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    Act 3, Scene III

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    Chapter 9
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    SCENE III. A street.

    Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES with the Watch
    DOGBERRY
    Are you good men and true?

    VERGES
    Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
    salvation, body and soul.

    DOGBERRY
    Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if
    they should have any allegiance in them, being
    chosen for the prince's watch.

    VERGES
    Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.

    DOGBERRY
    First, who think you the most desertless man to be
    constable?

    First Watchman
    Hugh Otecake, sir, or George Seacole; for they can
    write and read.

    DOGBERRY
    Come hither, neighbour Seacole. God hath blessed
    you with a good name: to be a well-favoured man is
    the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.

    Second Watchman
    Both which, master constable,--

    DOGBERRY
    You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well,
    for your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make
    no boast of it; and for your writing and reading,
    let that appear when there is no need of such
    vanity. You are thought here to be the most
    senseless and fit man for the constable of the
    watch; therefore bear you the lantern. This is your
    charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are
    to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.

    Second Watchman
    How if a' will not stand?

    DOGBERRY
    Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and
    presently call the rest of the watch together and
    thank God you are rid of a knave.

    VERGES
    If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none
    of the prince's subjects.

    DOGBERRY
    True, and they are to meddle with none but the
    prince's subjects. You shall also make no noise in
    the streets; for, for the watch to babble and to
    talk is most tolerable and not to be endured.

    Watchman
    We will rather sleep than talk: we know what
    belongs to a watch.

    DOGBERRY
    Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet
    watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should
    offend: only, have a care that your bills be not
    stolen. Well, you are to call at all the
    ale-houses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.

    Watchman
    How if they will not?

    DOGBERRY
    Why, then, let them alone till they are sober: if
    they make you not then the better answer, you may
    say they are not the men you took them for.

    Watchman
    Well, sir.

    DOGBERRY
    If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
    of your office, to be no true man; and, for such
    kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them,
    why the more is for your honesty.

    Watchman
    If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay
    hands on him?

    DOGBERRY
    Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they
    that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable
    way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him
    show himself what he is and steal out of your company.

    VERGES
    You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

    DOGBERRY
    Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more
    a man who hath any honesty in him.

    VERGES
    If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call
    to the nurse and bid her still it.

    Watchman
    How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?

    DOGBERRY
    Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake
    her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her
    lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats.

    VERGES
    'Tis very true.

    DOGBERRY
    This is the end of the charge:--you, constable, are
    to present the prince's own person: if you meet the
    prince in the night, you may stay him.

    VERGES
    Nay, by'r our lady, that I think a' cannot.

    DOGBERRY
    Five shillings to one on't, with any man that knows
    the statutes, he may stay him: marry, not without
    the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought
    to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a
    man against his will.

    VERGES
    By'r lady, I think it be so.

    DOGBERRY
    Ha, ha, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
    any matter of weight chances, call up me: keep your
    fellows' counsels and your own; and good night.
    Come, neighbour.

    Watchman
    Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here
    upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed.

    DOGBERRY
    One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you watch
    about Signior Leonato's door; for the wedding being
    there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night.
    Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.

    Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES

    Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE

    BORACHIO
    What Conrade!

    Watchman
    [Aside] Peace! stir not.

    BORACHIO
    Conrade, I say!

    CONRADE
    Here, man; I am at thy elbow.

    BORACHIO
    Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a
    scab follow.

    CONRADE
    I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward
    with thy tale.

    BORACHIO
    Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for
    it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard,
    utter all to thee.

    Watchman
    [Aside] Some treason, masters: yet stand close.

    BORACHIO
    Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.

    CONRADE
    Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?

    BORACHIO
    Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any
    villany should be so rich; for when rich villains
    have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
    price they will.

    CONRADE
    I wonder at it.

    BORACHIO
    That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that
    the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is
    nothing to a man.

    CONRADE
    Yes, it is apparel.

    BORACHIO
    I mean, the fashion.

    CONRADE
    Yes, the fashion is the fashion.

    BORACHIO
    Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But
    seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion
    is?

    Watchman
    [Aside] I know that Deformed; a' has been a vile
    thief this seven year; a' goes up and down like a
    gentleman: I remember his name.

    BORACHIO
    Didst thou not hear somebody?

    CONRADE
    No; 'twas the vane on the house.

    BORACHIO
    Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this
    fashion is? how giddily a' turns about all the hot
    bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
    sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers
    in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel's
    priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
    shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry,
    where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?

    CONRADE
    All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears
    out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
    thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
    shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?

    BORACHIO
    Not so, neither: but know that I have to-night
    wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the
    name of Hero: she leans me out at her mistress'
    chamber-window, bids me a thousand times good
    night,--I tell this tale vilely:--I should first
    tell thee how the prince, Claudio and my master,
    planted and placed and possessed by my master Don
    John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter.

    CONRADE
    And thought they Margaret was Hero?

    BORACHIO
    Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the
    devil my master knew she was Margaret; and partly
    by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by
    the dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly
    by my villany, which did confirm any slander that
    Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore
    he would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning
    at the temple, and there, before the whole
    congregation, shame her with what he saw o'er night
    and send her home again without a husband.

    First Watchman
    We charge you, in the prince's name, stand!

    Second Watchman
    Call up the right master constable. We have here
    recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
    ever was known in the commonwealth.

    First Watchman
    And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a'
    wears a lock.

    CONRADE
    Masters, masters,--

    Second Watchman
    You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.

    CONRADE
    Masters,--

    First Watchman
    Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.

    BORACHIO
    We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken
    up of these men's bills.

    CONRADE
    A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we'll obey you.

    Exeunt
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