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Act 3, Scene 1

[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA]

HERO: Good Margaret, run thee to the parlor;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio:
Whisper her ear and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard and our whole discourse     [5]
Is all of her; say that thou overheard'st us;
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter, like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride     [10]
Against that power that bred it: there will she hide her,
To listen our purpose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.

MARGARET: I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.

[Exit]

HERO: Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,     [15]
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit:
My talk to thee must be how Benedick     [20]
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.

[Enter BEATRICE, behind]

                Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.     [25]

URSULA: The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.     [30]
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.

HERO: Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.

[Approaching the bower]

No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild     [35]
As haggerds of the rock.

URSULA: But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

HERO: So says the prince and my new-trothed lord.

URSULA: And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?     [40]

HERO: They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.

URSULA: Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman     [45]
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

HERO: O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man:
But Nature never framed a woman's heart     [50]
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her
All matter else seems weak: she cannot love,     [55]
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.

URSULA: Sure, I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.     [60]

HERO: Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-faced,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique,     [65]
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out     [70]
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

URSULA: Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

HERO: No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable:     [75]
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:     [80]
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.

URSULA: Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.

HERO: No; rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion.     [85]
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with: one doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.

URSULA: O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment--     [90]
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is prized to have--as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

HERO: He is the only man of Italy.
Always excepted my dear Claudio.     [95]

URSULA: I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.

HERO: Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.     [100]

URSULA: His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?

HERO: Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.     [105]

URSULA: She's limed, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.

HERO: If it proves so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt HERO and URSULA]

BEATRICE: [Coming forward]
What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?     [110]
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:     [115]
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.

[Exit]


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