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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. VII (4th edition) by Various

Part 6 out of 11

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To all the cares and troubles of the world.
Now her disquietness doth grieve my father,
Grieves me, and troubles all the house besides.
What, shall I have some drink? [_Horn sounded within_]--How now? a horn!
Belike the drunken knave is fall'n asleep,
And now the boy doth wake him with his horn.

_Enter_ BOY.

How now, sirrah, where's the butler?

BOY. Marry, sir, where he was even now, asleep; but I wak'd him, and
when he wak'd he thought he was in Master Barnes's buttery, for he
stretch'd himself thus, and yawning, said, "Nick, honest Nick, fill a
fresh bowl of ale; stand to it, Nick, and thou beest a man of God's
making, stand to it;" and then I winded my horn, and he's horn-mad.

_Enter_ HODGE.

HOD. Boy, hey! ho, boy! and thou beest a man, draw.--O, here's a blessed
moonshine, God be thanked!--Boy, is not this goodly weather for barley?

BOY. Spoken like a right malster, Hodge: but dost thou hear? thou art
not drunk?

HOD. No, I scorn that, i'faith.

BOY.[278] But thy fellow Dick Coomes is mightily drunk.

HOD. Drunk! a plague on it, when a man cannot carry his drink well!
'sblood, I'll stand to it.

BOY. Hold, man; see, and thou canst stand first.

HOD. Drunk! he's a beast, and he be drunk; there's no man that is a
sober man will be drunk; he's a boy, and he be drunk.

BOY. No, he's a man as thou art.

HOD. Thus 'tis, when a man will not be ruled by his friends: I bad him
keep under the lee, but he kept down the weather two bows; I told him he
would be taken with a planet, but the wisest of us all may fall.

BOY. True, Hodge. [_Boy trips him_.

HOD. Whoop! lend me thy hand, Dick, I am fall'n into a well; lend me thy
hand, I shall be drowned else.

BOY. Hold fast by the bucket, Hodge.

HOD. A rope on it!

BOY. Ay, there is a rope on it; but where art thou, Hodge?

HOD. In a well; I prythee, draw up.

BOY. Come, give up thy body; wind up, hoist

HOD. I am over head and ears.

BOY. In all, Hodge, in all.

FRAN. How loathsome is this beast-man's shape to me,
This mould of reason so unreasonable!--
Sirrah, why dost thou trip him down, seeing he's drunk?

BOY. Because, sir, I would have drunkards cheap.[279]

FRAN. How mean ye?

BOY. Why, they say that, when anything hath a fall, it is cheap; and so
of drunkards.

FRAN. Go to, help him up: [_Knocking without_] but, hark, who knocks?

[BOY _goes to the door, and returns_.]

BOY. Sir, here's one of Master Barnes's men with a letter to my old
master.

FRAN. Which of them is it?

BOY. They call him Nicholas, sir.

FRAN. Go, call him in.

[_Exit_ BOY.]

_Enter_ COOMES.

COOMES. By your leave, ho! How now, young master, how is't?

FRAN. Look ye, sirrah, where your fellow lies:
He's[280] in a fine taking, is he not?

COOMES. Whoop, Hodge! where art thou, man, where art thou?

HOD. O, in a well.

COOMES. In a well, man! nay, then, thou art deep in understanding.

FRAN. Ay, once to-day you were almost so, sir.

COOMES. Who, I! go to, young master, I do not like this humour in ye, I
tell ye true; give every man his due, and give him no more: say I was
in such a case! go to, 'tis the greatest indignation that can be offered
to a man; and, but a man's more godlier given, you were able to make him
swear out his heart-blood. What, though that honest Hodge have cut his
finger here, or, as some say, cut a feather: what, though he be mump,
misled, blind, or as it were--'tis no consequent to me: you know I have
drunk all the ale-houses in Abington dry, and laid the taps on the
tables, when I had done: 'sblood, I'll challenge all the true rob-pots
in Europe to leap up to the chin in a barrel of beer, and if I cannot
drink it down to my foot, ere I leave, and then set the tap in the midst
of the house, and then turn a good turn on the toe on it, let me be
counted nobody, a pingler,[281]--nay, let me be[282] bound to drink
nothing but small-beer seven years after--and I had as lief be hanged.

_Enter_ NICHOLAS.

FRAN. Peace, sir, I must speak with one.--
Nicholas, I think, your name is.

NlCH. True as the skin between your brows.

FRAN. Well, how doth thy master?

NlCH. Forsooth, live, and the best doth no better.

FRAN. Where is the letter he hath sent me?

NlCH. _Ecce signum_! here it is.

FRAN. 'Tis right as Philip said, 'tis a fine fool [_Aside_].
--This letter is directed to my father;
I'll carry it to him. Dick Coomes, make him drink.
[_Exit_.

COOMES. Ay, I'll make him drunk,[283] and he will.

NICH. Not so, Richard; it is good to be merry and wise.

DICK[284] [COOMES]. Well, Nicholas, as thou art Nicholas, welcome; but
as thou art Nicholas and a boon companion, ten times welcome. Nicholas,
give me thy hand: shall we be merry? and we shall, say but we shall, and
let the first word stand.

NICH. Indeed, as long lives the merry man as the sad; an ounce of debt
will not pay a pound of care.

COOMES. Nay, a pound of care will not pay an ounce of debt.

NICH. Well, 'tis a good horse never stumbles: but who lies here?

COOMES. 'Tis our Hodge, and I think he lies asleep: you made him drunk
at your house to-day; but I'll pepper some of you for't.

NICH. Ay, Richard, I know you'll put a man over the shoes, and if you
can; but he's a fool will take more than will do him good.

COOMES. 'Sblood, ye shall take more than will do ye good, or I'll make
ye clap under the table.

NICH. Nay, I hope, as I have temperance to forbear drink, so have I
patience to endure drink: I'll do as company doth; for when a man doth
to Rome come, he must do as there is done.[285]

COOMES. Ha, my resolved Nick, froligozene! Fill the pot, hostess;
swouns, you whore! Harry Hook's a rascal. Help me, but carry my fellow
Hodge in, and we'll c'rouse[286] it, i'faith.

[_Exeunt_.

_Enter_ PHILIP.

PHIL. By this, I think, the letter is delivered,
And 'twill be shortly time that I step in,
And woo their favours for my sister's fortune:
And yet I need not; she may do as well,
But yet not better, as the case doth stand,
Between our mothers; it may make them friends;
Nay, I would swear that she would do as well,
Were she a stranger to one quality,
But they are so acquainted, they'll ne'er part.
Why, she will flout the devil, and make blush
The boldest face of man that e'er man saw;
He that hath best opinion of his wit,
And hath his brainpan fraught with bitter jests,
Or of his own, or stol'n, or howsoever,
Let him stand ne'er so high in his own conceit,
Her wit's a sun that melts him down like butter,
And makes him sit at table pancake-wise,
Flat, flat, God knows, and ne'er a word to say;
Yet she'll not leave him then, but like a tyrant
She'll persecute the poor wit-beaten man,
And so bebang him with dry bobs and scoffs,
When he is down, most coward-like, good faith,
As I have pitied the poor patient.
There came a farmer's son a-wooing to her,
A proper man: well-landed too he was,
A man that for his wit need not to ask
What time a year 'twere good to sow his oats,
Nor yet his barley; no, nor when to reap,
To plough his fallows, or to fell his trees,
Well-experienc'd thus each kind of way;
After a two months' labour at the most--
And yet 'twas well he held it out so long--
He left his love, she had so lac'd his lips
He could say nothing to her but "God be with ye!"
Why she, when men have din'd and call for cheese,
Will straight maintain jests bitter to disgest;[287]
And then some one will fall to argument,
Who if he over-master her with reason,
Then she'll begin to buffet him with mocks.
Well, I do doubt Francis hath so much spleen,
They'll ne'er agree; but I will moderate.
By this time it is time, I think, to enter:
This is the house; shall I knock? no; I will not.
[Nor] wait, while one comes out to answer [me]:[288]
I'll in, and let them be as bold with us.
[_Exit_.

_Enter_ MASTER GOURSEY, _reading a letter_.

MR GOUR. _If that they like, her dowry shall be equal
To your son's wealth or possibility:
It is a means to make our wives good friends,
And to continue friendship 'twixt us two_.
'Tis so, indeed: I like this motion,
And it hath my consent, because my wife
Is sore infected and heart-sick with hate;
And I have sought the Galen of advice,
Which only tells me this same potion
To be most sovereign for her sickness' cure.

_Enter_ FRANK _and_ PHILIP.

Here comes my son, conferring with his friend.--
Francis, how do you like your friend's discourse?
I know he is persuading to this motion.

FRAN. Father, as matter that befits a friend,
But yet not me, that am too young to marry.

