David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 1-2

— 5.1 —

Touchstone and Audrey were talking about getting married.

“We shall find a time to be married, Audrey. Be patient, gentle Audrey.”

“The priest — Sir Oliver Martext — was good enough to marry us, despite everything that the old gentleman — Jaques — said.”

“He was a most wicked Sir Oliver, Audrey. He was a most vile Martext. But, Audrey, I have heard that a young man here in the forest lays claim to you — like me, he wants to marry you.”

“Yes, I know who he is. His name is William, but he has no legal claim on me. I have already said that I want to marry you. Look. Here comes the man you mean.”

“It is meat and drink to me to see a hick. Indeed, we who have good wits have much to answer for. We are always making fun of hicks. We cannot restrain ourselves.”

William politely said, “Good day, Audrey.”

“Good day to you, William.”

William politely said to Touchstone, “And good day to you, sir.”

“Good day, gentle friend. Cover your head — you don’t need to take off your hat to show me respect. Please cover your head. How old are you, friend?”

“Twenty-five, sir.”

“A mature age. Is your name William?”

“Yes, sir.”

“It is a good name. Were you born in the forest here?”

“Yes, sir, thank God.”

“‘Thank God.’ That is a good thing to say. Are you rich?”

“Moderately, sir.”

“‘Moderately’ is a good answer, a very excellent answer, but wait, it is not. It is a moderately good answer. Are you wise?”

“Yes, sir, I have a good mind.”

“Why, you say well, but I do now remember a saying: ‘The fool thinks that he is wise, but the wise man knows that he is a fool.’ The heathen philosopher, when he had a desire to eat a grape, would open his lips when he put it into his mouth. This taught other people that grapes were made to eat and lips to open. Do you love Audrey?”

“Yes, I do, sir.”

“Give me your hand. Are you learned? Are you educated?”

“No, sir.”

“Then learn this from me: To have is to have. It is a figure of speech in rhetoric that drink, being poured out of a cup into a glass, by filling the one empties the other; for all well-known writers do agree that the Latin word ipse means he. Now know this: You are not ipse, for I am he.”

“Which he, sir?”

“The he, sir, who will marry Audrey. Therefore, you hick, abandon — which in the vulgar language means leave — the society — which boorish people call company — of this female — which in the common language is woman. Put all this together, and it means this: Either you abandon the society of this female, or you will perish, hick. Or, to say it in words that you will understand, you will die. To make it absolutely clear, I will kill you, make you go to a better world, translate your life into death, translate your liberty into bondage. I will poison you, or beat you with a club, or put a steel sword in you. I will fight you in a duel. I will overwhelm you with crafty plots. I will kill you in a hundred and fifty different ways, so therefore tremble and depart.”

“Do go away, good William,” Audrey said.

William looked at Audrey. It was clear that she preferred to marry Touchstone, so William said politely to Touchstone, “God bless you, sir,” and then he walked away.

Corin now arrived on the scene and said to Touchstone, “Ganymede and Aliena are looking for you. Come quickly!”

“Let’s hurry, Audrey,” Touchstone said.

He said to Corin, “I’m coming. I’m coming.”

— 5.2 —

In another part of the forest, Orlando said to Oliver, “Is it possible that on so little acquaintance you should have fallen in love with Aliena? That as soon as you saw her, you loved her? That as soon as you loved her, you wooed her? That, as soon as you wooed her, she agreed to marry you? Do you really mean to marry her?”

Oliver replied, “Do not criticize the giddiness — the haste — of these events. Do not criticize her poverty, the short time she and I have known each other, my sudden wooing of her, or her quick agreement to marry me. Instead, be like me and love Aliena. Say with me, ‘I love Aliena.’ Say with her that she loves me. Give your consent to this marriage so that she and I may live happily married together. This will work out to your advantage. I will give to you our father’s house and his estate that he bequeathed to me. I will live here and die here as a shepherd.”

“You have my consent to marry Aliena,” Orlando said. “Let your wedding be tomorrow. I will invite Duke Senior and all of his happy followers to the wedding. Go to Aliena and prepare for the wedding.”

Orlando added, “Look, here comes my Rosalind.”

Rosalind walked up to them and said to Oliver, “God bless you, brother-in-law,” meaning that they would become in-laws because Oliver would marry Aliena, Ganymede’s “sister.”

“God bless you, fair sister-in-law,” Oliver said. Like Orlando, he referred to Rosalind as a female, ignoring her disguise as Ganymede.

Oliver departed.

Rosalind said, “My dear Orlando, how it grieves me to see you wear your heart in a sling!”

“It is my arm.”

“I thought that your heart had been wounded with the claws of a lion.”

“My heart has been wounded, but by the eyes of a lady.”

“Did your brother tell you how I counterfeited a faint when he showed me your handkerchief?”

“Yes, he did, and he told me greater wonders than that.”

