Season Content Notes: Revenge plot, violence, boundary violations, sexual harassment
“Put up your sword.”
(Here, we will hear the story as Antonio saw it, for this moment is more of his tale than Cesario’s.)
Antonio had been concerned when Sebastian did not meet him at the Elephant as planned. So he had gone looking. He didn’t know what he had expected, but it definitely hadn’t been to finally see Sebastian on the wrong side of a walled orchard, surrounded by three strangers across drawn swords.
Antonio didn’t stop to think, he hopped the wall and ran to stand between his young lover and danger.
He took the strange look Sebastian gave him as surprise that Antonio was not waiting at the inn, and extended what he hoped was a calming hand toward the strangers. “If this young gentleman have done offence, I take the fault on me. If you offend him, I for him defy you.”
If it hurt Antonio that Ces– ahem, that is Sebastian, stepped away from him, not trusting his protection, Antonio did not show it. For all the time he and Sebastian had spent together, none had been in swordplay, and few sailors are known for their skill with a blade.
But Antonio’s focus was as sharp as his blade on the man he took to be the leader of this assault. That man, finely dressed but with the eye of one who has seen death many times, glared at Antonio. The man put his hand on sword hilt and demanded, “You, sir! why, what are you?”
Knowing that his appearance and low status would not impress such a high-ranking man, Antonio said only, “One, sir, that for his love dares yet do more than you have heard him brag to you he will.”
“Nay, if you be an undertaker,” the stranger snarled, drawing his sword, “I am for you.”
Antonio carried no sword, but Sebastian did, and Antonio reached out quickly to take it from him. Despite the strangeness with which Sebastian continued to view him, he gave Antonio the sword willingly and backed up out of range of the brewing duel.
It was at this time that several officers of the watch came down the road, looking closely around them.
“O good Sir Toby, hold!” the man dressed as a servant cried, pulling Antonio’s opponent away before they could even cross blades, “here come the officers.”
Then it was briefly chaos with all speaking at once.
This ‘Sir Toby’ growled at Antonio, saying, “I’ll be with you anon.”
Sebastian begged the other strange man to put up his sword. The man replied with some nonsense about his horse to Sebastian’s clear confusion.
And one of the officers pointed at Antonio, saying, “This is the man; do thy office.”
Antonio’s heart sank as the second officer pulled out metal handcuffs. “Antonio, I arrest thee at the suit of Count Orsino.”
Giving the sword back to Sebastian, lest he be thought resisting, Antonio said quickly, “You do mistake me, sir.”
“No, sir, no jot,” the first officer scoffed. “I know your favour well, though now you have no sea-cap on your head. Take him away: he knows I know him well.”
“I must obey.” Antonio swallowed and turned to Sebastian. “This comes with seeking you: but there’s no remedy; I shall answer it.” Sebastian looked at him wide-eyed, like a new sailor at first sight of the deep ocean. It pained Antonio more than he thought possible, but he had to ask, “What will you do, now my necessity makes me to ask you for my purse?” He held out his hands, but Sebastian didn’t reply, took a step back even. Was it shock that made him act so strangely? “It grieves me much more for what I cannot do for you than what befalls myself. You stand amazed, but be of comfort.”
“Come, sir, away,” the officers urged, but Antonio shrugged them off. He didn’t care anymore that they might say he resisted them. Didn’t even really care about the money. But Sebastian — Sebastian! — for whom Antonio had given up so much, whose feet he would have willingly knelt at for only the pleasure of his company, who he had given life and hope and love to…
“I must entreat of you some of that money.”
But Sebastian shook his head and answered in a baffled tone, “What money, sir?”
Antonio’s eyes flew wide at the pain of that blow.
“For the fair kindness you have show’d me here,” Sebastian continued, as if Antonio no more than a stranger, “I’ll lend you something: my having is not much; I’ll make division of my present with you.” He reached into his pocket and held out a pittance, saying, “Hold, there’s half my coffer.”
“Will you deny me now?” Antonio snarled, sudden anger being the only thing that held back the tears burning behind his eyes. “Is’t possible that my deserts to you can lack persuasion? Do not tempt my misery, lest that it make me so unsound a man as to upbraid you with those kindnesses that I have done for you.”
As hurt and angry, and yes, scared as Antonion was, nothing could have prepared him for what came next. For Sebastian, who only hours ago had greeted him with words of love and welcome, now dismissed all that gone between them.
“I know of none,” he said, and Antonio’s kneels nearly buckled at that heart-strike. “Nor know I you by voice or any feature.”
“O heavens themselves!” Antonio cried, finally unable to keep the tears from falling.
The second officer, with surprising gentleness, put a hand on Antonio’s shoulder, “Come, sir, I pray you, go.”
With his hands bound behind him, Antonio was unable to wipe the tears from his cheeks, so he let them fall. “Let me speak a little,” he pleaded. “This youth that you see here, I snatch’d one half out of the jaws of death, relieved him with such sanctity of love, and to his image did I devotion.”
“What’s that to us?” The first officer demanded, “The time goes by: away!”
Barely hearing him, Antonio spat on the ground at Sebastian’s feet. “But O how vile an idol proves this god! Thou hast, Sebastian, done good feature shame.” And it brought him spiteful pleasure to see Sebastian finally react without something other than put-on bewilderment. The villain winced as if Antonio had slapped him, as Antonio wished he could. But if words were all he had to express his pain then he would use them. “In nature there’s no blemish but the mind; none can be call’d deform’d but the unkind.”
Exasperated, the first officer shoved the second aside, saying, “The man grows mad: away with him! Come, come, sir.”
With a final curse, Antonio turned to follow them. He left behind the shattered remains of his heart and the one he had thought to devote his life.
Unknown to Antonio, ‘Sebastian,’ still in shock, followed the officers and their charge a short way down the road.
For this Sebastian, of course, was Cesario. The two brothers did indeed look enough alike to fool even Antonio for a short period, and Sebastian was at that time a distance from that place.
In all Cesario’s confusion at the events just past, one thing had struck him most clearly: “He named Sebastian.” Cesario did not doubt that Antonio — whose name Cesario still did not know — had spoken truth. His passion, his pain, had been all too clear. But… Cesario was not Sebastian, yet Cesario’s look, from how he cut his hair, to the clothes, and even the expressions he often wore… He had styled after those of his lost brother. The brother who should have been dead, but this stranger had spoken of saving his life… “O, if it prove, tempests are kind and salt waves fresh in love.”
Cesario had to speak with the Duke. If there was any truth to this, Orsino would help him find it. And it was the Duke who sent the officers, so only he could get Cesario audience with the stranger.
Mind made up, Cesario (with no thought to Countess Olivia’s people who had ambushed him so short a time ago) turned and strode quickly down the road to home.
Behind him, Sir Toby had seen a chance for further mischief and, more, had taken Cesario at a severe dislike for the shameful actions he had just witnessed.
“A very dishonest paltry boy,” that worthy growled, “and more a coward than a hare. His dishonesty appears in leaving his friend here in necessity and denying him, and for his cowardship, ask Fabian.”
Fabian, of course, knew a cue when he heard it and chimed in, “A coward, a most devout coward, religious in it.”
As predictably as Fabian, though with less self-awareness, Sir Anthony jumped for the bait, “‘Slid, I’ll after him again and beat him.”
“Do,” Sir Toby encouraged, “cuff him soundly, but never draw thy sword.”
“An I do not,–” Sir Andrew started down the road after the now-vanished Cesario.
Chortling, Fabian and Sir Toby followed behind to see what sport followed.
“I dare lay any money ’twill be nothing yet.” Sir Toby confided to Fabian, washing his hands with glee.