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Isab. O, were it but my life,
Claud. Thanks, dear Isabel.
Isab. Which is the least?
Claud. If it were damnable, he, being so wise,
Isab. What says my brother?
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
Isab, Alas! alas!
Claud. Sweet sister, let me live: What sin you do to save a brother's life, Nature dispenses with the deed so far, That it becomes a virtue.
Isab. O, you beast ! 0, faithless coward! O, dishonest wretch ! Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice? Is't not a kind of incest, to take life From thine own sister's shame? What should I think? Heaven shield, my mother play'd my father fair! For such a warped slip of wilderness Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance: Die; perish! might but my bending down Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed: I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death, No word to save thee.
Claud. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
Isab. O, fye, fye, fye!
[Going Claud. O, hear me, Isabella.
Re-enter Duke. Duke. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word. Isab. What is your will ?
Duke. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have some speech with you : the satisfaction I would require, is likewise your own benefit.
Isab. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of other affairs; but I will attend you a while.
Duke. [To CLAUDIO, aside.] Son, I have overheard what hath past between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he bath made an essay of her virtue, to practice his judgment with the disposition of natures: she, having the truth of honour in her, hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to receive : I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare vourself to death: Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible : to-morrow you must die; go to your knees, and make ready.
Claud. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life, that I will sue to be rid of it.
Duke. Hold you there: Farewell. [Exit CLAUDIO.
Re-enter Provost. Provost, a word with you.
Prov. What's your will, father?
Duke. That, now you are come, you will be gone: Leave me a while with the maid; my mind promises with my habit, no loss shall touch her by my company. Prov. In good time.
[Exit Provost Duke. The hand, that hath made you fair, hath made you good : the goodness, that is cheap in beauty, makes beauty brief in goodness; but grace, being the soul of your complexion, should keep the body of it ever fair. The assault, that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath convey'd to my understanding; and, but that frailty hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How would you do to content this substitute, and to save your brother?
Isab. I am now going to resolve him: I had rather · vol. XIV.
my brother die by the law, than my son should be unlawfully born. But 0, how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo! If ever he return, and I can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his government.
Duke. That shall not be much amiss : Yet, as the maiter now stands, he will avoid your accusation; he made trial of you only.—Therefore, fasten your ear on my advisings; to the love I have in doing good, a remedy presents itself. I do make niyself believe, that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit; redeem your brother from the angry law; do no stain to your own gracious person; and much please the absent duke, if, peradventure, he shall ever return to have hearing of this business.
Isab. Let me hear you speak further; I have spirit to do any thing that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit.
Duke. Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not heard speak of Mariana the sister of Frederick, the great soldier, who miscarried at sea ?
Isab. I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.
Duke. Her should this Angelo have married; was affianced to her by oath, and the nuptial appointed : between which time of the contract, and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea, having in that perish’d vessel the dowry of his sister. But mark, how heavily this befel to the poor gentlewoman : there she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage-dowry;
with both, her combinate husband, this well-seenning Angelo.
Isab. Can this be so ? Did Angelo so leave her?
Duke. Left her in her tears, and dry'd not one of them with his comfort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending, in her, discoveries of dishonour: in few, bestowed her on her own lamentation, which she yet wears for his sake; and he, a marble to her tears, is washed with them, but relents not.
Isab. What a merit were it in death, to take this poor maid from the world! What corruption in this life, that it will let this man live !—But how out of this can she avail?
Duke. It is a rupture that you may easily heal: and the cure of it not only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonour in doing it.
Isab. Show me how, good father.
Duke. This fore-named maid hath yet in her the continuance of her first affection; his unjust unkindness, that in all reason should have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current, made it more violent and unruly. Go you to Angelo; answer his requiring with a plausible obedience; agree with his demands to the point: only refer yourself to this advantage,—first, that your stay with him may not be long; that the time may have all shadow and silence in it; and the place answer to convenience: this being granted in course, now follows all. We shall advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in your place; if the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may contpel him to her recompense : and here, by this, is your brother saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana advan