Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Cymbeline
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act III. Scene VI.
Wales.  Before the Cave of BELARIUS.
Enter IMOGEN, in boy’s clothes.
  Imo.  I see a man’s life is a tedious one;
I have tir’d myself, and for two nights together
Have made the ground my bed; I should be sick        5
But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
When from the mountain-top Pisanio show’d thee,
Thou wast within a ken. O Jove! I think
Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean,
Where they should be reliev’d. Two beggars told me        10
I could not miss my way; will poor folks lie,
That have afflictions on them, knowing ’tis
A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness
Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood        15
Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
Thou art one o’ the false ones. Now I think on thee,
My hunger’s gone, but even before I was
At point to sink for food. But what is this?
Here is a path to ’t; ’tis some savage hold;        20
I were best not call, I dare not call, yet famine,
Ere clean it o’erthrow nature, makes it valiant.
Plenty and peace breeds cowards, hardness ever
Of hardiness is mother. Ho! Who’s here?
If any thing that’s civil, speak; if savage,        25
Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I’ll enter.
Best draw my sword; and if mine enemy
But fear the sword like me, he’ll scarcely look on ’t.
Such a foe, good heavens!  [Exit to the cave.
  Bel.  You Polydore, have prov’d best woodman, and
Are master of the feast; Cadwal and I
Will play the cook and servant, ’tis our match;
The sweat of industry would dry and die
But for the end it works to. Come; our stomachs        35
Will make what’s homely savoury; weariness
Can snore upon the flint when resty sloth
Finds the down pillow hard. Now, peace be here,
Poor house, that keep’st thyself!
  Gui.        I am throughly weary.        40
  Arv.  I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.
  Gui.  There is cold meat i’ the cave; we’ll browse on that,
Whilst what we have kill’d be cook’d.
  Bel.  [Looking into the cave.]  Stay; come not in;
But that it eats our victuals, I should think        45
Here were a fairy.
  Gui.        What’s the matter, sir?
  Bel.  By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,
An earthly paragon! Behold divineness
No elder than a boy!        50
Re-enter IMOGEN.
  Imo.  Good masters, harm me not:
Before I enter’d here, I call’d; and thought
To have begg’d or bought what I have took. Good troth,
I have stol’n nought, nor would not, though I had found        55
Gold strew’d i’ the floor. Here’s money for my meat;
I would have left it on the board so soon
As I had made my meal, and parted
With prayers for the provider.
  Gui.        Money, youth?        60
  Arv.  All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!
As ’tis no better reckon’d but of those
Who worship dirty gods.
  Imo.        I see you’re angry.
Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should        65
Have died had I not made it.
  Bel.        Whither bound?
  Imo.  To Milford-Haven.
  Bel.  What’s your name?
  Imo.  Fidele, sir. I have a kinsman who        70
Is bound for Italy; he embark’d at Milford:
To whom being going, almost spent with hunger,
I am fall’n in this offence.
  Bel.        Prithee, fair youth,
Think us no churls, nor measure our good minds        75
By this rude place we live in. Well encounter’d!
’Tis almost night; you shall have better cheer
Ere you depart, and thanks to stay and eat it.
Boys, bid him welcome.
  Gui.        Were you a woman, youth,        80
I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,
I bid for you, as I do buy.
  Arv.        I’ll make ’t my comfort
He is a man; I’ll love him as my brother;
And such a welcome as I’d give to him        85
After a long absence, such is yours: most welcome!
Be sprightly, for you fall ’mongst friends.
  Imo.        ’Mongst friends,
If brothers.  [Aside.]  Would it had been so, that they
Had been my father’s sons; then had my prize        90
Been less, and so more equal ballasting
To thee, Posthumus.
  Bel.        He wrings at some distress.
  Gui.  Would I could free ’t!
  Arv.        Or I, whate’er it be,        95
What pain it cost, what danger. Gods!
  Bel.        Hark, boys.  [Whispering.
  Imo.  Great men,
That had a court no bigger than this cave,
That did attend themselves and had the virtue        100
Which their own conscience seal’d them,—laying by
That nothing-gift of differing multitudes,—
Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods!
I’d change my sex to be companion with them,
Since Leonatus’ false.        105
  Bel.        It shall be so.
Boys, we’ll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come in:
Discourse is heavy, fasting; when we have supp’d,
We’ll mannerly demand thee of thy story,
So far as thou wilt speak it.        110
  Gui.        Pray, draw near.
  Arv.  The night to the owl and morn to the lark less welcome.
  Imo.  Thanks, sir.
  Arv.        I pray, draw near.  [Exeunt.

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