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Yet hear them.
[Exeunt Duke and Provost. Now, sister, what's the comfort? Isab. Why, as all comforts are; most good indeed;
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Is there no remedy? Isab. None, but such remedy, as, to save a head, To cleave a heart in twain.
But is there any?
Claud. But in what nature? Isab. In such a one as (you consenting to't) Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear, And leave you naked.
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
Isab. There spake my brother; there my father's grave
Did utter forth a voice! Yes, thou must die: 'Thou art too noble to conserve a life
In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
The princely Angelo? Isab. O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell, The damned'st body to invest and cover In princely guards !2 Dost thou think, Claudio, If I would yield him my virginity, Thou might'st be freed?
O, heavens! it cannot be. Isab. Yes, he would give it thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still: This night's the time
Isab. O, were it but my life,
Thou shalt not do't.
Thanks, dear Isabel.
Isab. Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-mor
Claud. Yes. Has he affections in him,
That thus can make him bite the law by the nose,
Isab. Which is the least?
Claud. If it were damnable, he, being so wise, Why, would he for the momentary trick
(1) Shut up. (2) Laced robes. (3) Freely.
Be perdurably fin'd?-O, Isabel!
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To what we fear of death.
Isab. Alas! alas!
Sweet sister, let me live:
From thine own sister's shame? What should I
Heaven shield, my mother play'd my father fair!
Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance :4
(1) Lastingly. (2) Invisible, (3) Wildness. (4) Refusal,
Claud. Nay, hear me, Isabel.
O, fie, fie, fie! Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade :1 Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd: 'Tis best that thou diest quickly.
[Going. O hear me, Isabella.
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, have overheard what hath passed between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; only he hath made an essay of her virtue, to practise 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 yourself 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. [Ex. Claud. Re-enter Provost.
Provost, a word with you.
(1) An established habit.
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 com
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 my brother die by the law, than my son should be unlawfully born. But O, 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 matter 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 myself 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 not you 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.