MR GOUR. Nay, if thy mind be forward with thy years,
The time is lost thou tarriest. Trust me, boy,
This match is answerable to thy birth;
Her blood and portion give each other grace;
These indented lines promise a sum,
And I do like the value: if it hap
Thy liking to accord to my consent,
It is a match. Wilt thou go see the maid?

FRAN. Ne'er trust me, father, the shackles[289] of marriage,
Which I do see in others, seem so severe,
I dare not put my youngling liberty
Under the awe of that instruction;
And yet I grant the limits of free youth
Going astray are often restrain'd by that.
But mistress wedlock, to my scholar-thoughts,
Will be too curs'd, I fear: O, should she snip
My pleasure-aiming mind, I shall be sad,
And swear, when I did marry, I was mad!

MR GOUR. But, boy, let my experience teach thee this--
Yet, in good faith, thou speak'st not much amiss--
When first thy mother's fame to me did come,
Thy grandsire thus then came to me his son,
And even my words to thee to me he said,
And as to me thou say'st to him I said,
But in a greater huff and hotter blood,--
I tell ye, on youth's tip-toes then I stood:
Says he (good faith, this was his very say),
"When I was young, I was but reason's fool,
And went to wedding as to wisdom's school;
It taught me much, and much I did forget,
But, beaten much, by it I got some wit;
Though I was shackled from an often scout,
Yet I would wanton it, when I was out;
'Twas comfort old acquaintance then to meet,
Restrained liberty attain'd is sweet."
Thus said my father to thy father[290], son,
And thou mayst do this too, as I have done.

PHIL. In faith, good counsel, Frank: what say'st thou to it?

FRAN. Philip, what should I say?

PHIL. Why, either ay or no.

FRAN. O, but which rather?

PHIL. Why, that which was persuaded by thy father.

FRAN. That's ay then[291]. Ay. O, should it fall out ill,
Then I, for I am guilty of that ill!--
I'll not be guilty. No.

PHIL. What, backward gone!

FRAN. Philip, no whit backward; that is, on.

PHIL. On, then.

FRAN. O, stay!

PHIL. Tush, there is no good luck in this delay.
Come, come; late-comers, man, are shent.

FRAN. Heigho, I fear I shall repent!
Well, which way, Philip[292]?

PHIL. Why, this way.

FRAN. Canst thou tell,
And takest upon thee to be my guide to hell?--
But which way, father?

MR GOUR. That way.

FRAN. Ay, you know,
You found the way to sorrow long ago.
Father, God be wi' ye[293]: you have sent your son
To seek on earth an earthly day of doom,
Where I shall be adjudged, alack the ruth,
To penance for the follies of my youth!
Well, I must go; but, by my troth, my mind
Is not capable to love [in][294] that kind.
O, I have look'd upon this mould of men,
As I have done upon a lion's den!
Praised I have the gallant beast I saw,
Yet wish'd me no acquaintance with his paw:
And must I now be grated with them? well,
Yet I may hap to prove a Daniel;
And, if I do, sure it would make me laugh,
To be among wild beasts and yet be safe.
Is there a remedy to abate their rage?
Yes, many catch them, and put them in a cage.
Ay, but how catch them? marry, in your hand
Carry me forth a burning firebrand,
For with his sparkling shine, old rumour says,
A firebrand the swiftest runner frays:
This I may do; but, if it prove not so,
Then man goes out to seek his adjunct woe.
Philip, away! and, father, now adieu!
In quest of sorrow I am sent by you.

MR GOUR. Return, the messenger of joy, my son.

FRAN. Seldom in this world such a work is done.

PHIL. Nay, nay, make haste, it will be quickly night.

FRAN. Why, is it not good to woo by candle-light?

PHIL. But, if we make not haste, they'll be a-bed.

FRAN. The better, candles out and curtains spread.

[_Exeunt_ FRANCIS and PHILIP.]

MR GOUR. I know, though that my son's years be not many,
Yet he hath wit to woo as well as any.
Here comes my wife: I am glad my boy is gone.

_Enter_ MISTRESS GOURSEY.

Ere she came hither. How now, wife? how is't?
What, are ye yet in charity and love
With Mistress Barnes?

MRS GOUR. With Mistress Barnes! why Mistress[295] Barnes, I pray?

MR GOUR. Because she is your neighbour and--

MRS GOUR. And what?
And a jealous, slandering, spiteful quean she is,
One that would blur my reputation
With her opprobrious malice, if she could;
She wrongs her husband, to abuse my fame:
'Tis known that I have lived in honest name
All my lifetime, and been your right true wife.

MR GOUR. I entertain no other thought, my wife,
And my opinion's sound of your behaviour.

MRS GOUR. And my behaviour is as sound as it;
But her ill-speeches seeks to rot my credit,
And eat it with the worm of hate and malice.

MR GOUR. Why, then, preserve it you by patience.

MRS GOUR. By patience! would ye have me shame myself,
And cosen myself to bear her injuries?
Not while her eyes be open, will I yield
A word, a letter, a syllable's value.
But equal and make even her wrongs to me
To her again.

MR GOUR. Then, in good faith, wife, ye are more to blame.

MRS GOUR. Am I to blame, sir? pray, what letter's this?
[_Snatches the letter_.]

MR GOUR. There is a dearth of manners in ye, wife,
Rudely to snatch it from me. Give it me.

MRS GOUR. You shall not have it, sir, till I have read it.

MR GOUR. Give me it, then, and I will read it to you.

MRS GOUR. No, no, it shall not need: I am a scholar
Good enough to read a letter, sir.

MR GOUR. God's passion, if she know but the contents,
She'll seek to cross this match! she shall not read it. [_Aside_.]
Wife, give it me; come, come, give it me.

MRS GOUR. Husband, in very deed, you shall not have it.

MR GOUR. What, will you move me to impatience, then?

MRS GOUR. Tut, tell not me of your impatience;
But since you talk, sir, of impatience,
You shall not have the letter, by this light,
Till I have read it; soul, I'll burn it first!

MR GOUR. Go to, ye move me, wife; give me the letter;
In troth, I shall grow angry, if you do not.

MRS GOUR. Grow to the house-top with your anger, sir!
Ne'er tell me, I care not thus much for it.

MR GOUR. Well, I can bear enough, but not too much.
Come, give it me; 'twere best you be persuaded;
By God--ye make me swear--now God forgive me!--
Give me, I say, and stand not long upon it;
Go to, I am angry at the heart, my very heart.

MRS GOUR. Heart me no hearts! you shall not have it, sir,
No, you shall not; ne'er look so big,
I will not be afraid at your great looks;
You shall not have it, no, you shall not have it.

MR GOUR. Shall I not have it? in troth, I'll try that:
Minion, I'll ha''t; shall I not ha''t?--I am loth--
Go to, take pausement, be advis'd--
In faith, I will; and stand not long upon it--
A woman of your years! I am asham'd
A couple of so long continuance
Should thus--God's foot--I cry God heart'ly mercy!--
Go to, ye vex me; and I'll vex ye for it;
Before I leave ye, I will make ye glad
To tender it on your knees; hear ye, I will, I will.
What, worse and worse stomach! true faith,
Shall I be cross'd by you in my old age?
And where I should have greatest comfort, too,
A nurse of you?--nurse in the devil's name!--
Go to, mistress; by God's precious deer,
If ye delay--

MRS GOUR. Lord, Lord, why, in what a fit
Are you in, husband! so enrag'd, so mov'd,
And for so slight a cause, to read a letter!
Did this letter, love, contain my death,
Should you deny my sight of it, I would not
Nor see my sorrow nor eschew my danger,
But willingly yield me a patient
Unto the doom that your displeasure gave.
Here is the letter; not for that your incensement
[_Gives back the letter_.]
Makes me make offer of it, but your health,
Which anger, I do fear, hath craz'd[296],
And viper-like hath suck'd away the blood
That wont was to be cheerful in this cheek:
How pale ye look!

MR GOUR. Pale! Can ye blame me for it? I tell you true,
An easy matter could not thus have moved me.
Well, this resignment--and so forth--but, woman,
This fortnight shall I not forget ye for it.--
Ha, ha, I see that roughness can do somewhat!
I did not think, good faith, I could have set
So sour a face upon it, and to her,
My bed-embracer, my right bosom friend.
I would not that she should have seen the letter--
As poor a man as I am--by my troth,
For twenty pound: well, I am glad I have it. [_Aside_.]
Ha, here's ado about a thing of nothing!
What, stomach, ha! 'tis happy you're come down.
[_Exit_.

MRS GOUR. Well, crafty[297] fox, I'll hunt ye, by my troth,
Deal ye so closely! Well, I see his drift:
He would not let me see the letter, lest
That I should cross the match; and I will cross it.
Dick Coomes!

_Enter_ COOMES.

COOMES. Forsooth.

