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was the only daughter of the famous physician Gerard de Narbon, and that he had recommended his daughter to her care when he was dying, so that since his death she had taken Helena under her protection ; then the countess praised the virtuous disposition and excellent qualities of Helena, saying she inherited these virtues from her worthy father. While she was speaking, Helena wept in sad and mournful silence, which made the countess gently reprove her for too much grieving for her father's death.
Bertram now bade his mother farewel. The countess parted with this dear son with tears and many blessings, and commended him to the care of Lafeu, saying, “ Good my lord, advise him, for he is an unseasoned courtier."
Bertram's last words were spoken to Helena, but they were words of mere civility, wishing her happiness ; and he concluded his short farewel to her with saying, “ Be comfortable to my mother your mistress, and make much of her.”
Helena had long loved Bertram, and when she wept in sad and mournful silence, the tears she shed were not for Gerard de Narbon.. Helena loved her father, but in the present feeling of a. deeper love, the object of which she was about
to lose, she had forgotten the very form and features of her dead father, her imagination presenting no image to her mind but Bertram's.
Helena had long loved Bertram, yet she always remembered that he was the count of Rossilion, descended from the most ancient family in France. She of humble birth. Her parents of no note at all. His ancestors all noble. And therefore she looked up to the high-born Bertram, as to her master and to her dear lord, and dared not form any wish but to live his servant, and so living to die his vassal. So great the distance seemed to her between his height of dignity and her lowly fortunes, that she would say, “ It were all one that I should love a bright peculiar star and think to wed it, Bertram is so far above me.”
Bertram's absence filled her eyes with tears, and her heart with sorrow; for though she loved without hope, yet it was a pretty comfort to her to see him every hour, and Helena would sit and look upon his dark eye, his arched brow, and the
, curls of his fine hair, till she seemed to draw his portrait on the tablet of her heart, that heart too capable of retaining the memory of every line in the features of that loved face.
Gerard de Narbon, when he died, left her no other portion than some prescriptions of rare and well proved virtue, which by deep study and long experience in medicine, he had collected as sovereign and almost infallible remedies. Among the rest there was one set down as an approved medicine for the disease under which Lafeu said the king at that time languished; and when Helena heard of the king's complaint, she who till now had been so humble and so hopeless, formed an ambitious project in her mind to go herself to Paris, and undertake the cure of the king. But though Helena was the possessor of this choice prescription, it was unlikely, as the king as well as his physicians were of opinion that his disease was incurable, that they would give credit to a poor unlearned virgin, if she should offer to perform a cure. The firm hopes that Helena had of succeeding, if she might be permitted to make the trial, seemed more than even her father's skill warranted, though he was the most famous physician of his time; for she felt a strong faith that this good medicine was sanctified by all the luckiest stars in heaven, to be the legacy that should advance her fortune, even to the high dignity of being count Rossilion's wife.
Bertram had not been long gone, when the countess was informed by her steward, that he had overheard Helena talking to herself, and that he understood from some words she uttered, she was in love with Bertram, and had thought of following him to Paris. The countess dismissed the steward with thanks, and desired him to tell Helena she wished to speak with her. What she had just heard of Helena brought the remembrance of days long past into the mind of the countess, those days probably when her love for Bertram's father first began; and she said to
l herself, “ Even so it was with me when I was young. Love is a thorn that belongs to the rose of youth; for in the season of youth, if ever we are nature's children, these faults are ours, though then we think not they are faults." While the countess was thus meditating on the loving errors of her own youth, Helena entered, and she said to her, “ Helena, you know I am a mother to you.” Helena replied, “You are my honourable mistress.” “ You are my daughter,” said the countess again: " I say I am your mother. Why do you start and look pale at my words ?” With looks of alarm and confused thoughts, fearing the countess suspected her love, Helena
my son ?"
still replied, “ Pardon me, madam, you are not my mother; the count Rossilion cannot be my brother, nor I your daughter." “ Yet, Helena," said the countess, “ you might be my daughterin-law; and I am afraid that is what you mean to be, the words mother and daughter so disturb you. Helena, do you love my son?” “Good madam, pardon me," said the affrighted Helena. Again the countess repeated her question, “ Do you love
“ Do not you love him, madam?” said Helena. The countess replied, “ Give me not this evasive answer, Helena. Come, come, disclose the state of your affections, for your love has to the full appeared.” Helena on her knees now owned her love, and with shame and terror implored the pardon of her noble mistress, and with words expressive of the sense she had of the inequality between their fortunes, shę protested Bertram did not know she loved him, comparing her humble unaspiring love to a poor Indian, who adores the sun, that looks upon his worshipper but knows of him no more.
The countess asked Helena if she had not lately an intent to go to Paris ? Helena owned the design she had formed in her mind, when she heard Lafeu speak of the king's illness.