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ACT I

Dialogue

OSWALD. This to thy mistress!

DORCAS. (recoiling). By our lady, nay!

OSWALD. Thou art a comely wench, and thy face tells me thou art to be trusted.

DORCAS. But art thou to be trusted? For I do not know thee; and ere now packmen have been found deceivers.

OSWALD. I am no packman! Lo! (Throws aside his cloak.) God save the King!

DORCAS. Grammercy! 'tis a gallant gentleman! (Holds out her hand.) Now will I trust thee.

OSWALD. But thou dost not know me, and ere now young men have been found deceivers.

DORCAS. I'll hazard it! (OSWALD gives her the letter.) Nay, prithee, do not cover thyself up ere I have had another glimpse of thee. (OSWALD flings off his cloak.) (Aside.) Truly a most desirable young man! (Aloud.) Dost come from London, sir?

OSWALD. From London — aye!

DORCAS. (aside, clasping hands). What pretty things they make in London town! (Aloud.) Of course, sir, thou art some fine gentleman?

OSWALD. No — but a soldier and a serving-man.

DORCAS. A serving-man! And I a serving-maid! Then this (indicating letter) comes not from thee?

OSWALD. From Master Manners. He is to whom I owe suit and service.

DORCAS. From Master Manners! Then I guess its burden.

OSWALD. Carry that burden to thy mistress, straight.

DORCAS. Is there such haste?

OSWALD. My master is hard by, and he awaits an answer.

DORCAS. Look me in the face! Art thou indeed a servant? or art thou thine own master — in disguise?

OSWALD. Nay, I am only my plain self.

DORCAS. Thank Heaven!

OSWALD. Oswald, my name!

DORCAS. Mine, Dorcas.

OSWALD. Shall we be friends?

DORCAS. With all my heart! (OSWALD approaches her, she draws back.) Hold! our acquaintance is too young for that.

OSWALD. For what? I did but offer thee my hand.

DORCAS. Was it thy hand?

OSWALD. I dared not offer more; but if thou challenge me —

DORCAS. (recoiling). Not I!

OSWALD. Thou art a winsome wench, but thou art coy.

DORCAS. Thou art not coy!

OSWALD. Life is too brief for modesty (holding her).

DORCAS. (reflectively). 'Tis rather waste of time.

OSWALD. We shall not long be young.

DORCAS. And in the end it comes to the same thing.

OSWALD. That is philosophy (kisses her).

DORCAS. Enough — for the first lesson. Art thou a great philosopher?

OSWALD. Aye; for I've read life's riddle. Life holds one secret. Live!


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