agreed to this proposal, and the prince found no great difficulty in persuading the gentle Hero herself to listen to the suit of the noble Claudio, who was a lord of rare endowments, and highly accomplished, and Claudio, assisted by his kind prince, soon prevailed upon Leonato to fix an early day for the celebration of his marriage with Hero.

Claudio was to wait but a few days before he was to be married to his fair lady; yet he complained of the interval being tedious, as indeed most young men are impatient when they are waiting for the accomplishment of any event they have set their hearts upon: the prince, therefore, to make the time seem short to him, proposed as a kind of merry pastime that they should invent some artful scheme to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with each other. Claudio entered with great satisfaction into this whim of the prince, and Leonato promised them his assistance, and even Hero said she would do any modest office to help her cousin to a good husband.

The device the prince invented was, that the gentlemen should make Benedick believe that Beatrice was in love with him, and that Hero should make Beatrice believe that Benedick was in love with her.

The prince, Leonato, and Claudio began their operations first: and watching an opportunity when Benedick was quietly seated reading in an arbor, the prince and his assistants took their station among the trees behind the arbor, so near that Benedick could not choose but hear all they said; and after some careless talk the prince said, “Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me the other day — that your niece Beatrice was in love with signior Benedick? I did never think that lady would have loved any man.” “No, nor I neither, my lord,” answered Leonato. “It is most wonderful that she should so dote on Benedick, whom she in all outward behavior seemed ever to dislike.” Claudio confirmed all this with saying that Hero had told him Beatrice was so in love with Benedick, that she would certainly die of grief, if he could not be brought to love her; which Leonato and Claudio seemed to agree was impossible, he having always been such a railer against all fair ladies, and in particular against Beatrice.

The prince affected to hearken to all this with great compassion for Beatrice, and he said, “It were good that Benedick were told of this.” “To what end?” said Claudio; “he would but make sport of it, and torment the poor lady worse.” “And if he should,” said the prince, “it were a good deed to hang him; for Beatrice is an excellent sweet lady, and exceeding wise in every thing but in loving Benedick.” Then the prince motioned to his companions that they should walk on, and leave Benedick to meditate upon what he had overheard.

Benedick had been listening with great eagerness to this conversation; and he said to himself when he heard Beatrice loved him, “Is it possible? Sits the wind in that corner?” And when they were gone, he began to reason in this manner with himself: “This can be no trick! they were very serious, and they have the truth from Hero, and seem to pity the lady. Love me! Why, it must be requited! I did never think to marry. But when I said I should die a bachelor, I did not think I should live to be married. They say the lady is virtuous and fair. She is so. And wise in every thing but in loving me. Why, that is no great argument of her folly. But here comes Beatrice. By this day, she is a fair lady. I do spy some marks of love in her.” Beatrice now approached him, and said with her usual tartness, “Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.” Benedick, who never felt himself disposed to speak so politely to her before, replied, “Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains”: and when Beatrice, after two or three more rude speeches, left him, Benedick thought he observed a concealed meaning of kindness under the uncivil words she uttered, and he said aloud, “If I do not take pity on her, I am a villain. If I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.”

The gentleman being thus caught in the net they had spread for him, it was now Hero’s turn to play her part with Beatrice; and for this purpose she sent for Ursula and Margaret, two gentlewomen who attended upon her, and she said to Margaret, “Good Margaret, run to the parlor; there you will find my cousin Beatrice talking with the prince and Claudio. Whisper in her ear, that I and Ursula are walking in the orchard, and that our discourse is all of her. Bid her steal into that pleasant arbor, where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun, like ungrateful minions, forbid the sun to enter.” This arbor, into which Hero desired

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