Twelfth Night Scene II
by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night book cover
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Scene II

The sea-coast

[Enter Viola, Captain, and Sailors.]

VIOLA:
What country, friends, is this?
CAPTAIN:
This is Illyria, lady.
VIOLA:
And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.
Perchance he is not drown'd: what think you, sailors?(5)
CAPTAIN:
It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
VIOLA:
O my poor brother! and so perchance may he be.
CAPTAIN:
True, madam; and, to comfort you with chance,
Assure yourself, after our ship did split,
When you and those poor number saved with you(10)
Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,
Most provident in peril, bind himself,
Courage and hope both teaching him the practice,
To a strong mast that lived upon the sea;
Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,(15)
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.
VIOLA:
For saying so, there's gold.
Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
Whereto thy speech serves for authority,(20)
The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
CAPTAIN:
Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
VIOLA:
Who governs here?
CAPTAIN:
A noble duke, in nature(25)
As in name.
VIOLA:
What is his name?
CAPTAIN:
Orsino.
VIOLA:
Orsino! I have heard my father name him.
He was a bachelor then.(30)
CAPTAIN:
And so is now, or was so very late;
For but a month ago I went from hence,
And then 'twas fresh in murmur,—as, you know,
What great ones do the less will prattle of,—
That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.(35)
VIOLA:
What's she?
CAPTAIN:
A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth since; then leaving her
In the protection of his son, her brother,
Who shortly also died: for whose dear love,(40)
They say, she hath abjured the company
And sight of men.
VIOLA:
O that I served that lady
And might not be delivered to the world,
Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,(45)
What my estate is!
CAPTAIN:
That were hard to compass;
Because she will admit no kind of suit,
No, not the Duke's.
VIOLA:
There is a fair behavior in thee, captain;(50)
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character.
I prithee, and I'll pay thee bounteously,(55)
Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent. I'll serve this duke:
Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him:
It may be worth thy pains; for I can sing(60)
And speak to him in many sorts of music
That will allow me very worth his service.
What else may hap to time I will commit;
Only shape thou silence to my wit.
CAPTAIN:
Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:(65)
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
VIOLA:
I thank thee: lead me on.
[Exeunt.]