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your brow, provost, honesty and constancy: if I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here

you

have a warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo who hath sentenced him. To make you understand this in a manifested effect, I crave but four days respite ; for the which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous courtesy.

Pro. Pray, sir, in what?
Duke. In the delaying death.

Pro. Alack! how may I do it ? having the hour limited; and an express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view of Angelo? I may make my case as Claudio's, to cross this in the smallest.

Duke. By the vow of mine order, I warrant you, if my instructions may be your guide. Let this Barnardine be this morning executed, and his head borne to Angelo.

Pro. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favor.?

Duke. O death 's a great disguiser; and you may add to it. Shave the head, and tie the beard ; and say, it was the desire of the penitent to be so bared before his death. You know, the course is common. If any thing fall to you upon this, more than thanks and good fortune, by the saint whom I profess, I will plead against it with my life.

i la confidence of my sagacity.

2 Countenance.

Pro. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.

Duke. Were you sworn to the duke, or to the deputy ?

Pro. To him, and to his substitutes.

Duke. You will think you have made no offence, if the duke avouch the justice of your dealing ?

Pro. But what likelihood is in that?

Duke. Not a resemblance, but a certainty. Yet since I see you fearful, that neither my coat, integrity, nor my persuasion can with ease attempt you, I will go farther than I meant, to pluck all fears out of you. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the duke. You know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not strange to you.

Pro. I know them both.

Duke. The contents of this is the return of the duke: you shall anon over-read it at your pleasure, where you shall find, within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not; for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor; perchance, of the duke's death ; perchance, entering into some monastery ; but, by chance, nothing of what is writ. Look, the unfolding star calls up the shepherd.1 Put not yourself into amazement, how these things should be : all difficulties are but easy

when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine's head. I will give him a present shrift, and advise him for a better place. Yet you are amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come away ; it is almost clear dawn.

i So in Milton's Comus :

The star, that bids the shepherd fold,
Now the top of heaven doth hold.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III.

Another room in the same.

Enter CLOWN.

Clown. I am as well acquainted here, as I was in our house of profession: one would think, it were mistress Over-done's own house, for here be many of her old customers. First, here's young master Rash; he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, ninescore and seventeen pounds, of which he made five marks, ready money : marry, then, ginger was not much in request, for the old women were all dead. Then is there here one master Caper, at the suit of master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach-colored satin, which now peaches him a beggar. Then have we here young Dizy, and young master Deep-vow, and master Copper-spur, and master Starve-lackey the rapier and dagger-man, and young Drop-heir that killed lusty Pudding, and master Forthright the tilter, and brave master Shoe-tie the great traveller, and wild Half-can that stabbed Pots, and, I think, forty more ; all great doers in our trade, and are now for the Lord's sake.

I Shall intirely convince yon.

Enter ABHORSON.

Abh. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.

Clown. Master Barnardine! you must rise and be hanged, master Barnardine !

Abh. What, ho, Barnardine!
Bar. [within.] A pox

o'

your throats! Who makes that noise there? What are you?

Clown. Your friends, sir; the hangman. You must be so good, sir, to rise and be put to death.

Bar. [within.] Away, you rogue, away; I am sleepy.

Abh. Tell him, he must awake, and that quickly too.

Clown. Pray, master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep afterwards.

Abh. Go in to him, and fetch him out.

Clown. He is coming, sir, he is coming; I hear his straw rustle.

Enter BARNARDINE.

Abh. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?
Clown. Very ready, sir.

Bar. How now, Abhorson ? what's the news with you?

Abh. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers ; for, look you, the warrant's come.

Bar. You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not fitted for 't.

Clown. O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all

night, and is hanged betimes in the morning, may sleep the sounder all the next day.

you?

Enter DUKE. Abh. Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father. Do we jest now,

think Duke. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you,

and
pray
with

you. Bar. Friar, not I; I have been drinking hard all night, and I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my brains with billets. I will not consent to die this day, that's certain. Duke. O, sir, you must: and therefore, I beseech

you, Look forward on the journey you shall

go. Bar. I swear, I will not die to-day for any

man's persuasion.

Duke. But hear you,

Bar. Not a word ; if you have any thing to say to me, come to my ward ; for thence will not I today.

[Exit. Enter PROVOST. Duke. Unfit to live or die. O, gravel heart !-After him, fellows : bring him to the block.

[Exeunt Abhorson and Clown. Pro. Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner ?

Duke. A creature unprepared, unmeet for death; And, to transport him in the mind he is, Were damnable.

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