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

Act IV. Scene I.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

A Forest between Milan and Verona

Enter certain Outlaws.

First Out.Fellows, stand fast; I see a passenger.

Sec. Out.If there be ten, shrink not, but down with ’em.


Third Out.Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about ye;

If not, we’ll make you sit and rifle you.

Speed.Sir, we are undone: these are the villains

That all the travellers do fear so much.

Val.My friends,—

First Out.That’s not so, sir; we are your enemies.

Sec. Out.Peace! we’ll hear him.

Third Out.Ay, by my beard, will we, for he is a proper man.

Val.Then know, that I have little wealth to lose.

A man I am cross’d with adversity:

My riches are these poor habiliments,

Of which if you should here disfurnish me,

You take the sum and substance that I have.

Sec. Out.Whither travel you?

Val.To Verona.

First Out.Whence came you?

Val.From Milan.

Third Out.Have you long sojourn’d there?

Val.Some sixteen months; and longer might have stay’d

If crooked fortune had not thwarted me.

Sec. Out.What! were you banish’d thence?

Val.I was.

Sec. Out.For what offence?

Val.For that which now torments me to rehearse.

I kill’d a man, whose death I much repent;

But yet I slew him manfully, in fight,

Without false vantage or base treachery.

First Out.Why, ne’er repent it, if it were done so.

But were you banish’d for so small a fault?

Val.I was, and held me glad of such a doom.

Sec. Out.Have you the tongues?

Val.My youthful travel therein made me happy,

Or else I often had been miserable.

Third Out.By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar,

This fellow were a king for our wild faction!

First Out.We’ll have him: Sirs, a word.

Speed.Master, be one of them;

It is an honourable kind of thievery.

Val.Peace, villain!

Sec. Out.Tell us this: have you anything to take to?

Val.Nothing, but my fortune.

Third Out.Know then, that some of us are gentlemen,

Such as the fury of ungovern’d youth

Thrust from the company of awful men:

Myself was from Verona banished

For practising to steal away a lady,

An heir, and near allied unto the duke.

Sec Out.And I from Mantua, for a gentleman,

Who, in my mood, I stabb’d unto the heart.

First Out.And I for such like petty crimes as these.

But to the purpose; for we cite our faults,

That they may hold excus’d our lawless lives;

And, partly, seeing you are beautified

With goodly shape, and by your own report

A linguist, and a man of such perfection

As we do in our quality much want—

Sec. Out.Indeed, because you are a banish’d man,

Therefore, above the rest, we parley to you.

Are you content to be our general?

To make a virtue of necessity

And live, as we do, in this wilderness?

Third Out.What say’st thou? wilt thou be of our consort?

Say ‘ay,’ and be the captain of us all:

We’ll do thee homage and be rul’d by thee,

Love thee as our commander and our king.

First Out.But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest.

Sec. Out.Thou shalt not live to brag what we have offer’d.

Val.I take your offer and will live with you,

Provided that you do no outrages

On silly women, or poor passengers.

Third Out.No; we detest such vile, base practices.

Come, go with us; we’ll bring thee to our crews,

And show thee all the treasure we have got,

Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.[Exeunt.