Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  All’s Well that Ends Well

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene V.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Without the Walls of Florence.

A tucket afar off.Enter a 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 honourable service.

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 wrack 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.

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.

Enter HELENA in the dress of a Pilgrim.

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?

Wid.Ay, marry, is ’t. 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:

The rather, for I think I know your hostess

As ample as myself.

Hel.Is it yourself?

Wid.If you shall please so, pilgrim.

Hel.I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.

Wid.You came, I think, from France?

Hel.I did so.

Wid.Here you shall see a countryman of yours

That has done worthy service.

Hel.His name, I pray you.

Dia.The Count Rousillon: know you such a one?

Hel.But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him;

His face I know not.

Dia.Whatsoe’er he is,

He’s bravely taken here. He stole from France,

As ’tis reported, for the king had married him

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.

Hel.What’s his name?

Dia.Monsieur Parolles.

Hel.O! I believe with him,

In argument of praise, or to the worth

Of the great count himself, she is too mean

To have her name repeated: all her deserving

Is a reserved honesty, and that

I have not heard examin’d.

Dia.Alas, poor lady!

’Tis a hard bondage to become the wife

Of a detesting lord.

Wid.Ay, right; good creature, wheresoe’er she is,

Her heart weighs sadly. This young maid might do her

A shrewd turn if she pleas’d.

Hel.How do you mean?

May be the amorous count solicits her

In the unlawful purpose.

Wid.He does, indeed;

And brokes with all that can in such a suit

Corrupt the tender honour of a maid:

But she is arm’d for him and keeps her guard

In honestest defence.

Mar.The gods forbid else!

Enter, with drum and colours, a party of the Florentine army, BERTRAM and PAROLLES.

Wid.So, now they come.

That is Antonio, the duke’s eldest son;

That, Escalus.

Hel.Which is the Frenchman?


That with the plume: ’tis a most gallant fellow;

I would he lov’d his wife. If he were honester,

He were much goodlier; is ’t not a handsome gentleman?

Hel.I like him well.

Dia.’Tis pity he is not honest. Yond’s that same knave

That leads him to these places: were I his lady

I would poison that vile rascal.

Hel.Which is he?

Dia.That jack-an-apes with scarfs. Why is he melancholy?

Hel.Perchance he’s hurt i’ the battle.

Par.Lose our drum! well.

Mar.He’s shrewdly vexed at something.

Look, he has spied us.

Wid.Marry, hang you!

Mar.And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier![Exeunt BERTRAM, PAROLLES, Officers, and Soldiers.

Wid.The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you

Where you shall host: of enjoin’d penitents

There’s four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,

Already at my house.

Hel.I humbly thank you.

Please it this matron and this gentle maid

To eat with us to-night, the charge and thanking

Shall be for me; and, to requite you further,

I will bestow some precepts of this virgin

Worthy the note.

Both.We’ll take your offer kindly.[Exeunt.