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THE SECOND VOLUME.
BERTRAM, count of Rossilion, had newly come to his title and estate, by the death of his father. The king of France loved the father of Bertram, and when he heard of his death, he sent for his son to come immediately to his royal court in Paris; intending, for the friendship he bore the late count, to grace young
Bertram with his especial favour and protection.
Bertram was living with his mother, the widowed countess, when Lafeu, an old lord of the French court, came to conduct Bertram to the king. The king of France was an absolute
monarch, and the invitation to court was in the form of a royal mandate, or positive command, which no subject of what high dignity, soever: might disobey; therefore though the countess, in parting with this dear son, seemed a second time to bury her husband, whose loss she had so lately mourned, yet she dared not to keep him a single day, but gave instant orders for his departure. Lafeu, who came to fetch him, tried to comfort the countess for the loss of her late lord, and her son's sudden absence; and he said, in a courtier's flattering manner, that the king was so kind a prince, she would find in his majesty a husband, and that he would be a father to her son: meaning only that the good king would befriend the fortunes of Bertram. Lafeu told the countess that the king had fallen into a sad malady, which was pronounced by his physicians to be incurable. The lady expressed great sorrow on hearing this account of the king's ill health, and said, she wished the father of Helena (a young gentlewoman who was present in attendance upon her) were living, for that she doubted not he could have cured his majesty of his disease. And she - told Lafeu sontething of the history of Helena, saying she