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All's Wells That Ends Wells [TOP]

Helena fakes her own death. Bertram, thinking he is free of her, comes home. He tries to marry a local lord's daughter, but Diana shows up and breaks up the engagement. Helena appears and explains the ring swap, announcing that she has fulfilled Bertram's challenge; Bertram, impressed by all she has done to win him, swears his love to her. Thus all ends well.

All's Wells That Ends Wells

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There is a subplot about Parolles, a disloyal associate of Bertram's: Some of the lords at the court attempt to get Bertram to know that his friend Parolles is a boasting coward, as Lafew and the Countess have also said. They convince Parolles to cross into enemy territory to fetch a drum that he left behind. While on his way, they pose as enemy soldiers, kidnap him, blindfold him, and, with Bertram observing, get him to betray his friends, and besmirch Bertram's character.

He writes to Helen that he will not acknowledge their marriage until she can prove she wears his heirloom ring and carries his child. Helen returns home to Roussillon, but she does not give up. Instead, she soon leaves and, disguised as a pilgrim, follows Bertram to Florence. There, she befriends a widow and her daughter Diana. Meanwhile, Bertram has formed an obsession with Diana during his time in Italy. The soldiers jokingly trick Paroles into proving he is a coward, while Bertram makes intentions to sleep with Diana.

Before the situation can be resolved, Diana arrives at court with Bertram's ring and accuses him of seducing and then deserting her. Bertram denies her, but Lafeu withdraws his offer of his daughter, suspecting falsehood. The King orders Diana away to prison, but stops when the widow brings in Helen to be a witness to Diana's story. The King and her friends recognise the pregnant Helen and welcome her. Diana acknowledges that the ring given to her by Bertram came from Helen. They also recognise that Helen is wearing Bertram's ring and carrying his child. She met both of his qualifications for accepting the marriage. Bertram asks pardon and accepts his wife. The King allows Diana, in recompense for her troubles, to choose a husband among his courtiers and promises her a dowry. The play ends as everyone goes in together to talk over their stories.

Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and ClownCOUNTESSI will now hear; what say you of this gentlewoman?StewardMadam, the care I have had to even your content, Iwish might be found in the calendar of my pastendeavours; for then we wound our modesty and makefoul the clearness of our deservings, when ofourselves we publish them.COUNTESSWhat does this knave here? Get you gone, sirrah:the complaints I have heard of you I do not allbelieve: 'tis my slowness that I do not; for I knowyou lack not folly to commit them, and have abilityenough to make such knaveries yours.Clown'Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor fellow.COUNTESSWell, sir.ClownNo, madam, 'tis not so well that I am poor, thoughmany of the rich are damned: but, if I may haveyour ladyship's good will to go to the world, Isbelthe woman and I will do as we may.COUNTESSWilt thou needs be a beggar?ClownI do beg your good will in this case.COUNTESSIn what case?ClownIn Isbel's case and mine own. Service is noheritage: and I think I shall never have theblessing of God till I have issue o' my body; forthey say barnes are blessings.COUNTESSTell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.ClownMy poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven onby the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.COUNTESSIs this all your worship's reason?ClownFaith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as theyare.COUNTESSMay the world know them?ClownI have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you andall flesh and blood are; and, indeed, I do marrythat I may repent.COUNTESSThy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.ClownI am out o' friends, madam; and I hope to havefriends for my wife's sake.COUNTESSSuch friends are thine enemies, knave.ClownYou're shallow, madam, in great friends; for theknaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of.He that ears my land spares my team and gives meleave to in the crop; if I be his cuckold, he's mydrudge: he that comforts my wife is the cherisherof my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my fleshand blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves myflesh and blood is my friend: ergo, he that kissesmy wife is my friend. If men could be contented tobe what they are, there were no fear in marriage;for young Charbon the Puritan and old Poysam thePapist, howsome'er their hearts are severed inreligion, their heads are both one; they may jowlhorns together, like any deer i' the herd.COUNTESSWilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and calumnious knave?ClownA prophet I, madam; and I speak the truth the nextway:For I the ballad will repeat,Which men full true shall find;Your marriage comes by destiny,Your cuckoo sings by kind.COUNTESSGet you gone, sir; I'll talk with you more anon.StewardMay it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come toyou: of her I am to speak.COUNTESSSirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her;Helen, I mean.Clown Was this fair face the cause, quoth she,Why the Grecians sacked Troy?Fond done, done fond,Was this King Priam's joy?With that she sighed as she stood,With that she sighed as she stood,And gave this sentence then;Among nine bad if one be good,Among nine bad if one be good,There's yet one good in ten.COUNTESSWhat, one good in ten? you corrupt the song, sirrah.ClownOne good woman in ten, madam; which is a purifyingo' the song: would God would serve the world so allthe year! we'ld find no fault with the tithe-woman,if I were the parson. One in ten, quoth a'! An wemight have a good woman born but one every blazingstar, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lotterywell: a man may draw his heart out, ere a' pluckone.COUNTESSYou'll be gone, sir knave, and do as I command you.ClownThat man should be at woman's command, and yet nohurt done! Though honesty be no puritan, yet itwill do no hurt; it will wear the surplice ofhumility over the black gown of a big heart. I amgoing, forsooth: the business is for Helen to come hither.Exit

