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TThe story begins at a time when France was divided into provinces or dukedoms. In one such province, there was a usurper, who had deposed and banished his elder brother, the lawful duke.

The duke, who was driven away from his kingdom by his younger brother, retired to the Forest of Arden along with his faithful followers. These people soon got accustomed to the lazy life of the forest and they felt it to be more relaxing than the life of a court. They led the life like that of Robin Hood of England, and to this forest many noble youths came and spent their leisure time as they did in the golden age. In summer they took rest under the shade of the trees watching the playful sports of the forest-deer. They even felt sad that they had to kill those deer for food. In winter when the cold wind blew, the duke sufferedfrom cold but said, “These chilling winds which blow upon my body are true counsellors: they do not flatter, but represent truly to me my condition; andthough they bite sharply, their tooth is nothing like as keen as that of unkindness and ingratitude.” He remarked that men might sayagainst adversities but there are some uses of of a poisonous toad. In this way the duke drew lessons from nature and he found tongues in trees, books in the flowing streams, sermons in stones and good in everything.

The banished duke had a daughter named Rosalind and like her father, she was also thrown out of the dukedom. But, she still remained in the palace being the companion of Celia, the present duke’s daughter. The discord between the duke and his brother did not at all affect the friendship between the two sisters. In fact, Celia tried to comfort Rosalind whenever she became sad thinking of her father.

One day, when Celia was talking to Rosalind in her usual kind manner, a messenger came with the news that there would be a wrestling match and they could go and watch that if they so wanted. Celia agreed to go thinking that it would amuse Rosalind.

During those times, wrestling matches were viewed by noble ladies and princesses being a favourite sport of princes. But here they thought that they would face a tragedy as a practiced wrestler was to fight an inexperienced young man.

When the duke saw that both the ladies had come to watch such an uneven match between a practiced wrestler and a young man, the duke asked them to dissuade the young man from fighting. At first Celia tried to resist the youth from taking up such an unequal challenge and then Rosalind by her kind words tried to change his mind from the ensuing fight. But after hearing the entreaties of the ladies, the youth became all the more determined to prove his valour in front of the fair ladies. He refused to listen to them but he said in such a graceful manner that both the ladies became more concerned of him. He said, “I am sorry to deny such fair and beautiful ladies anything.” He also said that he would like the ladies to wish for him and if he was defeated, he would not be ashamed and, even if he was killed there was no one to lament for him in this world. He said that he was only a person who filled up a space in this world and it would be better supplied if he vacated his space.

The wrestling match began. Celia wished that the youth would not be hurt during the bout. But Rosalind was more concerned. She had an inclination towards him because she felt pity for his friendless condition. It seemed that she had almost fallen in love for him.

The inspiration that the youth got from the ladies worked wonders for him and he defeated his opponent in such a way that for some time he could not even talk. The duke Frederick was very pleased with the youth’s skill and courage and wanted to know more about him. The youth introduced himself as Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys. Sir Rowland de Boys was dead. But when he was alive, he was a friend of the banished duke. So on hearing that Orlando was his son, the duke was displeased and wished he had been the son of someone else.

Rosalind was very happy to hear that Orlando was the son of one of her father’s favourite and confessed to Celia, “My father loved Sir Rowland de Boys, and if I had known that’Orlando was his son, I would have added tears to my entreaties before he should have ventured.” The ladies went to him and seeing that he was sad due to the displeasure jf the duke, spoke to him kindly and Rosalind even gave him her chain from her neck and said that had she not been out of fortune, she would have given him a more valuable gift.

When the cousin sisters were alone, they talked of the young wrestler. Celia thought that Rosalind must have fallen in love with Orlando and she said, “Is it possible that you should fall in love so suddenly?” Rosalind replied, “The duke, my father, loved his father dearly.” Celia then remarked that though her father had displeasure for young Orlando she herself did not feel so.

