David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scenes 5-6

— 2.5 —

In Old Capulet’s garden, Juliet impatiently waited for the Nurse.

Juliet said to herself, “The clock struck nine when I sent the Nurse to see Romeo. She promised to return in half an hour. Maybe she could not find and talk to him — I doubt that. She must be lame because she returns home so slowly. People who carry the messages of lovers should be as fast as thought, which is ten times faster than the beams of the Sun that drive back shadows from dark hills in the morning and make the hills brightly lit. Swift-winged doves carry messages from Venus, goddess of love, and the wings of Cupid are as swift as the wind. Now the Sun is at high noon, and it is three long hours that the Nurse has been away and still she has not returned. If she were young and had the passions of youth, she would be as swift in motion as a ball. My words would send her as quickly as a sharply hit tennis ball to Romeo, and his words would return her to me just as quickly. But old folks behave as if they were already dead — they are as unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.”

Catching sight of the Nurse, Juliet said, “Here she comes!”

The Nurse and Peter entered Old Capulet’s garden, and Juliet said, “Oh, honey nurse, what news do you bring me? Did you meet him? Send Peter away.”

The Nurse told Peter, “Wait at the gate.”

Juliet said, “Now, good sweet nurse — why do you look so sad? Even if the news you bring me is sad, yet tell it merrily. If the news is good, you are perjuring it with your sour face.”

“I am tired,” the Nurse said. “Let me rest awhile. My bones ache. I had to search everywhere to find Romeo.”

“If I could, I would give you my bones, provided that you gave me your news. Speak, good Nurse. Tell me your news.”

“Why are you in such a hurry?” the Nurse said. “Can’t you wait a minute? Can’t you see that I am out of breath?

Juliet said, “How can you say that you are out of breath when you have breath to tell me that you are out of breath! The number of words you say to persuade me to wait are many more than the number of words it would take you to tell me what I want to know. Is your news for me good or bad? Tell me! Tell me either good or bad right now, and I will wait a while for the details. Tell me! Is your news good or bad?”

“You made a foolish choice when you chose Romeo as a good-looking beau,” the Nurse said. “But he is more handsome than other men, his legs are more handsome than other men’s, as are his hands and feet and his body. Ladies ought not to talk like this about a man, but yes, Romeo is truly handsome in face and body. Romeo is not the flower of courtesy — he can be rude. But I swear that he is as gentle as a lamb. Do whatever you want, Juliet. But always obey God.”

The Nurse paused, then added, “Have you eaten lunch yet?”

“No, I haven’t eaten yet,” Juliet said. “But you are not telling me what I want to know — I already know that Romeo is handsome. I want to know whether he and I will be married. What did he tell you about that?”

“I have a headache,” the Nurse said. “My head is pounding as if it will break into twenty pieces. And my back — ow!”

Juliet began to rub one side of the Nurse’s back; the Nurse said, “The other side. You should be ashamed for sending me out to run all over Verona — I could die from exhaustion!”

“Truly, Nurse,” Juliet said. “I am sorry that you are not well, but sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what did Romeo tell you?”

“Romeo, your love, says, like an honest gentleman, and a courteous gentleman, and a kind gentleman, and a handsome gentleman, and, I believe, a virtuous gentleman, he says —”

Then, forgetting what she was about to say, and starting to think about something else, the Nurse asked, “Where is your mother?”

“Where is my mother!” Juliet said. “Why, she is inside. Where else should she be? How oddly you answer my questions! You tell me, ‘Romeo, your love says, like an honest gentleman, Where is your mother?’”

“Why are you so angry?” the Nurse said. “Is this how you treat my aching bones! From now on, deliver your own messages!”

“I have no time to argue with you,” Juliet said. “Tell me! What did Romeo tell you?”

“Do you have permission to go to confession today?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then go to Friar Lawrence’s cell. You will find there a groom who wants to make you his wife.”

Juliet blushed.

“The Nurse said, “Now comes the red blood up in your cheeks. Now that you are in love with Romeo, you blush at any news concerning him. You go to church now. I will take a different path. I need to get a rope ladder that Romeo will use to climb up to your bedchamber as soon as it is dark. Right now, I am doing all the work. But tonight — when Romeo comes — you shall do the work of a woman. Go now. I will eat lunch. You go to Friar Lawrence’s cell.”

