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Othello ended his meeting with Cassio by reminding him about the behaviour expected of a visiting army, particularly on an evening when there were going to be revellers on the streets.
‘Good Michael,’ he said. ‘Keep your eye on the guard tonight. We must set an example and not overdo it.’
‘Iago knows what to do,’ said Cassio. ‘But I’ll personally keep an eye on it.’
‘Iago is most honest,’ said Othello. ‘We’ll goodnight, Michael. I need totalk to you first thing in the morning.’ He smiled at the waiting Desdemona. ‘Come, my dear love,’ he said. ‘We’ve made the purchase, the fruits are to follow. The profit’s yet to come between me and you.’ He turned and smiled at Cassio and the other officers. ‘Goodnight.’
Iago was already in the guardroom when Cassio arrived. ‘We must attend to the guard,’ said Cassio.
‘Not yet,’ said Iago. ‘It’s not ten o’clock yet. Our general got rid of us early for the love of his Desdemona, and I don’t blame him. He hasn’t done it with her yet; and she’s sport for the gods.’
‘She’s a most exquisite lady,’ said Cassio.
‘And full of game, I’ll bet.’
‘She’s certainly a lovely, delicate creature.’
‘What an eye she has: a real come and get it look.’
‘A welcoming eye,’ said Cassio, ‘and yet very modest, I think.’
‘And when she speaks, isn’t it a signal for love?’
‘She’s certainly perfection.’
‘O well, let them enjoy it.’ Iago clapped Cassio on the back. ‘Come Lieutenant,’ he said. ‘I’ve got a jar of wine, and there is a brace of Cyprus lads outside who want to drink to the health of black Othello.’
‘Not tonight, Iago. I can’t take too much drink. I really wish society would invent some other form of entertainment.’
Iago sighed. ‘They’re our friends. Just one glass. I’ll do your drinking for you.’
‘I’ve had only one glass tonight,’ said Cassio, ‘and that was cunningly diluted as well; and look at the effect it’s had on me. I’m unlucky in that defect and daren’t push it with more drinking.’
Iago clapped his hands in front of Cassio’s face. ‘Come on, man, it’s a night of partying. The lads want it.’
‘Where are they?’
‘There, at the door. Go on, invite them in.’
‘I’ll do it,’ said Cassio, ‘but I don’t like it.’
Iago couldn’t believe his luck. Now if he could just make him have one glass, that, together with what he had already had, would make him as quarrelsome and offensive as a lapdog. And the sick fool, Roderigo, who had been turned inside out with love and drunk himself silly in toasts to Desdemona, was out there too. It was all coming together. He had made three other men of Cyprus drunk – men of high rank, the backbone of Cyprus. He would put Cassio among this flock of drunkards and induce him to commit some act that would offend the people of Cyprus. It was all going smoothly, like a boat sailing freely with favourable winds and currents.