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Balth. Oh, he's returned, and as pleasant as ever he
Beatr. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars ? But how many hath he killed ? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
Leon. 'Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much ; but he'll be meet with you, i doubt it not.
Balth. He hath done good service, lady, in these
Beutr. You had musty victual, and he hath help to eat it; he's a very valiant trencher man : he hath an excellent stomach.
Balth. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beatr. And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord ?
Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece:- there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her ; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
Beatr. Alas, he gets nothing by that !-In our last conflict, four of his five wits went haulting off, and now is the whole man govern'd with one ; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now ? he hath every month a new sworn brother.
Balth. Is it possible ?
Beatr. Very easily possible; he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Balth. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
Beatr. No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion ?
Balth. He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
Beatr. O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. [Crosses, L.] Heaven belp the noble Claudio ! If he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pounds, ere he be cured.
Leon. You'll ne'er run mad, niece.
[Flourish of trumpets. Balth. Don Pedro is approached.
[Exit. Enter Don Pedro, Don John, Claudio, and Bene
DICK, and stand on R. Ladies L. Pedro. Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble ; the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it,
Leon. (c.) Never came trouble to my house, in the likeness of your grace; for, trouble being gone, comfort should remain ; but, when you depart from me, sorrow abides, and happiness takes his leave.
Pedro. You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.
Leon. Her mother hath many times told me so. Bened. Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her ?
Leon. Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a child.
Pedro. You have it full, Benedick : we may guess by this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself :Be happy, lady! for you are like an honourable father.
Bened. If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is !
[All retire up the Stage except Ben, and Beat. Beatr. (L.) I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick! nobody marks you.
Bened. (R.) What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beatr. Is it possible Disdain should die, while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick ? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
Bened. [Meet at c.] Then is courtesy a turn-coat !-But it is certain, I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart, that I had not a hard heart! for truly I love none.
Beatr. A dear happiness to women! they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank Heaven, and my cold bloud, I am of your humour for that! I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.
Bened. Heaven keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face.
Beatr. Scratching could not make it worse, and 'twere such a face as yours.
you of old.
Bened. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher !
Beatr. A bird of my tongue, is better than a beast of yours.
Bened. I would, my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer! But keep your way, o' Heaven's name 1-I have done.
Beutr. You always end with a jade's trick; I know Pedro. [All advancing to.c. Bened. R. Beat. I..] This is the sum of all :- Leonato, Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my dear friend, Leonato, hath invited you all. I tell him, we shall stay here at the least a month ; and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us longer; I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart. Leon. If you swear, my lord, you shall not be for
Let me bid you welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the prince, your brother, I owe you all duty.
John. I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Leon. Please it your grace, lead on. Pedro. Your hand, Leonato ;-'we will go together. [Exeunt all but Benedick and CLAUDIO, through
the gate in L. of back ground, and file off at
L. U. E.
Claud. (R. C.) Benedick, didst thou note the daugher of Signior Leonato ? Bened. (L. c.) I noted her not; but I looked on her. Claud. Ìs shé not a modest young lady ?
Bened. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment !
Bened. Why, i'faith, methinks, she is too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise : only this commendation I can afford her, that, were she other than she is, she were unhandsome; and, being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou think'st I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly, how thou lik’st her.
Bened. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?
Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel ?
Bened. Yea, and a case to put it into.—But, speak you this with a sad brow ? or do you play the flouting Jack? Come, in what key shall a man take you ?
Claud. In mine eyes, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on!
Bened. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an' she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the
first of May doth the last of December ! But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?
Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bened. Is't come to this, i'faith? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion ?-Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i'faith: and thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays.-Look, Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
Enter Don Pedro through the Gate. Pedro. (L.) What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's?
Bened. (c.) I wouid, your grace would constrain me to tell !
Pedro. I charge thee, on thy allegiance !
Bened. You hear, Count Claudio- I can be as secret as a dumb man; I would have you think so ; but on my allegiance-mark you this, on my allegiance. He is in love. With whom?-now that is your grace's part.Mark, how short his answer is :-With Hero, Leorato's short daughter,
Claud. (R.) If this were so, so were it uttered.
Bened. Like the old tale, my lord :-is it not so, nor 'twas not so ; but, indeed, heaven forbid it should be so!
Claud. If my passion change not shortly, heaven forbid it should be otherwise !
Pedro. Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
Bened. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine!
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake.
Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.
Bened. That a woman conceived me, I thank her ; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks : but that I will have a recheat winded in my forebead, all woinen shall pardon me : because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.
Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bened. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord-not with love: prove, that, if ever I lose more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house, for the sign of blind Cupid.
Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
Bened. If I do, hang me in a bottle, like a cat, and shoot at me!
Pedro. Well, as time shall try :
Bened. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write-"Here is good horse to hire," let them signify under my sign-" Here you may see Benedick, the married man.” [Crosses to R.
Pedro. Nay, if Cupid hath not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
Bened. [Returns to c.] I look for an earthquake too then.
Pedro. Well, you will temporise with the hours !-In the mean time, good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's; commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at supper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.
Bened. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage ; and so I commit you
Claud. To the tuition of heaven; froin my house, if I had it
Pedro. The sixth of July; your loving friend, Benedick.