The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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Scene IV

[Venice]

Enter Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salerio, and Solanio.

LORENZO:
Nay, we will slink away in supper-time,
Disguise us at my lodging, and return,
All in an hour.
GRATIANO:
We have not made good preparation.
SALERIO:
We have not spoke us yet of torchbearers.(5)
SOLANIO:
'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly ordered,
And better, in my mind, not undertook.
LORENZO:
'Tis now but four o'clock; we have two hours,
To furnish us.—
Friend Launcelot, what's the news?(10)

Enter Launcelot, with a letter.

LAUNCELOT:
An it shall please you to break up this, it shall
seem to signify.
LORENZO:
I know the hand: in faith, 'tis a fair hand;
And whiter than the paper it writ on,
Is the fair hand that writ.(15)
GRATIANO:
Love-news, in faith.
LAUNCELOT:
By your leave, sir.
LORENZO:
Whither goest thou?
LAUNCELOT:
Marry, sir, to bid my old master the Jew to sup
to-night with my new master the Christian.(20)
LORENZO:
Hold here, take this.—Tell gentle Jessica,
I will not fail her.—Speak it privately.
Go. Gentlemen, will you prepare you for this masque
to-night?
I am provided of a torch-bearer.(25)

Exit Clown.

SALERIO:
Ay, marry, I'll be gone about it straight.
SOLANIO:
And so will I.
LORENZO:
Meet me and Gratiano,
At Gratiano's lodging some hour hence.
SALERIO:
'Tis good we do so.(30)

Exit [Salerio and Solanio]

GRATIANO:
Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
LORENZO:
I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
How I shall take her from her father's house;
What gold and jewels she is furnish'd with;
What page's suit she hath in readiness.(35)
If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,
It will be for his gentle daughter's sake:
And never dare misfortune cross her foot,
Unless she do it under this excuse,—
That she is issue to a faithless Jew.(40)
Come, go with me; peruse this as thou goest:
Fair Jessica shall be my torchbearer.

Exit.