MRS GOUR. Come hither, Dick; thou art a man I love,
And one whom I have much in my regard.

COOMES. I thank ye for it, mistress, I thank ye for it.

MRS GOUR. Nay, here's my hand, I will do very much
For thee, if e'er thou stand'st in need of me;
Thou shalt not lack, whilst thou hast a day to live,
Money, apparel--

COOMES. And sword and bucklers?

MRS GOUR. And sword and bucklers too, my gallant Dick,
So thou wilt use but this in my defence.
[_Pointing to his sword_.]

COOMES. This! no, faith, I have no mind to this; break my head, if this
break not, if we come to any tough play. Nay, mistress, I had a sword,
ay, the flower of Smithfield for a sword, a right fox,[298] i'faith;
with that, and a man had come over with a smooth and a sharp stroke, it
would have cried twang, and then, when I had doubled my point, trac'd my
ground, and had carried my buckler before me like a garden-butt, and
then come in with a cross blow, and over the pick[299] of his buckler
two ells long, it would have cried twang, twang, metal, metal: but a
dog hath his day; 'tis gone, and there are few good ones made now. I see
by this dearth of good swords, that[300] dearth of sword-and-buckler
fight begins to grow out:[301] I am sorry for it; I shall never see
good manhood again, if it be once gone; this poking fight of rapier and
dagger will come up then; then a man, a tall[302] man, and a good
sword-and-buckler man, will be spitted like a cat or a coney; then a boy
will be as good as a man, unless the Lord show mercy unto us; well, I
had as lief be hang'd as live to see that day. Well, mistress, what
shall I do? what shall I do?

MRS GOUR. Why, this, brave Dick. Thou knowest that Barnes's wife
And I am foes: now, man me to her house;
And though it be dark, Dick, yet we'll have no light.
Lest that thy master should prevent our journey
By seeing our depart. Then, when we come,
And if that she and I do fall to words,
Set in thy foot and quarrel with her men,
Draw, fight, strike, hurt, but do not kill the slaves,
And make as though thou strookest[303] at a man,
And hit her, and thou canst,--a plague upon her!--
She hath misus'd me, Dick: wilt thou do this?

COOMES. Yes, mistress, I will strike her men; but God forbid that e'er
Dick Coomes should be seen to strike a woman!

MRS GOUR. Why, she is mankind;[304] therefore thou mayest strike her.

COOMES. Mankind! nay, and she have any part of a man, I'll strike her,
I warrant.

MRS GOUR. That's my good Dick, that's my sweet Dick!

COOMES. 'Swouns, who would not be a man of valour to have such words of
a gentlewoman! one of their words are more to me than twenty of these
russet-coats, cheese-cakes, and butter-makers. Well, I thank God, I am
none of these cowards; well, and a man have any virtue in him, I see he
shall be regarded. [_Aside_.]

MRS GOUR. Art thou resolved, Dick? wilt thou do this for me?
And if thou wilt, here is an earnest-penny
Of that rich guerdon I do mean to give thee.
[_Gives money_.]

COOMES. An angel,[305] mistress! let me see. Stand you on my left hand,
and let the angel lie on my buckler on my right hand, for fear of losing.
Now, here stand I to be tempted. They say, every man hath two spirits
attending on him, either good or bad; now, I say, a man hath no other
spirits but either his wealth or his wife: now, which is the better of
them? Why, that is as they are used; for use neither of them well, and
they are both nought. But this is a miracle to me, that gold that is
heavy hath the upper, and a woman that is light doth soonest fall,
considering that light things aspire, and heavy things soonest go down:
but leave these considerations to Sir John;[306] they become a
black-coat better than a blue.[307] Well, mistress, I had no mind to-day
to quarrel; but a woman is made to be a man's seducer; you say, quarrel?

MRS GOUR. Ay.

COOMES. There speaks an angel: is it good?

MRS GOUR. Ay.

COOMES. Then, I cannot do amiss; the good angel goes with me.

[_Exeunt.

Enter_ SIR RALPH SMITH, _his_ LADY, WILL, [_and_ ATTENDANTS].

SIR RALPH. Come on, my hearts: i'faith, it is ill-luck,
To hunt all day, and not kill anything.
What sayest thou, lady? art thou weary yet?

LADY. I must not say so, sir.

SIR RALPH. Although thou art!

WILL. And can you blame her, to be forth so long,
And see no better sport?

SIR RALPH. Good faith, 'twas very hard.

LADY. No, 'twas not ill,
Because, you know, it is not good to kill.

SIR RALPH. Yes, venison, lady.

LADY. No, indeed, nor them;
Life is as dear in deer as 'tis in men.

SIR RALPH. But they are kill'd for sport.

LADY. But that's bad play,
When they are made to sport their lives away.

SIR RALPH. 'Tis fine to see them run.

LADY. What, out of breath?
They run but ill that run themselves to death.

SIR RALPH. They might make, then, less haste, and keep their wind.

LADY. Why, then, they see the hounds brings death behind.

SIR RALPH. Then, 'twere as good for them at first to stay,
As to run long, and run their lives away.

LADY. Ay, but the stoutest of you all that's here
Would run from death and nimbly scud for fear.
Now, by my troth, I pity these poor elves.[308]

SIR RALPH. Well, they have made us but bad sport to-day.

LADY. Yes, 'twas my sport to see them 'scape away.

WILL. I wish that I had been at one buck's fall.

LADY. Out, thou wood-tyrant! thou art worst of all.

WILL. A wood-man,[309] lady, but no tyrant I.

LADY. Yes, tyrant-like thou lov'st to see lives die.

SIR RALPH. Lady, no more: I do not like this luck,
To hunt all day, and yet not kill a buck.
Well, it is late; but yet I swear I will
Stay here all night, but I a buck will kill.

LADY. All night! nay, good Sir Ralph Smith, do not so.

SIR RALPH. Content ye, lady. Will, go fetch my bow:
A berry[310] of fair roes I saw to-day
Down by the groves, and there I'll take my[311] stand,
And shoot at one--God send a lucky hand!

LADY. Will ye not, then, Sir Ralph, go home with me?

SIR RALPH. No, but my men shall bear thee company.--
Sirs, man her home. Will, bid the huntsmen couple,
And bid them well reward their hounds to-night.--
Lady, farewell. Will, haste ye with the bow;
I'll stay for thee here by the grove below.

WILL. I will; but 'twill be dark, I shall not see:
How shall I see ye, then?

SIR RALPH. Why, halloo to me, and I will answer thee.

WILL. Enough, I will.

SIR RALPH. Farewell.
[_Exit_.

LADY. How willingly dost thou consent to go
To fetch thy master that same killing bow!

WILL. Guilty of death I willing am in this,
Because 'twas our ill-haps to-day to miss:
To hunt, and not to kill, is hunter's sorrow.
Come, lady, we'll have venison ere to-morrow.

[_Exeunt_.

_Enter_ PHILIP, FRANK [_and_ BOY].

PHIL. Come, Frank, now are we hard by the[312] house:
But how now? Sad?

FRAN. No, to study how to woo thy sister.

PHIL. How, man? how to woo her! why, no matter how;
I am sure thou wilt not he ashamed to woo.
Thy cheeks not subject to a childish blush,
Thou hast a better warrant by thy wit;
I know thy oratory can unfold
[A] quick invention, plausible discourse,
And set such painted beauty on thy tongue,
As it shall ravish every maiden sense;
For, Frank, thou art not like the russet youth
I told thee of, that went to woo a wench,
And being full stuff'd up with fallow wit
And meadow-matter, ask'd the pretty maid
How they sold corn last market-day with them,
Saying, "Indeed, 'twas very dear with [us]."
And, do ye hear, ye[313] had not need be so,
For she[314] will, Francis, throughly[315] try your wit;
Sirrah, she'll bow the metal of your wits,
And, if they crack, she will not hold ye current;
Nay, she will weigh your wit, as men weigh angels,[316]
And, if it lack a grain, she will not change with ye.
I cannot speak it but in passion,
She is a wicked wench to make a jest;
Ah me, how full of flouts and mocks she is!

FRAN. Some aqua-vitae reason to recover
This sick discourser! Sound[317] not, prythee, Philip.
Tush, tush, I do not think her as thou sayest:
Perhaps she's[318] opinion's darling, Philip,
Wise in repute, the crow's bird. O my friend,
Some judgments slave themselves to small desert,
And wondernise the birth of common wit,
When their own[319] strangeness do but make that strange,
And their ill errors do but make that good:
And why should men debase to make that good?
Perhaps such admiration wins her wit.

PHIL. Well, I am glad to hear this bold prepare
For this encounter. Forward, hardy Frank!
Yonder's the window with the candle in't;
Belike she's putting on her night attire:
I told ye, Frank, 'twas late. Well, I will call her,
Marry, softly, that my mother may not hear.
Mall, sister Mall!

