Scene: A forest, early morning. Enter Lysander followed by Hermia. Demetrius and Helena follow after.
Lysander: Away, you Ethiop?
Demetrius: No, no, sir,
Seem to break loose, take on as you would follow,
But yet come not. You are a tame man, go.
Lysander: Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.
Hermia: Why are you grown so rude? What change is this,
Lysander: Thy love? – out, tawny Tartar, out;
Out, loathed medicine! O hated potion, hence!
Hermia: Do you not jest?
Helena: Yes, sooth, and so do you.
Lysander: Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee?
Demetrius: I’ll not trust your word.
Lysander: What? Should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.
Hermia: What? Can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me? Wherefore? O me, what news, my love?
Am I not Hermia? Are you not Lysander?
Lysander: Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see you more.
Tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
Hermia: (To Helena)
O me, you juggler, you canker-blossom,
You thief of love! What, have you come by night
And stol’n my love’s heart from him?
Helena: Fie, I’faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness?
Fie, fie, you counterfeit, you puppet, you!
Hermia: ‘Puppet?’ Why so? – Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath urged her height.
Are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole?
I am not yet so low
But my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
Helena: I pray you, thou you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. You perhaps may think
Because she is something lower than myself
That I can match her.
Hermia: Lower? Hark, again!
Helena: Good Helena, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no further. Let me go;
You see how simple and fond I am.
Hermia: Why, get thee gone! Who is’t that hinders you?
Helena: A foolish heart that I leave here behind.
Hermia: What, with Lysander?
Helena: With Demetrius.
Hermia: Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena.
Demetrius: No, sir. She shall not, though you take her part.
Helena: O, when she is angry she is keen and shrewd;
She was a vixen when she went to school,
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
Hermia: Little again? Nothing but low and little?
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let her come to her.
Lysander: Get you gone, you dwarf,
You minimus of hindering knot-grass made,
You bead, you acorn.
Demetrius: Let her alone: speak not of Helena,
Take not her part; for if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.
Lysander: Now she holds me not –
Now follow, if thou dur’st, to try whose right,
Of thou or mine, is most in Helena.
Demetrius: Follow? Nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jowl.
(Exit Lysander and Demetrius)
Helena: You, mistress, all this coil is ‘long of you.
Nay, go not back.
Helena: I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands that mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer, thou, to run away!