William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scenes 5 & 6

— 4.5 —

In the fields outside Vienna, Duke Vincentio, who was NOT disguised, and Friar Peter talked.

“At the suitable time, deliver these letters for me,” Duke Vincentio said, handing Friar Peter some letters.

Using the royal plural, he continued: “Like you, the Provost knows our purpose and our plot. The plot now being put in action, follow your instructions and always keep in mind the plan that I have formed, although sometimes you may have to swerve from it a little as called for by circumstances.

“Go to Flavius’ house, and tell him where I am staying. Give the same information to Valencius, Rowland, and Crassus, and tell them to bring the trumpeters to the gate, but send me Flavius first.”

“I shall do it speedily,” Friar Peter said.

He departed to carry out his errands.

Varrius, one of Duke Vincentio’s friends, walked over to him.

Duke Vincentio said, “I thank you, Varrius; you have made good time. Come, we will walk. Some other of our friends will greet us here soon, my gentle Varrius.”

— 4.6 —

On a street near the city gates, Isabella and Mariana were talking.

“I am loath to speak so inaccurately,” Isabella said. “I must allow Angelo to think that he deflowered me. You are the one who must accuse Angelo truthfully. I myself must accuse Angelo incorrectly of deflowering me, Friar Peter said, in order to keep hidden our full plan.”

“Do what Friar Peter advises you to do,” Mariana said.

“In addition, Friar Peter tells me that if perhaps he should speak against me and seem to be on Angelo’s side, that I should not think it strange because it is a medicine that is bitter to swallow but will lead to a sweet end.”

“I wish that Friar Peter —” Mariana said.

“Look!” Isabella interrupted. “Here he comes!”

Friar Peter walked over to the two women and said, “Come with me, I have found you a place to stand that is most suitable. You will be in such a position that Duke Vincentio cannot ignore you and pass by you.

“Twice have the trumpets sounded; the highly born and gravest citizens have taken up their positions at the gates, and very soon Duke Vincentio will pass through the gates. Hurry! Let’s go!”

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