The Knight of the Burning Pestle/Act II

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SCENE I.A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Venturewell and Humphrey.

Vent.

And how, faith, how goes it now, son Humphrey?

Hum.

Right worshipful, and my belovèd friend
And father dear, this matter’s at an end.

Vent.

’Tis well: it should be so: I’m glad the girl
Is found so tractable.

Hum.

Nay, she must whirl
From hence (and you must wink; for so, I say,
The story tells,) to-morrow before day. [Wife . George, dost thou think in thy conscience now ’twill be a match? tell me but what thou thinkest, sweet rogue. Thou seest the poor gentleman, dear heart, how it labours and throbs, I warrant you, to be at rest! I’ll go move the father for’t.

Cit.

No, no; I prithee, sit still, honeysuckle; thou’lt spoil all. If he deny him, I’ll bring half-a-dozen good fellows myself, and in the shutting of an evening, knock’t up, and there’s an end.

Wife.

I’ll buss thee for that, i’faith, boy. Well, George, well, you have been a wag in your days, I warrant you; but God forgive you, and I do with all my heart.]

Vent.

How was it, son? you told me that to-morrow
Before day-break, you must convey her hence.

Hum.

I must, I must; and thus it is agreed:
Your daughter rides upon a brown-bay steed,
I on a sorrel, which I bought of Brian,
The honest host of the Red roaring Lion,
In Waltham situate. Then, if you may,
Consent in seemly sort; lest, by delay,
The Fatal Sisters come, and do the office,
And then you’ll sing another song.

Vent.

Alas,
Why should you be thus full of grief to me,
That do as willing as yourself agree
To any thing, so it be good and fair?
Then, steal her when you will, if such a pleasure
Content you both; I’ll sleep and never see it,
To make your joys more full. But tell me why
You may not here perform your marriage?

Wife.

God’s blessing o’ thy soul, old man! i’faith, thou art loath to part true hearts. I see ’a has her, George; and I’m as glad on’t!—Well, go thy ways, Humphrey, for a fair-spoken man; I believe thou hast not thy fellow within the walls of London; an I should say the suburbs too, I should not lie.—Why dost not rejoice with me, George?

Cit.

If I could but see Ralph again, I were as merry as mine host, i’faith.

Hum.

The cause you seem to ask, I thus declare—Help
me, O Muses nine! Your daughter sware
A foolish oath, and more it was the pity;
Yet no one but myself within this city
Shall dare to say so, but a bold defiance
Shall meet him, were he of the noble science;
And yet she sware, and yet why did she sware?
Truly, I cannot tell, unless it were
For her own ease; for, sure, sometimes an oath,
Being sworn thereafter, is like cordial broth;
And this it was she swore, never to marry
But such a one whose mighty arm could carry
(As meaning me, for I am such a one)
Her bodily away, through stick and stone,
Till both of us arrive, at her request,
Some ten miles off, in the wild Waltham forest.

Vent.

If this be all, you shall not need to fear
Any denial in your love: proceed;
I’ll neither follow, nor repent the deed.

Hum.

Good night, twenty good nights, and twenty more,
And twenty more good nights,—that makes three-score!
[Exeunt severally.

SCENE II.Waltham Forest.

Enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

Mist. Mer.

Come, Michael; art thou not weary, boy?

Mich.

No, forsooth, mother, not I.

Mist. Mer.

Where be we now, child?

Mich.

Indeed, forsooth, mother, I cannot tell, unless we be at Mile-End: Is not all the world Mile-End, mother?

Mist. Mer.

No, Michael, not all the world, boy; but I can assure thee, Michael, Mile End is a goodly matter: there has been a pitchfield, my child, between the naughty Spaniels and the Englishmen; and the Spaniels ran away, Michael, and the Englishmen followed: my neighbour Coxstone was there, boy, and killed them all with a birding-piece.

Mich.

Mother, forsooth——

Mist. Mer.

What says my white boy?

Mich.

Shall not my father go with us too?

Mist. Mer.

No, Michael, let thy father go snick - up; he shall never come between a pair of sheets with me again while he lives; let him stay at home, and sing for his supper, boy. Come, child, sit down, and I’ll show my boy fine knacks, indeed. [They sit down: and she takes out a casket .] Look here, Michael; here’s a ring, and here’s a brooch, and here’s a bracelet, and here’s two rings more, and here’s money and gold by th’eye, my boy.

Mich.

Shall I have all this, mother?

Mist. Mer.

Ay, Michael, thou shalt have all, Michael.

Cit.

How likest thou this, wench?

Wife.

I cannot tell; I would have Ralph, George; I’ll see no more else, indeed, la; and I pray you, let the youths understand so much by word of mouth; for, I tell you truly, I’m afraid o’ my boy. Come, come, George, let’s be merry and wise: the child’s a fatherless child; and say they should put him into a strait pair of gaskins, ’twere worse than knot-grass; he would never grow after it.]
Enter Ralph, Tim, and George.

Cit.

Here’s Ralph, here’s Ralph!

Wife.

How do you do, Ralph? you are welcome, Ralph, as I may say; it’s a good boy, hold up thy head, and be not afraid; we are thy friends, Ralph; the gentlemen will praise thee, Ralph, if thou playest thy part with audacity. Begin, Ralph, a’ God’s name!]

Ralph.

My trusty squire, unlace my helm: give me my hat. Where are we, or what desert may this be?

George.

Mirror of knighthood, this is, as I take it, the perilous Waltham-down; in whose bottom stands the enchanted valley.

Mist. Mer.

Oh, Michael, we are betrayed, we are betrayed! here be giants! Fly, boy! fly, boy, fly!
[Exit with Michael leaving the casket.

