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man is a more penitent trade than your bawd; he
doth oftener ask forgiveness.

Prov. You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe
to-morrow four o'clock.

Abhor. Come on, bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.

Pom. I do desire to learn, sir: and I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare; for, truly, sir, for your kindness I 60 owe you a good turn.

Prov. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio:

[Exeunt Pompey and Abhorson.

The one has my pity; not a jot the other,

Being a murderer, though he were my brother.

Enter Claudio.

Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death : 'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight to-morrow Thou must be made immortal. Where's Barnardine ? Claud. As fast lock'd up in sleep as guiltless labour When it lies starkly in the traveller's bones: He will not wake.

Prov.

Who can do good on him?

Well, go, prepare yourself. [Knocking within.] But,

hark, what noise?

Heaven give your spirits comfort!

By and by.

I hope it is some pardon or reprieve

For the most gentle Claudio.

Enter Duke disguised as before.

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[Exit Claudio.]

Welcome, father.

Duke. The best and wholesomest spirits of the night

Envelop you, good Provost! Who call'd here of late?

Prov. None, since the curfew rung.

[blocks in formation]

Duke. Not so, not so; his life is parallel'd

Even with the stroke and line of his great justice:
He doth with holy abstinence subdue

That in himself which he spurs on his power
To qualify in others: were he meal'd with that
Which he corrects, then were he tyrannous;
But this being so, he's just.

Now are they come.

[Knocking within.

[Exit Provost.

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This is a gentle provost : seldom when
The steeled gaoler is the friend of men.

[Knocking within.

How now! what noise? That spirit's possess'd

with haste

That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.

Re-enter Provost.

Prov. There he must stay until the officer

Arise to let him in: he is call'd

up.

Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,

Prov.

But he must die to-morrow?

None, sir, none.

Duke. As near the dawning, provost, as it is,
You shall hear more ere morning.

Happily

Prov.

You something know; yet I believe there comes
No countermand; no such example have we:
Besides, upon the very siege of justice

Lord Angelo hath to the public ear

Profess'd the contrary.

Enter a Messenger.

This is his lordship's man.

Duke. And here comes Claudio's pardon.

Mes. [Giving a paper] My lord hath sent you this
note; and by me this further charge, that you
swerve not from the smallest article of it, neither
in time, matter, or other circumstance.
morrow; for, as I take it, it is almost day.

Prov. I shall obey him.

Good

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[Exit Messenger. I10 Duke. [Aside] This is his pardon, purchased by such sin

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, belike thinking me
remiss in mine office, awakens me with this un-

wonted putting-on; methinks strangely, for he 120 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 performed; 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 executed
in the afternoon?

Prov. A Bohemian born, but here nursed up and
bred; one that is a prisoner nine years old.
Duke. How came it that the absent Duke had not

either delivered him to his liberty or executed
him? I have heard it was ever his manner to
do so.

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Prov. His friends still wrought reprieves for him: 140 and, indeed, his fact, till now in the government of Lord Angelo, came not to an undoubtful proof.

Duke. It is now apparent?

Prov. Most manifest, and not denied by himself.
Duke. Hath he borne himself penitently in prison?
how seems he to be touched?

Prov. A man that apprehends death no more dread-
fully but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless,

and fearless of what's past, present, or to come; 150 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 oft awaked him, as if to carry him to execution,

and showed him a seeming warrant for it: it

hath not moved him at all.

Duke. More of him anon. There is written in your 160

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 my self in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have 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. Prov. Pray, sir, in what?

Duke. In the delaying death.

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 borne to Angelo.

Prov. Angelo hath seen them both, and will discover the favour.

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.

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