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Her. Do you not jest?
Yes, 'sooth; and so do you. Lys. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
Dem. I would I had your bond; for, I perceive, A weak bond holds you. I'll not trust your word. Lys. What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her
dead? Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.
Her. What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me! Wherefore ? O me! What news, my love?
Am not I Hermia ? Are not you Lysander ?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left
Why, then you left me,—0, the gods forbid !—
In earnest shall I say?
Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore, be out of hope, of question, doubt,
Be certain nothing truer.
'Tis no jest, That I do hate thee, and love Helena.
Her. O me, you juggler! you canker-blossom! You thief of love! What, have you come by night, And stolen my love's heart from him ? Hel.
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue ?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you !
Her. Puppet! Why so? “Ay, that way goes the
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urged her height,
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.-
And are you grown so high in his esteem,
Because I am so dwarfish, and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole ? Speak;
1 A worm that preys on the leaves or buds of flowers.
How low am I? I am not yet so low,
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
Hel. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice;
Let her not strike me. You, perhaps, may think,
Because she's something lower than myself,
That I can match her.
Lower! Hark, again.
Hel. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you ;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He followed you; for love, I followed him.
But he hath chid me hence, and threatened me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no farther.
You see how simple and how fondo I am.
Her. Why, get you gone. Who is't that hinders
Hel. A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
Her. What! with Lysander ?
With Demetrius. Lys. Be not afraid ; she shall not harm thee,
Helena. Dem. No, sir ; she shall not, though you take her
part. Hel. O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd. She was a vixen, when she went to school ; And, though she be but little, she is fierce.
Her. Little again ? Nothing but low and little ? Why will you suffer her to flout me thus ? Let me come to her. Lys.
you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus of hind'ring knot-grass? made;
You bead, you acorn.
Dem. You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for if thou dost intendo
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.
Now she holds me not.
Now follow if thou dar’st, to try whose right,
Or thine, or mine, is most in Helena.
Dem. Follow ? Nay, I'll go with thee cheek by jole.
[Exeunt Lys. and Dem.
Her. You, mistress, all this coil is 'long of you.
Nay, go not back.
I will not trust you, I;
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands, than mine, are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though, to run away,
Her. I am amazed, and know not what to say.
[Exit, pursuing HELENA. Obe. This is thy negligence; still thou mistak’st, Or else committ'st thy knaveries wilfully.
Puck. Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
That I have 'nointed an Athenian's eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort,
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
Obe. Thou see'st, these lovers seek a place to fight.
Hie, therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog, as black as Acheron;
And lead these testy rivals so astray,
As one come not within another's way.
1 Anciently knot-grass was believed to prevent the growth of children 2 Pretend. 3 Aby it, for abide it, i. e. pay dearly for it, rue it. 4 Chance, fall out; from sort (French).
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might,
And make his eye-balls roll with wonted
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream, and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend
With league whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.
Puck. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste.
For night's swift dragons' cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger,
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to church-yards. Damned spirits all,
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They wilfully themselves exile from light,
And must for aye consort with black-browed night.
Obe. But we are spirits of another sort.
I with the Morning's love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
1 So in Cymbeline, Act ii. Sc. 11:
“Swift, swift, ye dragons of the night.” See note on that passage.
2 The ghosts of self-murderers, who are buried in cross-roads; and of those who, being drowned, were condemned (according to the opinion of the ancients) to wander for a hundred years, as the rites of sepulture had never been regularly bestowed on their bodies.
3 Cephalus, the mighty hunter, and paramour of Aurora, was here prob ably meant
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams.?
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.
Puck. Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
I am feared in field and town;
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.
Enter LYSANDER. Lys. Where art thou, proud Demetrius ? Speak
thou now. Puck. Here, villain ; drawn and ready. Where
art thou ? Lys. I will be with thee straight. Puck.
Follow me, then, To plainer ground. [Exit Lys. as following the voice.
Enter DEMETRIUS. Dem.
Lysander ! speak again. Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled? Speak. In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy
Puck. Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant; come, thou
I'll whip thee with a rod. He is defiled,
That draws a sword on thee.
Yea; art thou there? Puck. Follow my voice; we'll try no manhood here.
1 Oberon here boasts that he was not compelled, like meaner spirits, to vanish at the first dawn.