Enter the two French Lords and some two or three SoldiersFirst LordYou have not given him his mother's letter?Second LordI have delivered it an hour since: there issomething in't that stings his nature; for on thereading it he changed almost into another man.First LordHe has much worthy blame laid upon him for shakingoff so good a wife and so sweet a lady.Second LordEspecially he hath incurred the everlastingdispleasure of the king, who had even tuned hisbounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you athing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.First LordWhen you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am thegrave of it.Second LordHe hath perverted a young gentlewoman here inFlorence, of a most chaste renown; and this night hefleshes his will in the spoil of her honour: he hathgiven her his monumental ring, and thinks himselfmade in the unchaste composition.First LordNow, God delay our rebellion! as we are ourselves,what things are we!Second LordMerely our own traitors. And as in the common courseof all treasons, we still see them revealthemselves, till they attain to their abhorred ends,so he that in this action contrives against his ownnobility, in his proper stream o'erflows himself.First LordIs it not meant damnable in us, to be trumpeters ofour unlawful intents? We shall not then have hiscompany to-night?Second LordNot till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.First LordThat approaches apace; I would gladly have him seehis company anatomized, that he might take a measureof his own judgments, wherein so curiously he hadset this counterfeit.Second LordWe will not meddle with him till he come; for hispresence must be the whip of the other.First LordIn the mean time, what hear you of these wars?Second LordI hear there is an overture of peace.First LordNay, I assure you, a peace concluded.Second LordWhat will Count Rousillon do then? will he travelhigher, or return again into France?First LordI perceive, by this demand, you are not altogetherof his council.Second LordLet it be forbid, sir; so should I be a great dealof his act.First LordSir, his wife some two months since fled from hishouse: her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaquesle Grand; which holy undertaking with most austeresanctimony she accomplished; and, there residing thetenderness of her nature became as a prey to hergrief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath, andnow she sings in heaven.Second LordHow is this justified?First LordThe stronger part of it by her own letters, whichmakes her story true, even to the point of herdeath: her death itself, which could not be heroffice to say is come, was faithfully confirmed bythe rector of the place.Second LordHath the count all this intelligence?First LordAy, and the particular confirmations, point frompoint, so to the full arming of the verity.Second LordI am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.First LordHow mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our losses!Second LordAnd how mightily some other times we drown our gainin tears! The great dignity that his valour hathhere acquired for him shall at home be encounteredwith a shame as ample.First LordThe web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good andill together: our virtues would be proud, if ourfaults whipped them not; and our crimes woulddespair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.Enter a Messenger 041b061a72

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