AS YOU LIKE IT by W. Shakespeare
Many years ago, there lived in France two girls who were the very best of friends. They were cousins, and both were beautiful. The taller and stronger of them was called Rosalind, and the name of the other was Celia. Rosalind’s father was a great duke, but his brother, Celia’s father, had driven him out of his own dukedom. Many noblemen, who hated the cruel brother, but loved Rosalind’s father, went with him, to live in the Forest of Arden.
When Rosalind’s father was driven from the cas – tle, her uncle kept the girl there. She grew up together with his own little girl Celia. They grew up together, and Celia was so sweet and so kind to Rosalind that Rosalind sometimes forgot to be sad because her father had been driven away.
One of the truest friends of the former duke had been a brave knight called Sir Rowland. He was dead but he had left two sons. Oliver, the elder, was not a good brother. Instead of doing as his father had wished, and being kind to his younger brother whose name was Orlando, he gave him neither money nor any chance of learning anything, and made him take all his meals with the servants. He hated Orlando because he was so brave and strong and handsome, and he was kinder to his horses than he was to Orlando. Sir Rowland had had an old servant named Adam. Adam loved Orlando, and was very sorry that Oliver was so cruel to his younger brother.
One day, when Orlando felt that he could not bear Oliver’s cruelty any longer, he asked him to give him the money that his father had left him and let him go and seek his fortune. He said he couldn’t go on doing nothing and learning nothing. But Oliver only laughed at him, and so the brothers had a quarrel. Oliver hated Orlando more than ever after that quarrel. He thought of the best way to kill him and to keep for himself the money that their father had left for Orlando.
About this time Celia’s father
gave a great wrestling match. He had a very strong paid wrestler of his own. This man wrestled so well that only the bravest had the courage to wrestle with him, for he often killed those with whom he wrestled. Orlando was a very good wrestler and was afraid of no one, so he made up his mind to go to the match and wrestle with this man.
When Oliver learned that Orlando intended to do this, he ordered the Duke’s wrestler to come to his castle. He told the wrestler all sorts of lies about Orlando. He said that Orlando was one of the worst men in France, that the wrestle would be doing a good deed if he broke his neck. The wrestler promised to do his best to kill Orlando.
The following day the wrestling match took place on the grass in front of the Duke’s castle. The Duke and all his noblemen came to see the sport, and Celia and Rosalind also came. For in those days it was the custom for ladies to look at things that now seem to us very cruel.
When Orlando came forward, he looked so young and brave and handsome that even the cruel duke who did not know who he was, was sorry to think that the wrestler would kill him.
“Try to persuade the lad not to wrestle,” said the duke to Celia and Rosalind. “He has no chance at all. My man is sure to kill him.”
Very kindly but urgently Celia and Rosalind begged Orlando not to wrestle.
But Orlando answered, “Do not think badly of me because I refuse to do what you wish. It is not easy to say ‘no’ to ladies who are so kind and so fair. Let your beautiful eyes and good wishes go with me.”
Then the wrestling began, and everyone expected the duke’s wrestler to kill Orlando.