‘Are we going to make some excuse for coming without being invited?’ said Romeo. ‘Or shall we just go in and see what happens?
They stood in the piazza. watching the huge front door of Capulet’s mansion.
People were arriving and being let in. Mercutio, the one with the invitation, and Romeo’s best friend, even though he was related to the Capulets, sat on the ground, humming – pretending to be above the debate. He was making the point that he was the only one to have been invited.
‘No speeches,’ said Benvolio. ‘Speeches are out. No-one makes speeches any more. We’ll just go in. Too bad if they don’t like us.’
Horatio nodded. There was no need to draw attention to themselves.
‘Alright, then,’ said Romeo. He sighed. ‘Give me the torch, Horatio. I’ll carry it: I’m not going to dance.’
‘Oh no you don’t,’ said Mercutio, shooing Horatio away. ‘You’re dancing. That’s the whole point.’
Romeo sat down beside his friend and sighed. ‘I’m not in the mood.’
‘Come on,’ said Mercutio. ‘You’re a lover. Lovers are always in the mood for dancing.’
‘Not me. It’s because of love that I’m not in the mood. I’m too heavy-hearted for dancing.’
Mercutio laughed. ‘What an act. What a fuss about nothing.’
The others laughed with him and made fun of Romeo.
‘So love’s nothing now, is it?’ Romeo’s face showed that he was offended. ‘You don’t know what it’s like until you’ve felt it. It hurts like hell.’
‘Snap out of it then. And it will stop hurting.’ Mercutio got up. ‘Hand me a mask, Benvolio. Let’s go’
‘Come on, then,’ said Benvolio. ‘It’s getting late.’ They gathered round him. ‘Now as soon as we’re in let’s all get down to some serious business.’
‘I’ll take the torch,’ said Romeo. ‘I told you. I’m not dancing. I’m just going to watch.’
He hung back and Mercutio put his arm around his shoulders. ‘Come on,’ he coaxed. ‘We’re wasting time.’
Romeo was reluctant. ‘I know we mean no harm and all that but I don’t think it’s very bright to go to this party.’
‘Why?’ said Mercutio.
‘I had a dream last night.’
His friends groaned.
‘Let’s go,’ said Benvolio, ‘If we don’t get a move on all the food will be gone by the time we get there.’
People were arriving in droves. The doors were opening and closing every few seconds.
‘I have this feeling,’ said Romeo. ‘A strong premonition that something’s going to happen. Something’s going to happen tonight. I feel it’s going to end in my having to repay a debt with my life.’
The others looked at each other, throwing their eyes up and shaking their heads.
Romeo shrugged. ‘Alright then, off we go.’