‘You’re not going!’ said Juliet. ‘It’s not morning yet.’
Romeo lay down beside her again and kissed her. ‘It really is morning,’ he said. ‘The clouds in the eastern sky are streaked with light. I have to leave if I’m going stay alive, or die if I don’t.’
‘That light isn’t daylight,’ she said. ‘I know that: it’s like some meteor sent to light you on you way to Mantua. So stay: you don’t have to go.’
‘No,’ he said. ‘I don’t. Let them catch me, let them put me to death. I’m happy if it’s what you want. I’d rather stay. I welcome death if it’s what you want.’ He kissed her again. ‘How are you my darling? Let’s talk: it’s not day yet.’
‘Oh, it is, it is!’ she cried. You must go. Hurry. Come on, go. It’s getting lighter every moment.’
Romeo groaned. ‘The lighter it gets the darker our troubles become.’
The Nurse, who had been keeping guard all night, knocked softly on the door and opened it.
‘Nurse, what is it?’
‘Your mother’s coming to your room It’s morning. Be careful.’ She closed the door.
They kissed again and again then he finally let the rope ladder down. Juliet hung out the window.
‘Have you really gone, my Love, my husband, friend? I want to hear from you every hour of every day. Each minute will drag like many days, so I’ll be very old before I see my Romeo again.’
Romeo stood in the orchard. ‘Good bye,’ he said. ‘I’ll send a message as soon as I can.’
‘Oh, do you think we will ever meet again?’
‘Of course,’ he said. ‘And all this trouble will be a good talking point.’
‘Oh God, I’ve got a terrible feeling about this,’ she said. ‘Seeing you down there. It’s like seeing you dead at the bottom of a grave.’
‘It’s only our sadness that gives you that feeling,’ he said. And he disappeared among the trees.
As she watched her husband out of sight the old saying about Fortune being fickle was on Juliet’s mind. If so, what was Fortune doing with someone as faithful as Romeo was? She wished Fortune would be fickle now and change its mind about Romeo and let him come back soon. She heard her mother calling. What was she doing up so early? Or had she been up all night? It wasn’t like her to come to her room at this time of morning. What did she want?
As soon as Lady Capulet saw her daughter’s pale, tearstained face she stopped. ‘What’s the matter, Juliet?’ she said.
‘I’m not well,’ said Juliet.
‘Still crying for your cousin? What are you trying to do? Wash him from his grave with tears? Even if you could that wouldn’t bring him back to life. So stop now. An appropriate amount of grief shows a lot of love but too much shows a lack of brains.’
‘I can’t stop crying: I feel his loss so deeply,’ said Juliet.
‘It still won’t bring him back,’ said her mother. ‘Rather cry because that scoundrel who killed him is alive.’
‘Romeo!’ said Lady Capulet.
Juliet thought of how far Romeo was from being a scoundrel. She spoke cautiously. ‘May God pardon him. And yet no-one causes me as much sadness as he does.’
‘That’s because the murderous traitor is still alive.’
‘Yes, Mother,’ said Juliet. The last thing she could bear to think about was someone killing Romeo in revenge. ‘I’d 1ike no-one but me to avenge my cousin’s death.’
‘We’ll have revenge, don’t you worry about that,’ said her mother. ‘So stop crying. I’ll send someone to a man in Mantua – where that criminal’s gone to live – and he’ll give him such an unexpected dose of poison that he’ll soon be keeping Tybalt company. And then I hope you’ll be satisfied.’
Juliet would never be satisfied until she saw Romeo again. Her heart was breaking to hear his name and not be able to go to him.
‘I’ll find the man,’ said her mother. She smiled suddenly. ‘Let’s put that behind us now because I’ve got some joyful news, girl.’
‘It’s about time I had some joyful news. What is it, Mother?’
‘Well.’ Her mother sat down on the bed. ‘You’ve got a thoughtful father, my child.
To help you through this bereavement he’s sorted something out. Something you didn’t expect.’
Juliet wished her mother would go away and leave her but she answered. ‘And what’s that Mother?’
‘Well here it is.’ Lady Capulet ‘s eyes shone, ‘Early on Thursday morning… the charming, young and noble gentleman, the Count of Paris, at St. Peter’s church…’ Juliet stared at her.‘…Will make a joyful bride of you!’
Juliet sprang up. ‘No! By St Peter ‘s Church and by St Peter too, if you like, he will not make a joyful bride of me. I can’t believe this haste – that I should get married before the man who’s going to be my husband comes to court me!’ Tears of rage shone in her eyes. ‘Please tell my father that I don’t want to get married yet and when I do I swear it will be to Romeo – who you know I hate – before I marry Paris. What kind of joyful news is this?’
The door opened. ‘Well here’s your father now,’ said Lady Capulet. Tell him yourself and see what he’ll do.’
Capulet’s face showed concern as he looked at his daughter. Tears streamed down her cheeks. ‘It often drizzles at sunset,’ he said. ‘But at the sunset of my nephew’s life it’s a downpour.’
He sat on the bed beside her and took her hand. ‘Still crying?’. Juliet’s sobbing increased and her father put his arm round her and pulled her close. ‘A whole storm,’ he said. ‘Such shaking.’ He turned to his wife. ‘Have you told her of my decision?’.
‘I have,’ said his wife. ‘But she won’t have it. She thanks you and declines. I wish the idiot was married to her grave!’
Capulet pushed Juliet away from him gently and stood up. ‘Slowly,’ he said. ‘I’m not following. What? She won’t have it? Isn’t she grateful?’ He was looking incredulously from one to the other. ‘Isn’t she proud? Isn’t she counting her blessings, insignificant as she is, that we have found such an important gentleman to be her husband?’
