Original Text

Modern Text

BENEDICK

Alas, poor hurt fowl, now will he creep into sedges. But that
my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The
Prince’s fool! Ha, it may be I go under that title because I am
merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong. I am not so
175reputed! It is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice
that puts the world into her person and so gives me out.
Well, I’ll be revenged as I may.

BENEDICK

Oh, the poor bird. Now he’ll hide himself in the bushes. But how strange that Beatrice should seem to know who I was and yet not know at the same time. “The Prince’s fool”! Maybe they call me that because I am cheerful. Yes, but I am insulting myself by thinking this way. I don’t have that kind of reputation! Beatrice’s mean, sarcastic nature makes her believe that the entire world shares her opinions; that’s why she describes me this way. Well, I’ll get my revenge.
Enter DON PEDRO
DON PEDRO enters.

DON PEDRO

Now, Signior, where’s the Count? Did you see him?

DON PEDRO

Now, sir, where is Claudio? Did you see him?

BENEDICK

Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. I
180found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a warren. I told
him, and I think I told him true, that your Grace had got the
goodwill of this young lady, and I offered him my company
to a willow tree, either to make him a garland, as being
forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to be
185whipped.

BENEDICK

Yes, my lord, I played the part of a gossip and brought him the news. I found him here,

as sad as a rabbit in a burrow

Many disagree about what the original line means. Another translation may be: “as sad as a solitary house in an open field.”

as sad as a rabbit in a burrow
. I told him—and I think I was telling the truth—that you had won the lady’s heart. I offered to accompany him to the willow tree, where he could either make a garland—fit to be worn by an abandoned lover—or gather sticks into a bundle, ready for his beating.

DON PEDRO

To be whipped? What’s his fault?

DON PEDRO

Beating? Why, what did he do?

BENEDICK

The flat transgression of a schoolboy who, being overjoyed
with finding a birds' nest, shows it his companion, and he
steals it.

BENEDICK

He was like a schoolboy who finds a bird’s nest and happily shows it to his friend, who then steals it from him.

DON PEDRO

190Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression
is in the stealer.

DON PEDRO

What, is trusting a friend such a crime? The criminal is the one who stole the nest.