Romeo couldn’t bear to leave the house where he had been so soundly struck down. Each step he took would carry him further away from Juliet. He couldn’t go just like that. His heart was here – nowhere else. And he knew what would happen on the way home. They would mock him. He could do without that. They would go on about Rosaline. Rosaline? Who was Rosaline?
‘Romeo! Hey Romeo!’ They were right behind him. He pressed himself against the hard stone wall as though trying to find a hiding place among its crevices.
‘Oh Ro-me-o! Ro-ho-ho-me-o!’
They were coming closer. In desperation Romeo searched for a foothold and found one. He pushed himself up the wall. Another foothold, and another, and before he knew it he was on top of the high wall. He lay flat on his stomach, holding his breath.
They stopped right beneath him.
‘I swear he’s run off home to avoid us,’ he heard Mercutio say. ‘He’ll be in bed by now.’
‘No.’ said Benvolio. ‘He was here a moment ago. I’ll bet he climbed over this orchard
wall. Call him again, Mercutio.’
‘He’s disappeared.’ said Mercutio. ‘Like a ghost. Hey, he’s a ghost. Let’s see if I can conjure him up.’
Romeo lay, trying not to breathe, listening to their drunken giggling. There was some whispering, then Mercutio’s voice rang out again.
‘Romeo! Madman!’ There was more giggling. ‘Lover! Appear to me! Appear in the form of a… sigh!’
Romeo held his breath.
‘Say something.’ called Mercutio. ‘Anything.’ More whispering and loud laughing.
‘I conjure you in the name of Rosaline’s bright eyes!’ Mercutio spoke in the formal tone of a priest. ‘By her high forehead. And her scarlet lip.’
Benvolio and Horatio hooted.
‘By her fine foot, straight leg…’ More giggles. ‘And quivering thighs!’ Yells of delight from the others.
‘And everything else in that region!’ Raucous laughter.
‘That you appear to us in the likeness of – of -’ The other two made animal noises.
‘The likeness of yourself!’ said Mercutio
‘Shhh.’ said Benvolio, trying to stop laughing. ‘If he hears you he’ll be furious.’
‘How could that make him furious’?’ said Mercutio. ‘Raising him in the name of his beloved? That’s fair enough. isn’t it? I’m only trying to… raise him.’
‘It’s no use.’ said Benvolio when he had stopped laughing. ‘I think he’s hiding in the orchard. Leave him. Since love is blind he’s best off in the dark.’
‘If that’s so, it’s no wonder he can’t hit his target,’ said Mercutio. ‘Meaning Rosaline.’ He yawned. ‘Oh well. Goodnight to Romeo. I need my bed. Shall we go without him?’
‘Might as well.’ said Benvolio. ‘You’ll never find someone who doesn’t want to be found.’