Earlier, when Ganymede had engaged Orlando, Ganymede promised to cure Orlando of his lovesick-madness. He had proposed to this by role playing, i.e. Orlando pretends that Ganymede is Rosalind and Ganymede will show why it‘s silly for a man to dote on a woman.
Presently, Jaques is rebuffed from becoming better friends with Ganymede as Ganymede declares that he would have nothing to do with Jaques’ melancholy. Thus they part when Orlando greets Ganymede, apologizing for being late to their daily lovesick-madness-treatment-session. Ganymede immediately chides Orlando, arguing that a true lover wouldn’t dare be late for an appointment with his lover--even by a second (Orlando is an hour late). Orlando plays his role, pleading his case, and Ganymede plays his, objecting to every argument that Orlando presents with a witty rebuttal. The back and forth culminates with Celia performing a mock marriage for the couple after which Orlando bids Ganymede goodbye, promising to return within two hours, i.e. after attending to Duke Senior, which he must perform without fail. With Orlando gone, Celia chides Rosalind for exaggerating, arguing that a woman wouldn’t ever be so hard on her lover to the extent Rosalind was while playing her role. Regardless, Rosalind admits that her love for Orlando has only deepened.
Prompted by Jaques, Jaques and two lords sing as they carry a deer, which the First Lord had killed, to be presented to the Duke.
As Orlando has failed to keep his promise again, Rosalind is complaining to Celia when Silvius appears, claiming he has a letter from Phebe for Ganymede. Annoyed, Ganymede mockingly supposes that the letter has been actually written by Silvius who vehemently denies the supposition. Ganymede reads the letter and sure enough the letter is from Phebe who declares her love for Ganymede. Doubly annoyed, Ganymede gives the following message that Silvius is to convey to Phebe: If Phebe truly loves Ganymede, then Phebe would do well to requite Silvius. If she doesn’t, then Ganymede would understand it to mean that Phebe doesn’t really love Ganymede. The matter is thus settled when a stranger appears with a bloodied handkerchief for Ganymede. The stranger explains the bloodied handkerchief thus: Orlando was in transit, thinking about his appointment with Ganymede when he came across an unconscious body in the forest. Recognizing the body to be that of Oliver, his older brother, Orlando turned his back on it and walked away only to turn around and rescue it from a lion. Anon, Oliver was brought to the old Duke’s camp where he was welcomed to stay with Orlando. Alas, Orlando fainted all of a sudden on account of a bloody wound he had sustained vis-a-vis the lion, but not before he managed to ask Oliver to convey his predicament to Ganymede.
Upon hearing this, Celia confirms that the stranger is Oliver, the older brother who was so at odds with Orlando that he had plotted to have his younger brother killed. Suffice it to say, they have reconciled. Suddenly Ganymede faints which Oliver supposes is due to the sight of the bloodied handkerchief. Celia assures him that Ganymede fainting has a much greater significance. When Ganymede recovers his senses, Ganymede begs Oliver to tell Orlando that his fainting was strictly a performance. Oliver argues that there was nothing fake about Ganymede fainting. Ganymede insists that it was all fake. Oliver begs Ganymede to put on more manly performance then and avoid being so deeply affected by the sight of blood.