_Enter_ MALL _in the window_.

MAL. How now, who's there?

PHIL. 'Tis I.

MAL. 'Tis I! Who I? I, quoth the dog, or what?
A Christcross row I?[320]

PHIL. No, sweet pinkany.[321]

MAL. O, is't you, wild-oats?

PHIL. Ay, forsooth, wanton.

MAL. Well said, scapethrift.

FRAN. Philip, be these your usual best salutes? [_Aside_.]

PHIL. Is this the harmless chiding of that dove? [_Aside_.]

FRAN. Dove! One of those that draw the queen of love? [_Aside_.]

MAL. How now? who's that, brother? who's that with ye?

PHIL. A gentleman, my friend.

MAL. By'r lady, he hath a pure wit.

FRAN. How meane your holy judgment?

MAL. O, well put-in, sir!

FRAN. Up, you would say.

MAL. Well climb'd, gentleman!
I pray, sir, tell me, do you cart the queen of love?

FRAN. Not cart her, but couch her in your eye,
And a fit place for gentle love to lie.

MAL. Ay, but methinks you speak without the book,
To place a four[322]-wheel waggon in my look:
Where will you have room to have the coachman sit?

FRAN. Nay, that were but small manners, and not fit:
His duty is before you bare to stand,
Having a lusty whipstock[323] in his hand.

MAL. The place is void; will you provide me one?

FRAN. And if you please, I will supply the room.

MAL. But are ye cunning in the carman's lash?
And can ye whistle well?

FRAN. Yes, I can well direct the coach of love.

MAL. Ah, cruel carter! would you whip a dove?

PHIL. Hark ye, sister--

MAL. Nay, but hark ye, brother;
Whose white boy[324] is that same? know ye his mother?

PHIL. He is a gentleman of a good house.

MAL. Why, is his house of gold?
Is it not made of lime and stone like this?

PHIL. I mean he's well-descended.

MAL. God be thanked!
Did he descend some steeple or some ladder?

PHIL. Well, you will still be cross; I tell ye, sister--
This gentleman, by all your friends' consent
Must be your husband.

MAL. Nay, not all, some sing another note;
My mother will say no, I hold a groat.
But I thought 'twas somewhat, he would be a carter;
He hath been whipping lately some blind bear,
And now he would ferk the blind boy here with us.

PHIL. Well, do you hear, you, sister, mistress [that] would have--
You that do long for somewhat, I know what--
My father told me--go to, I'll tell all,
If ye be cross--do you hear me? I have labour'd
A year's work in this afternoon for ye:
Come from your cloister, votary, chaste nun,
Come down and kiss Frank Goursey's mother's son.

MAL. Kiss him, I pray?

PHIL. Go to, stale maidenhead! come down, I say,
You seventeen and upward, come, come down;
You'll stay till twenty else for your wedding gown.

MAL. Nun, votary, stale maidenhead, seventeen and upward!
Here be names! what, nothing else?

FRAN. Yes, or a fair-built steeple without bells.

MAL. Steeple! good people, nay, another cast.

FRAN. Ay, or a well-made ship without a mast.

MAL. Fie, not so big, sir, by one part of four.

FRAN. Why, then, ye are a boat without an oar.

MAL. O well row'd wit! but what's your fare, I pray?

FRAN. Your fair self must be my fairest pay.

MAL. Nay, and you be so dear, I'll choose another.

FRAN. Why, take your first man, wench, and go no further. [_Aside_.]

PHIL. Peace, Francis. Hark ye, sister, this I say:
You know my mind; or answer ay or nay.
[Your] wit and judgment hath resolv'd his mind,
And he foresees what after he shall find:
If such discretion, then, shall govern you,
Vow love to him, he'll do the like to you.

MAL. Vow love! who would not love such a comely feature,
Nor high nor low, but of the middle stature?
A middle man, that's the best size indeed;
I like him well: love grant us well to speed!

FRAN. And let me see a woman of that tallness,
So slender and of such a middle smallness,
So old enough, and in each part so fit,
So fair, so kind, endued with so much wit,
Of so much wit as it is held a wonder,
'Twere pity to keep love and her asunder;
Therefore go up, my joy, call down my bliss;
Bid her come seal the bargain with a kiss.

MAL. Frank, Frank, I come through dangers, death, and harms,
To make love's patent[325] with my[326] seal of arms.

PHIL. But, sister, softly, lest my mother hear.

MAL. Hush, then; mum, mouse in cheese[327], cat is near.
[_Exit_ MAL.

FRAN. Now, in good faith, Philip, this makes me smile,
That I have wooed and won in so small while.

PHIL. Francis, indeed my sister, I dare say.
Was not determined to say thee nay;
For this same tother thing, call'd maiden-head,
Hangs by so small a hair or spider's thread,
And worn so too[328] with time, it must needs fall,
And, like a well-lur'd hawk, she knows her call.

[_Enter_ MALL.]

MAL. Whist, brother, whist! my mother heard me tread,
And ask'd, Who's there? I would not answer her;
She call'd, A light! and up she's gone to seek me:
There when she finds me not, she'll hither come;
Therefore dispatch, let it be quickly done.
Francis, my love's lease I do let to thee,
Date of my life and thine: what sayest thou to me?
The ent'ring, fine, or income thou must pay,
Are kisses and embraces every day;
And quarterly I must receive my rent;
You know my mind.

FRAN. I guess at thy intent:
Thou shalt not miss a minute of thy time.

MAL. Why, then, sweet Francis, I am only thine.--
Brother, bear witness.

PHIL. Do ye deliver this as your deed?

MAL. I do, I do.

PHIL. God send ye both good speed!
God's Lord, my mother! Stand aside,
And closely too, lest that you be espied.

[_Enter_ MISTRESS BARNES.]

MRS BAR. Who's there?

PHIL. Mother, 'tis I.

MRS BAR. You disobedient ruffian, careless wretch,
That said your father lov'd me but too well?
I'll think on't, when thou think'st I have forgot it:
Who's with thee else?--How now, minion? you!
With whom? with him!--Why, what make you here, sir,

[_Discovers_ FRANCIS _and_ MALL.]

And thus late too? what, hath your mother sent ye
To cut my throat, that here you be in wait?--
Come from him, mistress, and let go his hand.--
Will ye not, sir?

FRAN. Stay, Mistress Barnes, or mother--what ye will;
She is[329] my wife, and here she shall be still.

MRS BAR. How, sir? your wife! wouldst thou my daughter have?
I'll rather have her married to her grave.[330]
Go to; be gone, and quickly, or I swear
I'll have my men beat ye for staying here.

PHIL. Beat him, mother! as I am true[331] man,
They were better beat the devil and his dam.

MRS BAR. What, wilt thou take his part?

PHIL. To do him good,
And 'twere to wade hitherto up in blood.

FRAN. God-a-mercy, Philip!--But, mother, hear me.

MRS BAR. Call'st thou me mother? no, thy mother's name
Carries about with it reproach and shame.
Give me my daughter: ere that she shall wed
A strumpet's son, and have her so misled,
I'll marry her to a carter; come, I say,
Give me her from thee.

FRAN. Mother, not to-day,
Nor yet to-morrow, till my life's last morrow
Make me leave that which I with leave did borrow:
Here I have borrowed love, I'll not denay[332] it.--
Thy wedding night's my day, then I'll repay it.--
Till then she'll trust me. Wench, is't[333] not so?
And if it be, say ay, if not, say no.

MAL. Mother, good mother, hear me! O good God,
Now we are even, what, would you make us odd?
Now, I beseech ye, for the love of Christ,
To give me leave once to do what I list.
I am as you were, when you were a maid;
Guess by yourself how long you would have stay'd,
Might you have had your will: as good begin
At first as last, it saves us from much sin;
Lying alone, we muse on things and things,
And in our minds one thought another brings:
This maid's life, mother, is an idle life,
Therefore I'll be, ay, I will be a wife;
And, mother, do not mistrust[334] my age or power,
I am sufficient, I lack ne'er an hour;
I had both wit to grant, when he did woo me,
And strength to bear whate'er he can do to me.

MRS BAR. Well, bold-face, but I mean to make ye stay.
Go to, come from him, or I'll make ye come:
Will ye not come?

PHIL. Mother, I pray, forbear;
This match is for my sister.

MRS BAR. Villain, 'tis not;
Nor she shall not be so match'd now.[335]

PHIL. In troth, she shall, and your unruly hate
Shall not rule us; we'll end all this debate
By this begun device.

MRS BAR. Ay, end what you begun! Villains, thieves,
Give me my daughter! will ye rob me of her?--
Help, help! they'll rob me here, they'll rob me here!

_Enter_ MASTER BARNES _and his men_.

MR BAR. How now? what outcry's here? why, how now, woman?

