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Duke. This is his pardon; purchased by such sin,
[Aside. For which the pardoner himself is in : Hence hath offence his quick celerity, When it is borne in high authority: When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended, That for the fault's love, is the offender friended, Now, sir, what news?
Prov. I told you: Lord Angelo, be-like, thinking me remiss in mine office, awakens me with this unwonted putting on*: methinks, strangely; for he hath not used it before.
Duke. Pray you, let's hear.
Prov. [Reads.] Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be executed by four of the clock; and, in the afternoon, Barnardine: for my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio's head sent me by five. Let this be duly perform'd; with a thought, that more depends on it than we must yet deliver. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril. What say you to this, sir ?
Duke. What is that Barnardine, who is to be exe. cuted in the afternoon ?
Prov. A Bohemian born; but here nursed up and bred: one that is a prisoner nine years oldt.
Duke. How came it, that the absent duke had not either deliver'd him to his liberty, or executed him? I have heard, it was ever his manner to do so.
Prov. His friends still wrought reprieves for him: and, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.
Duke. Is it now apparent?
Duke. Hath he borne himself penitently in pri. son? How seems he to be touch'd ?
Prov. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully, but as a drunken sleep; careless, reck. less, and fearless of what's past, present, or to
* Spur, incitement.
† Nine years in prison, come; insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.
Duke. He wants advice.
Prov. He will hear none: he hath evermore had the liberty of the prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not: drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very often awaked him, as if to carry him to execution, and show'd him a seeming warrant for it: it hath not mov'd him at all.
Duke. More of him anon. There is written in 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 res. pite; for the which you are to do me both a present and a dangerous courtesy.
Prov. Pray, sir, in what?
Prov. 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 be borne to Angelo
Prod. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour*.
Duke. 0, 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.
Proo. Pardon me, good father; it is against my oath.
Duke. Were you sworn to the duke, or to the de puty?
Prod. To him, and to his substitutes.
Duke. You will think you have made no offence, if the duke avouch the justice of your dealing?
Prov. 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 further 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.
Prov. I know them both.
Duke. The contents of this is the return of the duke; yon sliall 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: 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 hinn for a better place. Yet you are amazed; but this shall absolutely resolve you. Come away; it is almost clear dawn. (Ereunt.
Another room in the same.
clo. I am as well acquainted here, as I was in our house of profession: one would think, it were mis. tress 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 Ca. per, at the suit of master Three-pile the mercer, for some four suits of peach.colour'd 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 kill'd lusty Pudding, and master Forthright the tilter, and brave master Shoe-tie the great traveller, and wild Half-can that stabb'd Pots, and, I think, forty more; all great doers in our trade, and are now for the Lord's sake.
Abhor. Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.
Clo. Master Barnardine! you must rise and be hang'd, master Barnardine!
Abhor. What, ho, Barnardine!
Barnar. (Within. A pox o' your throats! Who makes that noise there? What are you?
Clo. Your friends, sir; the hangman: you must be so good, sir, to rise and be put to death.
Barnar. (Within.] Away, you rogue, away; I am sleepy.
Abhor. Tell him, he must awake, and that quickly too.
Clo. Pray, master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep afterwards.
Abhor. Go in to him, and fetch him out.
Clo. He is coming, sir, he is coming ; I hear his straw rustle.
Abhor. Is the axe upon the block, sirrah ?
Barnar. How now, Abhorson? what's the news with you?
Abhor. Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers; for, look you, the warrant's come.
Barnar. You rogue, I have been drinking all night, I am not fitted for't.
Clo. 0, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night, and is hang'd betimes in the morning, may sleep the sounder all the next day.
Abhor. Look you, sir, here comes your ghostly father: do we jest now, think you?
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.
Barnar. 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,