Don John had made some enquiries among the servants and now he walked through the moonlit garden and joined Borachio, who was sitting on a bench.
‘It’s true,’ he said. ‘Count Claudio is going to marry Leonato’s daughter.’
‘I know, my lord’ said Borachio, ‘but I can prevent it.’
‘Any obstruction, any hindrance, any interference, will be a tonic to me.’ Don John grimaced. ‘I’m nauseated by him, and whatever annoys him gives me pleasure. How can you prevent this marriage?’
‘Not legitimately, my lord,’ said Borachio, ‘but so secretly that no-one will detect it.’
‘Tell me, briefly, how.’
‘I think I told your lordship about a year ago how much Hero’s waiting gentlewoman, Margaret, likes me.’
‘I remember,’ said Don John.
‘I can get her to look out of her lady’s bedroom window at any time of night.’
‘How does that lead to the destruction of this marriage?’ snapped Don John.
‘It’s up to you to concoct something from that,’ said Borachio. ‘Go to your brother: don’t mince words: tell him that he has damaged his honour in marrying the greatly respected Claudio – whom you estimate highly – to a contaminated whore like Hero.
‘How will I be able to prove that?’
‘Proof enough to deceive the prince, to torment Claudio, to destroy Hero and kill Leonato. Are you hoping for any other outcome?’
‘I will do anything to spite them,’ said Don John.
‘Go on then: find a suitable time to draw Don Pedro and Count Claudio aside. Tell them that you’ve discovered that Hero loves me. Show a kind of enthusiasm on behalf of both of them – your concern for your brother’s honour in making this match, and his friend’s reputation, who is likely to be tricked by her pretence at virginity: that you have discovered this. They won’t believe this without proof. Offer to show them – nothing less than seeing me at her bedroom window, hearing me call Margaret Hero, hearing Margaret mockingly call me Claudio: and bring them to see this the night before the intended wedding. In the meantime, I will arrange for Hero to be somewhere else. And Hero’s disloyalty will be so realistic that suspicion will turn into certainty and all their plans will be overthrown.’
‘No matter how bad the consequences will be I’ll do it,’ said Don John. ‘Do this properly and your fee will be a thousand ducats.’
‘Just stick to the accusation and my plan won’t fail.’
‘I’ll go and find out the day of the wedding right now’ said Don John.