William Shakespeare's "All's Well that Ends Well" in the complete original text.
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All's Well that Ends Well

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Act III. Scene VI.

Scene VI.—Camp before Florence.

Enter BERTRAM and the two French Lords.

First Lord. Nay, good my lord, put him to't:
let him have his way.
Sec. Lord. If your lordship find him not a
hilding, hold me no more in your respect.
First Lord. On my life, my lord, a bubble.
Ber. Do you think I am so far deceived in him?
First Lord. Believe it, my lord, in mine own
direct knowledge, without any malice, but to
speak of him as my kinsman, he's a most notable
coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly
promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality
worthy your lordship's entertainment.
Sec. Lord. It were fit you knew him; lest, re-
posing too far in his virtue, which he hath not,
he might at some great and trusty business in a
main danger fail you.
Ber. I would I knew in what particular action
to try him.
Sec. Lord. None better than to let him fetch
off his drum, which you hear him so confidently
undertake to do.
First Lord. I, with a troop of Florentines,
will suddenly surprise him: such I will have
whom I am sure he knows not from the enemy.
We will bind and hoodwink him so, that he shall
suppose no other but that he is carried into the
leaguer of the adversaries, when we bring him to
our own tents. Be but your lordship present at
the examination: if he do not, for the promise
of his life and in the highest compulsion of base
fear, offer to betray you and deliver all the in-
telligence in his power against you, and that with
the divine forfeit of his soul upon oath, never
trust my judgment in anything.
Sec. Lord. O! for the love of laughter, let him
fetch his drum: he says he has a stratagem
for't. When your lordship sees the bottom of
his success in't, and to what metal this counter-
feit lump of ore will be melted, if you give him
not John Drum's entertainment, your inclining
cannot be removed. Here he comes.
First Lord. O! for the love of laughter, hinder
not the honour of his design: let him fetch off
his drum in any hand.

Ber. How now, monsieur! this drum sticks
sorely in your disposition.
Sec. Lord. A pox on't! let it go: 'tis but a
Par. 'But a drum!' Is't 'but a drum?' A drum
so lost! There was excellent command, to charge
in with our horse upon our own wings, and to
rend our own soldiers!
Sec. Lord. That was not to be blamed in the
command of the service: it was a disaster of war
that Cæsar himself could not have prevented if
he had been there to command.
Ber. Well, we cannot greatly condemn our
success: some dishonour we had in the loss of
that drum; but it is not to be recovered.
Par. It might have been recovered.
Ber. It might; but it is not now.
Par. It is to be recovered. But that the
merit of service is seldom attributed to the true
and exact performer, I would have that drum or
another, or hic jacet.
Ber. Why, if you have stomach to't, monsieur,
if you think your mystery in stratagem can bring
this instrument of honour again into its native
quarter, be magnanimous in the enterprise and
go on; I will grace the attempt for a worthy
exploit: if you speed well in it, the duke shall
both speak of it, and extend to you what further
becomes his greatness, even to the utmost syllable
of your worthiness.
Par. By the hand of a soldier, I will under-
take it.
Ber. But you must not now slumber in it.
Par. I'll about it this evening: and I will
presently pen down my dilemmas, encourage
myself in my certainty, put myself into my
mortal preparation, and by midnight look to
hear further from me.
Ber. May I be bold to acquaint his Grace you
are gone about it?
Par. I know not what the success will be, my
lord; but the attempt I vow.
Ber. I know thou'rt valiant; and, to the pos-
sibility of thy soldiership, will subscribe for thee.
Par. I love not many words. [Exit.
First Lord. No more than a fish loves water.
Is not this a strange fellow, my lord, that so con-
fidently seems to undertake this business, which
he knows is not to be done; damns himself to
do, and dares better be damned than to do't?
Sec. Lord. You do not know him, my lord, as
we do: certain it is, that he will steal himself
into a man's favour, and for a week escape a
great deal of discoveries; but when you find
him out you have him ever after,
Ber. Why, do you think he will make no deed
at all of this that so seriously he does address
himself unto?
First Lord. None in the world; but return
with an invention and clap upon you two or
three probable lies. But we have almost em-
bossed him, you shall see his fall to-night; for,
indeed, he is not for your lordship's respect.
Sec. Lord. We'll make you some sport with
the fox ere we case him. He was first smoked
by the old Lord Lafeu: when his disguise and
he is parted, tell me what a sprat you shall find
him; which you shall see this very night.
First Lord, I must go look my twigs: he
shall be caught.
Ber. Your brother he shall go along with me.
First Lord. As't please your lordship: I'll
leave you. [Exit.
Ber. Now will I lead you to the house, and
show you
The lass I spoke of.
Sec. Lord. But you say she's honest.
Ber. That's all the fault. I spoke with her
but once,
And found her wondrous cold; but I sent to her,
By this same coxcomb that we have i' the wind,
Tokens and letters which she did re-send;
And this is all I have done. She's a fair creature;
Will you go see her?
Sec. Lord. With all my heart, my lord.
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