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389 Prov. Sirrah, here's a fellow will help you to-mor. row in your execution: if you think him meet, compound with him by the year, and let him abide here with you; if not, use him for the present, and dismiss him: he cannot plead his estimation with you; he hath been a bawd.
Abhor. A bawd, sir ? Fy upon him, he will discredit our mystery*.
Prou. Go to, sir; you weigh equally; a feather will turn the scale.
(Erit. clo. Pray, sir, by your good favour (for, surely, sir, a good favourt you have, but that you have a hanging look), do you call, sir, your occupation a mystery?
Abhor. Ay, sir; a mystery
Clo. Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and your whores, sir, being members of my occupation, using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery: but what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hang'd, I cannot imagine.
Abhor. Sir, it is a mystery.
Abhor. Every truet mad's apparel fits your thief: if it be too little for your thief, your true man thinks it big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your thief thinks it little enough : so every true man's apparel fits your thief.
Proo. Are you agreed?
Clo. Sir, I will serve him; for I do find, your hangman is a more penitent trade than your bawd; he doth oftener ask forgiveness.
axe, to-morrow four o'clock.
Abhor. Come on bawd; I will instruct thee in my trade; follow.
Clo. 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 kinduess, I owe you a good turn. Prov. Call hither Barnardine and Claudio:
[Exeunt Clown and Abhorson. One lias my pity; not a jot the other, Being a murderer, though he were my brother.
Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death:
Who can do good on him? Well, go, prepare yourself. But hark, what noise?
[Knocking within. Heaven give your spirits comfort! [Exit Claudio.
By and by :
Enter Duke.. Duke. The best and wholesomest spirits of the
night Envelop you, good Provost! Who call'd bere of
late? Prop. None, since the curfew rung. Duke.
Not Isabel! Proo. No. Duke. They will then, ere't be long. Prov. What comfort is for Claudio? Duke.
There's some in hope. * Ready. + Stiffy.
Prod. It is a bitter deputy.
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'dt With that which he corrects, then were he tyrannous; But this being so, he's just.-Now are they come.
[Knocking within Provost goes out. This is a gentle provost : Seldom, when The steeled gaoler is the friend of men. How now? What noise ? That spirit's possess'd with
haste, That wounds the unsisting postern with these strokes.
Provost returns, speaking to one at the door.
Prou. There he must stay, until the officer Arise to let him in; be is call'd up.
Duke. Have you no countermand for Claudio yet,
None, sir, none.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess, My lord hath sent you this note; and by me this further charge, that you swerve pot from the smallest article of it, neither in time, matter, nor other circumstance. Good morrow: for, as I take it, it is almost day.
Prov. I shall obey him. (Excit Messenger.
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 ligh authority: When vice makes mercy, niercy'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 hade 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 boru; 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. .
Prod. 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 prison? How seems he to be touch'd ?
Proo. A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully, but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what's past, present, or to
• Spur, incitement.
+ Nine years in prison.
come; insensible of mortality, and desperately mor. tal.
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 respite; 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.
Prov. 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