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Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon.
Claudio, a young lord of Florence, favourite to
Benedick, a young lord of Padua, favourite likewise of Don Pedro.
Leonato, governor of Messina.
Antonio, his brother.
Balthazar, servant to Don Pedro.
followers of Don John.
two foolish officers.
Hero, daughter to Leonato.
Beatrice, niece to Leonato.
Messengers, watch, and attendants.
gentlewomen attending on Hero.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
SCENE I. Before Leonato's house.
Enter Leonato, Hero, Beatrice, and others, with a Messenger.
LEARN in this letter, that Don Pedro of Arragon, comes this night to Messina.
Mess. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.
Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
Mess. But few of any sort*, and none of name. Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine, called Claudio.
Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age; doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better
bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.
Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough, without a badge of bitterness.
Leon. Did he break out into tears?
Mess. In great measure*.
Leon. A kind overflow of kindness: There are no faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy, than to joy at weeping?
Beat. I pray you, is signior Montanto returned from the wars, or no?
Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort.
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Hero. My cousin means signior Benedick of Padua.
Mess. O, he is returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, and challenged Cupid at the flightt: and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird bolt.-I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
† At long lengths.