“Wish me luck,” Juliet said. “Honest nurse, farewell.”

 — 2.6 —

Romeo was waiting for Juliet in Friar Lawrence’s cell.

Friar Lawrence said, “May the Heavens smile upon this holy act of the marriage sacrament so that we shall not regret it later.”

“Amen,” Romeo said, “but even if sorrow comes later, it shall not equal the joy I feel when I look at Juliet for just one short minute. Join our hands in holy matrimony, and then love-devouring Death can do whatever he wishes — it is enough for me that I can call Juliet mine.”

“Be careful, Romeo,” Friar Lawrence said. “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph they die. They are like fire and gunpowder, which as they kiss, they explode. Honey in moderation is delicious and sweet, but too much honey can make you hate its taste. Therefore, love moderately if you wish love to last long. Too fast can harm love as much as too slow.”

Friar Lawrence looked outside and said, “Here comes your lady. Her foot is so light that the flint of the rocky road of life will not cut it. A lover is so light that he or she can walk on a string that was spun by a spider and is floating in the air and not fall off. Lovers are light, and so is the love of lovers.”

Juliet arrived at Friar Lawrence’s cell. She immediately ran to and hugged Romeo tightly. They did not let go of each other.

“Good afternoon, Friar Lawrence,” Juliet said.

Romeo kissed Juliet.

“Romeo greets you for both of us,” Friar Lawrence said.

Juliet said, “I return his greeting,” and she kissed Romeo.

“Juliet,” Romeo said, “if your joy is as much as mine, then use your skill with words, which is greater than mine, to fill the air with sweet words and rich verbal music and tell me how happy our marriage will be.”

Juliet replied, “True understanding of happiness focuses on being happy and not on talking about happiness. Experiencing happiness is better than talking about happiness. Beggars can use words to count what they have. The wealth of love I give and the wealth of love I receive is so great that I cannot count even half of my wealth of love.”

“Come with me now,” Friar Lawrence said. “We will have the wedding quickly. I can see by the way you kiss and hug and speak to each other that I had better not leave you alone until after I have married you. Not until after you are married shall you two become one.”

He led the happy couple away to be married.

***

— 2.5 —

In Old Capulet’s garden, Juliet impatiently waited for the Nurse.

Juliet said to herself, “The clock struck nine when I sent the Nurse to see Romeo. She promised to return in half an hour. Maybe she could not find and talk to him — I doubt that. She must be lame because she returns home so slowly. People who carry the messages of lovers should be as fast as thought, which is ten times faster than the beams of the Sun that drive back shadows from dark hills in the morning and make the hills brightly lit. Swift-winged doves carry messages from Venus, goddess of love, and the wings of Cupid are as swift as the wind. Now the Sun is at high noon, and it is three long hours that the Nurse has been away and still she has not returned. If she were young and had the passions of youth, she would be as swift in motion as a ball. My words would send her as quickly as a sharply hit tennis ball to Romeo, and his words would return her to me just as quickly. But old folks behave as if they were already dead — they are as unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.”

Catching sight of the Nurse, Juliet said, “Here she comes!”

The Nurse and Peter entered Old Capulet’s garden, and Juliet said, “Oh, honey nurse, what news do you bring me? Did you meet him? Send Peter away.”

The Nurse told Peter, “Wait at the gate.”

Juliet said, “Now, good sweet nurse — why do you look so sad? Even if the news you bring me is sad, yet tell it merrily. If the news is good, you are perjuring it with your sour face.”

“I am tired,” the Nurse said. “Let me rest awhile. My bones ache. I had to search everywhere to find Romeo.”

“If I could, I would give you my bones, provided that you gave me your news. Speak, good Nurse. Tell me your news.”

“Why are you in such a hurry?” the Nurse said. “Can’t you wait a minute? Can’t you see that I am out of breath?

Juliet said, “How can you say that you are out of breath when you have breath to tell me that you are out of breath! The number of words you say to persuade me to wait are many more than the number of words it would take you to tell me what I want to know. Is your news for me good or bad? Tell me! Tell me either good or bad right now, and I will wait a while for the details. Tell me! Is your news good or bad?”

