Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

DON JOHN.
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamoured
on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him from her; she is no equal for his
birth: you may do the part of an honest man in it.

CLAUDIO.
How know you he loves her?

DON JOHN.
I heard him swear his affection.

BORACHIO.
So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.

DON JOHN.
Come, let us to the banquet.

[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]

CLAUDIO.
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
herefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!

[Re-enter Benedick.]

BENEDICK.
Count Claudio?

CLAUDIO.
Yea, the same.

BENEDICK.
Come, will you go with me?

CLAUDIO.
Whither?

BENEDICK.
Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. What fashion
will you wear the garland of? About your neck, like a usurer's chain?
or under your arm, like a lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way,
for the prince hath got your Hero.

CLAUDIO.
I wish him joy of her.

BENEDICK.
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier: so they sell bullocks.
But did you think the prince would have served you thus?

CLAUDIO.
I pray you, leave me.

BENEDICK.
Ho! now you strike like the blind man: 'twas the boy that stole
your meat, and you'll beat the post.

CLAUDIO.
If it will not be, I'll leave you.

[Exit.]

BENEDICK.
Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges. But, that my
Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The prince's fool! Ha!
it may be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am
apt to do myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it is the base though
bitter disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person,
and so gives me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.

[Re-enter Don Pedro.]

DON PEDRO.
Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see him?

BENEDICK.
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. I found him here
as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told
him true, that your Grace had got the good will of this young lady;
and I offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make him a
garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy
to be whipped.

DON PEDRO.
To be whipped! What's his fault?

BENEDICK.
The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being overjoy'd with
finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.

DON PEDRO.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in
the stealer.

BENEDICK.
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and the garland too;
for the garland he might have worn himself, and the rod he might have
bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen his bird's nest.

DON PEDRO.
I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.

BENEDICK.
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.

DON PEDRO.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced
with her told her she is much wronged by you.

BENEDICK.
O! she misused me past the endurance of a block: an oak but with one
green leaf on it, would have answered her: my very visor began to
assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than a great
thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me,
that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.
She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as
terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would
infect to the north star. I would not marry her, though she were
endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed: she
would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club
to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the
infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar would conjure
her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell
as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose because they would go
thither; so indeed, all disquiet, horror and perturbation follow her.

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