Rosalind thought, He told you of his sudden love for Celia. I wonder if he told you of any other wonders.

She said, “I know what you mean: the upcoming marriage. It is true that nothing was ever so sudden except the fight of two rams charging at each other and trying to hurt each other, and Julius Caesar’s theatrical brag of ‘I came, saw, and overcame.’ Your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked at each other, no sooner looked at each other but they loved each other, no sooner loved each other but they sighed, no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason for the sigh, no sooner knew the reason for the sigh but they sought a remedy to stop the sighs. In doing these things, they have made a pair of stairs leading to marriage. They will have to climb those stairs quickly, or they will enjoy the honeymoon before they enjoy the wedding ceremony. They are in the very passion of love and they must be together — clubs cannot part them.”

“They shall be married tomorrow, and I will invite the Duke to the wedding. But how bitter it is to look at happiness through another man’s eyes! Tomorrow my heart will be heavier than ever because I have not gotten what I wish for and must look at how happy my brother is because he has gotten what he wished for.”

“Do you want me to pretend to be Rosalind for you tomorrow?”

“I can live no longer by merely imagining what I want instead of actually having it.”

Rosalind thought, Orlando has matured. He is ready to marry.

“I will weary you then no longer with idle talk,” Rosalind said. “Listen to me. I will tell you something important. I know that you are a gentleman of good intelligence. I am not telling you this so that you should think that I am smart because I think that you are smart. I also am not trying to acquire a greater reputation except that I am trying to get you to believe that I want to help you. Believe, please, that I can do strange things. I have, since I was three years old, studied with a magician who is most knowledgeable in his white art and who does not practice damnable black magic. If you really love Rosalind as much as your behavior says you do, then when your brother marries Aliena, you shall marry Rosalind. I know into what circumstances of fortune she is driven; and it is not impossible to me, if it appears not inappropriate to you, to set her before your eyes tomorrow. She will be her own human self and not a phantom. Your soul shall not be in danger.”

“Do you really mean that you can do these things?”

“Yes, I do. I swear it by my life, which I value highly. I am a magician, but I am a white magician. Therefore, put your best clothes on and invite your friends to your wedding. If you want to be married tomorrow, you will be. And if you want to marry Rosalind tomorrow, you will.”

Rosalind heard a noise. She looked around, saw Phoebe and Silvius, and said, “Look, here comes a lover of mine and a lover of hers.”

Phoebe, who was angry, said to Rosalind, “Young man, you have done me much discourtesy. You showed Silvius the letter that I wrote to you.”

“I do not care,” Rosalind said. “It is my deliberate intention to be despiteful and discourteous to you. You are being followed by a faithful shepherd — Silvius — look at him and love him because he worships you.”

Phoebe said, “Good shepherd, tell this youth what it is to love.”

“It is to do nothing but sigh and weep, and so do I for Phoebe.”

Phoebe said, “And I for Ganymede.”

Orlando said, “And I for Rosalind.”

Rosalind said, “And I for no woman.”

Silvius added, “It is to be entirely faithful and full of devotion for the loved one, and so am I for Phoebe.”

Phoebe said, “And I for Ganymede.”

Orlando said, “And I for Rosalind.”

Rosalind said, “And I for no woman.”

Silvius added, “It is to live in a world of the imagination, a dream world, with emotions and wishes, with adoration, duty, and obedience, with humbleness, patience and impatience, purity, endurance, and dutiful respect, and so live I for Phoebe.”

Phoebe said, “And I for Ganymede.”

Orlando said, “And I for Rosalind.”

Rosalind said, “And I for no woman.”

Phoebe said to Rosalind, “If this is true, why do you blame me for loving you?”

Silvius said to Phoebe, “If this is true, why do you blame me for loving you?”

Orlando said, “If this is true, why do you blame me for loving you?”

Rosalind asked Orlando, “To whom are you speaking?”

“To Rosalind — a woman who is not here, and who does not hear me.”

“Please, no more of this,” Rosalind said. “It is like the howling of Irish wolves at the Moon.”

Rosalind said to Silvius, “I will help you, if I can.”

She said to Phoebe, “I would love you, if I could.”

She said to everyone, “Tomorrow, all of you meet me as a group.”

She said to Phoebe, “I will marry you, if I ever marry a woman, and I will be married tomorrow.”

She said to Orlando, “I will satisfy you, if ever I satisfied a man, and you will be married tomorrow.”

She said to Silvius, “I will content you, if what pleases you will content you, and you will be married tomorrow.”

She said to Orlando, “As you love Rosalind, meet me tomorrow.”

She said to Silvius, “As you love Phoebe, meet me tomorrow.”

She added, “And as I love no woman, I will meet all of you tomorrow. So farewell. Remember the commands that I have given to you.”

“I will not fail to meet you tomorrow, if I am alive,” Silvius said.

“Nor I,” Phoebe said.

“Nor I,” Orlando said.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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