ANGELO. We must not make a scarecrow
of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey;
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
ESCALUS. Ay, but yet
Let us be keen, and rather cut a little,
Than fall and bruise to death.
On the evening preceding the day appointed for the trial, Isabella, unattended and unannounced, sought her husband’s private closet; she found him poring so intently over maps and plans, which strewed the tables before him, that she spoke before he perceived her.
“Just come when most wished for, dear wife, and royal liege,” was his courteous address, as he rose and gracefully led her to a seat beside his own. “See how my plans for the reduction of these heathen Moors are quietly working; they are divided within themselves, quarrelling more and more fiercely. Pedro Pas brings me information that the road to Alhama is well nigh defenceless, and therefore the war should commence in that quarter. But how is this, love?” he added, after speaking of his intended measures at some length, and perceiving that they failed to elicit Isabella’s interest as usual. “Thy thoughts are not with me this evening.”
“With thee, my husband, but not with the Moors,” replied the Queen, faintly smiling. “I confess to a pre-occupied mind; but just now my heart is so filled with sorrowing sympathy, that I can think but of individuals, not of nations. In the last council, in which the question of this Moorish war was agitated, our faithful Morales was the most eloquent. His impassioned oratory so haunted me, as your Grace spoke, that I can scarcely now believe it hushed for ever, save for the too painful witness of its truth.”
“His lovely wife thou meanest, Isabel? Poor girl! How fares she?”
“As she has been since that long faint, which even I believed was death; pale, tearless, silent. Even the seeing of her husband’s body, which I permitted, hoping the sight would break that marble calm, has had no effect, save to increase, if possible, the rigidity of suffering. It is for her my present errand.”
“For her!” replied the King, surprised. “What can I do for her, apart from thee?”