MRS BAR. Why, Goursey's son, confederate[336] with this boy,
This wretch unnatural and undutiful,
Seeks hence to steal my daughter: will you suffer it?
Shall he, that's son to my arch-enemy,
Enjoy her? Have I brought her up to this?
O God, he shall not have her, no, he shall not!

MR BAR. I am sorry she knows it. [_Aside_.]--Hark ye, wife,
Let reason moderate your rage a little.
If you examine but his birth and living,
His wit and good behaviour, you will say,
Though that ill-hate make your opinion bad,
He doth deserve as good a wife as she.

MRS BAR. Why, will you give consent he shall enjoy her?

MR BAR. Ay, so that thy mind would agree with mine?

MRS BAR. My mind shall ne'er agree to this agreement.

_Enter_ MISTRESS GOURSEY _and_ COOMES.[337]

MR BAR. And yet it shall go forward:--but who's here?
What, Mistress Goursey! how knew she of this?

PHIL. Frank, thy mother!

FRAN. 'Sowns, where? a plague upon it!
I think the devil is set to cross this match.

MRS GOUR. This is the house, Dick Coomes, and yonder's [th'] light:
Let us go near. How now? methinks I see
My son stand hand in hand with Barnes his daughter.
Why, how now, sirrah? is this time of night
For you to be abroad? what have we here?
I hope that love hath not thus coupled you.

FRAN. Love, by my troth, mother, love: she loves me,
And I love her; then we must needs agree.

MRS BAR. Ay, but I'll keep her sure enough from thee.

MRS GOUR. It shall not need, I'll keep him safe enough;
Be sure he shall not graft in such a stock.

MRS BAR. What stock, forsooth? as good a stock as thine:
I do not mean that he shall graft in mine.

MRS GOUR. Nor shall he, mistress. Hark, boy; th'art but mad
To love the branch that hath a root so bad.

FRAN. Then, mother, I will graft a pippin on a crab.

MRS GOUR. It will not prove well.

FRAN. But I will prove my skill.

MRS BAR. Sir, but you shall not.

FRAN. Mothers both, I will.

MR BAR. Hark, Philip: send away thy sister straight;
Let Francis meet her where thou shalt appoint;
Let them go several to shun suspicion,
And bid them go to Oxford both this night;
There to-morrow say that we will meet them,
And there determine of their marriage. [_Aside_.]

PHIL. I will: though it be very late and dark.
My sister will endure it for a husband. [_Aside_.]

MR BAR. Well, then, at Carfax,[338] boy, I mean to meet them. [_Aside_.]

PHIL. Enough. _Exit_ [MASTER BARNES.]
Would they would begin to chide!
For I would have them brawling, that meanwhile
They may steal hence, to meet where I appoint it. [_Aside_.]
What, mother, will you let this match go forward?
Or, Mistress Goursey, will you first agree?

MRS GOUR. Shall I agree first?

PHIL. Ay, why not? come, come.

MRS GOUR. Come from her, son, and if thou lov'st thy mother.

MRS BAR. With the like spell, daughter, I conjure thee.

MRS GOUR. Francis, by fair means let me win thee from her,
And I will gild my blessing, gentle son,
With store of angels. I would not have thee
Check thy good fortune by this cos'ning choice:
O, do not thrall thy happy liberty
In such a bondage! if thou'lt needs be bound,
Be then to better worth; this worthless choice
Is not fit for thee.

MRS BAR. Is't not fit for him? wherefore is't not fit?
Is he too brave[339] a gentleman, I pray?
No, 'tis not fit; she shall not fit his turn:
If she were wise, she would be fitter for
Three times his better. Minion, go in, or I'll make ye;
I'll keep ye safe from him, I warrant ye.

MRS GOUR. Come, Francis, come from her.

FRAN. Mothers, with both hands shove I hate from love,
That like an ill-companion would infect
The infant mind of our affection:
Within this cradle shall this minute's babe
Be laid to rest; and thus I'll hug my joy.

MRS GOUR. Wilt thou be obstinate, thou self-will'd boy?
Nay, then, perforce I'll part ye, since ye will not.

COOMES. Do ye hear, mistress? pray ye give me leave to talk two or three
cold words with my young master.--Hark ye, sir, ye are my master's son,
and so forth; and indeed I bear ye some good-will, partly for his sake,
and partly for your own; and I do hope you do the like to me,--I should
be sorry else. I must needs say ye are a young man; and for mine own
part, I have seen the world, and I know what belongs to causes, and the
experience that I have, I thank God I have travelled for it.

FRAN. Why, how far have ye travell'd for it?

BOY. From my master's house to the ale-house.

COOMES. How, sir?

BOY. So, sir.

COOMES. Go to. I pray, correct your boy; 'twas ne'er a good world, since
a boy would face a man so.

FRAN. Go to. Forward, man.

COOMES. Well, sir, so it is, I would not wish ye to marry without my
mistress' consent.

FRAN. And why?

COOMES. Nay, there's ne'er a why but there is a wherefore; I have
known some have done the like, and they have danc'd a galliard at
beggars'-bush[340] for it.

BOY. At beggars'-bush! Hear him no more, master; he doth bedaub ye with
his dirty speech. Do ye hear, sir? how far stands beggars'-bush from
your father's house, sir? Why, thou whoreson refuge[341] of a tailor,
that wert 'prentice to a tailor half an age, and because, if thou hadst
served ten ages thou wouldst prove but a botcher, thou leapst from the
shop-board to a blue coat, doth it become thee to use thy terms so?
well, thou degree above a hackney, and ten degrees under a page, sew up
your lubber lips, or 'tis not your sword and buckler shall keep my
poniard from your breast.

COOMES. Do ye hear, sir? this is your boy.

FRAN. How then?

COOMES. You must breech him for it.

FRAN. Must I? how, if I will not?

COOMES. Why, then, 'tis a fine world, when boys keep boys, and know not
how to use them.

FRAN. Boy, ye rascal!

MRS GOUR. Strike him, and thou darest.

COOMES. Strike me? alas, he were better strike his father! Sowns, go to,
put up your bodkin.[342]

FRAN. Mother, stand by; I'll teach that rascal--

COOMES. Go to, give me good words, or, by God's dines,[343] I'll buckle
ye for all your bird-spit.

FRAN. Will you so, sir?

PHIL. Stay, Frank, this pitch of frenzy will defile thee;
Meddle not with it: thy unreproved valour
Should be high-minded; couch it not so low.
Dost hear me? take occasion to slip hence,
But secretly, let not thy mother see thee:
At the back-side there is a coney-green;[344]
Stay there for me, and Mall and I will come to thee. [_Aside_.]

FRAN. Enough, I will [_Aside_.] Mother, you do me wrong
To be so peremptory in your command,
And see that rascal to abuse me so.

COOMES. Rascal! take that and take all! Do ye hear, sir? I do not mean
to pocket up this wrong.

Boy. I know why that is.

COOMES. Why?

Boy. Because you have ne'er a pocket.

COM. A whip, sirrah, a whip! But, sir, provide your tools against
to-morrow morning; 'tis somewhat dark now, indeed: you know Dawson's
close, between the hedge and the pond; 'tis good even ground; I'll meet
you there; and I do not, call me cut;[345] and you be a man, show
yourself a man; we'll have a bout or two; and so we'll part for that
present.

FRAN. Well, sir, well.

NICH. Boy, have they appointed to fight?

BOY. Ay, Nicholas; wilt not thou go see the fray?

NICH. No, indeed; even as they brew, so let them bake. I will not thrust
my hand into the flame, and [I] need not; 'tis not good to have an oar
in another man's boat; little said is soon amended, and in little
meddling cometh great rest; 'tis good sleeping in a whole skin; so a man
might come home by Weeping-Cross:[346] no, by lady, a friend is not so
soon gotten as lost; blessed are the peace-makers; they that strike with
the sword, shall be beaten with the scabbard.

PHIL. Well-said, Proverbs: ne'er another to that purpose?

NICH. Yes, I could have said to you, sir, Take heed is a good reed.[347]

PHIL. Why to me, take heed?

NICH. For happy is he whom other men's harms do make to beware.

PHIL. O, beware, Frank! Slip away, Mall, you know what I told ye. I'll
hold our mothers both in talk meanwhile. [_Aside_.]
Mother and Mistress Barnes, methinks you should not stand in hatred so
hard one with another.

MRS BAR. Should I not, sir? should I not hate a harlot,
That robs me of my right, vild[348] boy?

MRS GOUR. That title I return unto thy teeth,
[_Exeunt_ FRANCIS _and_ MALL.
And spit the name of harlot in thy face.

MRS BAR. Well, 'tis not time of night to hold out chat
With such a scold as thou art; therefore now
Think that I hate thee, as I do the devil.

