Okay. Random little scene. Don't take it too seriously, please. I am fully aware I will never be Shakespeare.

It's a pity I couldn't fit Don John in, but *sigh* it wouldn't work with the vibe I was trying to pull off.

The orchard. Past midnight. The day before the date set for the wedding of Hero and Claudio.

(Enter BEATRICE, melancholy. SHE stops at a tree and looks up.)

BEATRICE: How oddly doth the moon shine on the branches. It were as if angels had

dusted the bark before taking flight.

Enter BENEDICK, similarly gloomy. HE halts at the sight of BEATRICE.

BENEDICK: (tentatively) Ah, hello, Lady Beatrice.

BEATRICE: (startled) Benedick.

(A pause)

BENEDICK: The stars are wondrous bright tonight.

BEATRICE: Indeed. And the air clear.

(Another pause. Enter HERO and URSULA, hiding in the shadows)

HERO: (aside to URSULA) Now we will enjoy a merry sport! What seeds of thought we have planted will bear fruit tonight, I wonder?

BEATRICE: Wherefore come you to the orchard? The hour is late enough, for a man.

BENEDICK: Why, then, later still for a woman.

BEATRICE: Nay, good sir Benedick. Women keep awake to ready the morrow. Men may liquor and carouse until midnight; but after that the inevitable gorilla drags the body back homeward.

BENEDICK: An their wives were with them, they'd leave before the sun set and in the arms of soldiers.

BEATRICE: Better an honest soldier than a drunken camel.

BENEDICK: But a camel will traverse the desert at nighttime, when the embers are low.

BEATRICE: An they any dimmer, they'd a match for the husbands.

BENEDICK: You continue this disdain for all that is male?

BEATRICE: I- (But she catches herself.)

URSULA: (aside to Hero) Why, here's Contempt, and just in time.

BEATRICE: (softer) Not all, sir.

BENEDICK: So admit you that we men are not as lowly as you would believe? I myself swore that- (He breaks off abruptly)

HERO: (aside to URSULA) And Signior Pride, tugging at her cloak-corners.

BENEDICK: (kinder) The Claudio bid me ask you how thy cousin fares?

BEATRICE: She is fairer than most-

BENEDICK: -though yours be the fairest head in the family.

URSULA: (aside to HERO) They're speaking of you, madam!

HERO: (aside to URSULA) I have ears. Hush. He's completed her sentence.

BEATRICE: My cousin fares no worse for that which is not-as-fair, though in fairness she far exceeds me, I fear.

BENEDICK: Surely under the fairest is the fairest.

BEATRICE: Nay, but you are fairer than me, sir.

(Enter PRINCE and CLAUDIO. THEY are surprised at the scene. BENEDICK and BEATRICE draw quickly apart.)

CLAUDIO: (aside to PRINCE) Methinks the past week well-spent; what say you?

PRINCE: (aside to CLAUDIO) Were nothing more to come of this, it be worth the trouble to observe their two faces when we burst upon the scene.

(to BENEDICK) It be closer dawn than sunset, now. Your eyes will red a' morning. (turns to greet BEATRICE, but-)

HERO: (stepping forward) Good morning, gentlemen. (URSULA follows her)

CLAUDIO: (Fastening on HERO) Perhaps, my soon-to-be cousin, sweet Hero can show us a feast fit to drowsy stomachs? (Offers an arm to BEATRICE, another to HERO)

PRINCE: (to BENEDICK) Come, a riper ale will help you sleep.

BEATRICE: (clearly) Camel.

BENEDICK: (loudly) Soldier.

(CLAUDIO, HERO, BEATRICE and PRINCE, BENEDICK exit, different directions.)



(Okay, Prithee nothing, really. I just always wanted to type that word. Ending now. 'Bye.)