Leonato was dressed and ready for the wedding. He had trimmed his beard, put on his best suit, and was about to leave when a servant came to tell him that the master constable wanted to see him. He went out and walked to the gate. Dogberry and Verges stood there.
‘What can I do for you honest neighbour?’ said Leonato.
‘Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you that decerns you nearly,’ said Dogberry.
‘Please be brief,’ said Leonato, ‘because you can see that I’m very busy.’
Dogberry drew himself up: ‘Marry, this it is, sir,’ he said.
‘Yes, in truth it is, sir,’ said Verges.
‘What is it, my good friends?’
‘Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt as, God help, I would desire they were: but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows,’ said Dogberry.
‘Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man living that is an old man and no honester than I am,’ said Verges.
Dogberry turned a stern eye on him. ‘Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges,’ he said.
‘Neighbours, you are tedious,’ said Leonato.
Dogberry bowed. ‘It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke’s officers: but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all on your worship.’
‘All your tediousness on me, huh?’
‘Yea, an ’twere a thousand pound more than ’tis: for I hear as good exclamation on your worship as of any man in the city: and though I be but a poor man, I am glad to hear it,’ said Dogberry.
‘And so am I,’ agreed Verges.
‘I really would like to know what you have to say,’ said Leonato.
‘Marry, sir,’ said Verges, ‘our watch to-night, excepting your worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a couple of as arrant knaves as any in Messina.’
Dogberry looked affectionately at his partner. ‘A good old man, sir: he will be talking: as they say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help us! it is a world to see. Well said, in faith, neighbour Verges: well, God’s a good man: an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, in faith, sir: by my troth he is, as ever broke bread: but God is to be worshipped: all men are not alike: alas, good neighbour!’
‘That’s right, neighbour,’ said Leonato. ‘He can’t match you.’
‘Gifts that God gives,’ said Dogberry.
‘I have to go,’ said Leonato. He turned.
‘One word, sir,’ said Dogberry. ‘Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.’
‘Take their examination yourself and bring it to me,’ said Leonato. ‘I’m in a hurry, as you can see.’
Dogberry nodded gravely. ‘It shall be suffigance,’ he said.
‘Drink some wine before you go,’ said Leonato. ‘Goodbye.’
A messenger met him as he was walking away.
‘My lord, they’re waiting for you to give your daughter to her husband,’ he said.
‘I’m on my way,’ said Leonato.
‘Go, good partner,’ said Dogberry after Leonato had gone. ‘Go, get you to Francis Seacole: bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol: we are now to examination these men.’
‘And we must do it wisely,’ said Verges.
‘We will spare for no wit, I warrant you: here’s that shall drive some of them to a non-come: only get the learned writer to set down our excommunication and meet me at the gaol.’