Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/138

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in a miserable case for want of stiffening. The honest, plain-dealing jewel husband sent out a boy to call her (not bawd by her right name, but starch woman): into the shop she came, making a low counterfeit courtesy, of whom the mistress demanded if the starch were pure gear, and would be stiff in her ruff, saying she had often been deceived before, when the things about her have stood as limber as eelskins. The woman replied as subtilely, Mistress, quoth she, take this paper of starch of my hand; and if it prove not of your mind never bestow penny with me—which paper, indeed, was a letter sent to her from the gentleman her exceeding favourite. Say you so? quoth the young dame, and I'll try it, i'faith. With that she ran up stairs like a spinner [spider] upon small cob-web ropes, not to try to arraign the starch, but to conster [construe] and parse the letter (whilst her husband sat below by the counter, like one of those brow bitten catchpolls that wait for one man all day, when his wife can put five in the counter before him), wherein she found many words that pleased her. Withal the gentleman writ unto her for a certain sum of money, which no sooner was read, but was ready to be sent: wherefore laying up the starch and that, and taking another sheet of clean paper in her hand, wanting time and opportunity to write