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As You Like It

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Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
On the battlefield, he puts himself in front of the cannon’s mouth, risking his life to seek fame that is as fleeting as a soap bubble. In the fifth act, he is a judge, with a nice fat belly from all the bribes he’s taken. His eyes are stern, and he’s given his beard a respectable cut. He’s full of wise sayings and up-to-the-minute anecdotes: that’s the way he plays his part. In the sixth act, the curtain rises on a skinny old man in slippers, glasses on his nose and a money bag at his side. The stockings he wore in his youth hang loosely on his shriveled legs now, and his bellowing voice has shrunk back down to a childish squeak. In the last scene of our play—the end of this strange, eventful history—our hero, full of forgetfulness, enters his second childhood: without teeth, without eyes, without taste, without everything.
Enter ORLANDO bearing ADAM
ORLANDO enters carrying ADAM.

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DUKE SENIOR
Welcome. Set down your venerable burden,
And let him feed.
DUKE SENIOR
Welcome. Set the honorable old man down and let him eat.

ORLANDO
I thank you most for him.
ORLANDO
I thank you very much on his behalf.


ADAM
So had you need.—
I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.
ADAM
You had better do that. I can barely speak to thank you myself.

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DUKE SENIOR
Welcome. Fall to. I will not trouble you
As yet to question you about your fortunes.—
Give us some music, and, good cousin, sing.
DUKE SENIOR
Welcome. Eat. I won’t trouble you yet with questions about your situation.—Some music, please, and, good friend, sing.

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