MRS GOUR. The devil take thee, if thou dost not, wretch!

MRS BAR. Out upon thee, strumpet!

MRS GOUR. Out upon thee, harlot!

MRS BAR. Well, I will find a time to be reveng'd:
Meantime I'll keep my daughter from thy son.--
Where are ye, minion? how now, are ye gone?

PHIL. She went in, mother.

MRS GOUR. Francis, where are ye?

MRS BAR. He is not here. O, then, they slipp'd away,
And both together!

PHIL. I'll assure ye, no:
My sister she went in--into the house.

MRS BAR. But then she'll out again at the back door,
And meet with him: but I will search about
All these same fields and paths near to my house:
They are not far, I am sure, if I make haste.
[_Exit_.

MRS GOUR. O God, how went he hence, I did not see him?
It was when Barnes's wife did scold with me;
A plague on[349] her!--Dick, why didst not thou look to him?

COOMES. What should I look for him? no, no.
I look not for him while[350] to-morrow morning.

MRS GOUR. Come, go with me to help me look him out.
Alas! I have nor light, nor link, nor torch!
Though it be dark, I will take any pains
To cross this match. I prithee, Dick, away.

COOMES. Mistress, because I brought ye out, I'll bring ye home; but,
if I should follow, so he might have the law on his side.

MRS GOUR. Come, 'tis no matter; prythee, go with me.

_Exeunt_ [MRS GOURSEY _and_ COOMES.]

MR BAR. Philip, thy mother's gone to seek thy sister,
And in a rage, i'faith: but who comes here?

PHIL. Old Master Goursey, as I think, 'tis he.

MR BAR. 'Tis so, indeed.

[_Enter_ MASTER GOURSEY.]

MR GOUR. Who's there?

MR BAR. A friend of yours.

MR GOUR. What, Master Barnes! did ye not see my wife?

MR BAR. Yes, sir, I saw her; she was here even now.

MR GOUR. I doubted that; that made me come unto you:
But whither is she gone?

PHIL. To seek your son, who slipp'd away from her
To meet with Mall my sister in a place,
Where I appointed; and my mother too
Seeks for my sister; so they both are gone:
My mother hath a torch; marry, your wife
Goes darkling up and down, and Coomes before her.

MR GOUR. I thought that knave was with her; but 'tis well:
I pray God, they may come by ne'er a light,
But both be led a dark dance in the night!

HOD. Why, is my fellow, Dick, in the dark with my mistress? I pray God,
they be honest, for there may be much knavery in the dark: faith, if I
were there, I would have some knavery with them. [_Aside_]
Good master, will ye carry the torch yourself, and give me leave to play
at blind-man-buff with my mistress.

PHIL. On that condition thou wilt do thy best
To keep thy mistress and thy fellow, Dick,
Both from my sister and thy master's son,
I will entreat thy master let thee go.

HOD. O, ay, I warrant ye, I'll have fine tricks to cosen them.

MR GOUR. Well, sir, then, go your ways; I give you leave.

HOD. O brave! but whereabout are they?

PHIL. About our coney-green they surely are,
If thou canst find them.

HOD. O, let me alone to grope for cunnies.
[_Exit_.

PHIL. Well, now will I to Frank and to my sister.
Stand you two heark'ning near the coney-green;
But sure your light in you must not be seen;
Or else let Nicholas stand afar off with it,
And as his life keep it from Mistress Goursey.
Shall this be done?

MR BAR. Philip, it shall.

PHIL. God be with ye! I'll be gone.
[_Exit_.

MR BAR. Come on, Master Goursey: this same is a means
To make our wives friends, if they resist not.

MR GOUR. Tut, sir, howsoever, it shall go forward.

MR BAR. Come, then, let's do as Philip hath advis'd.

[_Exeunt_.

_Enter_ MALL.

MAL. Here is the place where Philip bad me stay,
Till Francis came; but wherefore did my brother
Appoint it here? why in the coney-burrow?
He had some meaning in't, I warrant ye.
Well, here I'll set me down under this tree,
And think upon the matter all alone.
Good Lord, what pretty things these conies are!
How finely they do feed till they be fat,
And then what a sweet meat a coney is!
And what smooth skins they have, both black and gray!
They say they run more in the night than day:
What is the reason? mark; why in the light
They see more passengers than in the night;
For harmful men many a hay[351] do set,
And laugh to see them tumble in the net;
And they put ferrets in the holes--fie, fie!--
And they go up and down where conies lie;
And they lie still, they have so little wit:
I marvel the warrener will suffer it;
Nay, nay, they are so bad, that they themselves
Do give consent to catch these pretty elves.
How if the warrener should spy me here?
He would take me for a coney, I dare swear.
But when that Francis comes, what will he say?
"Look, boy, there lies a coney in my way!"
But, soft, a light! who's that? soul, my mother!
Nay, then, all-hid[352]: i'faith, she shall not see me;
I'll play bo-peep with her behind this tree.

[_Enter_ MISTRESS BARNES.]

MRS BAR. I marvel where this wench doth[353] hide herself
So closely; I have search'd in many a bush.

MAL. Belike my mother took me for a thrush. [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. She's hid in this same warren, I'll lay money.

MAL. Close as a rabbit-sucker[354] from an old coney. [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. O God, I would to God that I could find her!
I would keep her from her love's toys yet.

MAL. Ay, so you might, if your daughter had no wit. [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. What a vild[355] girl 'tis, that would hav't so young!

MAL. A murrain take that dissembling tongue!
Ere your calf's teeth were out, you thought it long. [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. But, minion, yet I'll keep you from the man.

MAL. To save a lie, mother, say, if you can. [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. Well, now to look for her.

MAL. Ay, there's the spite:
What trick shall I now have to 'scape her light? [_Aside_.]

MRS BAR. Who's there? what, minion, is it you?--
Beshrew her heart, what a fright she put me to!
But I am glad I found her, though I was afraid. [_Aside_.]
Come on your ways; you are[356] a handsome maid!
Why [steal] you forth a-doors so late at night?
Why, whither go ye? come, stand still, I say.

MAL. No, indeed, mother; this is my best way.

MRS BAR. 'Tis not the best way; stand by me, I tell ye.

MAL. No; you would catch me, mother. O, I smell ye!

MRS BAR. Will ye not stand still?

MAL. No, by lady, no.

MRS BAR. But I will make ye.

MAL. Nay, then, trip-and-go.

MRS BAR. Mistress, I'll make ye weary, ere I have done.

MAL. Faith, mother, then, I'll try, how you can run.

MRS BAR. Will ye?

MAL. Yes, faith. [_Exeunt_.

_Enter_ [FRANK _and_ BOY.]

FRAN. Mall, sweet-heart, Mall! what, not a word?

BOY. A little farther, master; call again.

FRAN. Why, Mall! I prythee, speak; why, Mall, I say!
I know thou art not far, if thou wilt[357] speak;
Why, Mall!--
But now I see she's in her merry vein,
To make me call, and put me to more pain.
Well, I must bear with her; she'll bear with me:
But I will call, lest that it be not so.--
What, Mall! what, Mall, I say! Boy, are we right?
Have we not miss'd the way this same dark night?

BOY. Mass, it may be so: as I am true[358] man,
I have not seen a coney since I came;
Yet at the coney-burrow we should meet.
But, hark! I hear the trampling of some feet.

FRAN. It may be so, then; therefore, let's lie close.

[_Enter_ MISTRESS GOURSEY _and_ COOMES.]

MRS GOUR. Where art thou, Dick?

COOMES. Where am I, quoth-a! marry, I may be where anybody will say I
am; either in France or at Rome, or at Jerusalem, they may say I am,
for I am not able to disprove them, because I cannot tell where I am.

MRS GOUR. O, what a blindfold walk have we had, Dick,
To seek my son! and yet I cannot find him.

COOMES. Why, then, mistress, let's go home.

MRS GOUR. Why, 'tis so dark we shall not find the way.

FRAN. I pray God, ye may not, mother, till it be day! [_Aside_.

COOMES. 'Sblood, take heed, mistress, here's a tree.

MRS GOUR. Lead thou the way, and let me hold by thee.

BOY. Dick Coomes, what difference is there between a blind man and he
that cannot see?

FRAN. Peace, a pox on thee!

COOMES. Swounds, somebody spake.

MRS GOUR. Dick, look about;
It may be here we may find them out.

COOMES. I see the glimpse[359] of somebody here.--
And ye be a sprite, I'll fray the bugbear.--
There a-goes, mistress.

MRS GOUR. O, sir, have I spied you?

FRAN. A plague on the boy! 'was he that descried[360] me.

[_Exeunt_.

[_Enter_ PHILIP.]

