir, he did love her; But how?

King. How, I pray you?

Par. He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves

a woman.

King. How is that?

Par. He loved her, sir, and loved her not.

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