Feste regarded the young man he took to be Cesario. ‘Are you trying to tell me that I wasn’t sent to find you?’
It was Sebastian, of course, and he waved the strange fellow away. ‘Come, come, you’re a foolish fellow. Get out of my sight.’
‘You’re keeping this joke up very well,’ said Feste. ‘Oh no, I don’t know you, nor have I been sent by my lady to ask you to go and have a chat with her. Nor is your name Mister Cesario, nor is this my nose neither. Nothing that’s so is so!’
‘Please go and vent your folly somewhere else. You don’t know me.’
‘Vent my folly! He’s heard that word used by some great man and now he’s applying it to a fool. Vent my folly! I’m afraid this great idiot, the world, will also turn out to be a pretense. I beg you now, ungird your aloofness and tell me what I shall vent to my lady. Shall I vent to her that you’re coming?’
Please, you weird idiot, leave me alone.’ Sebastian opened his purse. ‘There’s money for you. If you hang about any longer the payment I’ll give you won’t be so pleasant.’
Feste’s mouth dropped open when he saw how much money the young man had given him. ‘Upon my word, you’re very generous!’ he said. ‘Wise men who give money to fools get a good reputation – after they’ve been paying out for fourteen years!’
A tall ungainly man with long, thin yellow hair was running down the street towards them. He stopped in front of them. ‘Now, sir,’ he panted. ‘ We meet again. This is for you.’ He aimed and landed a clout on the side of Sebastian’s face.
The initial shock was short: Sebastian recovered quickly and punched Sir Andrew hard in the face. ‘Why, that’s for you,’ he said. ‘And that,’ – punching him again.
Sir Andrew howled and clutched his jaw.
‘Is everyone here mad?’ said Sebastian, looking round to see who else was going to pop up.
And indeed, Sir Toby and Fabian were already on the scene, Sir Toby shouting, ‘Stop, sir, or I’ll throw your dagger over the house!’ They grabbed hold of Sebastian and held his arms behind his back.
Feste hurried away. He would tell his lady. He wouldn’t like to be in their place for anything when she found out what they were doing.’
‘Come on, sir,’ cried Sir Toby, as Sebastian struggled energetically. ‘Surrender.’
‘No, leave him alone,’ said Sir Andrew, rubbing his jaw. ‘There’s another way of dealing with him. I’ll sue him for battery if there’s any law in Illyria. Though I hit him first it doesn’t matter.’
‘Get your hands off me!’ exclaimed Sebastian.
‘Come, sir, I’m not letting you go,’ said Sir Toby. ‘Come my young soldier: arm yourself: I’m sure you know what you’re doing. Come on.’
Sebastian struggled furiously. ‘I will be free of you!’ he exclaimed and wrenched himself free. He backed away then stood facing his attacker. ‘What do you want now? If you have the nerve to provoke me further, draw your sword!’
‘What, what!’ Sir Toby drew his sword. ‘Then I’ll have to have an ounce of your insolent blood.’
They took up their positions but Olivia’s arrival interrupted them.
‘Stop!’ she cried. ‘Toby! On your life, I order you to stop!’
Sir Toby lowered his sword. ‘Madam… He looked ashamed of himself. That wasn’t enough for her, though, and she lay into him.
‘Does it always have to be the same? Uncivilised wretch! Fit for only for the mountains and barbarous caves, where manners were never taught. Get out of my sight!’
Sir Toby and the other two stared at her. She turned to Sebastian.
‘Don’t be offended, dear Cesario.’ When the others didn’t move her eyes flashed her anger. ‘Barbarian, get out of here!’
The three slunk away. She turned back to the stunned Sebastian, unaccountably befriended by this beautiful woman.
Please, dear friend, let common sense rather than emotion decide your response to this uncivil and unjust attack on your privacy. Come with me to my house and I’ll tell you how many stupid pranks this ruffian has cooked up, so that you may see the funny side of this one.’
It wasn’t necessary for this woman to be so kind and Sebastian began to protest that it wasn’t but she stopped him.
‘I’m not giving you the option,’ she said. ‘Don’t say no. Shame on him: he attacked that part of my heart that is in you.’
Sebastian stared at her. What did this mean? Where was it going? He had either gone mad or this was a dream. She was beautiful. He wouldn’t question it. If this was a dream then let him sleep on!
‘No, come with me please,’ she said. I wish you’d do as I tell you.’
‘Madam, I will,’ he said.
Olivia’s face showed her joy. ‘Oh say that and obey me!’ she said and set off, with Sebastian following.
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