• Enter BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO

    MERCUTIO

    Where the devil should this Romeo be?
    Came he not home tonight?

    BENVOLIO

    Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.

    MERCUTIO

    Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline,
    5Torments him so, that he will sure run mad.

    BENVOLIO

    Tybalt, the kinsman to old Capulet,
    Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.

    MERCUTIO

    A challenge, on my life.

    BENVOLIO

    Romeo will answer it.

    MERCUTIO

    10Any man that can write may answer a letter.

    BENVOLIO

    Nay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he dares, being dared.

    MERCUTIO

    Alas, poor Romeo! He is already dead, stabbed with a white wench’s black eye, shot through the ear with a love song, the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft. And is he a man to encounter Tybalt?

    BENVOLIO

    Why, what is Tybalt?

    MERCUTIO

    More than Prince of Cats. Oh, he’s the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion. He rests his minim rests—one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist, a gentleman of the very first house of the first and second cause. Ah, the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hai!
  • BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO enter.

    MERCUTIO

    Where the devil can Romeo be? Didn’t he come home last night?

    BENVOLIO

    Not to his father’s house. I asked a servant.

    MERCUTIO

    That fair-skinned, hard-hearted hussy, Rosaline is going to torment him until he goes insane.

    BENVOLIO

    Tybalt, old Capulet’s nephew, has sent a letter to Romeo’s father’s house.

    MERCUTIO

    I bet it’s a challenge.

    BENVOLIO

    Romeo will answer the challenge.

    MERCUTIO

    Any man who knows how to write can answer a letter.

    BENVOLIO

    No, Romeo will respond to the letter’s writer, telling him whether he accepts the challenge.

    MERCUTIO

    Oh, poor Romeo! He’s already dead. He’s been stabbed by a white girl’s black eye. He’s been cut through the ear with a love song. The center of his heart has been split by blind Cupid’s arrow. Is he man enough at this point to face off with Tybalt?

    BENVOLIO

    Why, what’s Tybalt’s story?

    MERCUTIO

    He’s tougher than the Prince of Cats. He does everything by the book. He fights like you sing at a recital, paying attention to time, distance, and proportion. He takes the proper breaks: one, two, and the third in your heart. He’s the butcher who can hit any silk button. A master of duels. He’s a gentleman from the finest school of fencing. He knows how to turn any argument into a swordfight. He knows passado—the forward thrust—the punto reverso—the backhand thrust—and the hai—the thrust that goes straight through.

    Prince of Cats

    The Prince of Cats is a figure from Medieval lore whose first name was also Tybalt.

    He knows

    Mercutio lists Italian terms for fencing moves.