As You Like It

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 6

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CHARLES

105Marry, do I, sir, and I came to acquaint you with a matter. I am given, sir, secretly to understand that your younger brother Orlando hath a disposition to come in disguised against me to try a fall. Tomorrow, sir, I wrestle for my credit, and he that escapes me without some broken limb shall acquit him well. Your brother is but young and tender, and, for your love I would be loath to foil him, as I must for my own honor if he come in. Therefore, out of my love to you, I came hither to acquaint you withal, that either you might stay him from his intendment or brook such disgrace well as he shall run into, in that it is a thing of his own search and altogether against my will.

CHARLES

Indeed I do, sir, and I’ve come to let you in on a certain problem. I’ve been informed by certain sources I can’t disclose that your younger brother Orlando plans to fight me in disguise. Tomorrow, sir, I’m fighting for my reputation, and any man who gets away without a broken bone or two is an exceptional wrestler indeed. Your brother is young and inexperienced, and because of my affection for you, I’d hate to crush him—though I’d have to, if he challenged me. I’m telling you all this out of affection for you, so you can either keep him from carrying out his plans or prepare to accept his disgrace, which will be his own fault, not mine.

OLIVER

Charles, I thank thee for thy love to me, which thou shalt find I will most kindly requite. I had myself notice of my brother’s purpose herein and have by underhand means labored to dissuade him from it; but he is resolute. I’ll tell thee, Charles: it is the stubbornest young fellow of France, full of ambition, an envious emulator of every man’s good parts, a secret and villainous contriver against me his natural brother. Therefore use thy discretion. I had as lief thou didst break his neck as his finger. And thou wert best look to ’t, for if thou dost him any slight disgrace or if he do not mightily grace himself on thee, he will practice against thee by poison, entrap thee by some treacherous device and never leave thee till he hath ta'en thy life by some indirect means or other. For I assure thee—and almost with tears I speak it—there is not one so young and so villainous this day living. I speak but brotherly of him, but should I anatomize him to thee as he is, I must blush and weep, and thou must look pale and wonder.

OLIVER

Charles, I thank you for your loyalty to me, and you’ll see that I’ll reward you. I’d heard about my brother’s plan and have been subtly trying to change his mind, but he’s determined. I tell you, Charles, he’s the stubbornest young fellow in France: overly ambitious, jealous of other people’s good qualities, and a traitor against me, his own blood brother. So use your discretion. I’d be just as happy if you broke his neck as his finger. And you’d better be careful, because if you embarrass him at all—in fact, if he doesn’t beat you thoroughly—he’ll come after you and won’t leave you alone till he’s poisoned you or trapped you—killed you, in other words, one way or another. It brings me to tears to say this, but there isn’t another person alive who is so young and at the same time so wicked. Because he’s my brother, I have to take his side. But if I really laid him bare, I’d have to weep and hang my head, and you would not believe me, his behavior is so shocking.