PHIL. How like a beautous lady mask'd in black
Looks that same large circumference of heaven!
The sky, that was so fair three hours ago,
Is in three hours become an Ethiop;
And being angry at her beauteous change,
She will not have one of those pearled stars
To blab her sable metamorphosis:[361]
'Tis very dark. I did appoint my sister
To meet me at the coney-borough below,
And Francis too; but neither can I see.
Belike my mother happ'ned on that place,
And fray'd them from it, and they both are now
Wand'ring about the[362] fields: how shall I find them?
It is so dark, I scarce can see my hand:
Why, then, I'll hollow for them--no, not so;
So will his voice betray him to our mothers,
And if he answer, and bring them where he is.
What shall I then do? it must not be so--
'Sblood,[363] it must be so; how else, I pray?
Shall I stand gaping here all night till day,
And then be ne'er the near?[364] So ho, so ho!

[_Enter_ WILL.]

WILL. So ho! I come: where are ye? where art thou? here!

PHIL. How now, Frank, where hast thou[365] been?

WILL. Frank! what Frank? 'sblood, is Sir Ralph mad? [_Aside_.]
Here's the bow.

PHIL. I have not been much private with that voice:
Methinks Frank Goursey's talk and his doth tell me
I am mistaken; especially by his bow;
Frank had no bow. Well, I will leave this fellow,
And hollow somewhat farther in the fields. [_Aside_.]
--Dost thou hear, fellow? I perceive by thee
That we are both mistaken: I took thee
For one thou art not; likewise thou took'st me
For Sir Ralph Smith, but sure I am not he:
And so, farewell; I must go seek my friend.
So ho!
[_Exit_.

WILL. So ho, so ho! nay, then, Sir Ralph, so whore!
For a whore she was sure, if you had her here
So late. Now, you are Sir Ralph Smith![366]
Well do ye counterfeit and change your voice,
But yet I know ye. But what should be that Francis?
Belike that Francis cosen'd him of his wench,
And he conceals himself to find her out;
'Tis so, upon my life. Well, I will go,
And help him ring his peal of so ho, so ho! [_Exit_.

_Enter_ FRANK.

FRAN. A plague on Coomes! a plague upon the boy!
A plague, too--not on my mother for an hundreth pound!
'Twas time to run; and yet I had not thought
My mother could have followed me so close,
Her legs with age I thought had foundered;
She made me quite run through a quickset hedge,
Or she had taken me. Well, I may say,
I have run through the briars for a wench;
And yet I have her not--the worse luck mine.
Methought I heard one hollow hereabout;
I judge it Philip; O, the slave will laugh,
When as he hears how that my mother scar'd me!
Well, here I'll stand until I hear him hollow,
And then I'll answer him; he is not far.

[_Enter_ SIR RALPH SMITH.]

SIR RALPH. My man is hollowing for me up and down,
And yet I cannot meet with him. So ho!

FRAN. So ho!

SIR RALPH. Why, what a pox, wert thou so near me, man,
And wouldst not speak?

FRAN. 'Sblood, ye're very hot.

SIR RALPH. No, sir, I am cold enough with staying here
For such a knave as you.

FRAN. Knave! how now, Philip?
Art mad, art mad?

SIR RALPH. Why, art not thou my man,
That went to fetch my bow?[367]

FRAN. Indeed, a bow
Might shoot me ten bows down the weather so:
I your man!

SIR RALPH. What art thou, then?

FRAN. A man: but what's thy name?

SIR RALPH. Some call me Ralph.

FRAN. Then, honest Ralph, farewell.

SIR RALPH. Well-said, familiar Will! plain Ralph, i'faith.

[_Hollow within_ PHILIP _and_ WILL.][368]

FRAN. There calls my man.

SIR RALPH. But there goes mine away;
And yet I'll hear what this next call will say,
And here I'll tarry, till he call again.
[_Retires_.][369]

[_Enter_ WILL.]

WILL. So ho!

FRAN. So ho! where art thou, Philip?

WILL. 'Sblood,[370] Philip!
But now he call'd me Francis: this is fine. [_Aside_.]

FRAN. Why studiest thou? I prythee, tell me, Philip,
Where the wench[371] is.

WILL. Even now he ask'd me (Francis) for the wench,
And now he asks[372] me (Philip) for the wench. [_Aside_.]
Well, Sir Ralph, I must needs tell ye now,
'Tis[373] not for your[374] credit to be forth
So late a-wenching in this order.[375]

FRAN. What's this? so late a-wenching, doth he say? [_Aside_]
--Indeed, 'tis true I am thus late a-wenching,
But I am forc'd to wench without a wench.

WILL. Why, then, you might have ta'n your bow at first,
And gone and kill'd a buck, and not have been
So long a-drabbing, and be ne'er the near.[376]

FRAN. Swounds, what a puzzle am I in this night!
But yet I'll put this fellow farther [question. _Aside_]
--Dost thou hear, man? I am not Sir Ralph Smith,
As thou dost think I am; but I did meet him,
Even as thou sayest, in pursuit of a wench.
I met the wench too, and she ask'd for thee,
Saying 'twas thou that wert her love, her dear,
And that Sir Ralph was not an honest knight
To train her thither, and to use her so.

WILL. 'Sblood, my wench! swounds, were he ten Sir Ralphs--

FRAN. Nay, 'tis true, look to it; and so, farewell.
[_Exit_.

WILL. Indeed, I do love Nan our dairymaid:
And hath he traine[d] her forth to that intent,
Or for another? I carry his crossbow,
And he doth cross me, shooting in my bow.
What shall I do?
[_Exit_.][377]

_Enter_ PHILIP.

PHIL. So ho!

SIR RALPH. So ho!

PHIL. Francis, art thou there?

SIR RALPH. No, here's no Francis. Art thou Will, my man?

PHIL. Will Fool your man, Will goose[378] your man!
My back, sir, scorns to wear your livery.

SIR RALPH. Nay, sir, I mov'd but such a question to you,
And it hath not disparag'd you, I hope;
'Twas but mistaking; such a night as this
May well deceive a man. God be w'ye,[379] sir.
[_Exit_.]

PHIL. God's will, 'tis Sir Ralph Smith, a virtuous knight!
How gently entertains he my hard answer!
Rude anger made my tongue unmannerly:
I cry him mercy. Well, but all this while
I cannot find a Francis.--Francis, ho!

[_Enter_ WILL.]

WILL. Francis, ho! O, you call Francis now!
How have ye us'd my Nan? come, tell me, how.

PHIL. Thy Nan! what Nan?

WILL. Ay, what Nan, now! say, do you not seek a wench?

PHIL. Yes, I do.

WILL. Then, sir, that is she.

PHIL. Art not thou [he] I met withal before?

WILL. Yes, sir; and you did counterfeit before,
And said to me you were not Sir Ralph Smith.

PHIL. No more I am not. I met Sir Ralph Smith;
Even now he ask'd me, if I saw his man.

WILL. O, fine!

PHIL. Why, sirrah, thou art much deceived in me:
Good faith, I am not he thou think'st I am.

WILL. What are ye, then?

PHIL. Why, one that seeks one Francis and a wench.

WILL. And Francis seeks one Philip and a wench.

PHIL. How canst thou tell?

WILL. I met him seeking Philip and a wench.
As I was seeking Sir Ralph and a wench.

PHIL. Why, then, I know the matter: we met cross,
And so we miss'd; now here we find our loss.
Well, if thou wilt, we two will keep together,
And so we shall meet right with one or other.

WILL. I am content: but, do you hear me, sir?
Did not Sir Ralph Smith ask ye for a wench?

PHIL. No, I promise thee, nor did he look
For any but thyself, as I could guess.

WILL. Why, this is strange: but come, sir, let's away:
I fear that we shall walk here, till't be day.

[_Exeunt_.

_Enter_ BOY.

[BOY.] O God, I have run so far into the wind, that I have run myself
out of wind! They say a man is near his end, when he lacks breath; and
I am at the end of my race, for I can run no farther; then here I be in
my breath-bed, not in my death-bed.[380]

_Enter_ COOMES.

COOMES. They say men moil and toil for a poor living; so I moil and
toil, and am living, I thank God; in good time be it spoken. It had
been better for me my mistress's angel had been light, for then perhaps
it had not led me into this darkness. Well, the devil never blesses a
man better, when he purses up angels by owl-light. I ran through a hedge
to take the boy, but I stuck in the ditch, and lost the boy. [_Falls_.]
'Swounds, a plague on that clod, that molehill, that ditch, or what the
devil so e'er it were, for a man cannot see what it was! Well, I would
not, for the price of my sword and buckler, anybody should see me in
this taking, for it would make me but cut off their legs for laughing at
me. Well, down I am, and down I mean to be, because I am weary; but to
tumble down thus, it was no part of my meaning: then, since I am down,
here I'll rest me, and no man shall remove me.

_Enter_ HODGE.