Frederick was enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys’ son. It reminded him of the many friends of the banished duke. He was lately displeased with Rosalind as she was praised for her virtues and the people pitied her for her father. Now, all of a sudden, Frederick became angry and he entered the room of the ladies while they were still discussing about Orlando. So he ordered Rosalind to join her father in the forest. Celia pleaded in favour of her sister her but the duke turned a deaf ear to any such requests, He said, “She is too subtle for you, her smoothness, her very silence, and her patience speak to the people, and they pity her. You are a fool to plead for her, for you will seem more bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore don’t speak for her; and the decision that I have taken is irrevocable.”

When Celia could not change her father’s mind to keep Rosalind in the palace, she decided to accompany Rosalind to the Forest of Arden in search of her father. Before they set out, they decided to change their clothes as it would be unsafe for two young ladies to travel alone in rich attire. Rosalind thought that one could disguise herself as a male and since she was taller than Celia, she decided to dress as a country lad and Celia could dress as country lass; and they would introducethemselves as brother and sister. Rosalind would call herself as Ganymede and Celia would be called Aliena.

In this disguise, with money and their jewels, they set out on their journey to the Forest of Arden, a long way from the duke’s kingdom. The lady Rosalind, Ganymede, in accordance to her dress put on an attitude to her sister, who left the luxury of the palace for their true love to each other. So they walked along, Rosalind showing a cheerful spirit as if he was the real Ganymede, the rustic and stout -hearted brother of the gentle village maiden, Aliena.

When they reached the Forest of Arden, they did not get the inns or food or the good accommodation that they had got till then. Ganymede who had hitherto cheered her sister confessed that she could cry out of fatigue and hunger. When Aliena declared that she could walk no further, Rosalind tried to find out where they could get rest and food.But they were certain that they were lost. Just then they met a countryman and asked him where they could get some food and a place to rest in exchange of money or gold. He said that he was the servant of a shepherd who was going to sell off his house and so they did not iave much to entertain them. But if they wanted they were welcome to their house. They followed the man and bought the house and the sheep and also took the man to wait on them. Thus, they decided to stay till they could find the part of the forest where the banished duke stayed with his followers.

The two sisters settled in their new cottage life very comfortably and fancied themselves to be the shepherd and shepherdess. Yet sometimes Ganymede remembered the youth Orlando and thought that he was so far away from her. But it soon came to light that he was also in the Forest of Arden following certain circumstances.

Orlando was the younger son of Sir Rowland de Boys and when he died he placed Orlando in the custody of his elder son requesting him to bring up his brother with proper care. Oliver, the elder brother, however, did not keep the request of his father and likewise did not educate Orlando in a school. Orlando, even without the care andhelpofhis brother, grew up to be a fine man and Oliver hated him more for that. He was the one who had arranged for the fight as he wanted to get rid of his younger brother. But as fate would have it, Orlando won the wrestling match. Nevertheless, he was sad at the disposition of his brother and being friendless he wished not to live.

When Oliver heard of the victory news of his younger brother Orlando, his jealousy knew no bounds. He vowed to burn his brother alive in his chamber while he slept. This was overheard by one of the old servants of Sir Rowland and he, at once, set out to warn Orlando of his impending danger. He had a special affection for Orlando as he very much resembled his father. Hence, as soon as he saw Orlando, he broke into passionate exclamations: “O my gentle master, my sweet master, O you memory of old Sir Rowland! Why are you virtuous? Why are you gentle, strong and valiant? And why would you be so fond to overcome the famous wrestler? Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.” Orlando could not comprehend what the matter was and the servant explained to him the reason for his concern stating the plan of his brother to burn him in his own chamber. Adam, as the servant was named, advised Orlando to flee the place; and he, knowing very well that Orlando had no money, brought him whatever money he had saved for future use. Saying that, he gave the gold amounting to five hundred crowns to Orlando and requested Orlando to allow him to be his servant and promised that though he looked old he would take good care of Orlando and work for him. Orlando was pleased and grateful at the faithfulness of Adam whom he addressed as ‘good old man’ and at once they set out with the promise that he would find some work before they had spent the savings that Adam had given him. The two, master and servant, travelled long till they reached the Forest of Arden and they were also as tired and hungry as the two sisters had been. They tried in vain to find a shelter and food and at last, when Adam could go no further Orlando carried him in his arms to the shelter of a tree and cheered him saying, “Good old man, rest your weary limbs here awhile, and do not talk of dying!”