Juliet tried to find the right words. ‘No, not proud that you’ve found him. Thankful that you have. I can never be proud of something that I don’t want but I’m thankful for what you’ve done because you intended it as love.’
Capulet was staring at her. His face was red. ‘What! What! What’s this? “Proud” and “thankful” and “no thank you”? Listen here, little girl. Don’t give me any of your thanks and your prouds or any of that. Just get yourself ready to go with Paris to St Peter’s church on Friday or I will drag you there on a piece of fencing!’ He paced up and down the room rapidly, his face contorted. Then he swung round and ran towards Juliet. ‘You insipid piece of rotting flesh! You little whore. You white faced…’ He took a swing at her and hit her across the face.
Lady Capulet rushed between them and got in the way just as her husband’s hand was about to come down again. ‘Stop it!’ she cried. ‘Are you mad?’ She grasped his arm and held it firmly. The Nurse was crouching in a corner.
‘Father,’ said Juliet. Her face was stinging. She slipped from the bed and fell to her knees. ‘I beg of you, just let me say one thing. Please!’
‘Hang you! You whore. Disobedient wretch!’ he bellowed. He advanced on her again but both his wife and the Nurse came between them. ‘I’ll tell you what,’ he stormed, ‘You get yourself to that church on Thursday or never ask me for anything again!’
Juliet opened her mouth to speak.
‘Don’t say anything’ said Capulet. ‘Nothing. Don’t even answer me. My fingers are itching.’
His wife was still holding on to his raised arm. He lowered it now and wiped his brow on his sleeve. ‘Wife,’ he said. ‘We thought God had done us down by letting us have this only child but now I see that we are cursed in having even her.’ He raised his arm again and all three cowered. ‘Damn her, worthless child!’ he yelled.
‘May God in heaven help her,’ said the Nurse. She couldn’t take it any more and came forward now. ‘Shame on you, Sir, for treating her like this.’
‘What?’ said Capulet, turning on the Nurse. ‘So you’re the fountain of wisdom now, are you?’ he sneered. ‘Go and gossip with your cronies.’
‘I’m only speaking the truth.’
‘Get out of my sight,’ said Capulet.
‘Can’t one even speak?’
‘I told you to shut up, you mumbling fool Go and speak your wisdom over a gossip’s bowl. We don’t need your opinion here.’
Lady Capulet took his hand. ‘You’re over reacting, she said.
‘God, it makes me mad,’ said Capulet. ‘Every day and night, every moment, whether working or playing, alone or in company, my only ambition has been to make a good match. And now, when I finally find a gentleman with aristocratic connections, with property, young, noble blood, absolutely full of good qualities, built exactly as any man could want to be. And then to have a wretched crying idiot, a whining doll, staring her fortune in the face and answering -Capulet imitated a lisping girl – “I don’t think I’ll get married, I can’t love him, I’m too young. Please excuse me.” His eyes blazed. He shook his finger at Juliet. ‘Eat where you like, you won’t stay here. So think about that! I’m not joking. Thursday is close. Search your soul and give it some serious thought. If you belong to me I’ll give you to my friend: if you don’t, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets. As long as I live I won’t own you. And you won’t get a penny. You’d better believe it: I won’t change my mind.’
When he had gone they all looked at each other. The Nurse’s eyes were all sympathy but – Lady Capulet’s look was hard.
Isn’t there any pity in heaven?’ said Juliet, sobbing. ‘Anything that can see how miserable I am?’ She tried to take her mother’s hand but Lady Capulet snatched it away. ‘Oh sweet mother don’t push me away,’ said Juliet ‘Postpone this marriage for a month – a week. Or if you won’t then make the bridal bed in that dark tomb where Tybalt’s lying.’
‘Don’t talk to me,’ said her mother, ‘I’m not saying another word. You heard your father, Do as you 1ike. I’ve finished with you.’ And she hurried out,
‘Oh God. Oh Nurse, what are we going to do?’ said Juliet, ‘I’ve got a husband. How can I get married while my husband ‘s alive? Tell me what to do. How can heaven do this to someone as vulnerable as I am? What do you say? Can’t you give me any comfort?’
‘There is some comfort, said the Nurse, ‘This is it. Romeo is banished and might as well be dead. He can’t come back here to challenge anything you do – or if he does it has to be in secret. So as that is the reality I think the best thing is to marry the Count.’
Juliet couldn’t believe her only friend was saying this.
‘Oh, he’s a lovely gentleman,’ continued the Nurse. ‘Romeo’s a dishcloth compared to him. Even an eagle doesn’t have as noble a profile as Paris has. I’m completely convinced that this is the best match – much better than the first. But even if it weren’t your first love is as good as dead. Living in Mantua he’s not much use to you, is he?’
‘Do you mean all that?’ said Juliet.
‘Every word,’ said the Nurse.
‘That’s it then.’
‘Well you’ve really comforted me. Go and tell my mother I’ve gone to Lawrence’s chapel to confess that I’ve displeased my father and to ask for forgiveness.’
The Nurse, all smiles now, was up in a moment. ‘I’m on my way. This is the right thing.
As Juliet was dressing her thoughts about the Nurse were not pleasant She was a wicked old woman, a most evil devil. Which sin was worse – wanting her to break her vow or running Romeo down? She had condemned Romeo with the same tongue she had used to praise him – to put him beyond comparison – thousands of times. As she slipped out of the house she resolved that she would never confide in her Nurse again. She would go to Friar Lawrence to see if there was anything he could do, Failing all else she would kill herself.
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