HOD. O, I have sport in coney, i'faith! I have almost burst myself with
laughing at Mistress Barnes. She was following of her daughter; and I,
hearing her, put on my fellow Dick's sword-and-buckler voice and his
_swounds_ and _sblood_ words, and led her such a dance in the dark as it
passes.[381] "Here she is," quoth I. "Where?" quoth she. "Here," quoth I.
O, it hath been a brave here-and-there night! but, O, what a soft-natured
thing the dirt is! how it would endure my hard treading, and kiss my feet
for acquaintance! and how courteous and mannerly were the clods[382] to
make me stumble only of purpose to entreat me lie down and rest me! But
now, and I could find my fellow Dick, I would play the knave with him
honestly, i'faith. Well, I will grope in the dark for him, or I'll poke
with my staff, like a blind man, to prevent a ditch.
[_He stumbles[383] on_ DICK COOMES.

COOMES. Who's that, with a pox?

HOD. Who art thou, with a pestilence?

COOMES. Why, I am Dick Coomes.

HOD. What, have I found thee. Dick? nay, then, I am for ye, Dick,
[_Aside_.]
--Where are ye, Dick?

COOMES. What can I tell, where I am?

HOD. Can ye not tell? come, come, ye wait on your mistress well! come
on your ways; I have sought you, till I am weary, and call'd ye, till
I am hoarse: good Lord, what a jaunt I have had this night, heigho!

COOMES. Is't you, mistress, that came over me? 'Sblood, 'twere a good
deed to come over you for this night's work. I cannot afford all this
pains for an angel: I tell ye true; a kiss were not cast away upon a
good fellow, that hath deserved more that way than a kiss, if your
kindness would afford it him: what, shall I have't, mistress?

HOD. Fie, fie, I must not kiss my man.

COOMES. Nay, nay, ne'er stand; shall I, shall I? nobody sees: say but
I shall, and I'll smack it[384] soundly, i'faith.

HOD. Away, bawdy man! in truth, I'll tell your master.

COOMES. My master! go to, ne'er tell me of my master: he may pray for
them that may, he is past it: and for mine own part, I can do somewhat
that way, I thank God; I am not now to learn, and 'tis your part to have
your whole desire.

HOD. Fie, fie, I am ashamed of you: would you tempt your mistress to
lewdness?

COOMES. To lewdness! no, by my troth, there's no such matter in't, it is
for kindness; and, by my troth, if you like my gentle offer, you shall
have what courteously I can afford ye.

HOD. Shall I indeed, Dick? I'faith, if I thought nobody would see--

COOMES. Tush, fear not that; swoons, they must have cats' eyes, then.

HOD. Then, kiss me, Dick.

COOMES. A kind wench, i'faith! [_Aside_.]--Where are ye, mistress?

HOD. Here, Dick. O, I am in the dark! Dick, go about.[385]

COOMES. Nay, I'll throw[386] sure: where are ye?

HOD. Here.

COOMES. A plague on this post! I would the carpenter had been hang'd,
that set it up, for me.[387] Where are ye now?

HOD. Here.

COOMES. Here! O, I come. [_Exit_.] A plague on it, I am in a pond,
mistress!

HOD. Ha, ha! I have led him into a pond.--Where art thou, Dick?

COOMES. [_Within_.] Up to the middle in a pond!

HOD. Make a boat of thy buckler, then, and swim out. Are ye so hot, with
a pox? would you kiss my mistress? cool ye there, then, good Dick Coomes.
O, when he comes forth, the skirts of his blue coat will drop like a
pent[388]-house! O, that I could see, and not be seen; how he would
spaniel it, and shake himself, when he comes out of the pond! But I'll
be gone; for now he'll fight with a fly, if he but buzz[389] in his ear.
[_Exit_.

_Enter_ COOMES.

COOMES. Here's so-ho-ing with a plague! so hang, and ye will; for I have
been almost drown'd. A pox of your stones,[390] and ye call this kissing!
Ye talk of a drowned rat, but 'twas time to swim like a dog; I had been
serv'd like a drown'd cat else. I would he had digg'd his grave that
digg'd the pond! my feet were foul indeed, but a less pail than a pond
would have served my turn to wash them. A man shall be serv'd thus
always, when he follows any of these females: but 'tis my kind heart
that makes me thus forward in kindness unto them: well, God amend them,
and make them thankful to them that would do them pleasure. I am not
drunk, I would ye should well know it; and yet I have drunk more than
will do me good, for I might have had a pump set up with as[391] good
March beer as this was, and ne'er set up an ale-bush for the matter.
Well, I am somewhat in wrath, I must needs say; and yet I am not more
angry than wise, nor more wise than angry; but I'll fight with the next
man I meet, and it be but for luck's sake; and if he love to see himself
hurt, let him bring light with him; I'll do it by darkling else, by
God's dines. Well, here will I walk, whosoever says nay.

_Enter_ NICHOLAS.

NICH. He that worse may, must hold the candle; but my master is not so
wise, as God might have made him. He is gone to seek a hare in a hen's
nest, a needle in a bottle of hay, which is as seldom seen as a black
swan: he is gone to seek my young mistress; and I think she is better
lost than found, for whosoever hath her, hath but a wet eel by the tail.
But they may do, as they list; the law is in their own hands; but, and
they would be rul'd by me, they should set her on the lee-land, and bid
the devil split her; beshrew her fingers, she hath made me watch past
mine hour; but I'll watch her a good turn for it.

COOMES. How, who's that? Nicholas!--So, first come, first serv'd;
I am for him [_Aside_].
--How now, Proverb, Proverb? 'sblood, how now, Proverb?

NICH. My name is Nicholas, Richard; and I know your meaning, and I hope
ye mean no harm. I thank ye: I am the better for your asking.

COOMES. Where have ye been a-whoring thus late, ha?

NICH. Master Richard, the good wife would not seek her daughter in
the oven, unless she had been there herself: but, good Lord, you
are knuckle-deep in dirt!--I warrant, when he was in, he swore
Walsingham[392], and chaf'd terrible for the time. [_Aside_.]
--Look, the water drops from you as fast as hops.

COOMES. What need'st thou to care, whip-her-Jenny[393],
tripe-cheeks?[394], out, you fat ass!

NICH. Good words cost nought: ill words corrupt good manners, Richard;
for a hasty man never wants woe. And I had thought you had been my
friend; but I see all is not gold that glitters; there's falsehood in
fellowship; _amicus certus in re certa cernitur_; time and truth tries
all; and 'tis an old proverb, and not so old as true, bought wit is the
best; I can see day at a little hole; I know your mind as well as though
I were within you; 'tis ill halting before a cripple: go to, you seek to
quarrel; but beware of had I wist[395]; so long goes the pot to the
water, at length it comes home broken; I know you are as good a man as
ever drew sword, or as was e'er girt in a girdle, or as e'er went on
neat's leather, or as one shall see upon a summer's day, or as e'er
look'd man in the face, or as e'er trod on God's earth, or as e'er broke
bread or drunk drink; but he is proper that hath proper conditions[396];
but be not you like the cow, that gives a good sop of milk, and casts it
down with her[397] heels; I speak plainly, for plain-dealing is a jewel,
and he that useth it shall die a beggar; well, that happens in an hour,
that happens not in seven years; a man is not so soon whole as hurt; and
you should kill a man, you would kiss his--well, I say little, but I
think the more. Yet I'll give him good words; 'tis good to hold a candle
before the devil; yet, by God's dine[398], I'll take no wrong, if he had
a head as big as Brass[399], or look'd as high as Paul's steeple.
[_Aside_.]

COOMES. Sirrah, thou grasshopper, that shalt skip from my sword as from a
scythe; I'll cut thee out in collops and eggs, in steaks, in slic'd beef,
and fry thee with the fire I shall strike from the pike of thy buckler.

NICH. Ay, Brag's a good dog; threat'ned folks live long.

COOMES. What say ye, sir?

NICH. Why, I say not so much as, How do ye?

COOMES. Do ye not so, sir?

NICH. No, indeed, whatsoe'er I think; and thought is free.

COOMES. You whoreson wafer-cake, by God's dines, I'll crush ye for this!

NICH. Give an inch, and you'll take an ell; I will not put my finger in
a hole, I warrant ye: what, man! ne'er crow so fast, for a blind man may
kill a hare; I have known when a plain fellow hath hurt a fencer, so I
have: what! a man may be as slow as a snail, but as fierce as a lion,
and he be moved; indeed, I am patient, I must needs say, for patience in
adversity brings a man to the Three Cranes in the Vintry.

COOMES. Do ye hear? set down your torch; draw, fight, I am for ye.

NICH. And I am for ye too, though it be from this midnight to the next
morn.

COOMES. Where be your tools?

NlCH. Within a mile of an oak, sir; he's a proud horse will not carry
his own provender, I warrant ye.

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