Orlando then searched for food and by chance came upon the company of the duke and his friends. When Orlando reached there, it was dinner time. The duke had sat down for dinner.Orlando, finding food,drew his sword to grab the food from the duke and his men. He charged them not to touch a morsel. The duke was kind and asked him the reason for his rude behaviour. He wanted to know if it was due to hunger or did he despise the courtesy known to civil men. Orlando replied that as he was dying of hunger he had thought that in this wild forest he had to put up such behaviour in order to get food. The duke spoke to him kindly and asked him to sit down for dinner. Orlando then spoke of Adam and declared that though he was hungry he would not touch food unless Adam was fed. The duke told him to bring his friend and said that they would wait for them. Orlando went quickly, brought the old man and then both of them along with the duke had food to their satisfaction. Adam, on having food, regained his lost strength. After the dinner, the duke asked Orlando about him and when he came to know that Orlando was his friend’s son, he took Orlando and Adam under his care.

After a few days while roaming in the forest, Ganymede and Aliena were surprised to see Rosalind’s name carved on the bark of the trees and love sonnets, all addressed to Rosalind, attached to them. When they were wondering how it was possible in the forest to have Rosalind’s name carved, they met Orlando and could easily recognize him as he was wearing the chain, given earlier by Rosalind, around his neck. But, Orlando could not recognize them because of their disguise. He discovered a likeness but there was a disposition in fair Rosalind which was missing in the youth. Rosalind, on the other hand, teased him saying that she was in search of a certain youth who had spoiled the bark of trees by writing the name of his ladylove and attaching love poems to that effect. And she declared that if she found the lover she would have given him some advice.

Orlando told them that it was he who had done all these things, and requested Rosalind to give him some advice. Rosalind asked him to come to their cottage to play a game in which Rosalind in her male attire would feign to be his ladylove with all sorts of feminine pranks and whims; and Orlando would woo her as a genuine lover. When he would experience the whimsicality of the young lady loves, he would be ashamed of his love for her and thus be cured of love. So, as fixed, everyday Orlando came over to the cottage and wooed Ganymede as Rosalind; but it did not seem that Rosalind made any progress in curing Orlando of his love for Rosalind. Rather, she felt highly satisfied and amused to know how truly Orlando loved her.

The days passed pleasantly in this manner. Aliena, seeing Ganymede happy, did not remind her that the real reason for her coming to the forest was to find her father; though, by that time, from Orlando they had already got the location of the place where her father, the banished duke, was residing. However, one day, Ganymede met her father but did not disclose to him her true identity. When asked about it she said that she came of a good lineage as he did. Never did the duke suspect that she was his own daughter and had a royal lineage.

One morning, when Orlando was going to visit Ganymede, he saw a man lying asleep on the ground and a snake twisted round his neck. As he approached the snake glidedaway from the man. Then as Orlando went closer, he perceived a lioness in the bush, waiting for its prey to awake because lions don’t attack the dead. When Orlando looked at the face of the man, he saw that the man was his own brother, Oliver, who had tried to get rid of him. He was about to go but brotherly affection prevented him to leave his brother in that danger. He fought the lioness and saved the life of his brother. Thus he saved the life of his brother from the venomous snake and the dangerous lioness, but before he could save his brother the lioness had torn one of his arms with her sharp claws.

