Season Content Notes: Revenge plot, violence, boundary violations, sexual harassment
In her manor, Olivia paced from room to room. She changed mood from giddy to distraught so quickly that she may well have traded temperament with Orsino. Sometimes she muttered to herself, “I have sent after him: he says he’ll come.” Other times called to Maria, stolidly keeping pace with her mistress, “How shall I feast him? What bestow of him? For youth is bought more oft than begg’d or borrow’d.” Then coming to herself a moment, “I speak too loud.”
Trying to shake off her moods, the countess stopped her pacing and asked, “Where is Malvolio? he is sad and civil, And suits well for a servant with my fortunes.”
Maria waved off the fool, who had been trying to distract the countess with some entertainment, and he hurried off to fetch the steward. In the meantime, Olivia sat down in a chair, and Maria helped her arrange her dress and hair in elegant folds. But she could only sit a short time before she became agitated again. “Where is Malvolio?”
As she spoke, the fool stuck his head back in the door and nodded to Maria, giving her also a wink as he disappeared back out the door and away.
Taking her cue, Maria instantly became the soul of concern. “He’s coming, madam; but in very strange manner. He is, sure, possessed, madam.”
“Why, what’s the matter?” The countess jumped to her feet. “Does he rave?”
Maria shook her head but did not look at her mistress. Instead, she stared through the doorway at the approaching apparition. “No. madam, he does nothing but smile: your ladyship were best to have some guard about you, if he come; for, sure, the man is tainted in’s wits.”
“Go call him hither.” The countess started pacing again, then laughed at herself. “I am as mad as he, if sad and merry madness equal be.
“How now, Malvolio!”
The steward entered the room in a lurching parody of a dance, with a broad grin upon his face. “Sweet lady, ho, ho.”
“Smilest thou?” Olivia stared at him for a moment, then took several away as he drew closer. She did not think madness could be contagious but wasn’t sure. “I sent for thee upon a sad occasion.”
“Sad, lady!” Malvolio stopped, much to the countess’ relief, and spoke in a confused manner. “I could be sad: this does make some obstruction in the blood, this cross-gartering; but what of that? if it pleases the eye of one.”
Olivia stared at the man. He was extending a leg toward her, showing off his socks, which were wrapped around and held in place with yellow ribbons. “Why… why how dost thou, man?” she stammered, “What is the matter with thee?”
As if her question reassured him he strode forward again, grinning. “Not black in my mind, though yellow in my legs.” He bent to run a hand along the ribbons and kept going right up too… well. Olivia had never paid attention to that part of her steward’s body before and had no intention of doing so then! Oblivious to her discomfort, Malvolio said, “It did come to his hands, and commands shall be executed,” thrusting his hips he reached for her, grinning even wider, “I think we do know the sweet Roman hand.”
Ducking behind the couch Olivia struggled for something to say and finally came out with the unfortunate, “Wilt thou go to bed, Malvolio?”
“To bed!” the steward leapt onto the couch, nearly tipping it over, “Ay, sweetheart, and I’ll come to thee.”
Olivia stumbled back and Maria rushed around the couch to step between her mistress and the ardent steward. “God comfort thee!” Olivia said quickly, holding out the cross to fend him off. “Why dost thou smile so and kiss thy hand so oft?”
“How do you, Malvolio?” Maria asked cautiously.
The steward sneered at her. “At your request! Yes; nightingales answer daws.”
“Why appear you with this ridiculous boldness before my lady?” the maid demanded.
But Malvolio was done with her, speaking over her to the countess, “‘Be not afraid of greatness:’ ’twas well writ.”
“What meanest thou by that, Malvolio?” Olivia took Maria’s shoulder and at her urging the two women began carefully sidling along the wall.
Malvolio followed them, eyebrows waggling with each step.
“‘Some are born great,’–”
“Ha!” Not recognizing the recitation, the countess rolled her eyes at that ridiculous claim.
“‘Some achieve greatness,’–”
Confused, now, Olivia shook her head. “What sayest thou?”
“‘And some have greatness thrust upon them.'” Suiting actions to words, the man lunged for the countess.
Maria shoved him away while Olivia darted toward the door of the salon. “Heaven restore thee!”
“‘Remember,” Malvolio entreated, “who commended thy yellow stocking s,’–”
“Why, this is very midsummer madness.” Having reached the safety of the doorway, Olivia looked to make sure that Maria was safe.
She jumped as a footman cleared his throat behind her. “Madam,” the man said, not looking into the room, “the young gentleman of the Count Orsino’s is returned: I could hardly entreat him back. He attends your ladyship’s pleasure.”
To Olivia’s relief, the appearance of the lower servant restored Malvolio to his familiar demeanor. “I’ll come to him,” she assured the footman, who quickly left. “Good Maria, let this fellow be looked to. Where’s my cousin Toby? Let a doctor see him. I would not have him miscarry for the half of my dowry.”
Maria watched carefully Malvolio as she crossed the room.
“O, ho! do you come near me now?” He took a step toward her and she gave a little shriek and ran from the room laughing.
He watched her and gloated. “No worse man than Sir Toby to look to me! This concurs directly with the letter. She sends him on purpose, that I may appear stubborn to him; for she incites me to that in the letter. ‘Let this fellow be looked to:’ fellow! not Malvolio, nor after my position, but fellow.
“Why, every thing adheres together. What can be said? Nothing that can be can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes. Well, Jove, not I, is the doer of this, and he is to be thanked.”