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As you like it – Act Four Scene Two & Three

A musical interlude in the forest. After killing a deer Jaques demands a song for it.

JAQUES

 …Have you no song, forester, for this purpose?

Forester

Yes, sir.

JAQUES

Sing it: ’tis no matter how it be in tune, so it
make noise enough.

Scene Three

Rosalind is waiting, impatiently,  for Orlando when Silvius arrives with the letter from Phebe

SILVIUS

My errand is to you, fair youth;
My gentle Phebe bid me give you this:
I know not the contents; but, as I guess
By the stern brow and waspish action
Which she did use as she was writing of it,
It bears an angry tenor: pardon me:
I am but as a guiltless messenger.

The letter is full of praise from Phebe for Ganymede. Rosalind accuses Silvius of writing a letter of scorn to warn Ganymede of Phebe.

ROSALIND

Patience herself would startle at this letter
And play the swaggerer; bear this, bear all:
She says I am not fair, that I lack manners;
She calls me proud, and that she could not love me,
Were man as rare as phoenix. ‘Od’s my will!
Her love is not the hare that I do hunt:
Why writes she so to me? Well, shepherd, well,
This is a letter of your own device.

SILVIUS

No, I protest, I know not the contents:
Phebe did write it.

……

SILVIUS

So please you, for I never heard it yet;
Yet heard too much of Phebe’s cruelty.

ROSALIND

She Phebes me: mark how the tyrant writes.

Reads

Art thou god to shepherd turn’d,
That a maiden’s heart hath burn’d?
Can a woman rail thus?

SILVIUS

Call you this railing?

Poor Silvius departs and Oliver, brother to Orlando arrives looking for the youth. He brings a bloody handkerchief from Orlando. He tells the story of his arrival in the forest.

OLIVER

When last the young Orlando parted from you
He left a promise to return again
Within an hour, and pacing through the forest,
Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
Lo, what befell! he threw his eye aside,
And mark what object did present itself:
Under an oak, whose boughs were moss’d with age
And high top bald with dry antiquity,
A wretched ragged man, o’ergrown with hair,
Lay sleeping on his back: about his neck
A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself,
Who with her head nimble in threats approach’d
The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,
Seeing Orlando, it unlink’d itself,
And with indented glides did slip away
Into a bush: under which bush’s shade
A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch,
When that the sleeping man should stir; for ’tis
The royal disposition of that beast
To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead:
This seen, Orlando did approach the man
And found it was his brother, his elder brother.

CELIA

O, I have heard him speak of that same brother;
And he did render him the most unnatural
That lived amongst men.

OLIVER

And well he might so do,
For well I know he was unnatural.

ROSALIND

But, to Orlando: did he leave him there,
Food to the suck’d and hungry lioness?

OLIVER

Orlando and the lion

Twice did he turn his back and purposed so;
But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
Made him give battle to the lioness,
Who quickly fell before him: in which hurtling
From miserable slumber I awaked.

 

Hearing how Orlando was injured by the lion and seeing the bloody handkerchief Rosalind faints. She tries to pretend that it was a joke but Oliver is not impressed.

OLIVER

Be of good cheer, youth: you a man! you lack a
man’s heart.

ROSALIND

I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would
think this was well counterfeited! I pray you, tell
your brother how well I counterfeited. Heigh-ho!

OLIVER

This was not counterfeit: there is too great
testimony in your complexion that it was a passion
of earnest.

ROSALIND

Counterfeit, I assure you.

OLIVER

Well then, take a good heart and counterfeit to be a man.

ROSALIND

So I do: but, i’ faith, I should have been a woman by right.

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