While Orlando was engaged in the fight, his brother awoke and saw how the brother, he had despised and abused so much, fought with his life to save him from the lioness. He was full of remorse and after Orlando had killed the lioness, Oliver begged his mercy. Orlando seeing his brother repenting his deeds, readily forgave him and took him in his arms. But, as the wound made him weak, Orlando asked Oliver to give the message to Ganymede that he would not be able to visit her that day.Oliver went to their cottage and narrated to them the whole story. Moreover, he confessed his own misdeeds and also spoke of their reconciliation.

The sincere sorrow of Oliver was so overwhelming, that Aliena at once fell in love with him. Oliver, on the other hand, saw how she pitied him for his distress over his misdeeds and he, also, at the same time, fell in love. In the meantime, when Oliver and Aliena were exchanging hearts, Ganymede, on hearing about Orlando’s wounds, fainted. When she recovered, she tried to convince Oliver that she had feigned the swoon as Rosalind would have done had she heard about the wounds of Orlando. But Oliver was not convinced as he perceived how pale Ganymede had been and he said, “Well, if you did counterfeit, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a man.” Ganymede replied that it was exactly what she was doing and that she should have been a woman instead of being a man.

Oliver returned after a long time and told his brother of the swooning of Ganymede and also of his love towards the shepherdess, Aliena. He spoke in such a manner as if he had already decided upon his marriage to Aliena. He also said that he would stay there in the forest and be a shepherd. As regards his estate, he would give the same to Orlando as well as his home.

Orlando suggested that Oliver and Aliena should get married the next day and he would invite the duke to their marriage. He also advised his brother to be quick to consult same with Aliena. When Oliver went to Aliena, Ganymede came to Orlando to enquire about his health.

Orlando and Ganymede talked of how Oliver and Aliena loved each other from their first sight and Orlando informed that his brother had gone to her to ask for her hand. They would get married the next day if Aliena was willing. He wished he could be also married on the same day to his fair Rosalind. Ganymede liked the proposal and said that if Orlando really loved Rosalind, he should have his wishes fulfilled. She said that she would try to bring Rosalind the next day by a special magical power which she had learnt from her uncle. When Ganymede said, ” …. put on your best clothes, and bid the duke and your friends to your wedding; for if you desire to be married tomorrow to Rosalind, she shall be here”; the fond lover could not believe his ears.

The next morning, both Oliver and Orlando came to the duke along with Aliena. The duke, surprised to hear that it was his own daughter to be brought there, asked Orlando if really the miracle could be done. As Orlando strived to answer, Ganymede came to the duke and asked if the duke willed to give his daughter in the hands of Orlando and he agreed. Then, she asked Orlando whether he would marry Rosalind if she be brought there. He said that he would. The two sisters went inside the cottage and put off their disguises.

When all the persons were eagerly waiting for a miracle to happen, Rosalind and Celia entered in their personas and Rosalind threw herself on her knees to her father for his blessings. Rosalind then related the whole episode of her banishment from the palace and their adventure to the forest in search of her father. The duke wept in joy to gel back his

own daughter and gave all of them his heartiest blessings. The two couples got married in the forest. The marriage did not have the splendour of the royals but it was the happiest marriage that could ever be imagined. As they were having their venison, and thought that there was nothing more to be wanted at that time, a messenger arrived tc inform the duke that his dukedom has been restored to him.

The Usurper, enraged at the flight of Celia, and hearing that men of great worth were following the banished duke to join him in the forest, resolved to put an end to this misery. Thus, he brought a huge army to execute his design to kill his brother but as providence would have it, he was completely changed by a hermit whom he met as he entered the forest. He, thus changed, decided to spend the rest of his days in a religious house after returning the dukedom to his brother, the real owner of the dukedom. The first act of the penitence was to send the messenger to his brother to restore to him his domain, and the followers as well as the lands and revenues.

This news, as unexpected and as it was welcome, came at a time to enliven the festivity and rejoicings of the two marriages. Celia complemented her cousin on the good fortune, which had happened to the duke and wished her joy, though she was now not the two cousins.

The duke now had the opportunity to reward the true followers who had stayed with him in his adversity, and the worthy followers were pleased to return with him to the palace of their lawful duke.


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