Don John’s friend, Conrade, came into Don John’s quarters and found him standing at the window, staring out. ‘What the devil, my lord! Why are you so very unhappy?’ he said.
‘I’ve got nothing to be happy about,’ said Don John, ‘and so my sadness is limitless.’
‘You should listen to reason,’ said Conrade
‘And when I’ve heard it, how will it help?’
‘If not immediately at least it will help you to bear it patiently,’ said Conrade.
‘You say that you were born under Saturn, the planet of sourness and gloom,’ said Don John. ‘I’m surprised that you’re giving me advice. I can’t conceal what I am, so I’ll just do as I like: I’ll be sad when I have reason, and not laugh at anyone’s jokes: eat when I’m hungry, and not wait for anyone else: sleep when I’m tired, and not mind anyone else’s business: laugh when I’m merry, and not scratch anyone’s back to keep in with him.’
‘I agree,’ said Conrade, ‘but you must tread carefully until you’re more independent. You’ve been antagonistic towards your brother recently, and he’s only just taken you back. You won’t be able to get completely back into his good books unless you show goodwill. It’s important that you give something if you want to reap the reward.’
‘I’d rather be a dog- rose growing in a hedge than be a rose in his grace,’ said Don John, ‘and I’d rather be disliked by everyone than have to put on an act to make them like me. You shouldn’t try and stop me from being like this: the fact is that I’m a straightforward villain. I’ve been muzzled and hobbled and so I have decided not to sing in my cage. If I weren’t muzzled I would bite, if I weren’t hobbled I would do as I like. In the meantime let me be what I am and don’t try and change me.’
‘Can’t you do something about your discontent?’ said Canrade.
‘I am,’ said Don John: I’m cultivating it. Who’s this,’ he said, as they heard someone approaching. It was Don John’s man, Borachio.
‘What’s happening?’ said Don John.
‘I’ve just come from the supper they’re having,’ said Borachio. ‘Leonato’s entertaining your brother royally, and I can give you news of an intended marriage.’
‘Is it something I can use to make mischief with?’ said Don John. ‘What kind of fool is he who’s betrothing himself to such a noise?’
‘It’s your brother’s right hand man.’
‘Who? The most exquisite Claudio?’
‘The very man.’
Don John smiled. ‘A real young lover!’ He didn’t conceal his excitement. ‘Who? Who?’ he said. ‘Who is it?’
‘Believe it or not, it’s Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.’
Don John laughed then. ‘Cheeky youngster!’ he exclaimed. ‘How did you find out?
‘I was instructed to perfume the house,’ said Boruchio, ‘and while I was fumigating a musty room the prince and Claudio come along, very close together, talking seriously. I whipped myself behind a tapestry and heard them arranging that the prince would woo Hero for himself, and winning her, would give her to Count Claudio.’
‘Come, come,’ said Don John. ‘Let’s go there. This may turn out to be food for my displeasure. That young upstart has benefited from my downfall. If I can thwart him in any way it will give me pleasure. Are you both with me? Will you help me?’
‘To the death, my lord,’ said Conrade.
‘Let’s go to this ball then,’ said Don John. ‘They’re all happy that I’m subdued. I wish the cook felt like I do about them! Shall we go and see what we can do?’
‘We’re all yours,’ said Borachio.’