Ralph.

Lace on my helm again. What noise is this?
A gentle lady, flying the embrace
Of some uncourteous knight! I will relieve her.
Go, squire, and say, the Knight, that wears this Pestle
In honour of all ladies, swears revenge
Upon that recreant coward that pursues her;
Go, comfort her, and that same gentle squire
That bears her company.

Tim.

I go, brave knight.
[Exit.

Ralph.

My trusty dwarf and friend, reach me my shield;
And hold it while I swear. First, by my knighthood;
Then by the soul of Amadis de Gaul,
My famous ancestor; then by my sword
The beauteous Brionella girt about me;
By this bright burning Pestle, of mine honour
The living trophy; and by all respect
Due to distressèd damsels; here I vow
Never to end the quest of this fair lady
And that forsaken squire till by my valour
I gain their liberty!

George.

Heaven bless the knight
That thus relieves poor errant gentlewomen!
[Exeunt.

Wife.

Ay, marry, Ralph, this has some savour in’t; I would see the proudest of them all offer to carry his books after him. But, George, I will not have him go away so soon; I shall be sick if he go away, that I shall: call Ralph again, George, call Ralph again; I prithee, sweetheart, let him come fight before me, and let’s ha’ some drums and some trumpets, and let him kill all that comes near him, an thou lovest me, George!

Cit.

Peace a little, bird: he shall kill them all, an they were twenty more on ’em than there are.
Enter Jasper.

Jasp.

Now, Fortune, if thou be’st not only ill,
Show me thy better face, and bring about
Thy desperate wheel, that I may climb at length,
And stand. This is our place of meeting,
If love have any constancy. Oh, age,
Where only wealthy men are counted happy!
How shall I please thee, how deserve thy smiles,
When I am only rich in misery?
My father’s blessing and this little coin
Is my inheritance; a strong revénue!
From earth thou art, and to the earth I give thee:
[Throws away the money.
There grow and multiply, whilst fresher air
Breeds me a fresher fortune.—How! illusion?
[Sees the casket
What, hath the devil coined himself before me?
’Tis metal good, it rings well; I am waking,
And taking too, I hope. Now, God’s dear blessing
Upon his heart that left it here! ’tis mine;
These pearls, I take it, were not left for swine.
[Exit with the casket.

Wife.

I do not like that this unthrifty youth should embezzle away the money; the poor gentlewoman his mother will have a heavy heart for it, God knows.

Cit.

And reason good, sweetheart.

Wife.

But let him go; I’ll tell Ralph a tale in’s ear shall fetch him again with a wanion, I warrant him, if he be above ground; and besides, George, here are a number of sufficient gentlemen can witness, and myself, and yourself, and the musicians, if we be called in question.

SCENE III.Another part of the Forest.

Enter Ralph and George.

Ralph.

Comes not sir squire again?

George.

Right courteous knight,
Your squire doth come, and with him comes the lady,
For and the Squire of Damsels, as I take it.

Enter Tim, Mistress Merrythought, and Michael.

Ralph.

Madam, if any service or devoir
Of a poor errant knight may right your wrongs,
Command it; I am prest to give you succour;
For to that holy end I bear my armour.

Mist. Mer.

Alas, sir, I am a poor gentlewoman, and I have lost my money in this forest!

Ralph.

Desert, you would say, lady; and not lost
Whilst I have sword and lance. Dry up your tears,
Which ill befit the beauty of that face,
And tell the story, if I may request it,
Of your disastrous fortune.

Mist. Mer.

Out, alas! I left a thousand pound, a thousand pound, e’en all the money I had laid up for this youth, upon the sight of your mastership; you looked so grim, and, as I may say it, saving your presence, more like a giant than a mortal man.

Ralph.

I am as you are, lady; so are they;
All mortal. But why weeps this gentle squire?

Mist. Mer.

Has he not cause to weep, do you think, when he hath lost his inheritance?

Ralph.

Young hope of valour, weep not; I am here
That will confound thy foe, and pay it dear
Upon his coward head, that dares deny
Distressèd squires and ladies equity.
I have but one horse, on which shall ride
This fair lady behind me, and before
This courteous squire: fortune will give us more
Upon our next adventure. Fairly speed
Beside us, squire and dwarf, to do us need!
[Exeunt.

Cit.

Did not I tell you, Nell, what your man would do? by the faith of my body, wench, for clean action and good delivery, they may all cast their caps at him.

Wife.

And so they may, i’faith; for I dare speak it boldly, the twelve companies of London cannot match him, timber for timber. Well, George, an he be not inveigled by some of these paltry players, I ha’ much marvel: but, George, we ha’ done our parts, if the boy have any grace to be thankful.

Cit.

Yes, I warrant thee, duckling.

SCENE IV.Another part of the Forest.

Enter Humphrey and Luce.

Hum.

Good Mistress Luce, however I in fault am
For your lame horse, you’re welcome unto Waltham;
But which way now to go, or what to say,
I know not truly, till it be broad day.

Luce.

Oh, fear not, Master Humphrey; I am guide
For this place good enough.

Hum.

Then, up and ride;
Or, if it please you, walk, for your repose,
Or sit, or, if you will, go pluck a rose;
Either of which shall be indifferent
To your good friend and Humphrey, whose consent
Is so entangled ever to your will,
As the poor harmless horse is to the mill.

Luce.

Faith, an you say the word, we’ll e’en sit down,
And take a nap.

Hum.

’Tis better in the town,
Where we may nap together; for, believe me,
To sleep without a snatch would mickle grieve me.