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In Roussillon, France, the countess says that her plans for Bertram and Helen to live happily ever after are going according to plan... except for the fact that Bertram sent Helen to Roussillon without him, that is.
Lavatch tells the countess that her son is depressed and then hands her a letter from Bertram.
The letter sounds like this:
Well, you got your way and now you have the daughter-in-law you always wanted. But even though I married her, I haven't had sex with her and probably never will. By the way, I've run away and don't plan to come home. Ever.
Your Son, Bert
The countess flips out and calls her son a "rash and unbridled boy." She rants and raves about how Helen is too good for Bertram anyway and that the King is totally going to kill him for pulling this little stunt.
Helen walks in with the lords Dumaine. She's holding a new letter from Bertram in her hands.
The lords tell us that Bertram has run away to fight the wars in Italy; they just passed him on the road that leads to Florence.
Helen reads the letter from her husband, which goes like this:
Don't ever call me your husband unless you can do the following: (a) get this ring off my finger, and (b) have my baby. (By the way, this is impossible since I'm NEVER going to have sex with you.) Also, I'm not coming back to France until the day I no longer have a wife.
The countess disowns Bertram on the spot and repeats that Helen is too good for him.
Everyone leaves, except for Helen, who delivers a big woe-is-me speech.
Helen worries that it's her fault that Bertram is in the middle of a war zone, since it seems like she drove him off to Italy. If he dies on the battlefield, it will be all her fault.
She declares that everyone would have been better off if she had been eaten by a hungry lion. (Hmm. What's with all of Helen's fantasies about being devoured by hungry creatures? Sounds like a Bella Swan complex to us.)
Our poor Helen decides to run away from France, since her being there is the only thing keeping Bertram from coming home.