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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?
Ay, by my life;
'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.
Fine, i'faith! 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
game. 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,
Hel. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
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. Let me go: 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.
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;
1 i. e. froward, cross.
You minimus of hind'ring knot-grass? made;
Dem. You are too officious
Now she holds me not.
[Exeunt Lys. and DEM. Her. You, mistress, all this coil is 'long of you. Nay, go not back. Hel.
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. [Exit. 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.
Obe. Thou see'st, these lovers seek a place to fight.
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,
Puck. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste.
ready to their wormy beds are gone;
Obe. But we are spirits of another sort.
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,
Goblin, lead them up and down.
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.
Lysander ! speak again. Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled? Speak. In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy
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.