The frontiers of Mantua. A forest
Fellows, stand fast; I see a passenger.
If there be ten, shrink not, but down with 'em.
Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about ye:
If not: we'll make you sit and rifle you.
Sir, we are undone; these are the villains
That all the travellers do fear so much.
That's not so, sir: we are your enemies.
Ay, by my beard, will we, for he's a proper man.
Then know that I have little wealth to lose:
A man I am cross'd with adversity;
My riches are these poor habiliments,
Of which if you should here disfurnish me,
You take the sum and substance that I have.
Have you long sojourned there?
Some sixteen months, and longer might have stay'd,
If crooked fortune had not thwarted me.
What, were you banish'd thence?
For that which now torments me to rehearse:
I kill'd a man, whose death I much repent;
But yet I slew him manfully in fight,
Without false vantage or base treachery.
Why, ne'er repent it, if it were done so.
But were you banish'd for so small a fault?
I was, and held me glad of such a doom.
My youthful travel therein made me happy,
Or else I often had been miserable.
By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar,
This fellow were a king for our wild faction!
We'll have him. Sirs, a word.
Master, be one of them; it's an honourable kind of thievery.
Tell us this: have you any thing to take to?
Know, then, that some of us are gentlemen,
Such as the fury of ungovern'd youth
Thrust from the company of awful men:
Myself was from Verona banished
For practising to steal away a lady,
An heir, and near allied unto the duke.
And I from Mantua, for a gentleman,
Who, in my mood, I stabb'd unto the heart.
And I for such like petty crimes as these,
But to the purpose—for we cite our faults,
That they may hold excus'd our lawless lives;
And partly, seeing you are beautified
With goodly shape and by your own report
A linguist and a man of such perfection
As we do in our quality much want—
Indeed, because you are a banish'd man,
Therefore, above the rest, we parley to you:
Are you content to be our general?
To make a virtue of necessity
And live, as we do, in this wilderness?
What say'st thou? wilt thou be of our consort?
Say ay, and be the captain of us all:
We'll do thee homage and be ruled by thee,
Love thee as our commander and our king.
But if thou scorn our courtesy, thou diest.
Thou shalt not live to brag what we have offer'd.
I take your offer and will live with you,
Provided that you do no outrages
On silly women or poor passengers.
No, we detest such vile base practises.
Come, go with us, we'll bring thee to our crews,
And show thee all the treasure we have got,
Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.