“You made a foolish choice when you chose Romeo as a good-looking beau,” the Nurse said. “But he is more handsome than other men, his legs are more handsome than other men’s, as are his hands and feet and his body. Ladies ought not to talk like this about a man, but yes, Romeo is truly handsome in face and body. Romeo is not the flower of courtesy — he can be rude. But I swear that he is as gentle as a lamb. Do whatever you want, Juliet. But always obey God.”

The Nurse paused, then added, “Have you eaten lunch yet?”

“No, I haven’t eaten yet,” Juliet said. “But you are not telling me what I want to know — I already know that Romeo is handsome. I want to know whether he and I will be married. What did he tell you about that?”

“I have a headache,” the Nurse said. “My head is pounding as if it will break into twenty pieces. And my back — ow!”

Juliet began to rub one side of the Nurse’s back; the Nurse said, “The other side. You should be ashamed for sending me out to run all over Verona — I could die from exhaustion!”

“Truly, Nurse,” Juliet said. “I am sorry that you are not well, but sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what did Romeo tell you?”

“Romeo, your love, says, like an honest gentleman, and a courteous gentleman, and a kind gentleman, and a handsome gentleman, and, I believe, a virtuous gentleman, he says —”

Then, forgetting what she was about to say, and starting to think about something else, the Nurse asked, “Where is your mother?”

“Where is my mother!” Juliet said. “Why, she is inside. Where else should she be? How oddly you answer my questions! You tell me, ‘Romeo, your love says, like an honest gentleman, Where is your mother?’”

“Why are you so angry?” the Nurse said. “Is this how you treat my aching bones! From now on, deliver your own messages!”

“I have no time to argue with you,” Juliet said. “Tell me! What did Romeo tell you?”

“Do you have permission to go to confession today?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then go to Friar Lawrence’s cell. You will find there a groom who wants to make you his wife.”

Juliet blushed.

“The Nurse said, “Now comes the red blood up in your cheeks. Now that you are in love with Romeo, you blush at any news concerning him. You go to church now. I will take a different path. I need to get a rope ladder that Romeo will use to climb up to your bedchamber as soon as it is dark. Right now, I am doing all the work. But tonight — when Romeo comes — you shall do the work of a woman. Go now. I will eat lunch. You go to Friar Lawrence’s cell.”

“Wish me luck,” Juliet said. “Honest nurse, farewell.”

 — 2.6 —

Romeo was waiting for Juliet in Friar Lawrence’s cell.

Friar Lawrence said, “May the Heavens smile upon this holy act of the marriage sacrament so that we shall not regret it later.”

“Amen,” Romeo said, “but even if sorrow comes later, it shall not equal the joy I feel when I look at Juliet for just one short minute. Join our hands in holy matrimony, and then love-devouring Death can do whatever he wishes — it is enough for me that I can call Juliet mine.”

“Be careful, Romeo,” Friar Lawrence said. “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph they die. They are like fire and gunpowder, which as they kiss, they explode. Honey in moderation is delicious and sweet, but too much honey can make you hate its taste. Therefore, love moderately if you wish love to last long. Too fast can harm love as much as too slow.”

Friar Lawrence looked outside and said, “Here comes your lady. Her foot is so light that the flint of the rocky road of life will not cut it. A lover is so light that he or she can walk on a string that was spun by a spider and is floating in the air and not fall off. Lovers are light, and so is the love of lovers.”

Juliet arrived at Friar Lawrence’s cell. She immediately ran to and hugged Romeo tightly. They did not let go of each other.

“Good afternoon, Friar Lawrence,” Juliet said.

Romeo kissed Juliet.

“Romeo greets you for both of us,” Friar Lawrence said.

Juliet said, “I return his greeting,” and she kissed Romeo.

“Juliet,” Romeo said, “if your joy is as much as mine, then use your skill with words, which is greater than mine, to fill the air with sweet words and rich verbal music and tell me how happy our marriage will be.”

Juliet replied, “True understanding of happiness focuses on being happy and not on talking about happiness. Experiencing happiness is better than talking about happiness. Beggars can use words to count what they have. The wealth of love I give and the wealth of love I receive is so great that I cannot count even half of my wealth of love.”

“Come with me now,” Friar Lawrence said. “We will have the wedding quickly. I can see by the way you kiss and hug and speak to each other that I had better not leave you alone until after I have married you. Not until after you are married shall you two become one.”

He led the happy couple away to be married.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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